Monday, October 22, 2012

Geeks and Sports

The craziness that is the conversation about the ability of athletes to speak their minds is still ongoing.

What's weird is that, after watching a few episodes of The I.T. Crowd, I realized what a fucked up status symbol it is for nerds not to like sports and sports fandom. T. Campbell was ahead of the crowd by about a decade when he termed what was then the narrow sub-culture of science fiction and fantasy "fandom." Now, we refer to "geek chic" when we talk about people who love everything from Cougar Town to Twilight, and man, neither of those two things are geek as I understand them. Hell, check out this Comic Critics from a few days ago. Same fucking thing, but from a different angle. Yes, I know that sports, as an interest, is more mainstream than comics or sci-fi and that there are a lot of loud, obnoxious idiots who like sports and can't wrap their heads around why anyone would not love it, but fuck, that sentence is also an exact description of people who like Star Wars so fucking much they reciprocate those feelings towards sports fans.

What gets me the most is the ever-so-trendy hate for the ever-so-trendy things like Twilight and Beiber. Much like Satanists and the more obnoxious of the atheists gain my -_- face for being just as idiotic and obnoxious as the extremist Christians they claim to abhor, folks who are vocally critical about the handful of loud extremists who define otherwise innocuous, large groups[1] aren't distinguishing themselves from the parties they've made into their opposition.

Two points:

I imagine a man reading a newspaper. He's in his bathrobe and eating some cereal. On the first page of the entertainment section is a headline, "Local Justin Beiber Concert Totally Enjoyable." The man is stunned. After staring at the headline for a few seconds, he says to no one in particular, "I don't understand why people like Justin Beiber." He drops his spoon, which splashes milk onto the table. Still clutching the entertainment section in one hand, he walks into his living room as if he's a stranger in his own house. This revelation has made his old, familiar world into a new one with foundations and motivations he can no longer understand. He sees his wife. She's on the phone with her boss and dressed for work because she's been really working on that promotion.

"I don't understand why people like Justin Beiber." He's pleading for an answer, but his wife just gives him a tight-lipped smile and the slightest of shrugs while listening to her boss. She's not sure what brought this on, and can't really fathom what sort of reply her husband wants. When she responds to her boss, her voice covers the sound of the front door opening and closing.

Our protagonist stumbles down the single concrete slab that is the step connecting his front door and the walkway to his driveway. Luckily, he lives in the sort of archetypical suburbia that you hope to only see in movies. It's bright and safe, if suddenly foreign. His neighbor has his own serious problems, evidenced by a compulsion to water his hedge at 7:50 AM. None the less, nothing in his unique and diverse life could have prepared him to answer this question, now blurted out by a man whose confidence in his own faculty with a lifelong language is fading, "Idon'tunderstandwhypeoplelikeJustin Beiber." The neighbor freezes in place, maintaining eye contact, but not initiating it whenever the man breaks off. It's saved his life many times, and as far as he knows, today holds another such time.

In slippers made wet from the spreading water of his neighbors ill-timed yard maintenance, he stumbles towards the curb and into the street. A car, observing the speed limit, stops with a healthy amount of space between the two, creating no shriek of halting tires and no blaring horn sounds. Its driver sits, quietly watching the tormented soul in front of her. She has places to go, but can spare a minute to address this carefully. The man may be in trouble. The pedestrian is wearing a bathrobe and steadies himself by putting two hands on the car's hood. It's a surprisingly offensive gesture, touching her car, but she's stayed by the painful contortions of his mouth, which seem to emit no sound. Hand over hand, the man walks himself to her door. Confident, she can drive away if he becomes violent, she stays until he's as close as he feels is necessary. "IdonderstandwhypeplikeJustiBebr." She doubts it would be intelligible even without the glass between them.

Without taking her eyes off of him, the woman releases the brake. The car coasts past the man like a sailboat in a gentle stream before picking up speed and rounding the corner. As he stands in the median, the cars silently pass him.

He's now as desperate as he is confused. The children waiting for a bus on the other corner catch his eye. They've noticed his strange behavior over the past few minutes, eager as they are for anything to talk about. He walks straight towards them, cutting diagonally down the street. Traffic is light enough that cars calmly steer into the opposing lane just long enough to avoid him.With little trouble he stumbles up to the children, soaked, power-blue slippers slapping on the pavement.


These kids know who Justin Beiber is. Some of them are fans. Of those, some would even defend his honor. They say nothing because there's no response to this man's words.

He stumbles into the street and falls to his knees on the yellow-paint median of the road. He screams an unintelligible question to the heavens, then collapses into a fetal position.

Second point's a short one: Kristen Stewart...wait.

Okay. I was going to do a thing where I talked about conjecture over Kristen Stewart's homosexuality being an exceptionally ugly outgrowth of Twilight hate, where people want to insult Stewart in any way they can including with (what they perceive as) the insult of calling her a lesbian.

But a little bit of searching reveals that while a Google search returns about 69 million results for "Kristen Stewart gay," Rhianna returns about 95 million, Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bullock average 16.5 million, and Ellen Page, who--if she's not generally loved should be--returns about 42 million. So, I guess that's a non-issue.

My main point is that if you needed a reason to finally slough off that slavish geek compulsion to remind everyone how little you care for sports, that reason is Chris Kluwe and good, loud guys like him.

[1] More on this later.


Jordan Shipp said...

Every one wants to feel superior or better than every one else. It's one of the reasons, in my mind, 'geeks' decry sports and vice versa for the sports fans.

They're clearly too 'smart' for such a game. Nevermind that most games that 'geeks' play are pretty fucking stupid.

I've also witnessed and partaken in loud 'geek' activities that would have made us look just as obnoxious as sports fans.

The truth is, sports fans can be geeks too, and geeks can be obnoxious and loud.

The only REAL difference is what you like.

VanVelding said...

I don't know "everyone," but yeah, there are a lot of shitty, rude people who can't be happy with what they are unless they're telling themselves someone else is unhappy for being different.