Sunday, February 5, 2017

Grown Folks in Spandex Fake-Fighting

If you're reading this blog post, you might be a superhero nerd. I'm a superhero nerd. I'm a nerd of a lot of things; horror, sci-fi -- for better or worse, the Nerd Bug bit me quite a few times. Despite the absolutely hostile takeover of all things superhero or "geeky" in Hollywood and pop culture, society, journalist snobs and even Hollywood, as it pickpockets us, still feel the need to make you feel ashamed of your hobby, your passion. Some people embrace what they like; some feel the need to keep it at arm's length; some feel the need to "like" it in an ironic way, not wanting to admit they DO like this stuff on a genuine level. But I'm sure we've all felt that tinge of shame or embarrassment, when...why should we?

Society says you're immature or a loser or a nerd if you like superheroes. We've all heard our favorite heroes reduced to the obnoxious "people in spandex" or "guys in rubber suits punching other guys in rubber suits" description. Superheroes are "juvenile," comic books "for stupid people." Meanwhile, society expects -- demands, accepts -- that every man worship at the altar of professional sports. Sports, which are grown men in spandex. Sports, in which society pays these spandexmen millions to play a game played by kindergarteners. Sports, in which millions is made from merchandise that is A-OKacceptable to wear, to display. To show your team pride is admirable; a man of any age can wear a t-shirt of their favorite sports team and nobody will say anything, that person's personal life or worth will never be questioned. A man above a certain age wear a Superman shirt? Every third person will glare and every person will probably judge that man.

In a relationship, an adult is expected to discard "juvenile" hobbies -- like comic book reading or memorabilia collecting -- to "put away childish things" for the sake of their significant other. But a spouse will allow their partner to build shrines in their home to their favorite sports teams. Many people will force themselves to like sports for the sake of their SO, but will have a hard time tolerating a superhero or sci-fi fan. (I never understood this. Superhero stories, sci-fi stories, other genre works have a dramatic structure and narrative and offer multiple things to a viewer. Some people have such zero tolerance accepting a "geeky" thing, yet will feign enthusiasm and interest in sports when a lot of people know damn well the fact that nobody wants to admit: sports are mind-numbingly boring. Fun to play, yes. But if you're not a drinker, how in the FLYING fuck are you expected to watch four-hour games and not want to jump through a window?)

"[Sports] is a physical journey, a spiritual journey. It's the meaning of life." You're allowed to say this kind of shit about sports, with a straight face, and not get yourself laughed at by "normal" society.

So it's not really sports/physical versus nerd/cerebral. Because sports worship is a spectator, well, sport. Unless you count tailgating and screaming at referees.

A sports fan knows every minute statistic about each player; they can tell you who won the winning touchdown in the 1973 Super Bowl. These are "normal" members of society. If you know Green Lantern's oath? BURN THE NERD! So for every article that claims "the geeks have inherited the earth," there's many, many examples to show you that that's not the case, and we're still a looked-down-upon fringe.

And quite frankly, I just don't get why it's "OK" and "normal" to follow sports like a Deadhead will follow the ghost of Cherry Garcia, but it's "weird" to be geeky about nerd stuff. Is it a holdover from jock- and cheer leader-worship in high school? Now who's being childish?


  1. Speaking as someone who does play a sport, you really ought not to be following sports after a certain age. Visions of the Coliseum and spectators watching people get thrown to lions while their empire dies comes to mind.

    I agree with the gist of this essay. However to be fair, plenty of superhero/scifi/fantasy fans take things a bit too far, just as the sports obsessed folk who never grew up. Just look at some of those cosplayers and those who think wearing superhero shirts, etc. doesn't get ridiculous after a certain point.

    I guess the point is, there are immature people on both sides. You're all adults: act the part.

  2. Maybe I was harsher than I intended to be. I actually have no problem with fans wearing Packers underwear, a Packers track suit, a Packers hat, Packers face paint, and Packers tattoos -- all at once. But I'm also OK with that Star Trek: TNG fan wearing an Enterprise uniform to work and even jury duty. Hey, you do you. What I think is wrong is vilifying fans of what the culture currently considers "nerdy/geeky" things while elevating following sports to this "manly" and "serious business" badge of respectability and belonging.

  3. It makes me sick that people are still judging the "nerd" culture. All we wanna do is just have fun doing what we do and liking what we like. Why are we getting ridiculed for this? Another thing that angers me is that popular TV shows are still showing our culture getting ridiculed and bullied by the popular crowd, in particular tween sitcoms like icarly and victorious, or anything made by Dan Schneider. The massively popular Big Bang theory doesn't make us look any better either.

    1. Preaching to the choir, man! :D It's really cynical of Hollywood to be so quick to take our money, but still condemn you for liking this stuff.

      The Big Bang Theory is just a really nasty show. There's two types of nerds out there; the nerds who are into superhero stuff and sci-fi and whatnot, and the nerds who are devoted to science and learning and so on. The latter looks down on the former. But the Big Bang Theory tries to depict both sides, and is just really disingenuous about it. They're making fun of those people, and yet the viewers who the show is geared towards still make the show a success.