Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

Otherwise known as, my generation.

I was thinking about this recently because I’ve had reason to interact with a few people (friends as well as new acquaintances) of the same age range lately that have underlined how ridiculously cynical and negative we’ve become as a whole. I do not except myself from that at all as I fall into that trap all the time; I make a very concerted effort every day to be a more positive person.

But it really just floors me how overwhelming sarcastic everyone is. (I’d say sardonic, but thanks to Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy” the word makes my skin crawl.) It’s almost as if we’re all falling all over each other to prove how much harder-edged we are. It makes me doubly crazy when those people are from my own sort of socio-economic background; to be honest, we should all be pretty grateful for our blessings and doing our best to share the love.

Of course, it just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take the opportunity to zero in on one sub-group in specific. One of which I am part, a fact that has brought me no small measure of self-loathing over the years.

See, I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a geek. I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I’m a big Star Trek fan and can have fluent arguments in Kirk v. Sisko (Sisko is better than TV Kirk, Movie Kirk is better than Sisko). I own and listen to the soundtrack from Robotech. Nerds are typically better at schoolwork than people like me, but they’re in the same realm, just with fewer social skills.

The point is, I have always loved the geekier things and thanks to half-talents like Kevin Smith (you heard me) the geek subculture has been gloriously exploited and exposed over the last couple of decades. Unfortunately, the side-effect of this is that it’s given geeks license to wallow in and amplify their geekiness. There are even terms tossed around like “Geek Chic” which have allowed geeks to believe that they have their own exclusive sub-culture equal to the cool kids.

Now let me explain to any non-geeks reading this why this is unfortunate. A sizable plurality of geeks have always been jackasses. They have always possessed an unearned sense of superiority because they thought their talents at role playing character creation and movie quoting, as well as the ability to lie to themselves that they’d rather live by the tenets of Kolinahr than interact with a pretty girl and try to earn her respect.

What no one realized is, that these personality traits were forcibly expunged by the process of ostracism and later social interaction wherein these traits were in no way prized. At the very least, the geek had to learn how to master and mask their natural instincts and function with normal people. But with the embracing of “geek culture” they feel encouraged to be rude, snotty and obsessive. After all, if movies with people like them (thanks to people like Kevin Smith and also Judd Apatow) get laughs and sympathy from audiences then why can’t they be that way in real life?

And that has led to a greater magnification within the sub-group itself. Geeks have by and large elevated themselves from jackasses to worse when interacting with their own. This has made it no fun to be a geek anymore. There used to be at the very least a sense of community and camaraderie. Now you can’t even go through a conversation without some sort of snide comment, attempted cynical witticism or worse…especially if you have the audacity to like something different than your present company.

I’m just tired of it. I want to know why we can’t all just have a good time, dig what we dig and just have fun with the arguments instead of getting personal. It’s fun to argue the merits of things, but there’s no need to be nasty.

I suppose in a way, too, I should take the opportunity to try harder and stop bashing on Twilight people (yeah, I should). It’s one thing to offer criticism (and I will be offering a very robust but very fair criticism of Twilight soon enough), it’s another to stomp on something someone likes in a ridiculous attempt to prove that what you like is…I don’t know, better? More worthwhile? Smarter? It’s not a contest.

I know it’s all rooted in insecurity (trust me, I know). I just wonder what it will take to pull geeks out of this pathetic tailspin and get them back to their roots, when it was fun to go to a convention and everyone was smiling whether the other guy was wearing your team colors or not.

Goodness, now I sound just like those metal fans that lose their minds when their band gets famous and the old fans suddenly get snotty because “they always liked them.” Blech. Let’s all get back to focusing our anger and hatred where it belongs: the cool kids.

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17 thoughts on “Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

  1. Eff you. Your subculture is no more precious than mine. And no more tarnished by Kevin Smith than mine was by those has-beens who made the Black Album. 🙂

    1. Heh. I knew what you meant, but you saved us both a lot of trouble by heading me off before I could start teasing you.

  2. Some of us geeks LIKED the Thrawn trilogy, and think Timothy Zahn is a better writer than George Lucas.

    I mean, honestly. The way Lucas wrote the Imperial military, I don’t understand how they could have held power in a single star system, let alone an entire galaxy for 20+ years.

    Lucas’ Imperial military had the tactical sense of a chicken breast fillet.

