On Spoilers and Nerd Rage
People get angry over the dumbest things.
Exhibit One: Spoilers
I get it – you don’t want the ending of something ruined for you. That’s fine, and I’ve been there before. As someone who loves stories, I try not to spoil things for my friends; case in point, I was on the verge of watching the third act of The Shawshank Redemption the other day when my wife commented that she’d never seen the movie. Since we were catching it halfway through, I turned off the television and pointed out that it would really be better if she watched the whole thing sometime (mental note: purchase Shawshank Redemption). I did this because I’d like her to fully enjoy the movie as I did, as the end of that film is one of the greatest in film history.
But if I’d left it on, what then? Would my wife freak out and cover her ears like a child, yelling ‘Spoiler Alert?’ Would she be mad at me for ‘ruining’ the movie for her forever? Would she leap across the room and try to wrestle the remote from my hands to prevent her premature knowledge of Andy Dufresne’s fate?
Obviously not; she’s a grown-ass woman. Yet, we see geeks and nerds and so on acting this way frequently. It’s almost become a socially acceptable form of nervous breakdown – by dint of the fact that you have yet to see/read thing X from start to finish, you reserve the right to silence all conversation involving X in your presence. If denied, it is acceptable for you to stuff your fingers in your ears and throw a half-humorous (but that means half-serious!) tantrum. It’s, frankly, ridiculous. We shouldn’t indulge in it if we value our dignity.
The other side of the coin, though, is those out there who seek to spoil. These folks I fundamentally do not understand. They are the guys who scour the internet for sneak peeks of Batman’s newest costume or hunt down scripts to the latest scifi movie. They’re the ones who lurk in the depths of various internet forums attempting to access the secret ending to some book before that book is even available. What the hell is wrong with these people, exactly? Why can’t they wait like a normal person and enjoy the story when it is available? It’s just a movie, for God’s sake! You aren’t revealing some world-altering detail that we all need to know, you’re just frothing at the mouth to consume any vestige or dreg of your favorite movie franchise that you’re behaving like a lunatic. Calm down! You will get to read the book, I promise. Why do you want to know aspects of the plot right now? Furthermore, why the hell do you feel the need to tell everyone else until, inevitably, is scrolls across my Facebook feed?
I accept that nerd/geek culture is filled with people overly enthusiastic about their favorite stories. That is, indeed, a recognized facet of the subculture. This, however, does not absolve us from behaving like mature human beings. If somebody spoils a story, you don’t get to freak out. It, ultimately, really isn’t that big a deal, so act with a little class. On the other side of the coin, though, don’t go about spoiling things just because you can. Wait. Be patient – the movie will come out, you will get to see it, and then you can talk about it with your friends to your heart’s content. And, should you and your friends start talking about how awesome Thor 2 was, those present who still want to see it and object to having it spoiled should have the good grace to excuse themselves from the conversation without shrieking at you. We’re grown-ups, folks – act like it.
Posted on January 28, 2013, in Critiques, Theories, and Random Thoughts and tagged geeks, maturity, nerd rage, nerds, spoilers, The Shawshank Redemption. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.
Portlandia covers this topic nicely: http://youtu.be/NwrvDwIw5is
Yeah, sort of exactly what I’m talking about right there. The thing is, I *used* to do that until I finally took a good look at myself in the mirror and said ‘what an ass I was at that party.’
I think one of the reasons nerd folks do go delving deep into info to find out spoilers on the properties they like is because enough “normal folks” are knowledgeable of the properties on their own. So in order to really feel as though they are the “true” fans of a property (which has always been what ‘nerds’ have known/felt/strive for) they have no have even more knowledge than the mundanes.
Two nerds talking about Batman back in the 80s were at one level of knowledge. But now that Batman has gone even more mainstream and most regular folks have that same level of knowledge now just through cultural osmosis… the nerds have to go deeper. That way, if folks talk about the “new Batman movie” and what they think Nolan is going to do… the nerd has in his back pocket the actual answers. He/she might not give those answers up (so that they don’t spoil it)… but at least he/she *has* the answers if necessary. Because that lends credence to their fandom that they went the extra mile to find out.
That right there is where such people leave the realm of reason. The ‘status’ gained by learning that stuff isn’t actual so much as imagined. It makes the ‘true fan’ just look crazy and/or socially maladjusted. It gives those of us who are socially facile geeks a bad name, and leads to properties like The Big Bang Theory gaining credence as ‘doing geeks right.’ I’m a geek, and yet I dislike being associated with those overzealous fanbois.
True enough… but that search for “status” permeates all parts of our culture. Case in point… the fans of unknown indie bands who have a sense of pride at being one of the few to know of / love the band’s music. But of course… as soon as the band begins to break out and gain a smattering of recognition (or even becomes *gasp* popular!)… those fans start bemoaning that the band “sold out”. Because of the ridiculous concept that only they are the *true* fans of the band, and if other people begin to like them, obviously it’s the band’s fault and they “changed”. When in truth… the so-called ‘fan’ just can’t stand the loss of status. They’re no longer “special” in this imaginary peen-measuring competition.
You’re right, of course. This behavior isn’t solely linked to geek culture, per se, just overly evident within it. It’s silly no matter where it’s found.
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