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Don't just like any old shit because it has spaceships...
May 15, 2012 8:13 AM   Subscribe


 
Overall, this was an OK essay, and I agree with many of its points, but:

All of nerddom is based on being progressive. Tech and science nerdery is totally about expanding knowledge and moving forward into the future with better understanding and equipment.

is just not necessarily true. "Technologically progressive" does not mean "socially progressive," and, in fact, often means the opposite. After all, if you can build a technological solution to a problem caused by social conditions, it means you can treat the symptom without addressing the underlying cause. Similarly, technological solutions can produce new social problems as unintended consequences. Fans certainly can be progressive socially, but there is nothing in fandom that requires it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:40 AM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Half of this article is the usual sorts of "don't be a jerk" advice, and the other half seems oddly hostile to remix culture. It says that the creators are who fans owe their allegiance to (whatever that means), that fans shouldn't care so much about the particular universe of a given franchise, and that fanfic/fanart dilutes the original works. A lot of those aspects of caring about the universe of a given fictional character/setting and participating in it are what makes nerd fandom what it is. We wouldn't have things like comic/anime cons or huge active online fan communities if most nerds followed these rules.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:57 AM on May 15, 2012


"... discovered Steve Jobs’ fashion sense. "

This is not a compliment...
posted by madajb at 9:01 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"... discovered Steve Jobs’ fashion sense. "

This is not a compliment...


I beg to differ. (All credit to twoleftfeet here)
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:09 AM on May 15, 2012


The Avengers is the biggest movie event since Avatar, another nerdy-ass movie. Game of Thrones is the most culturally important TV show.

Action movies are popular now? No way. GoT is tits n ass plus medieval violence with only a twinge of sci-fi fantasy. It's HBO.

How I Met your Mother and Two and a Half Man are still far more culturally representative than any sci-fi show or movie. Ever. Suck it, nerds.

Respect the products, honor the creators. I think there's a significant difference there.

That said, I'm not sure this article adds much to the convo. OK essay? Sure. A B- in freshman comp. Some of the writing is atrocious: "Hopefully you agree that these are rules all nerds can live by" ?!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2012


"In conclusion, fandom is a land of contrast."
posted by entropicamericana at 9:17 AM on May 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


That's a good editorial. I pretty much agree with it, except for this part:
Just because a new TV show has space ships in it (or references movies with space ships in them) doesn’t mean you have to watch it every week.
Sadly, I do have to watch any TV show or movie with space ships in it. This is a biologically hardwired requirement and can't be changed. I agree with the larger point about being open minded and adventurous, though.

But being really open minded means trying things and learning about things that you're curious about, even if they have nothing to do with current nerd "culture." There are 14th century Italian agriculture nerds, philosophy nerds, soil chemistry nerds, and on and on. If we really are a culture now, we should be open to embracing enthusiasts of all kinds. Being a nerd should be about passion for learning and doing new things, even if (maybe especially if) they're incredibly obscure.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:18 AM on May 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Technologically progressive" does not mean "socially progressive," and, in fact, often means the opposite.

Yeah, a lot of my socially progressive friends are horrified when their nerd brethren in arms buy fully into a 1950s conservative mindset towards women (sorry, FEMALES) and resist any social change that doesn't exclusively benefit middle to upper class white men. And considering the nerd hostility to change in any form (have you seen a video game forum after a big patch?) of the stuff they love (or when a TV show makes an unpopular decision?), I'd hesitate on labeling much of nerddom progressive.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:20 AM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sadly, I do have to watch any TV show or movie with space ships in it.

Fortunatly society has dealt with the TV aspect of this by canceling all such shows.
posted by Artw at 9:24 AM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Nobody should be better equipped for tolerance than a true nerd.

I've been trying (and failing) to say this this concisely for years.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:27 AM on May 15, 2012


*sigh*
posted by Kevin Street at 9:27 AM on May 15, 2012


Sorry, that was in response to Artw's comment that there are no new space ship shows.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:28 AM on May 15, 2012


Game of Thrones is the most culturally important TV show.

