The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Idiots’

Stuff Read

Posted by Matt on July 15, 2011

How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered The World: A Short History of Modern Delusions,
by Francis Wheen

When I decided to read Francis Wheen’s polemic against irrationality, I made the (understandable) error in thinking the majority of the book would sock the major players in the world of quackery and supernatural bollocks, something that I read on a regular basis and quite enjoy. That’s not to say the gang wasn’t all there: Wheen went after homeopathy, UFO conspiracy theorists, creationism, astrology, motivational speakers, and false prophets both ancient and modern in good order. But all these things, all relatively easy targets as widespread as they are, were simply the symptoms of something greater, Wheen says, and repeatedly traces it back to one decade: the 1980s. I think you know where this is going.

The thesis of the book seems to be that the 1980s, and the election of the Iron Lady in Britain and the Gipper in the US, ushered in a new era, a “counter-enlightenment”, whose primary goal was to undo the scientific rationalism that began to spread with the work of the 18th century Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire, Diderot, and the American founding fathers. The search for truth those great thinkers advocated was derided as the source of the world’s woes, and various forms of political and economic mysticism were invoked to get the world back on track. Wheen tracks the movement to every aspect of life: the massive deregulation of businesses and the subsequent overzealous businessmen who rose and fell in the manic trends (which we’ve seen even more of since the book was published), America’s search for a new post-Cold War archenemy (which was, apparently, Japan for a very short while), the takeover of academia by post-structuralist and postmodern thinkers who take healthy skepticism of authority to unheard levels by rejecting reality itself, and the massive outbreak of overemotional hysteria that reached its apex with the death of Princess Diana in 1997. What all these have in common, Wheen argues, is that they all derive from an ideology that rejects every advance made by Enlightenment 200 years earlier, putting emotion and belief ahead of thought and understanding. Even worse, he writes, the people who should be fighting back, the so-called progressive thinkers, have succumbed to the same illness, firmly planting themselves in their own opposition ideology of anti-Western fervor that they rarely see the forest for the trees.

It’s a powerful, eye-opening argument, and one that Wheen does an excellent job supporting. That the stories of dot-com era businessmen putting all their money in websites that literally make no money somehow end up being more damning of the deficiencies of the modern world than stories of fear-stricken dunderheads making preparations for California-destroying earthquakes caused by a rare planetary alignment is definitely a point in the book’s favour. Of course, we would all think to point and laugh at the latter and wonder what’s wrong with people, but to consider that the former and latter (and many more instances of both institutional and cultural insanity) derive from the same sweeping epidemic of anti-inquiry? That’s frightening.

So, a book that would initially seem to be an amusing look at snake-oil salesman and their marks (and Wheen’s style is definitely still quite amusing, even as he dives into the bleakness of the situation) turns into an examination of a world that has turned its back on critical thinking, and won’t stop it’s retreat to the dark ages even as it’s endeavors fail again and again. It was a bit of a surprise for me, but that only made the read more rewarding. The connections between all these irrational things hold up, and creates a disturbing realization of just how embedded these inanities are in our culture.

Posted in Observations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Scumbags on Parade

Posted by Matt on January 31, 2011

The Canadian Values people won’t leave me alone. Now ‘Dr.’ Charles McVety is his entourage of kooks are whining to me about their TV channel being ‘censored’:

“In December, the CRTC, through their Canadian Broadcast Standards Council began to censor Charles McVety and his television broadcast Word TV for unapproved political speech. Fearing the heavy hand of the CRTC the new corporate leadership at CTS bowed to the censors, rejected three subsequent Word TV programs for frivolous reasons and then publically announced that CTS will no longer air the program.”

Gee, I’d like to help, but you don’t seem to be giving me much information. What are these ‘frivolous’ reasons? When did it happen? It’s almost as if you’re withholding these facts from us so you easily manipulate and propagandize this press release.

“Dr. McVety says “I don’t know how they want me to talk. I thought I lived in a free democratic country and that political censorship was reserved for totalitarian regimes. The first thing a dictator like Hugo Chavez does is silence voices of opposition. Iran, Cuba, North Korea and other despotic regimes all move swiftly to suppress voices of dissent. Canada criticizes China heavily for human rights violations of denying free speech while Canada practices heavy handed political censorship. I am not suggesting Canada is moving toward fascism, but toward total control of the education of our children. No country on earth confuses its children as young as eight-years-old with “gender identity” teaching.””

“I am not suggesting Canadia is moving towards fascism”

Of course not.

