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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Friday Fights: Big Bang Theory

So long as there is pop culture, there will be debates about pop culture.  Whether it's who shot first, which captain was cooler, or which Batman was worse, that's the kind of shit that started playground fights (Han, Picard, and Adam West by the way...) And it gives internet trolls the valuable fodder that keeps them banging away at keyboards for nights on end. 
Even if it doesn't end friendships anymore, it definitely carries into adulthood.  I'm no better as a grownup, whether it's sports, tattoos, politics, sci-fi or music, I will scrap at the drop of a hat.  And lucky me, I have a cast of friends willing to hop into the ring too. 
What started this week's debate is an article Rosa read and posted about the CBS show The Big Bang Theory,  11 Reasons Geeks hate the Big Bang Theory.  I know BBT has been one of the biggest shows on TV right lately, but it's worth asking; does the show that portrays an ensemble of nerd/geeks as the stars ring true to "us?"

Here's what the panel had to say.

I was drawn using a quarter
Scott:  Odd. I don't hate it at all. They are the geeks that even I can make fun of.  
Gen:  You had me at "laugh track".

Whatever makes you feel better about yourself Scott...
Scott: Agree the laugh track sucks. I find it irritating. Quite honestly the problem is that the show has become popular. And god forbid that happen, now all the anti-popular anything folks have a band wagon to jump on.
Gen: Oh no, Scott is a geek-hipster!

Scott: No! You miss the point. I'm not a geek hipster, and that's why I like the show. Its the geek hipsters that hate it because now everyone else likes it and it isn't just theirs anymore.

Gen: Ah...thanks for the clarification! and whew!

Rosa: Nope...I'm not a geek hipster and I still hate the show. Note the point that's made about this being a show written by people who sort of get references...enough to throw them out as a punchline...and the point about how one makes a better geek show (Futurama!). Dangit...Pete would be all over this post if he had internet right now...
Gen: Also it's the same guy who does Two and a Half Men. reason enough to hate it.

Scott:  The references don't bother me either way. And though some might not agree with it the references being the way they are brings in a larger audience. The average non-geek viewer doesn't feel like there is an inside joke that they just don't get. Without that then the show loses viewership and gets canceled.
And I'm sorry, though Futurama looks cute and all it does absolutely nothing for me. 
Rosa: Scott--if I didn't know what an actual geek you were I would totally call you a poser right now. 
Scott: Jeez Gen. Ae you the captain of the hate squad?
Gen: Only for Two and a Half Men and Nickelback. Otherwise, I'm quite lovely. 

Rosa: Don't pretend like you wouldn't be Rear Admiral of the Hate Squad Scott...

Scott:  Well Nickelback is a given, and honestly so is Two and a half men. But guilty by association? I'm going to start calling you Hitler.  I'm a geek and I'm a realist. If super geeks actually got a show written exactly the way they want and so that only they understood it we'd be lucky if it stayed on the air for more than 3 weeks! Be reasonable-ish.

Rosa: And yet we've had how many iterations of Star Trek???

Scott: I'm curious. How is that relevant? The fact that there has been so many shows that people like watching the show. Each series had 7 seasons. Well except for the last series, and frankly what the fuck was that? Some sort of weird trek soft porn. 

Pete: Rosa is saying that geeks making geek shows can work.  And Trek is an example.

Manny:  I'm a geek and I love Big Bang Theory. The laugh track is my only real gripe. Scott, Star Trek Enterprise was cancelled just as it was getting good. While you may be correct about TNG, DS9, and Voyager having 7 seasons, TOS only had 3 and the animated series only had 2 (thank you Jeebus for them all being on Netflix).

Right and TOS and the animated series weren't that great. TNG is what really brought it back. And the original movies. And the franchise is still around.

Pete:  Look, in movies and TV - since we have been kids - writers have had one standard, one-size-fits-all geek. The socially awkward, sexually repressed, snort-laughing, robotic monotone voiced, bad dresser who makes Star Trek/Wars jokes interchangeably and talks about Steven Hawking. They were bit players in movies about the popular kids. And that sucked.
And that's why - and maybe it's gotten better - when i first saw the BBT, it was like the only difference is simply that the exact same lame-ass stereotypes were the stars of the show. Not bit players. It didn't give geeks - like me anyway - something that I wanted. It gave me the same lame-ass stereotype. As though anyone who has familiarity with Star Trek or has heard of Ray Bradbury can all be lumped together in a composite of a nerd, geek, dork and spaz. Are we five anything like them? Give me a nerd (Rosa) who went to MIT and is a rabid Red Sox fan. Give me a social butterfly (Gen), a fellow baseball nut and girlie girl who fights her closet geek tendencies at the same time she braves into her first Comic-Con experience, give me the Star trek fanboy (Manny) with a thousand Superman T-shirts who also DJs in a major club all weekend and never ever has problems hooking up with women. Give me a geek who served in the Navy (Scott), unapologetically went to Lilith Fair every year, is a dog lover and transformers collector and never ever has problems hooking up with men. Give me a guy who can quote Star Wars word for word (including Greedo's and Jabba's lines)  played high school sports, is a shoe whore, and teaches photojournalism.
Rosa: Love you, babe. 
Pete: With a Big Bang Theory writer, we'd be reduced to:
- The math girl who uses her stats knowledge to play fantasy baseball
- A gum twirling ditz who says "This comicon thing is kinda cool! Like a Steve Madden for nerds! Go Starbuck! teehee!, " 
- The obligatory "black nerd" who greets people with a Mr Spock salute and uses his programming skills to produce "optimum beats on the dance floor at the popular dance club establishment. beep bop," 
- The nerd shut-in who stares at his transformers collection all day dusting it meticulously, until the gang teaches him to leave the house, meet that special guy and live happily ever after. 
- And the Short nerd with a hundred Star wars Tshirts ... who ... OK, that one may be accurate, but I'd be teaching advanced dark matter theory instead of writing, with quotes like, " Hummmmmnn, The universe is actually made up of 95% dark matter, the exact same percent of times i cry when watching the scene where Spock dies in Star Trek 2. Meep Mop."

Scott: What?

Pete: I watched a dark matter special on the 12-hour plane ride... Meep Mop!

Manny:  You're my hero Pete...but BBT still makes me laugh.

Scott: Yep.  I still like BBT, so please don't stone me.  When do we start writing the series about us?
Even I don't like Catwoman this much.

Pete: I watched 7 seasons of friends, what the hell do I have to judge anyone with. And I am with Scott in that they are the geeks that even geeks like us loved to make fun of, but if I want a show about geeks, I want one for me. Or about real geeks for Pete's sake. So I'll take DVDs of Freaks and Geeks or Community over BBT.  And as for the audience, come on, Superhero, comic book and sci fi movies are the hugest movies every summer for the past decade. Geek fare is finally being taken seriously. People who never gave a shit about Batman or Star Trek poured into theaters because the subject matter was treated with respect. Well written, well developed characters and the rich worlds they occupy got a fair shake, millions of people play MMOs. So there is totally an audience that would get jokes about whether comic book Jean Grey would kick movie Jean Grey's ass. Or who was the hottest Catwoman, or why do dudes love to make female avatars. ..Scott! we start writing today! 

Manny: There had better be a regular game of pool in the series.

Scott: Uhm comic Jean Grey would totally own movie Jean Grey. And Michelle Pfeiffer is hands down the best Catwoman. :)

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