Nerd Culture Abused

Pop Culture, This Modern Life

This is old, but if you’re sick of the way “nerd culture” has been inflated into a Seriously Important Thing, Red Letter Media is Awesome. NSFW for some crude language.

 

There’s a second episode:

 

You might not get this if you don’t hang around on YouTube, but they’ve been making fun of the hysterical dweebery surrounding Disney and Marvel’s Cinematic Universes for some time. And going by this recent Screen Junkies video, it’s already having the desired effect.

 

The best kind of satire is the kind that makes its targets reconsider things.

Geek Heresy Episode 2: Damn You, Douglas Adams.

Books, Pop Culture

I was done with you, you old dead grump.

Yes, I liked the Hitchhiker series in my early adolescence. Early adolescence is the right time for silly stories finding the funny side of planetary extinction and philosophical fail. A send-up of the whole sci-fi genre was long overdue, and Douglass supplied them in witty style. The first three books, anyway. The humor was dry and silly, with a cheerful “Where the hell are we going now?” spirit to the proceedings.

Then you took the thing back to Earth for So Long and Thanks for All the Fish. I never understood what was going on in that book, but I slogged through it, even though I hate sci-fi that has anything to do with earth. And I read Mostly Harmless, which should have been called Have I Not Yet Made it Perfectly Clear That Life is a Bleak Futility? Because it is. Everything is Boring and Everyone Dies. 

We got the Joke, Douglas. We got it at the end of Restaurant at the End of the Universe. No, before that. You know the scene where Ford Prefect, smashed on a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, tries to explain how the whole Restaurant works to Arthur, and babbles incoherently about bathtubs filled with sugar? That’s when I got it. Everything is beyond our understanding and communication itself is an impossibility. Ha.

unfuny

 

And you know what was really missing from these latter stories? Zaphod Beeblebrox. And not the brainless, smarmy, cowboy LOLWe’reMakingFunofGeorgeBushLOL movie version. I mean the snarky, ski-boxing, BattleBot-defying, so-hip-you-could-keep-a-side-of-meat-in-him-for-a-month hellofaguy from the books. The guy who promised to reprogram Eddie the Computer with a very large axe. Parody of space adventures require a parody of a hero, and by the Cat Who is Called The Lord, Zaphod Beeblebrox was that parody.

Arthur is a nonentity: your basic ReaderProxy who stands around with a confused look on his face. The comic effect of this diminishes somewhere around the third book, which is why the whole Agrajag scenario was necessary. Ford Prefect is a fine character, and I enjoy his increasing bitterness as the series progresses (the line about looking for gin is the only thing from So Long that my memory retains), but becoming more of a drunken sot isn’t the most creative arc devised for a character. Trillian is far and above the smartest humanoid character in the series, which she makes up for by having the personality of a crumpled sock. Having these three knuckleheads moaning about for two books just made you miss Zaphod and Eddie and Marvin (yes, he’s in So Long, for the express purpose of killing him off via a device that is about a tenth as funny as it thinks it is, so that he can be replaced by Random, who’s about as much fun as an actual sullen teenager. Pleh) the more.

So I was done. The books sit, dust-farming on my shelf, spared the the Goodwill drop off by laziness as much as nostalgia. Haven’t read them in years. Fine with that. And you can’t mind, because you’re dead, which kindly spares us any more Dirk Gently books. And I appreciate that.

But you just had to leave notes for a sixth Hitchhikers book behind, didn’t you? So your literary corpse could be robbed like Frank Herbert’s and Robert Jordan’s by whatever kind of author that enjoys wearing another man’s skin? Notes that involve the return of Zaphod and Eddie, and plucking Ford, Arthur, and Trillian from their probability-defined doom?

The fans hate it. Of course they do. The critics tutted it. As they must. I can’t imagine what we might see these fools do that would be worth the price of admission.

But am I going to read it? Yes. I must. Because the story was over, and now it isn’t, and amid the cold ashes of my geekery there’s a spark that cares just that much.

Damn You, Douglas Adams. Even in Death, your spirit pesters me.

thoughtiwasout

The good news: it was published in 2010, and I never noticed. I seem to recall someone telling me about it at a party, and me dismissing it with extreme prejudice. So now I can pick it up at the library.

