March 18, 2015

A realization while discussing “Nerd Culture”...


9 comments:

  1. Its the relatively recent appropriation of nerd culture BY popular culture that annoys me (and many people whom I know).

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    1. Not the OP, but I think it's mostly that nerd culture was so heavily stigmatized in the last few decades, with anyone who liked this kind of stuff being labeled a social outcast, and then within a few years, the people who mocked their interests are now probably the biggest consumers of the media. Strangely, mass pop culture consumers still harbor this strange disdain towards nerd/geek famdom. Of course, there's a lot of generalizing going on in the statement, and most people don't fall into this camp, but sometimes the current situation reads as a jock wearing a Superman shirt while taking another kid's lunch money because they are reading a Superman comic. That also sums up my views on Big Bang Theory, interestingly enough.

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    2. I've got a pretty similar opinion of the Big Bang Theory. I used to like it, honest I did, but one episode in particular made me realise where all the 'blackface for nerds' complaints were coming from: Penny steals from a charity to satisfy her shallow fashion obsession. That's it. No comeuppance or karma. It actually gives the impression that she's some kind of savvy go-getter. Same episode, Leonard and Sheldon try to reason with their old school bully to make him realise how he made them feel and get some closure. Next instant they're scuttling down the stairwell, in their robes, like a pair of idiots, to escape from him. Two grown men, two professional physicists. But it's funny because they're nerds, two safe, natural, eternal victims.

      Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I can't really enjoy it after that. It went from holding up a mirror to nerds, with a friendly, knowing wink, to... holding up a target on nerds, in a way.

      To connect that to the comic, I agree that it embodies a kind of division that still exists, no matter what type of movies do well in cinemas lately. For instance I still feel like I'm part of a separate 'nerd' culture because I've *read* The Lord of the Rings. It might just be a subset of pop culture, one little bubble inside a bigger one on the Venn diagram; but wider popular culture just seems more... *popular*. Easier to dip into and digest. Even certain movies and HBO series, beloved by nerds as they are, are relatively shallow and momentary distractions compared to the depth, empathy, imagery, iconography, and/or the personal, mental, temporal & financial investment of the novels and comics they're adapted from. (feeling a bit Scott McCloud there, which could be dangerous)

      Which might be a burgeoning step towards the answer of why nerd culture passions can bubble close to the surface.

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    3. @Warren JB what happens in the story is not necessarily what the author is trying to convey. Penny does something wrong and gets away with it; Leonard faces his bully and gets his ass kicked. All you can tell from those situation is that the story-teller is taking a realist approach instead of a childish Manichean approach (where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people).

      In that episode Penny is on the wrong side and Leonard on the right side, and everything in the story points to that. The consequences are a completely different story and since they're not trying to teach kids a lesson I don't believe they should have done it any other way.

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    4. OP here, and you all expressed how I feel perfectly (well, except in regards to Big Bang Theory, which my partner tells me is atrocious but which I'm fortunate enough to have never seen and have no opinion on). Pop culture has a way of assimilating things and rendering them shallower. I'm not opposed to the things I love becoming more popular in theory--indeed, it's great to think that a wide audience now appreciate the works of George R R Martin, whom I've loved since high school (many years ago). But overall, things are too frequently dumbed down to become palatable to the masses.

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  2. This tumblr actually has a really good explanation for why Big Bang is awful.

    http://butmyopinionisright.tumblr.com/post/31079561065/the-problem-with-the-big-bang-theory

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    1. Meh. This kind of explanation always reads to me as "I don't understand how sitcoms work." Of *course* the characters are exaggerated. Of *course* you're laughing at them as much or more than laughing with them. I don't recall people sitting around complaining about how Cheers wasn't a serious representation of bar patrons.

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    2. People would at least wait for Norm or Cliff to get to the punchline BEFORE they started laughing.
      "I work for the post office" is not enough of a joke for Cliff to get laughs. Apparently, "I play D&D" is HILARIOUS, however.

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