Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 FAVORITES (4) - Rivalries

The Battle of the Sexes. Nature versus Nurture. Fighting like Cats and Dogs. Competition and rivalries have been a large part of our social structure since the day Adam met Eve. But what are the rivalries of recent memory (20th Century and beyond) that have shaped our current culture. In this week's installment of 10 FAVORITES, I explore the most famous (and infamous) rivalries that foster fierce competition between each side's most rabid fans and have generated a massive influence on culture and society, the way we know it today.


The Harry Potter series VS. The Twilight series
These two novel franchises have only recently begun their respective influences on the culture within the past decade. But each franchise is vying to become the most successful series of books in history. Both authors, Potter's J.K. Rowling and Twilight's Stephanie Meyer, have become the most beloved (and most envied!) women in media. They also each have their own set of fans that will defend to the death (quite literally!) the viability and power of their preferred series.

HBO VS. Showtime
When I was growing up, this was a very palpable cable rivalry. Both networks were the only pay-cable stations in existence at the time and most consumers (out of practicality) chose one over the other. These days, now that each network is becoming a leader in quality original series, the rivalry is much more heated than it once was.

Marvel Comics VS. DC Comics
Every comic book nerd (which is a category I occasionally fall into), must choose between the two universes. The best nerds know how to play in both camps without offending the hardcore fans. But this rivalry has had a huge influence on young boys and girls worldwide through comic books, television, movies and even theatre!

Disney VS. Warner Brothers
Or more specifically: Mickey Mouse and Company VS. Bugs Bunny and Company. Growing up, there were certain assumptions made about you by the types of cartoons you liked. If you liked Disney, you wanted escapism and magic. If you liked Warner Brothers, you wanted hilarity and thrills. Each side had their pros and each side had their cons. To me, both are pretty respectable in their own ways, but there were times when I preferred one over the other.

New York City (East Coast) VS. Los Angeles (West Coast)
This does not just refer to the hip-hop rivalry that claimed the lives of two successful music artists. This is more importantly about the vast media bias that exists in our culture, like a big old elephant in the room NO ONE wishes to acknowledge. Because of the mere fact of time differences (and population groupings), several media outlets look at anything on the West Coast as insignificant and/or unimportant (except when it comes to the Academy Awards, but that's a different matter altogether!). This is most felt in the world of American sports and on the national sports networks like ESPN.

Star Trek VS. Star Wars
They are both the two most successful sci-fi/fantasy franchises in pop culture history. And, like the Comic Book Rivalry above, fans of both know how play in both camps but do so very precariously around each franchise's hardcore fans. In this rivalry, it is "The Universe According to Gene Roddenberry" or "The Universe According to George Lucas."

Conservative VS. Liberal
It used to be known as Republicans versus Democrats but in this 24/7 news cycle world, the very manner in which these sides debate each other has become more prevalent in today's culture. Though I don't like to get political on this blog, I cannot deny the influence this rivalry has had, especially in the last couple of decades.

New York Yankees VS. Boston Red Sox
I am not a huge sports fan and never have been. But when I was growing up, even though I didn't pay that much attention to the sports world, I KNEW about this rivalry. It goes far beyond the days of Babe Ruth and a highly-suspected (but extremely well-documented) "curse," it is a way of life for the fans of each team. I mean they even released a CHESS set!!!

David Letterman VS. Jay Leno
This rivalry goes beyond any of the events in the past year and the unfair displacement of Conan O'Brien. This rivalry has been a grudge-match since the last few years of the great Johnny Carson's tenure on NBC's The Tonight Show. To many, Leno supposedly "weaseled" his way into Carson's shoes. To others, Carson didn't care for Letterman's "presumption" that he was heir to The Tonight Show crown. Since that changing of the guard, the battle lines were drawn and the respective camps went up full throttle.

Apple VS. Microsoft
Let's face it people, we are (and have been for many years) in the Age of Computers. Each company has its benefits (iTunes, Windows 7, etc.) and each company has had its bad moments (the iPad launch, Windows Vista, etc.). I, personally, can work well with either one and with compatibility issues becoming a thing of the past (possibly), the rivalry will still be around...for form's sake to say the least.

Coke VS. Pepsi
The most important product war in pop culture history, I can't put it any other way. There are those who drink one and those who drink the other (there are even those who drink both!). Either way, both soda giants have etched their way in to the minds of the public and the culture has not been the same since.

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