Stop Calling Me That.

WARNING: THIS BLOG ENTRY IS LONG-WINDED, RIDDLED WITH EXCUSES, AND IS INCREDIBLY SELF-INDULGENT. TREAD CAREFULLY, AND PREPARE THE FLAMETHROWER FOR MAXIMUM SURVIVAL RATE.

It’s pretty difficult to offend me. I don’t get angry very easily, and as the ratio stands, it’s more likely that I’ll inadvertently piss you off in the name of over-analyzed social awkwardness, than the other way around. I’m pretty laid back, for the most part, and I give as much of a damn about what people have to say about or think of me as Prime Minister Stephen Harper does the valid complaints from journalists he condemns to “three questions a day” while they stand fenced off to the side from everyone else, as if their existence equaled that of Phil Oakey’s sense of identity.

However — there is one thing that really yanks my fingernails up from their cuticles: when people refer to me as a “dork”, “nerd”, “geek”, “gamer”, or anything else that has anything to do with heated Kirk VS Picard arguments, filler story arcs to some hyper-active, self-indulgent, and intelligence-insulting anime, or frothing estimates as to the cup size of that blue chick from Mass Effect. Even if it’s meant as an affectionate prod, it gets my cheese chapped.

People (ESPECIALLY self-proclaimed nerds, incidentally) consistently call me a nerd or try to convince me that I’m one a regular basis for whatever reasons. I don’t for the life of me understand their thought process, outside of basic stereotypical labeling of a simpleton’s “black and white” view of how the world works, because I flat out don’t identify as ANY of the above.

It’s truly thought-provoking when this guy claims to Hell’s half acre
and back that you’re waaaaay nerdier than he is.

Sure. I like to play video games. Some of the T-shirts I own sport famous Horror genre icons. Hell, even the fact that I outright have an output on Winamp in order to specifically listen to Super Nintendo game music puts me in a corner.

But, as stated above, I really don’t think of myself as a nerd. At least — not in any stereotypical sense. I’m not even very much in the know about anything that could label me as a member of the nerdcore community. I don’t really have much of an interest in  most things that nerds typically would. In a specific sense, let’s break it down:

– I believe “The Big Bang Theory” is one of the worst TV shows on right now. Take away the laugh track and the show reveals how pathetic its characters are and how ham-fisted and unclever the writing actually is, despite its depiction of “ultra genius” science professors, or whatever. It blows me away (though why should I be so surprised) that “Big Bang” is the most popular sit-com next to an infinitely better-acted, better-written, and more humourous “How I Met Your Mother”.

– I’m incredibly venomous towards advancing technology and anyone else who willingly chokes down the shovelful of capitalist consumerism BS that the Western culture tells us we “need” instead of realistically “want” for sake of convenience. I didn’t get my first cellphone until 2006 (a simple Motorola flip-phone), and that was ONLY because I was starting a small business — and I’ve had the same phone to this day.

– I sure as sugar love movies. However, I think Quentin Tarantino is — while excellent at pop culture scrutiny and homage — overrated as an independent director and has far lost sight of what used to make him an original visionary.

– I’m incredibly picky when it comes to video games. I have a lot to say about the gaming industry as a whole, but I’d sooner clap my hands together with satisfaction if (when) a second gaming crash hits the market, and be done with the greed, misogyny, and overall childish nature of both developers and “gamers”.

– While I’m nostalgic for my childhood, I’m realistic about it. I don’t cherish things I grew up with just because I grew up with them — there’s plenty that hasn’t aged well over the years, and I willingly accept that, and the fact that those specific things were geared towards audiences of a simpler mindset (aka, oh I don’t know — CHILDREN?! and NOT  men in their mid-30s?)

I could list things forever and ever amen, but I’d like to think that you the reader gets the point already.

I love this video. So much.

I guess the reason people point me out in a suspect line of dorks, mouth-breathers, and V-card owners, is because it’s an unfortunate fact that we as a society function through judging (sometimes destroying) things we don’t understand, and likewise label the aforementioned into subgroups of stereotype so that we can easily “ascertain” how people work.

At face value I like old video games, anime, literature involving high fantasy, and taking part in drunken snobbery of films below a B-grade rating. On the surface — okay yeah — I’m a nerd. That basic deduction is only part of the natural progression of the fight of the fittest, I guess. But that ideology is still a bullshit cop out in terms of understanding that life as we know it is NOT BLACK AND WHITE.

Whatever happened to that saying mom always used to ram down your throat as a kid?  You know — “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? The same damn thing applies in terms of stereotyping.

Even my brothers think I’m a gigantic nerd (and lazy, for that matter, but what older sibling doesn’t think that of their younger kin?), when in reality, the only reason I know what they’re talking about is because they both were children of the ‘80s, and are themselves nerds in their own right. Being the youngest of three in a family primarily of doodz, I couldn’t help but be exposed to things like Transformers, Nintendo, Star Wars, and Lego.

“Yeah, but you primarily write about video games – retro games especially! You must be a nerd! Only nerds play games from twenty years ago!”

Okay, okay. Yes, I will admit that most of the game consoles I currently have hooked up are at least more than ten years old. I’ve had an NES controller in my hands since the age of three, and even though I’ll go through long waves of disinterest in gaming as a whole, it’s always good to know that the old faithfuls are there, and won’t ever let me down when I need the odd fix.

