Friday, December 14, 2012

TV Report, Kinda

Okay, I thought The Big Bang Theory was cute last night, but I have one continuing issue with this show. Its one aspect that pisses me off is the way it continues to see geeky activities as somehow a sign of arrested adolescence. What bothered me about last night's episode is what's bothered me in the past on this show, which is the way that it too often comes down to this idea that being a geek is somehow childish. Penny too often seems annoyed when Leonard won't spend his every moment of existence devoted to merely being her boyfriend, and it reinforces this negative idea that wanting to read comics or go see superhero movies or play Dungeons & Dragons is all supposed to be stuff that boys only do in lieu of having contact with women. Were you basically told that as a kid? I sure was. That when you grow up you're supposed to be all about getting married and being an "adult," and D&D is only for losers who can't get anyone to marry them. Anything fun you like to do that involves dwarves and Batman is a mere placeholder until you can, y'know, become a REAL PERSON.

So as much as I appreciate Melissa Rauch the sexiest I've ever seen her, bouncing around in that red dress and oozing sex all over the room, it just bothers me to see a show about nerds that sometimes seems like it's reinforcing the idea that the geek equivalent of watching the Super Bowl is something Leonard shouldn't be interested in anymore simply because he has a sexy girlfriend who only occasionally deigns to take an interest in his pastimes. It was especially nice to see Leonard just continue playing and not really address it. I still can't figure out why we're supposed to think these two are a great couple.

I don't know, I'm always seeing these characters on TV shows and in the movies who are lifelong sports fans, and their lifelong fandom of (but not actual participation in) any sports team is always a point of pride, because men and sports or whatever. But a grown man who takes pride in being a lifelong Star Trek fan. Oh, lawd, when is that boy going to grow up?

Give me a break.

My feelings last night had me thinking a bit more about this year's premium geek topic of stupidity, the "Fake Geek Girl" meme. I think that kind of cliche that can too often pervade pop culture--that geeky pastimes are often seen as childish--is one of the things that feeds that meme. I still think the meme is wrongheaded, sexist bullying, but I can understand how being told as you're growing up that liking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead of playing baseball makes you immature and totally unappealing to females makes it hard to accept that there are women out there who have an opinion on which Turtle has the coolest weapon and whether or not the red masks are better than the multicolored masks. But if you react to that with anything other than surprised joy, I can't really help you.

Seriously, though, the same way that The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises making more money than Greece did in 2012 means that we don't get to act like comic book fandom is hidden in the shadows, the fact that midnight releases of video games make the nightly news means that I don't want to hear anybody's shit about how playing Dungeons & Dragons with your friends is something that only scared man-children do because they don't know how to maintain adult relationships.

:: In a somewhat similar vein, I saw the Golden Globe nominations. Not many surprises, but I don't care any more than I ever already didn't. I did want to say the reaction to Benedict Cumberbatch's nomination for Sherlock is profoundly stupid. I've seen a surprising number of people who are so surprised anyone notices their pet show. Can we please get over this thing in fandom where you think the fans of a TV show you like are just you and a dozen or so other people. I don't know what internet you're using, but Sherlock seems pretty freaking popular, and it's mostly a quality show ("Hound of Baskerville" notwithstanding). It's pretty clearly not just a cult hit.

What is a cult hit is Community, and I kind of wish people would just get over that and enjoy the time they have left with this show they love. I didn't like it, and clearly enough people didn't like it to make it into the hit show its fans want it to be. It happens. It sucks, but it happens. I felt the same way when Farscape was canceled. It's my favorite TV show of all time, but it apparently didn't get the kind of numbers it needed to survive. But now I get to watch the whole series on DVD whenever I want to, and I'm extremely grateful for what I have. Do I wish more people had watched it and liked it? Sure I do. But they didn't, and now it's history. I've been able to move on with my life instead of talking about it constantly like the rest of the world was too stupid to find it appealing. Don't let your final season be tainted with anger and sadness and ranting about it; just enjoy the damn thing while you still can.


abc said...

I'm a big fan of Community, but I'll survive if it gets cancelled after this season. Like you said, I'll have the dvds and (now thanks to a recent trip to the NBC Store) colour-change paintball mugs.

Autumn said...

Duuude, I was always Donatello, I had a giant poster of him from the first movie. Of course my sister had a giant silk poster of Bon Jovi know, some things do fade with the end of childhood. Donatello will never fade. I don't personally play D&D but know a couple of people who do and I hate how they get shit from even their friends about it. And I've always seen them just take it like they expect it. It's unfair how I can be an adult for having a board game night at friends but D&D automatically labels you as someone who can't handle real life and childish to boot. Because, you know, you can't be a normal functioning adult and enjoy something like that...

SamuraiFrog said...

abc: Haha, nice.

Autumn: I was always Donatello, too! And then I accidentally split my friend's lip open with a long stick, and I wasn't allowed to be Donnie anymore... man.

Hobgoblin238 said...

Agreed. I love the Big Bang Theory but they always treat nerds like man children.

MC said...

Whenever I watch the Big Bang Theory, I always feel like the writers secretly didn't like their lead male characters or really didn't understand geekdom and made the decision to mock it because that kind of thing is an easier joke to make. Like "Oh, look at two grown men fight over a comic book... look at a someone cry because they missed a convention and a Star Trek movie over a summer." I understand the pushback against the show from geeks because of these issues.

MC said...

As a side note (and not in a conversionary way), the only time I've seen Dungeons and Dragons portrayed on television as something amazing and fun is the Community episode where they played it.

Then again, I haven't seen the episode of Freaks and Geeks where they played it either, so I may be missing an even greater episode portraying the game.

Autumn said...

MC: They do portray it as a fun thing and I would highly recommend what little of that show there is to watch. It's a great way to remember how awkward high school is for everyone. And fun to see all those actors when they were younger!

SamuraiFrog said...

Hobgoblin: It's such an easy fallback, too. You'd think they'd have figured this out by now.

MC: I never thought the writers have every really, truly understood geekdom, but then again, their premise started off as "Geeks live next to a hot girl and it BLOWS THEIR MINDS" so I'm not sure they understood people right in the beginning.

Freaks and Geeks is maybe my second favorite TV series ever, all one season of it. The D&D episode is the last one, and it's very good. Reminded me a lot of how it was when I played; it was the inverse of the usual, in that it showed how the game was for a lot of us: brought us together, made friends of unlikely people, and even built confidence.

Autumn: Totally agreed. My wife is still in love with Jason Segel because of that show.