And are you still on the gender identity thing? Get off this fucking obsession you have, especially when it has nothing to do with what your talking about! This seems to be a regular feature of McVety’s news ejaculations.

“For years this Orwellian Council has attacked other Christian leaders such as James Dobson, John Hagee, Jack Van Impe, James Robison and many more however this is the first time their acts of censorship have forced a Canadian Christian leader from the air.”

Yes, that would the James Dobson who has spent over thirty years rallying against homosexuals, gay marriage (which will “Destroy the earth”, I remind you), and convincing parents to ‘fix’ their kids if they ever show any sign of the queer.

And yes, that would be John Hagee, apocalyptic cult leader and all-around chucklehead.

Yes, McVety puts himself in good company.

“McVety says “This is an attack on all Christians and we will fight to defend our basic human rights afforded to us by Canada’s Charter that guarantees (a) freedom of conscience and religion;(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”.

As leaders representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians, we believe the actions of CRTC, CBSC and CTS contravene the Broadcast Act and are unconstitutional. Together we call on the CRTC and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to uphold our basic human rights and to cease and desist all actions of political censorship.”

Yeah, good luck with that.

Posted in Observations | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Perverts Ruin Everything

Posted by Matt on November 13, 2010

Here’s the proof, from my good friend Dr. Charles McVety of the Institute of Canadian Values, who keeps sending me things for some reason:

Leaders Pledge to Stop Bill C-389 From Exposing Our Children to Perverts

For Immediate Release
Toronto, ON
November 10, 2010

Private Member’s Bill C-389 – An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) is on the verge of becoming law. If passed, it will add these terms to the list of identifiable groups listed in sections 318 and 718.2(a)(i) of the criminal code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. The new criminal code would make it a crime to speak or discriminate against gender identity and gender expression. These two conditions are self identified with no proof so anyone at anytime can claim to be another gender.

Dr. Charles McVety, President of the Institute for Canadian Values states “Somehow this ridiculous Bill C-389 has succeeded through two votes in Parliament and has now passed a 30 minute committee hearing. If it passes third reading and the Senate our children will be exposed to perverts entering girls bathrooms, change rooms and even showers claiming transgender discrimination. The penalty for “discriminating” against them will be up to two years in prison. We are working with leaders across Canada and vow to protect our children.

McVety goes on to say “in addition this Bill would make gender identity and gender expression mandatory teaching in all schools in Canada under the principle that the law is a teacher. Earlier this year Premier McGuinty scrapped such teaching in the Ontario Sex Education Curriculum but now the federal parliament is attempting to re-insert this onerous material by law. We don’t understand how a Conservative Government would allow this to happen under its watch.”

How could Stephen Harper let our children learn about gender identity and gender expression, as if they are things that exist!

Posted in Observations | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on November 10, 2010

“Some say a lack of evidence is an argument against the existence of the creature”

Thanks, Monster Quest.

Posted in Idiot Box, Observations | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on October 1, 2010

Early in development, the main character in The Last Guardian was female, but the team ended up going with a boy. The reason: they thought it would be more realistic that he would have enough grip strength to be able to climb around, and because they wouldn’t have to worry about camera angles with a girl who wears a skirt.

Quite the imagination on that sucker.

Posted in Gamezzzzz, Leinks | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Posted by Matt on June 20, 2010

Thoughts on Sun TV:

This really, really isn’t as big a deal as some have made it out to be. The Quebecor/Sun Media empire is a tiny, trashy thing with little to no real influence. Sure, some people read their papers, but I’ve never heard anyone take them even the remotest bit seriously. They gleefully embrace their position as a distributor of sensationalist tabloid horseshit; that’s the key to their success.

Of course, they’ll never admit this. The moment they admit to pandering to idiots, the illusion is gone, and they will lose everything. Thus, all the talk about them being ‘hard news’ and an ‘alternative voice for Canadians’, when they have shown no real interest in anything resembling journalism in the past. And chances are, they aren’t going to change anytime soon. The new head of their television division on CBC Radio One Saturday morning saying ‘we answer to our shareholders first’ (of course, that was in response to a question about whether or not they’d listen if someone in government complained about their coverage) and his emphasis on their aim for high ratings pretty much confirms that.