    But I digress…

    It is humorous how what WAS geek still is, but “new geek” seems more accepted. For instance, Star Wars and Star Trek fans are still seen as over-the-top fanboys who gather at conventions and need a life (and let’s face it, pale, 300 lb men dressing up as Princess Leia, complete with Cinnabon hairdo, or skinny guys with bowl haircuts wearing blue long-sleeved shirts and pointed ears don’t help), but have a guy dressed up as Sergent Major waiting outside Gamestop at 11:45 pm to get the first copy of the newest Halo at midnight, and look out, he’s got more cool than anyone in the room can handle.

    The geek culture will always be separate from the mainstream, and will occasional cross into the mainstream (“Big Bang Theory” as a decent example, showing geeks in all their “holy crap, are there really people like that” glory). I think the important thing is that geeks, almost more than anyone else, not take themselves too seriously.

    1. I never said I didn’t like the plot of the Thrawn trilogy overall. Just do me a favor. Go through the books and count how many times he uses the word ‘sardonic’. And then honestly assess the writing on a scale of McIntyre to Asimov and tell me where Zahn falls.

      Also, not too sure how much “military accuracy” I use in critique of any films about laser swords and intelligent robots. Always thought it was just understood that so long as you knew who the bad guys were, mission accomplished. But then, I think no reasonable fan (read: before Star Trek fanatics started feeling free to swim in our pool) ever cared how Hyperspace worked, either, just thought that it was neat that it did. Just like transporters, he needed a plot device to keep things moving. Bam, instant hyperspace!

      1. I just wanted to say I enjoyed the trilogy plots written by timothy zahn but holy overkill Batman – every other phrase is sardonically stated 🙂

  3. That wasn’t the point. And I will se your “sardonic” and raise you a “I have a bad feeling about this”.

    But really. Do you think that any military that has a galaxy to worry about, would miss something simple, like protecting your largest, most powerful asset (the Death Star), with even a tiny fraction of the massive star fleet the Empire had?

    And this isn’t really something that is excusable, because other writers within Star Wars have shown the kind of tactical thinking that should have been elementary in writing about a massive space fleet (look to Clone Wars, and how capital ships were used to offer some support and protection to the Malevolence. It seems the Empire thought that basic tactics were for sissies).

    And about the Death Star itself… Why did it have to wait to travel AROUND a planet to take a pot-shot at the rebels on Yavin’s moon? Why not just blast the planet, since that is what the primary weapon on that hulking things was designed for, then pick off the rebels at will?

    Seriously, When Lucas writes them, the Empire DESERVED to fall, if only for being so one-dimensional.

    I may be a geek, and more than willing to suspend my disbelief, but I refuse to hang it by the neck until it has a distended tongue and is blue.

    1. You’ve obviously given this a lot of thought. But not enough to rationalize things out yourself. Nice try, but to borrow a line, like a poor marksman you keep missing the target.

      “I have a bad feeling about this” was a purposeful motif. Lucas even talks about using it as such purposely. It’s a bit of dialogue meant to be repeated as a joke (such as the references to THX-1138), not a middling sci fi novelist who lacks the capacity to use a thesaurus.

      In terms of the “star fleet” thing, the point there is that the hubris of the design is actually addressed at two points. There’s a motif that a power-hungry bureaucracy tends to overestimate itself which lends to its downfall. Go back and watch the movie, actually listen to the dialogue, and then also let me know if you can find the two spots on your own. Because it’s actual dialogue in the film.

      Further, “military tactics” are not the most important. Use your imagination. Maybe hitting a gas giant with the superlaser would have caused an explosion that would have destroyed the Death Star, or ignited a new star (since gas giants are basically stars that never ignited). It’s something of a pyrrhic victory if you blow yourself up in the pursuit of your enemy. See? Explanation given. Didn’t need to have my hand held through the process either. The point is I had a good time watching it.

      This is unlike Star Trek fans who can’t even watch a single show without explaining to each other how the multi-phasic toilets work in conjunction with the quantum heisenberg inducer coils. If that floats your boat to listen to completely made up bullsh** that isn’t anything more than gibberish with scientific terms, then fine. But it still doesn’t explain who Peter Preston is without a director’s cut, why Data’s emotion chip is fused and must work forever and then can be switched off and then appears never to have been installed, why every alien planet has an oxygen atmosphere or why Voyager ever got produced for so much as a single TV hour. Or half the contradictions in the outside source material by hundreds of writers.

