Ah January, what a delightful time to be sick nearly the entire month. Excuse me if I’m not hip to the lingos and goings on of today, but I’ve spent most of the month in a mucus-induced haze…I think something Bieber related happened.
Seriously though, there’s a new paradigm going on lately, one that I thought would be the greatest thing ever, naturally it isn’t. I’m talking about the phenomenon of nerdsploitation. The biggest hit movies of the past few years are based on comic books. More and more TV shows are too with Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. being such surprise hits and The Flash and young Batman getting shows of their own soon. Video games are mainstream now too. Good luck going fifteen feet in a department store without finding some Angry Birds merchandise, the shit is everywhere.
So how is this bad? Well, the more that nerd culture becomes popular with the mainstream, the more people who don’t know their D20’s from their elbows get in on the act, and that leads to some questionable stuff. Big Bang Theory is immensely popular, and has been on the air for longer than most sitcoms run. I have a love/hate relationship with it, personally. One of my gaming buddies summed it up pretty well, dubbing it “a dumb show about smart people”. He then stuffed a bag of Taco Bell wrappers under my couch for me to find a week later. The show is decently funny, but the show’s so-called nerd protagonists often come across as characatures of what most people think nerds are like. They do wacky stuff like getting their penises stuck in experimental robot hands, stalk Stan Lee until he takes legal action, and become physically unable to speak when a pretty girl is around. JUST LIKE REAL NERDS! Sorry. But in all honesty, the show comes across as if they have one actual nerd on the writing staff to throw out terms that nerds will recognize, even if they’re mishandled. I imagine the rest of the writers give this poor bastard swirlies all the time too. Also, I checked, it’s still not legal to stab people who try to interject lizard and Spock into rock, paper, scissor games. So much for change, thanks Obama.
But it doesn’t end there, the loathsome trend of reality tv has gotten in on the act too. Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay was an eye-opening look at why pretty ladies wearing elaborate costumes are probably terrible shrews. Seriously, the show could have just as easily been called Oppressed Cosplay Boyfriends. The show followed a bunch of ladies, mostly, who yelled at their boyfriends and husbands while talking shit about the competition and kissing the ass of Yaya Han, who apprently is some kind of cosplay celebrity…who also made her oppressed man-slave do her grunt work while she pranced around boosting her self-esteem. Now they weren’t all terrible, the ladies from Crabcat, who did the amazing Mass Effect costumes a couple of years ago, actually did their work and seemed to be in it for the love of their craft. Still, it casts another facet of nerd culture in a less than stellar light. Now before you get your authentic period-specific steampunk panties in a bunch, I know not all people who make and wear costumes (I’m still not comfortable using the word cosplay…slippery slope) are jerks. Some of them are very nice people, the problem is, very nice people don’t make for good drama.
Then there’s TBS’s King of the Nerds. Geez, they hit all the sterotypes here, didn’t they? They got the fat bearded guy, the scrawny bookish guy, the nerd-hipster, the chubby (but still pretty enough for American TV) girl, and the pink-haired queen bee, and made them live in a house together and compete to see who becomes our avatar of shame. Oy.
Truly this newfound acceptance into mainstream culture is a double-edged sword. But is it the Vorpal Sword we’ve all been looking for, or must we endure the stereotyping and embarrasment even further, and continue looking for that +5 Holy Avenger that we so rightly deserve?
If that last bit made any sense to you…NERD ALERT!