I don’t have anything against there being a tabloid news network. Television is a sea of shit, so what’s another turd? Despite all their attempts to appear to be a legitimate news network in competition with CBC and CTV, there’s no reason for anyone who has ever even glanced at a Quebecor newspaper to believe that they will be anything other than what they usually are. And this is a sound strategy for them, because being real news would lose the attention of their base, who are generally not interested in real news.

especially if their gunning for ‘must-carry’ status funded by tax dollars. Not that most people honestly care about where their money is being funneled, except when the bill goes up. Even so, gunning for that status has already been a kick in the ass right out the gate. (Edit: Apparently, this is not true. ‘Category 1’ Status does not require anyone to subscribe to/pay for the channel)

As for the ‘Fox News North’ label…mmmm, maybe. It’s definitely going to have to be a lower-key affair; Quebecor may be a wide-reaching company, but they’re no Murdoch. It would also be wise of them to try to keep comparisons to Fox News to a minimum, considering that Sun TV will likely only have access to whatever droning knuckleheads the Canadian commentary backwaters offer, so they’ll essentially look like a boring, stupid Canadian version of Fox. And we’ve had a long, long history of turning boring, stupid Canadian versions of American things into an even bigger joke than the American source. Or, even worse for them, people will dismiss them outright and ignore them. Considering that one of the arguments Quebecor pulls out to justify the channel’s existence is that Canadians would rather watch American news than local stuff, what exactly can they do to convince them to watch this channel instead of US news/not-news channels? The chance of them lucking on a ranting hobo or overpriveleged white douchebag with as a strong a voice up here as the ranting hobos and overpriveleged white douchebags the US equivalent has is dreadfully slim, especially since most of Canada’s biggest nutters (Steyn) have moved to the US. And if they do as they say and tried to find ‘balanced’ commentary…what makes them so different from all the other news channels? They’re already fucked.

So, what do we have here? A channel that will likely offer mediocre news as competition for the rest of the mediocre news we have, coupled with boring, half-assed ‘alternative’ commentary delivered by bland personalities. It will likely suffer through development hell as it overestimates how much Canadians care about getting an ‘alternative’ news source and goes for the gold when all it will likely get is a rusty tin can. It’s not offensive, it’s not detrimental…if anything, it’s kind of sad, considering how doomed it is from the get-go.

Of course, they could always prove me wrong, showing that Canadians really did want to see a Canadian goblin-people yelling conspiracy theories at each other. I am willing to concede this.

Now read this take.

Posted in Idiot Box, Leinks, Observations | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on March 13, 2010

The Worst Words #3


I truly have a hard time believing in the concept of real ‘evil’. For the most part, I can only see it in the dilutions that are only viewed as evil by weaker minds. However, if there is one thing that I would consider truly an example of evil, it would be marketing. The evil of marketing is multi-faceted: it could only appear in a society that is economically, scientifically, and culturally advanced enough that excess is even possible, meaning that even our greatest human achievements can be easily tainted; it is inherently manipulative, as it based around convincing people to buy things of wildly varying value by any means necessary; it abuses science and art, two of the great facets of human civilization, in order to perform that manipulation; and in the end, it is a mindless entity which exists solely to make money, and everything else involved does not mean a damned thing to it: it could be selling the next great human advancement, it could be selling a worthless trinket, it could be selling genocide, but that doesn’t matter at all. It doesn’t care about anything other than maintaining the endless cycle that is its existence. It is far beyond the minds that created it at this point; the marketing ideals are now in control.

So yes, I don’t think much of marketing.What disturbs me along with that is that not only are people being manipulated by the marketing devices, many of them do so willingly.

As I said in a previous post, the Internet age has given people a vast knowledge base from which they can access at any time. The people of the Internet culture has accumulated an absurd amount of information about the things they are interested in. I doubt anyone decades ago could tell you as much about the inner workings of their favourite TV shows or movies as the fans could today. It’s not just that viewers are becoming more obsessive, it’s that it’s all there for them. People seem to have accepted this new freedom of information as an essential part of the culture. People scour the Internet for casting rumours and early script reviews. They know the industry, and they know (most) of the tricks used by the marketeers to make things appealing, whether they be entertainment or other kinds of products.

I remember being struck while studying media texts in a sociology class how close the concept of the ‘media-savvy’ was to my own experience. The definitions and problems posed by the text almost exactly described what I had observed during my years as part of various media discussions. The problem with the media-savvy is that, with all their knowledge, with all their capacity to gain discerning taste and reject some of the cruder elements of pop culture, they choose not to. They watch and they buy just as anyone else would; no matter how embarrassingly mediocre something like SNL gets, they’ll still pay attention to it, even if they complain about it the entire way. They still don’t think twice about what the commercial is trying to do, they will enjoy it nonetheless. This says something not only about how hypocritical and intellectually lazy western society can get, but also in the kind of power marketing has. Even when the Emperor is naked, the crowds will still praise his regal look.