I say this as a big fan of Game Of Thrones: this would be depressing as hell if it wasn't false as hell.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:29 AM on May 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


How I Met Your Mother? Two and a Half Men?
posted by jonmc at 9:41 AM on May 15, 2012


Tangentially... Biff's Card.
posted by fairmettle at 9:42 AM on May 15, 2012


Truth be told, American cultural is so Balkanized and our viewing options so huge, that I don't think a 'culturally representative' show is even possible anymore.
posted by jonmc at 9:43 AM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, on MeFi Mad Men *may* give it a run for it's money, but let's face it that show is nerd as fuck anyway.
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


..."Technologically progressive" does not mean "socially progressive," and, in fact, often means the opposite. After all, if you can build a technological solution to a problem caused by social conditions, it means you can treat the symptom without addressing the underlying cause. Similarly, technological solutions can produce new social problems as unintended consequences. Fans certainly can be progressive socially, but there is nothing in fandom that requires it.
There's an odd dichotomy in prose SF between hard core libertarians and progressive types. On one hand there's authors like L. Neil Smith or golden age types like Heinlein who are really serious about libertarian ideas, and on the other hand there are authors like James Tiptree (née Alice Bradley) and John Varley who are about being open to possibility and are as far away from libertarian as you can be. The genre is wide enough for everybody.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:49 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, a lot of my socially progressive friends are horrified when their nerd brethren in arms buy fully into a 1950s conservative mindset towards women (sorry, FEMALES) and resist any social change that doesn't exclusively benefit middle to upper class white men.

Hence, I suspect, the article.
posted by Artw at 9:50 AM on May 15, 2012


let's face it that show is nerd as fuck anyway.

A minor plot point of Mad Men is that Ken Cosgrove secretly writes science fiction. This past week, a character was auditioning for Dark Shadows. Pete Cambell is currently reading Pynchon. Pete and his wife apparently privately take Charleston lessons.

Nediest show on television.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:53 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Hopefully you agree that these are rules all nerds can live by"

I wonder if this author was at the greatest conference ever convened?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:56 AM on May 15, 2012


> John Varley who are about being open to possibility and are as far away from libertarian as you can be.

Hoowaahh? </Farnsworth>
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 10:14 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, maybe the dichotomy is conservatives vs. liberals then. Libertarian science fiction authors come in many subtle shades.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:22 AM on May 15, 2012


I don't really agree with his politics, but I'd hesitate to dump poor old Bob Heinlein with, say, Orson Scott Card.
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Or for that matter more recent liberalism libertarian SF writers like Brin.

I guess what I am saying here is I want a big exclusion zone set up around Orson Scott Card.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


I guess what I am saying here is I want a big exclusion zone set up around Orson Scott Card.

Nuke him from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, maybe the dichotomy is conservatives vs. liberals then. Libertarian science fiction authors come in many subtle shades.

Well, the progressives have shades -- e.g., two off the top of my head, Ursula K Le Guin and China Mieville.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:30 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's the problem with how cultures change over time. Heinlein was a man who went where his ideas led him, and was kind of hard to classify even by the political standards of his time. Brin is pretty much the same. But Card is definitely a modern American conservative, and seems to be getting more and more that way as he grows older.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:31 AM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, on MeFi Mad Men *may* give it a run for it's money, but let's face it that show is nerd as fuck anyway.

The fact that a popular, mainstream, historical U.S. (!) drama that's won numerous Emmy Awards is considered the epitome of nerdom indicates to me that "nerd" might not mean much anymore. As in we are all nerds and all different.

Isn't a nerd someone who eschews the popular and conventional? Avengers? Bah.

Nediest show on television.

Futurama? Dr. Who? Black Adder? I haven't watched TV in a while ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:33 AM on May 15, 2012


Varley is in fact the poster child for "science fiction writer open to changes that give him a boner, not so much otherwise. IE open to free sex and genderbending, but very much with middle class conservative leanings otherwise.

Not at all a bad writer, but stick to his seventies and early eighties work.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:38 AM on May 15, 2012


Speaking (sort of) of political shades and HIMYM, here's a fun fact: Ursula K Le Guin and Philip K Dick went to the same high school in Berkeley and both graduated in 1947, although they didn't know each other.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:43 AM on May 15, 2012


Game of Thrones is the most culturally important TV show.

Oof. Yeah, this is the kind of thing you say when you spend all your time with (and read the ruminations of) a very limited group of people and assume that what you hear the most about is what's most "culturally important."

