Imagination Connoisseur, Liam Carrigan, writes in to share his geek’s journey from growing up in Scotland and England to now living and working in Japan.
Greetings once again from Japan. We are in the midst of a typhoon here, but luckily that gives me some time to write another letter.
Recently, hearing the personal experiences of Willow Yang and Jeffrey Mao has encouraged me to share some of my own experiences with you.
Hearing what Willow and Jeffrey had to say, i was reminded of some of my own challenges that i faced over the years and how my love of movies has often helped me get through it.
Indeed many of the biggest decisions I made in my life were influenced by my favourite movies.
It started when I lived in England from ages 2 to 7. At primary school, most of the kids were wealthy, English and financially secure. My dad was a chef, my mother was a housewife, it was a struggle but we got by. I was the poor kid with the weird half-Scottish accent who didnt fit in.
In those days I didnt see my dad as much as I would have liked. The catering trade often involves very insociable hours, yet one of my most cherished memories was Christmas Day of 1987, when I was 4 years old.
Dad somehow managed to get the day off, though he had to go into work that evening. We had dinner together and watched the big movie premiere on TV, Superman II.
Most of the kids at school wanted to be doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, like their parents. I wanted to be Superman.
When I realised that wasnt possible, I decided I wanted to get as close to that as I could, I wanted to be like Clark Kent, a journalist.
Time moved on and in the summer of 1990 we moved back to Scotland, to a place just outside my hometown of Glasgow. I hated school. Whereas in England, my Scottish twang had alienated me from some of the English kids, in Scotland some of them would say: “Who is this English bastard?”
Over time I would eventually lose the accent, but that first couple of years was hell. But in the summer of 1990 something else happened, BBC debuted a new show from the US, a little programme by the name of Star Trek the Next Generation.
I didnt have many friends at school, but every Wednesday at 6pm, for 45 minutes at least, all my troubles faded away as I could spend some time with my new friends on the Enterprise.
As time went on and I was approaching high school age, (in Scotland there is no junior high, we go to high school for 6 years) I saw what was perhaps the single biggest movie influence on me: Karate Kid Part II.
Here was this kid, only a few years older than me, going to Japan, learning martial arts and falling in love with a beautiful Japanese lady.
12 year old me swore that somehow, someday I would go to Japan.
The movie also inspired me to take up Tae Kwon Do. My weight dropped, by the age of 16 i was winning tournaments and the schoolyard bullying, at least the physical aspects of it, suddenly became less of an issue.
Unfortunately the mental and emotional bullying persisted and when I fought back physically, the school administration punished me, not the perpetrators.
I decided to leave.
My inner Clark Kent, had remained part of me throughout, and I kept writing. By luck i landed a job as a copyboy at one of Scotland’s national newspapers at age 16, my first story was published a few months later. I’ve been freelancing for various publications ever since.
Finally, after college and then university, I was offered the chance to come to Japan and teach English. My dreams, drawn almost entirely from the escapism of the movies, finally came true. Funnily enough, soon after I arrived in Tokyo, I went on a date from a girl with Okinawa.
I mentioned that I loved Okinawa since I was a kid and always wanted to go there. She asked why and I told her about Karate Kid II.
Her face fell, she seemed angry.
“That wasnt Okinawa, that was Hawaii!” she barked at me.
One of my favourite movies about Japan, and I didnt even know that it wasnt filmed here!
Suffice to say, no second date there!
My work and my adventures have taken me from Tokyo to Osaka, the Southern Japanese countryside, Hong Kong and now to the northern hills of Nagano.
All throughout, my love of Superman, Star Trek and various other genre franchises has sustained me through good times and bad. Whenever I watch Star Trek or put on one of the old Superman movies, i dont feel like I’m watching cinema, I feel like I’m visiting old friends.
Today, I write regularly about social issues for foreigners in Japan and I teach English to elementary school kids.
I may not be Superman, but I like to think in my own small way, I’m helping to make Japan and the world a better place.
So, in closing, to any of your younger viewers, who may be having a hard time of it right now, I say keep at it, follow your dreams and never let anyone tell you its a waste of time to watch tv, movies or read comic books.
They fuel our imagination, and inspire us to be better people each and every day.
Thanks as always Rob, for all the good work you and your team of Admins do to make The Post-Geek Singularity such a great thing to be a part of.
All the best,
– Liam C.