      None of this is meant to trip your histrionics and have you go into “I should have known better than to challenge a Lucas fan blah blah blah” mode. Sure, the films aren’t perfect. But they my kind of imperfect and I can love different things for different reasons instead of expecting all of my movies to have the military accuracy of a Tom Clancy novel.

      You look at the splinter in your brother’s eye, unaware of the plank in your own is my point.

  4. You said: “I suppose in a way, too, I should take the opportunity to try harder and stop bashing on Twilight people…” Really?! That would make your wife soooo happy if you did 🙂

    1. Well, I can do that or I can help with the dishes and housework. Your choice. Because honestly, I don’t like to do dishes.

  5. You keep taking the pot-shots about Star Trek, and as you said, you keep missing the target. I for one have no problem looking at the shows and having problems with them (the atmosphere things has been explained too, BTW).

    The hubris argument is weak. Any military organization will always protect its assets, no matter how much the generals would argue against it. The way Lucas wrote it, the Imperial military DESERVED to be defeated by a rebellion using second-hand weapons.

    You sort of fall into the Star Trek trap with your explanation about not blasting Yavin, and go against your own discussions about how things work in Star Wars. Why worry about the science of destroying a gas giant when you poo-poo the idea of offering even a techno-babble explanation of how something like the Death Star moved through hyperspace?

    And frankly, your obsession with how many times the word “sardonic” is used in the Thrawn trilogy is a point which , frankly never occurred to me. I must have enjoyed the story too much to worry about something so trivial.

    I guess we all seem to have something we are willing to overlook in favor of enjoying a story.

    1. I took your arguments and presented possibilities because like most Trekkies, you seem to need someone else to diagram obvious points for you. It’s right there for you, feel free to do the research – I want you to make me proud, I believe in you. As added assistance, the ‘hubris of a controlling, technologically over-dependent bureaucratic system’ is a *theme* that the plot device illustrates, not the actual plot device. You’re welcome.

      See, Star Wars is more concerned with metaphor and symbols. True! That’s why most reasonable people don’t need to know why the phased double-inverted Cochrane generator was depleting the quad dilythium photon array, which caused a backloop in the inertial dampers during the Battle of Yavin.

      It’s not an obsession to point out the shortcomings of Zahn’s writing style. You’re the one that kept bringing it up, I chose to explain. Feel free to keep liking it – as I said (if you paid close enough attention) I liked the overall plot too. I’m not stopping you from liking it. I’m sure you have a whole library shelf dedicated to his non-Star Wars books, too, because he has such an electric writing style. As a side note, I enjoyed his duology that he wrote to close out the Bantam Books reign of terror. Those were much more enjoyable, and had 87% less sardonicism.

      Yes, I do know the atmosphere thing in Star Trek was explained in a cartoon which virtually no one watched, silly. You’re not the only Star Trek fan here, you know.

      1. You keep attributing a desire for technobabble to me, and that is just simply not accurate. Some consistency might be nice though.

        I just want to know how (among other things, but we’ll go with this example for now), if every other vessel in Star Wars has these pretty lit-up engines, why didn’t the Death Star? I would assume that without the pretty blue or red engines, it would be a true battle station, and not travel from one side of the Yavin system to the other, let alone from the Galactic Core to the Outer Rim.

        As I said, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to enjoy a movie, but shouldn’t there be some degree of technological consistency? Even in real life, a tiny raft is just like an aircraft carrier. It needs something to move it, otherwise it just sits there.

        1. I would think that the lack of explanation actually makes it “more consistent” as it allows me to use my imagination. Just like Star Trek did with transporters — they were a plot device invented, by Rodenberry’s own admission, because he lacked the SPFX budget to “land that mother every week.”

          I prefer movies that engage me, as opposed to movies that feel like technical gobbledygook lectures and stodgy pontifications about the great Socialist Paradise in which we’d all live if Gene “screwed writers over” Rodenberry had his way anyway. The Death Star looked f***ing cool. That’s pretty much all I care about.

          I guess that makes you a better science fiction fan, Tony. How ashamed I am. How ashamed.

          Oh, and thanks for proving one of the points in my post. Appreciate it. Q’aplaH! :o)

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