I’d typify the type of person I think of above as the average reader of the pop culture blog (which includes stuff like The AV Club, although they are usually of more integrity than the rest of the media-savvy world). Another offshoot of this culture are the type who I see often on videogame message boards, the ones who not only accept marketing, but actively seeking to be marketed to. This is where ‘hype’ comes in. Hype is the artificial kind of anticipation that these types obtain, a short-lived high that, like a drug addiction, needs to be administered in increasing doses in order to maintain the same level of satisfaction. It is entirely unnecessary, of course. Surely a big game should hook you on what it has, and doesn’t need the regular bluster.

To see someone in a discussion go from ‘totally hype’ to ‘zero hype’ is a total non-event. The shift usually happens when there has been proper marketing for a lengthy period, and usually doesn’t mean a thing. Like a difficult child, they’ll say they are running away, and maybe they’ll even pack a bindle filled with crayons and cookies; but they are too reliant on the product to ever leave it. As soon as the producers drop another bombastically-presented slice of information, they’re back at the forefront, and the cycle begins anew. But no matter what mood they are in currently, it’s almost guaranteed they will buy. Even the most indignant fan, filled to the brim with entitlement, cares too much about their object of fandom to leave it alone.

Thus is the artificial nature of hype. The nerd culture, as one should have been able to determine if you’ve read any of my rants, thrives on seemingly being doted upon by their entertainment supplier of choice, although it is only an illusion. And as stupid as they may appear (and, for the most part, are), they are still media-savvy, maybe even more than most, so they bring this entirely upon themselves more often than not. Every time I see someone online talking about being ‘hype’, I cringe – it often seems to have replaced genuine excitement for something empty. Which is just one of the many byproducts of marketing.

Posted in NERDS!, Observations | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on March 1, 2010

The Worst Words #2


The Internet has given us many great things. It makes communication easier, it gives people the opportunity to share their talents to a wider audience they couldn’t possibly reach before, it gives us a wealth of information we can access with the push of a button. I’m sure there are many other benefits that I am overlooking, too.

On the other hand, it has helped raised a generation of isolated, self-absorbed children who are never forced to look at the world through any other perspective than their own. With all that information available, it is truly astonishing that most people would rather find places that reaffirm their own preconceived biases rather than actually use this great tool to learn. This is the great tragedy of the Internet.

And this is where opinion comes into play. Opinion, on the Internet, has become the great cop-out, a way for someone to be able to exempt themselves from an argument, especially if they are unable to actually argue a point. It also acts as a shield from criticism, whether it be of yourself or (in the case of most nerd sites) whatever it is you’ve become obligated to defend. “Well, that’s just your opinion” is the weasel phrase, a standard for anti-thought individuals.

It is a problem in the real world, too, where opinion and subjectivity is used by individuals and groups to validate or elevate their position, even if it is obviously wrong. The evolution ‘debate’ is one of the greatest examples of this, where anti-science organizations get to say they are ‘interpreting the evidence differently’, which is utter drivel, and anyone who looks at the facts would know that. But people still let them get away with being factually inaccurate (and, at times, compulsive liars and propagandists) because they, too, see the issue as being a thing of interpretations, rather than what it really is, which is a clear-cut case of reality being challenged by those who would rather live in a fantasy world.

Part of the problem is a postmodern one. Many people have begun to question the ‘truths’ of the world around them, and have been taught that perspective controls everything, and all ‘facts’ are interpretations. While this line of thinking can be beneficial, especially in the highly manipulative marketing-based environment we live in, it does NOT work in all situations. It does not work in the realm of science, which is based entirely around empirical evidence and testing that are as far removed from subjective spinning as possible (not that it is possible to be entirely objective, even in science, but that is no excuse to look at it as just another voice among countless others). And, while a tad more problematic, it has no place in the realm of criticism.

Most of us, being mindless consumers, have come to loathe the critic, whether it be the movie critic, the music critic, or even the political critic. They are associated with negativity, with having arcane tastes, with not agreeing with the majority (and boy, are the majority ever the best judges of anything). Besides, once we apply that postmodern perspective, than they just become another voice. What they have to say is no more important than what some random guy on a forum has to say. It’s all just opinion, right? The problem is…no, no it isn’t.