Because they're trying to make the point that nerds have taken over the culture, the reference they're looking for here is The Big Bang Theory. Like it or hate it, it's much, much more a valid piece of evidence supporting the idea that nerds/fans have gone mainstream, if that's what you're going for. And The Avengers seems like a weird argument too, if we're talking about some new phenomenon. Donner's Superman movies were pretty dang popular also.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:44 AM on May 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have received Game of Thrones related email attachment jokes from people who still send email attachment jokes, which pretty much means people in their 60s and/or who live in appalachia. It's pretty widespread in impact.
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on May 15, 2012


Remember Head Of The Class, the late 80s version of Big Bang Theory? What a strange and terrible show. They defined nerd archetypes much in the same way most late 80s "nerd" fiction did. Arvid Engen, the nebbish, anxious just to be accepted. Dennis Blunden, the wisecracking know-it-all who hoped to turn his outsider status into cool by pranking teachers and causing trouble.

I wonder if it is on NetFlix.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:58 AM on May 15, 2012


Anything with Howard Hesseman cannot be entirely terrible.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:59 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


But it had Khyrystyne Hage, the redhead, and Johnny Fever.
posted by jonmc at 11:00 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It also had Robin Givens. That may have been in the later seasons though, after they discovered that disadvataged misunderstood street wise delinquent with a heart of gold genius trying to hide his light under a bushel kid and Johnny Fever left and Billy Connolly took over teaching.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:05 AM on May 15, 2012


And finally, the other cast members are pretty much responsible for all of the tween live action comedy on Nickelodeon for the past (aka where the traditional sitcom not only refuses to die, but flourishes)

Also, I had such a crush on Tony O'Dell (who played the Alex Keaton clone), so I can't not mention him too.

But I liked him best on Otherworld, which was pretty much the first show I ever fanned hard.

So while nerds portrayed on TV may have started this slight derail, let my TV nerdom bring it around.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:19 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


the worlds and characters we love can feel so fully formed, so complete and real, that it’s easy to forget regular men and women thought them up.

Nerds need to stop this sort behavior or be culled from the genepool. Its even worse then the wrestling fans that believe wrestling is real. When some idiot gives me a 15 minute lecture on the detailed tactical training Captain America gave Hawkeye, as if this training actually happened in the real world, well, it fills me with murderous rage.

LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT THE REAL WORLD!
posted by Chekhovian at 11:21 AM on May 15, 2012


It also had an episode with Arvid witha gun, though maybe I just imagined that one.
posted by drezdn at 11:22 AM on May 15, 2012


Or for that matter more recent liberalism libertarian SF writers like Brin.

I can think of other examples. Better examples. More Scottish examples.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:34 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah they put Arvid though a lot of shit. Arvid buys a gun after getting mugged and there was also an episode set entirely in a Woody Allen retrospective in which Arvid ponders getting a nose job. He was pretty much the Miles O'Brien of the show.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:36 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can think of other examples. Better examples. More Scottish examples.

Scottish SF writers are all lefty as fuck - have you read Macleod?
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on May 15, 2012


You guys remember that epsiode where Arvid's leg gets removed by one of the Mutants? And they make him watch them eat it? And then Robin Givens laughs, but they loop the sound of her laughter, so it just keeps getting progressively louder over the course of twenty minutes? Kind of effed up imo
posted by Greg Nog at 12:04 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Scottish SF writers are all lefty as fuck - have you read Macleod?

Yeah... that's why I was suggesting that Banks or MacLeod would be better examples of left-libertarian SF writers than Brin.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:07 PM on May 15, 2012


Well, on MeFi Mad Men *may* give it a run for it's money, but let's face it that show is nerd as fuck anyway.

No so much the content as the discussion ABOUT the show, which is pretty much Lit Nerds and History Nerds slapping each other.

fashion nerds fashion nerds fight fight fight argue about skirt length that fits too tight!
posted by The Whelk at 12:12 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Arvid had a small part in the rock comedy Get Crazy where he plays a 19 year old virgin roadie, who gets nailed (onscreen) by rock star Malcolm McDowell's hottie girlfriend in a fit of pique.

Really.
posted by jonmc at 12:49 PM on May 15, 2012


Yeah... that's why I was suggesting that Banks or MacLeod would be better examples of left-libertarian SF writers than Brin.