Geek Heresy Episode 1

 

Getting Around the Nerd Behavior Paradigm

Pop Culture, Sports

Cracked has a good article (how many blog posts have started with those five words, I wonder?) about how awful nerds/geeks are as human beings. Read the whole thing, obviously, but in brief:

  1. We Feel Like We’re Owed Our Favorite Things … Forever
  2. We Secretly Hope Our Favorite Artists Aren’t Successful
  3. We Think We Have to Protect Our Favorite Stuff from Outsiders
  4. We Think Our Knowledge Makes Us Important

Why are we this way? For the same reason otherwise sane people engage in borderline (or even non-borderline) criminal behavior over sports games: because of a tribal need to exercise dominance. The modern world gives us opportunity to do so over trivial matters.

And while it’s bound to be something of a similar behavior for me to say this, but I work very hard at not doing this. Actually, I don’t work that hard, because I tend to find such things…well, boring. Baseball is interesting, and gets more interesting as I get older. Talking about baseball? Boring as hell. Football is fun to watch. A bunch of dimwits in purple ties talking about football? Not so much.

stupidsportscasters

So that’s why I’ve made a consistent effort to tone down my opinions on inconsequential matters. Take, for example, the Kings of Leon. I liked them when they first came out, and their first three albums are pretty solid. Since then, they’ve gone a more radio-ready style, and I just haven’t been feeling it. My wife, on the other hand, loves the arena-rock boomers of their fourth album, and now I only buy those records for her.

What does this mean? Does it mean that my wife hates good music? That she doesn’t know when a band has sold out? No. It just means that she likes different stuff than I do.

So I find the solution to this kind of petty childishness is a healthy does of indifference. Indifference gets a bad rap these days, with some declaring it the opposite of love and worse than hate. And in one sense, that’s true. But it’s an act of pure fantasy to pretend that you can have a considered, thoughtful opinion about everyone and everything. It’s simply not possible.

When I was in my 20’s, I had lots of opinions, and most of them were emotionally-driven, snarky prejudices dressed up in common rhetoric. Back then I found the whole idea of Harry Potter offensive. Why anyone would feel compelled to rush out and buy a series of stories in which a teenage wizard confronts enemies with teenage wizardry was not just a mystery, but a condemnation of popular culture. I laughed at all these idjits going all Black Friday over the literary equivalent of a Beanie Baby.

Now, I still haven’t read them, because the central premise — teenage wizardry — still doesn’t interest me. But that’s just me. Other people — most people, in fact — love these stories with a deep and abiding passion. I am told they are well-written. So, I assume that I’m one of the outliers here, and say Peace Be Upon the Potterheads, and I hope the next Rowling book wins a Pulitzer.

Saying that costs me nothing and doesn’t entail a commitment to spend my time reading or doing anything I don’t want to. It’s all a free world, and a candle loses nothing of its light by lighting another candle, and I’m better than yoooooooouuuuu…

What?

Geek Heresy: A Consideration of Popular Fictional Universes That Bore the Living Hell out of me – Episode 1: Dr. Who Cares?

Pop Culture

I’m old enough to remember when being a geek was a bad thing. I remember the days when kids who were into sci-fi, fantasy, and other forms of alternative literature hid that fact from others if they had any hope of fitting in. Hell, I remember when knowing how to work a computer was a sign that you were socially retarded and would thereby never enjoy romantic companionship of any kind. So I regard the rise of Geek Culture in all its forms with many emotions, but mostly bemusement.

I find it odd to see such things as Comic Book Conventions becoming not merely mainstream, but obligatory acts to retain a certain level of geek cred. For that matter, the very idea of “geek cred” raises the eybrows, especially as it increasingly becomes a synonym for “pop culture awareness.” I don’t know when all this happened, and I understand but little of it.

Cultural Diffusion. Always angsty.

Thing is, I’m not very good at being a geek. I know no programming languages. I got B’s in math. I only played Dungeons and Dragons a few times. My comic book collection is small and unimpressive. I’ve never even watched Firefly or Battlestar Galactica.

So it’s time to come clean. It’s time to cop to all the Geekery out there that I have no interest in. It’s time to admit that the word “geek” has lost all meaning, and may as well go back to referring to a carnie who bit the heads off chickens for nickels. Because if I can admit that I don’t care about the things I discuss below, and still call myself a “Geek” in my tagline, then anyone can.

So begins a limited series on all the incredibly geeky things that are important to Geek Culture, That I Find Unutterably Dull. These must be taken as my own opinions. I am not criticizing any TV Show or book for lack of quality or good storytelling. Being old enough to remember Geekdom’s Elder Days also means being grown up enough to know that something can be very well done and still not appeal to me. So if you are an ardent fan of what ever I happen to discuss in this series, assume that the fault is mine. Today, it’s Dr. Who.