While there are many lousy critics out there (their numbers bolstered thanks to, get this, the Internet and its lack of editorial standards), to deny them any sort of authority is to be foolish. The average movie critic will see many more movies than you or I ever will; they will also have see a wider variety of movies, they will understand the history of cinema, they will have seen a thousand different examples of good and bad acting, good and bad plot, good and bad special effects (all of which are among things in movies that are NOT subject to much subjectivity; a non-existent story is a non-existent story, no matter who you talk to, and bad acting is bad acting, and so on). They are true film experts, and despite their connection to negativity, the good ones always love what they do, and love movies. Not only that, but the best of the best also know how to think about what their watching, even if it’s mindless entertainment, and then explain those thoughts in a clear manner.

We may not agree with them all the time (see, subjectivity isn’t completely dead, and knowing how to apply subjectivity when appropriate is a sign of real intelligence), but clearly their thoughts on something can be worth more than the average Joe. Just like the scientists who have studied a subject, whether it be evolution, or physics, or the climate, we can put priority on what they have to say, because clearly they know what their talking about. So despite us being told to distrust authority, that’s no reason to disregard experience and knowledge.

None of that matters on the Internet. It is a very modern, very democratic line of thinking that puts everyone on the same level, whether that be the scientist and the guy off the street, or the movie critic and the casual moviegoer. In this mindset, all opinions are equal, and all claims are opinions. The truth is a rare beast, and usually only encompasses ubiquitous, grade-school factoids, like the sky being blue, and turtles being reptiles, and what have you. All other things, animal, vegetable, or mineral, are up for interpretation. And you can’t tell them they’re wrong, because that wouldn’t be polite. Not that they would listen, anyway, not when they have had their opinion reinforced by dozens of other like-minded individuals and whatever phony ‘evidence’ they can pluck from the depths. The Internet has made it much easier to become enlightened, but it also has made it easier to delude yourself into thinking you are right about everything, and never have to confront conflicting views. The echo chamber effect that the World Wide Web provides can be catastrophic to the discourse, turning it into gangs of dittoheads yelling their thoughts at each other without having considered anything that is being said, because they don’t have to.

Clearly, this kind of thinking is wrong when it comes to the real world. The evolution/creationism, climate change, and war/peace narratives are just some examples where all thoughts are valued the same, despite many being backed by, you know, reality, that have a clear impact on the world. However, one could trace this kind of thinking back to the simpler things, the world of arts and entertainment. Since this world is considered one of trifles, no one really puts much thought into how subjectivity/objectivity plays into it, but Creation Museums and angry comments on IMDB all originate from the same irrational ideology, one that says you have every right to think the way you do, even in the face of the better-informed, the more accurate…you get the idea.

What makes the nerd world version of the opinion fallacy worse is that it usually based on less than nothing. A person will choose to disagree with someone about something they have not experienced firsthand. I have encountered numerous examples of forum-goers dismissing the early negative reviews of a game they are looking forward to, merely because they have decided that they will like the game beforehand. They can’t have this predetermined opinion be challenged, so they choose to ignore people who disagree with them. Even if their object of desire turns out to be no good, they will often force themselves to like it, although the opposite (being disappointed in something and then deciding it is THE WORST THING EVER) is also highly prevalent, albeit it seems that you can predict the latter reaction by whether that person has had a bipolar reaction to just about everything related to it.

As could be surmised from the David Jaffe post, I don’t think putting your faith in the masses is a particularly swell idea. Especially when that mass includes people who have make judgments before it even makes sense to. I’ve heard people on forums say things like “I’d take the opinions of people on here over reviewers”, and this is wrong-headed. Unless of course you want everyone to agree with you, in which case that would be the proper path to take. Anyone who is not stupid, however, will know it is wrong.

This mindset is also terrible for the growing communities of artists online. Places like DeviantArt and the like, less real venues for artists and more havens of shitty fan art, are filled with prima donnas who surround themselves with warm, fuzzy comments from their half-wit online friends, and hate being criticized for anything (you know, the kind of thing that Your Webcomic is Bad And You Should Feel Bad was tackling back in the day). This is the opposite attitude anyone who takes pride in their creative output should have. If you write, draw, or compose music, or all three, you have to take criticisms, even angry ones laced with ad hominem attacks, into consideration, because otherwise you will never improve as an artist. This is what the editorial process did back before there was an Internet, but now that editorial process has been shoved into the background, and once again people prefer to be surrounded by praise, and will dismiss anything else as ‘flaming’, ‘trolling’, or the dreaded ‘just an opinion’.

