Why All The Nerd Rage?

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“Look, fellas! A film that didn’t go the way we wanted. Let’s burn it! BURN IT!!”

First off, I am a nerd. I freely admit it. I’m interested in and excited by many of the same things one thinks of typical nerds being interested in and excited by. I like comic books, Harry Potter, old monster movies, Star Trek, toys, science stuff, Star Wars, etc. I work at a comic book store. I blog about nerdy things. I understand the passion nerds have toward their thing.

I’m not into everything nerd, though. I don’t do cosplay. I’ve never participated in roll playing games. (Well, there was that one time in the ’70s when a friend tried to get me interested in Dungeons & Dragons. It just wasn’t for me.) I don’t play video games, because, honestly, I was never very good at them. I’ve never watched an episode of Game Of Thrones. (Yes, I’m aware that last statement has become today’s version of the “I’m vegan” boast. Sorry.) But, not everybody is into everything. Who has the time?

Still, I understand the passion. There was a time when I scoffed at Trekkers who dress as their favorite characters and go to conventions, but I realized I was being a jerk. Let the people indulge their passion. As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or others – what’s the problem? Have fun! Nerd out! Be proud!

I also understand the disappointment a nerd might feel when they believe one of their passions has let them down. It’s the rage that some express so publicly and so vehemently that puzzles me. The internet has made it possible for every nerd to have their say and, boy, are we having our say. (See update below.) Much of which, that I’ve seen anyway, is fairly benign. Some of it is quite interesting and well thought out and well presented.

But, there seems to be a small segment that needs to rage about stuff. And they also seem to need to be the first to express hate for something. On my podcast Dimland Radio (available on iTunes), for the last couple weeks, I talked about my bewilderment about a couple of raging nerds on social media being first in line to hate two movies that haven’t even been released yet!

These folks were angry at teaser trailers!

Teaser trailers!

What the hell? The movies haven’t been released, but they appear to want to be able to say, “I was the first to hate it!”

One trailer is for DC Comics’ upcoming stand-alone film focusing on the origin story of perhaps the greatest villain in comic books – The Joker. As I understand it, Joker, to be released in October, will not be a part of the same DC Universe as the other DC movies. However, it might connect to a future Batman movie.

That didn’t stop one particular nerd from expressing their hatred of the movie. Their main gripe was that Joaquin Phoenix was cast in the title role. The nerd wanted Willem Dafoe. Dafoe might have been a fine choice, but to rage about it? I mean, they weren’t just disappointed about the casting choice. They were angry.

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I tried to settle the person down by reminding them (twice) that the movie hasn’t been released yet. I was suggesting they put their rage on hold until they actually see the movie. They wouldn’t budge.

I think Joker looks like it could be very interesting and I’m looking forward to it.

But, then there’s the Star Wars franchise. Oh, my goodness. There may be no other nerd passion that can cause more rage than Star Wars.

Full disclosure here. I think the Prequels missed the mark. I think there was way too much George Lucas involved. He had attained such a high level of success and power that there was no one around to rein him in. No one to suggest less Jar Jar and more Darth Maul. No one to suggest the love story in Episode II is awful. No one to suggest that, though it looks really cool, the final lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin taking place essentially inside a volcano is ridiculous.

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“Sniff. Sniff. Anakin? Do you smell something cooking?”

“I do, Master. It’s us! We’re surrounded by lava! It’s just like being in an oven!”

The biggest problem with the Prequels was the audience never knew who was supposed to be us. Which character were we supposed to identify with? Anakin? Padme? Obi-Wan? Jar Jar?

In movies I’ve previously blogged about the audience knows who to identify with. In 12 Angry Men (1957) it’s Juror #8. In The Maltese Falcon (1941) it’s Sam Spade. In L.A. Confidential (1997) the audience is given three characters to put ourselves in the place of: Officer White, Lt. Exley, and Sgt. Vincennes. In a lesser movie, this might confuse the audience. But, for this movie, the script and the direction are so great the audience goes right along with it.

The Prequels didn’t have great scripts and direction.

I will say the Prequels aren’t all bad. Visually they are stunning. Although, I would argue the over-reliance on green screen and CGI caused a problem with the tone of the movies. The tone just didn’t feel the same as it did in the original trilogy.

So, I was disappointed by them. I’m not angry about it. They didn’t destroy my childhood. And I should say that I also don’t sense the nerd anger as strongly when it comes to the Prequels. Mainly, I think, the nerd reaction is more of an eye-rolling. The anger wasn’t quite there.

Then came the Sequels.

The Sequels’ arrival happen to coincide with the ubiquity of opinion on the internet, with the rise of social media. Now the rage could begin in earnest.

The Force Awakens? That’s just the same as A New Hope. At least the Prequels were different! The Last Jedi? That’s… that’s just too… different. These new movies have destroyed my childhood!!

Settle down.

I think these new Star Wars films do precisely what the Prequels did not: They match the tone of the originals. That may be, in part, due to the far more prominent use of practical effects than in Episodes I, II & III. Practical effects are there. They have mass. The actors can act with them. They still work better than CG effects, although CG is getting pretty damn good.

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The characters are more well-defined. We are given a hero to follow and identify with: Rey. And we are given other new characters of interest: Finn and Poe. We have a complicated and compelling villain: Kylo Ren. We have a new plucky little friend: BB-8. And, of course, our old friends have returned: Han, Leia, Threepio, R2, Chewie, Yoda, and Luke.

Sure, the films aren’t perfect. Some of the jokes don’t land. Some of the dialogue is clunky. A character or two are bit on the cartoonish side. (Cough! Cough! Hux! Cough!) But the original trilogy wasn’t perfect either. Alec Guiness himself said at the time that he thought the dialogue wasn’t the best he’d read. So it’s not Mamet or Tarantino. So what? The Ewoks are a bit too teddy bearish to be taken seriously. So what? There’s no backstory for the Emperor. So what?

The movies are fun. And that’s what I want from a Star Wars movie.

Last week, the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker dropped. It looks fantastic! I don’t know that it will live up to the trailer, I’ll have to wait to see the movie to be sure, but I am excited.

I had an exchange with one angry nerd who, mere moments after the trailer was posted online, practically tripped over himself to announce to Facebook that they already hated it. “Look at me! I hated it first!”

The angry nerd lamented that Disney can’t match George Lucas’ storytelling ability. Really? Disney? Disney?!  Well, here’s his comment and my sarcastic response:

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For the record, I will say that I have really liked the Star Wars sequels and the side stories of Rogue One and Solo. In fact, I think The Last Jedi is one of the best of the entire series.

Maybe I’m just a nerd contrarian.

Update: I changed this line to include myself as one of the opinionated nerds. After all, I’m a nerd who is taking advantage of the internet to have my say, too. I’m just not raging about it.

Packing Peanuts!

Feel free to comment and share.

Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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