Only in the last year or so did I finally cave and buy a new console — and part of that stems from my aforementioned disinterest in advancing technology. The rest of that mentality comes from the fact that growing up, I could never afford newer consoles until they were dirt cheap and near the end of their life cycles, and my parents were so sick of my brother constantly selling games and consoles he’d purchase or get as gifts, that they cut the cord short when I took an interest in gaming.

If I wanted a new game or console, I’d have to save up for it myself, or substantially prove why I should have it. From a parental standpoint, I think that was a fair way to handle a habit that demotes the idea of exercising creativity and going outside to burn off pent-up energy with friends — even though I kick myself in the pants now for not being able to wrangle now-rare games when they were easily accessible brand new or recently used, in my youth.

I’m piss poor now, and can’t afford to throw sixty bucks at every new game release that comes out — and when I do, I do it wincing (It absolutely killed me when I had to fork over the cash to buy a new DS when my old one snapped in half from a THREE FOOT DROP — but I did it, only because I was incredibly close to the end of Monster Tale and wanted to finish the game) but deep down I know that the investment is truly going towards something I’m gonna enjoy for years on end.

To be blunt, I had no idea there was even a retro gaming “movement”, up until late 2007, after ScrewAttack reared its ugly head alongside its inbred forum community. I was still attached to my old games because in my mind, it was economically-savvy to seek enjoyment out of something I knew I loved and already owned, which in turn was also conveniently affordable at the time. So for me, discovering that other 20-somethings played Super Mario Bros. 3 didn’t have much of a seismic effect on me other than “Oh. Okay. Cool, I guess,” because I assumed what I was doing was normal; If the games still worked and were still fun, what was the point in tossing out the old to bring in something new and triple the expense?

Because founding one of the most insufferable websites that defined the notion of
having your
own army of Stepford-like followers  gets you all the lay-deez~

Also, the fact that I listen to video game music? People own soundtracks to movies or Broadway musicals they like — What’s the difference? I guess that outright makes my Grannie Edith a nerd because she listens to “Man of La Mancha” regularly — in no way implying the music’s overall quality. WHO’DA THUNK IT?!

“Yeah, b-but!! What about Heiress?! “Master of Monsters” is full of tropes and conventions of ’90s anime! Even the book’s self-titled genre is called ‘Manga-lit’, NEEEERRRDDDDAAAAUUUHHH!”

All right. As for Japanese cartoons, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a kick out of them from time to time. Hell, you’re right! I pretty much had to invent a whole new genre (the actual name “Manga-lit” coined by my friend and editor, Elfie) in order to cater to the type of writing style in Heiress (which both homages and parodies anime and manga I grew up watching, specifically the whole Magical Girl genre in shows such as Sailor Moon and the awful patch-worked Frankenstein’s creature that is Nelvana’s dub of Card Captor Sakura).

As a whole, however, I haven’t actually sat down to watch a Japanese cartoon or animated feature in about … oh God. Probably AT LEAST a couple of years, I guess? I honestly can’t remember the last one I watched. I got out of the incredibly embarrassing fan base that Japanese cartoons seem to attract as soon as I graduated high school in 2004. I used to be really huge into anime when I was younger, obsessed with stuff like Bubblegum Crisis, Trigun, and Serial Experiments: Lain, but the criminal expense of keeping up to date with the seemingly endless Straight-to-VHS serials and the surmounting “What in the unholy HELL am I watching?” factor became too much of a heavy burden to continue onward.

Dear Japan: It’s probably time to stop.

One last thing I’d like to touch on before we part ways today is the number one reason why I don’t consider myself a nerd deep down … although it may sound like a flimsy excuse, resulting in “that doesn’t make a difference” as a possible outcome.

The thing that sets me apart from the stereotypical nerdcore kids is the fact that they act like their hobbies and interests are a total, complete, and valid way of life — a lifestyle choice. This may not actually be the case (see: “act like”), but the continual blaring of vapid conversations that have no real effect on anything; immature defensiveness when things they like are mortally threatened by someone with a differing opinion only to turn around and call someone else’s mother a whore when a statement like “Hey, I think Kane and Lynch 2 is a good game despite its flaws” is uttered; and the high level of over-exaggerated excitement when popular culture acknowledges their “way of life” (example: The Big Bang Theory) really makes the argument a hard case to refute.

I don’t do any of these. Or at least, consciously, I don’t.

I don’t really talk about the things I like outside of the odd “It’s good,” unless I truly believe my friends would get equal enjoyment — and even then, I don’t really hype all that much, if ever. Here. Here’s an example of something I would say:

“Kane and Lynch 2, despite its apparent flaws, is a good game because I think it emulates the relentless tension of gangster-esque pulp exploitation films, as well as satirizing Asia’s insane censorship laws (which in turn leaves more to the player’s imagination when mutilated bodies in-game are blurred out). I feel like I’m actually there as Kane while I’m struggling to survive the quickly-decimated ammo-riddled wooden crate I’m hiding behind, with only a couple of shots left in my gun.”

Yup. Pretty much.

So yeah. On that note, this entry is more or less an upchuck of something that’s been on my mind for the last little while. Take it as it is (entertaining, I hope!). G’night e’rry body.

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