I dunno if it would occur to me to categorize them as Libertarian at all, or Brin as that left leaning, TBH.
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on May 15, 2012


Its even worse then the wrestling fans that believe wrestling is real.

There are no wrestling fans who believe it's "real."

When some idiot gives me a 15 minute lecture on the detailed tactical training Captain America gave Hawkeye, as if this training actually happened in the real world, well, it fills me with murderous rage.

Well, to be fair, it did actually happen (I suppose), albeit in a fictional world.

I am concerned that makes you murderously angry.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:59 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
posted by The Whelk at 1:01 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, you all know MY secret.
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on May 15, 2012


The life sized Grant Morrison doll yes we know
posted by The Whelk at 1:05 PM on May 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


*sigh* yet another attempt to get nerds to play well with each other. It won't work of course- that's why they're nerds.
posted by happyroach at 1:34 PM on May 15, 2012




This past week, a character was auditioning for Dark Shadows. Pete Cambell is currently reading Pynchon. Pete and his wife apparently privately take Charleston lessons.

Nediest show on television.


GoT is still the Nediest.

Maybe the nerd factor explains why I think Mad Men has actually been decent lately despite Wesley Sue Megan Draper's ridiculous arc of being better than everyone at everything, never doing or being wrong, and all the other characters loving her and agreeing she's too good for advertising and maybe they have a lot to learn from Megan Draper.
posted by fleacircus at 1:38 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're all on team Peggster though, aren't we?

/wonders idly how many of the linked rules this conversation has been breaking as it plunges down the nerd-hole.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on May 15, 2012


Nerds need to stop this sort behavior or be culled from the genepool.

Really?
posted by ersatz at 5:37 PM on May 15, 2012


last i checked we're on the Steggy Train ArtW
posted by The Whelk at 5:38 PM on May 15, 2012


I dunno if it would occur to me to categorize them as Libertarian at all, or Brin as that left leaning, TBH.

MacLeod is, unless you think the Libertarian Futurist Society can't recognize libertarians. Probably most of his work has been nominated for the Prometheus Award and he's won it a couple-few times.

And I was replying to your statement, which I must have misunderstood:

Or for that matter more recent liberalism libertarian SF writers like Brin.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:49 PM on May 15, 2012


That's something I think the Libertarian Futurist Society is consistently awful at, TBH.
posted by Artw at 6:02 PM on May 15, 2012


Really?

Well, its probably already mostly take care of by, you know, auto-genepool exclusion. Though that baby did get named Daenerys, which means some manage to make it through. Legal intervention is probably necessary at that point.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:08 PM on May 15, 2012


To expand on that derail further, I'm actually rather fond of the Prometheus Award, they seem to have a knack for picking the kind of SF I like. But not only is Macleod an old school Trotskyite he wrote a 4 part series with Libertarian Transhumanists as the bad guys poking at them every which way, so him getting the Prometheus award is hilarious. Though not as hilarious as them giving their Hall of Fame award to life long socialist George Orwell. Twice.

I guess it could be that they're fully aware they keep on handing their award to UK commies, and there's just a point where Libertarian thought folds around the back of conventional politics and joins up with anti-authoritarian left wing British politics, and they just like the thoughts and ideas that exist in that sweetspot and give the award to anyone who writes that sort of thing regardless of wether or not they have Ron Paul bumper stickers, which would be sort of admirable, but still, it's a very weird award...
posted by Artw at 9:16 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Though not as hilarious as them giving their Hall of Fame award to life long socialist George Orwell.

Other than the 1981 (which is science fiction in the loosest of ways), did he do anything Sci-fi? I've read most of his books and can't think of anything.

Heinlein was the first person I thought of when I read "a 1950s conservative mindset towards women." Asimov was the second. At least Lem knew better than to try to write female characters.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:14 PM on May 16, 2012


Was 1981 the Phantom Menace style prequel for 1984?
posted by Chekhovian at 3:10 PM on May 16, 2012


Was 1981 the Phantom Menace style prequel for 1984?

No, it was actually the Jason X style sequel to 1941, or possibly a stupid error on my part. Either way, it was a big mistake
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:37 PM on May 16, 2012


Re: Mad Men - Like I said, nerd as fuck.

(it even had direwolf style, GoT fans)
posted by Artw at 6:20 AM on May 21, 2012




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