mallrats

The Stigma of Fandom

Let's face it, Speculative Fiction fandom has a stigma attached to it that no other fans base does.  Music and sports fans are celebrated, while SF fans are often ridiculed for engaging in the same activities.

Rise of Anti-intellectualism

I blame the rise of the anti-intellectual movements which began to organize in 1972, and the culture of ignorant bliss they promulgated for the stigma.  They pushed the image of a good American as a one more interested in might than dialogue.  Following the leader and the trends those leaders established were seen as more valuable than free thought.  Questions were not encouraged.

Civics classes were dropped from the curriculum in the 1970s, and science education suffered soon there after.

This new culture held instinct and feeling as a higher source of insight than rationalism and education.

Never left High School

The tension between nerds and jocks in American High Schools is a schism that has probably always been with us, but in the 1970's and '80's this conflict was moved into the popular culture through movies, music, and television.  These shows portrayed the jock as the hero and the nerd as the misfit who should be mocked and left out.

Dialogue and debate were stripped from our public dialogue, replaced by televised shouting matches.  Pop culture's development was stunted.  Adherents never matured out of the the high school mindset because there was no need.  Pop Culture lowered itself so it would remain accessible to this new class of permanent high schoolers.

The Consumer Culture

There is a financial reason to stunt the growth of Pop Culture.  The less discerning your audience is, the less expensive content is to make, the more people are likely to buy it.

Despite the pleas for better content, the financial benefit of keeping people from maturing and developing opinions is just too high to dissuade them from their present course.

Revenge of the Nerds

In the 1980's and '90's, the misfits started to fight back.  Movies like Revenge of the Nerds, The Goonies, and Mallrats became touchstones for outcasts to rally behind, but the damage had already been done.

The culture had been damaged, and fans were charactured as annoyances.  The misfits, now nothing more than the punchline of a poorly written joke, had to fend for themselves.  We orginized into tighter groups.

The Heart's Ache

Through it all, the fans persevered, because through it all, we knew something the pop culture never will.  We know what it is to find meaning.

The music, books, series, and movies we love gave us meaning.  It is different for every fan, but it is still there.  In our hearts, we know why we are in the world and what we have to do.

Kahless the Unforgettable
Image via Wikipedia

I found my meaning in the Klingons from Star Trek.  While I wouldn't say my life has been a hard on, I still had to fight for everything that I have.  I had to fight for my identity, my life, and my very mind and soul.  Through the Klingons, I learned that life is about the struggle.  It is about the fight not the outcome.

I used to cosplay as a Klingon at the conventions (when I wasn't a vampire).  I took their idea of honor, and made it my own.  It helped me to reign in my temper, and enjoy the struggles of my life.  I am a better person for rejecting the popular culture and embracing fandom.

Unlike so many that I meet, my heart doesn't ache from a lack of meaning.

Laugh if you want to

So laugh at me if you want to.  Tell me that I am taking these silly books, songs, series, and movies too seriously.  That's ok, I am used to it.  My only hope is that if my words can find their way to that one kid who is ashamed of who they are, how they see the world, and how they want to live, it is all worth it.

Fandom quite literally saved my life.  Suicide is all too common among people who don't feel like they belong.  Fandom is the only culture and community that asks so little of its members.

Do you love something so much you want to keep it with you always?  Has there ever been a song that you felt told your story so perfectly you had to love it?  Have you ever seen a show that drew you in so deeply you saw yourself in it?  Have you ever read a book that changed you, and made you better?

I feel sorry for the people who cannot answer yes to those questions, and I hope they will open their hearts and let something in.

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Exploring: The Incredible Hulk

Review of: The Incredible Hulk Overall Rating: 9.0   The Incredible Hulk

Finally not another origin story! The Incredible Hulk was a good movie and fun to watch but not as good as Iron Man. I'm really pleased to see Marvel's positive influence on these projects. The movie is an exciting ride with a nice balance between action, drama, and suspense that carried me through the emotions of the story. There are some problems with the story line and maintaining the immaculate reality of the experience but overall they kept true to the spirit of the Hulk and I really appreciate that.

The Incredible Hulk is a tale about Bruce Banner the Geneticist and his quest for a cure for a condition that turns him into a raging monster known as the Hulk. All the while the military is hunting down Bruce Banner so that they can learn how to control the Hulk and use Bruce’s research to create super soldiers. In the end they only create an even more deadly monster known as The Abomination.

Likes

  • The opening credits is brilliant: they cover the origin story in a few minutes and put in a lot of fun references.
  • The way they ease us into the hulk: His first appearance is mostly from the shadows with only glimpses to help acclimate the audience with his look.
  • the way they show the bullets and darts just bending and bouncing off of his skin. The really neat thing is that they do show on occasion lacerations in the hulks skin when the attack is sever enough to merit it. The 50 caliber rounds looked awesome when they dented his skin.
  • The emotion that they were able to animate into the Hulk was amazing. Like Gollum before him the Hulk was really able to connect on an emotional level with the audience.
  • The Cameos: Stan Lee, Lou Ferrigno
  • I liked the references subtly placed throughout the movie to Stark Industries, Nick Fury, and S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • They used most of the Hulk's famous lines / attacks in a tasteful and story appropriate manner.
  • The very end / the last page: not going to give a spoiler but after seeing it you will get it.

Dislikes / Concerns

  • The skin of the hulk was too gelatinous and too textured: probably due to rendering or compositing issues because the animation was so well done.
  • The love scene: it was funny but distracted me from the movie and shattered the immaculate reality. Personally I had a Mallrats moment and Brodie wouldn't get out of my head.
  • The story had some issues: I didn't like the mcguffin of the cure and found the Emil Blonsky story line far more interesting and would have like it more if that became the dominate storyline.
  • The end helicopter scene shown in the trailer still bothered me and seeing it in context didn't save it. I realize they needed a tension relief and I did chuckle because it was a funny moment but it completely took me out of the story and reminded me I was watching a film not experiencing it.

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