This may be one of my biggest beefs with the Internet culture, which I am very much a part of, as you could tell by how long this article has been. It works in with the previous theme of misuse of the term maturity – the ‘just an opinion’ attitude is another sign of a pure lack of maturity, unable to see any other view but your own, unable to admit when you’re wrong, and dismissive of those who challenge you. It kills any sort of intelligent conversation, it limits imagination and intellectual growth…it’s just an absolutely frustrating thing to have to deal with, and I don’t see it going away any time soon. Thus is the curse of the Internet.

Posted in NERDS!, Observations | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on February 27, 2010

Dumb news stories Vol. C

David Jaffe ‘doesn’t connect with specialist press review scores’

This is problematic. It is more problematic when you read this line:

and prefers reading fan feedback online.

“I don’t like hearing from people who know what they’re talking about, I’d rather listen to masses of sycophant retards.”


Hilarious ending to horrible-sounding movie revealed. It may rival ‘Will Smith commits suicide with jellyfish’ as the most ludicrous way to end a drama in recent memory. But, as much as I like this sort of thing, that is not the only reason I posted this link.

I know I don’t usually condone this, but read the comments. Swarmed with humourless twits who apparently are oblivious to the fact that if they didn’t have to read post, and that the guy was very clear about the subject of his post.

Of course, there’s also the chance that they weren’t being serious. And this is why the Internet is pure hate.

Posted in Gamezzzzz, Leinks, NERDS! | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on February 21, 2010

The Worst Words #1


This is a horse that has been beaten dead for many a year, but I feel like giving my take on it, even if it isn’t significantly different from others’.

‘Mature’ is one of those words that should be banned from all sources of nerd information until they can prove that they actually know what it means. ‘Maturity’ in nerd media has become a joke, and it’s all because of the overuse and misuse of the term since nerd media really began.

Real maturity indicates many things. It means you have embraced the responsibilities associated with adulthood. It means you can think rationally, you can empathize with others, you exit the black and white morality of childhood, you realize that life is both good and bad. You can see, then, why most nerds have no idea what maturity really is.

But they know it must be important, because they see intelligent people using it (despite the fact that they always talk about how much they hate those intelligent people, they want to look smart too, so they also emulate them). What happened, though, is they looked at what was being described by others as ‘mature’ and got the wrong idea about them. For them, ‘maturity’ meant the violence, the dark storylines, the sex…you know all that. And thus started the ‘grim n gritty’ trend that has mostly been associated with comic books, and most forms of entertainment in the nerd sphere.

The comic book connection is a strange one. Most people trace the 90s (and even today’s) grim n gritty trend back to the 80s, with the success of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, both of which were darker, more violent take on a prior to that kid-oriented genre. There was darkness and death before in mainstream superheroes (see most of Uncanny X-Men, a comic that honestly surprises me was really that popular with the youth set back in those days, considering its soap opera melodrama), but not only were these REALLY dark and violent, but they were also critically acclaimed. But they were critically acclaimed for their ideas, their satire, their take on the genre as a whole (DKR a little less so on all accounts; it’s still pretty good, but I’d say Frank Miller has his own maturity issues). But what did a lot of the fans, and even the companies who produced those comics, think of them? They were dark, violent, and had nudity and swears and stuff, and that’s what makes them mature and important! And that is what they’ve been basing their reading/writing on for the past twenty years.

Although not all forms of entertainment have such a clearcut origin, the effect is the same. Not only was maturity debased in the minds of the many, but its debasement meant that nerds who thought themselves the arbiters of good taste began to use the term to justify their current obsessions with things they really shouldn’t be taking part in (mostly cartoons), to say that they are ‘mature’ as well. I’ve seen the Wikipedia entries for shows like Darkwing Duck describe aspects of the show as ‘mature’ because they may not gloss over death or have ‘themes’, which is ridiculous, and I’m sure the creators of those shows would agree. This misuse of the term is very popular among nostalgic and anime nerds.

That, of course, is one extreme. The more common abuse of the term is when it is applied to ultra-violent pieces of juvenile junk, especially in the worlds of video games and comics. Everything from GTA to Metal Gear Solid is called mature, even when they most certainly are (in the case of MGS, many mistake pretentiousness for actual maturity). While video game media has evolved over the years, and for the most part we no longer need to worry about them calling Gears of War a ‘mature’ in ways other than its ESRB rating, it still ends up being on the negative end of usage. I cringe every time I see some blog call (or dumb major website) for Zelda to become more ‘dark and mature’. But at least they’re making progress, right?

Posted in NERDS! | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »