Looking up Mazes and Monsters, Rona Jaffe’s 1981 novel about Dungeons & Dragons, for a previous post introduced me to an astonishing phenomenon: the Mazes and Monsters fan community. Yes, it exists! Sort of!
There are two things worth noting about the Mazes and Monsters fan community.
I bring you the following YouTube clip, which may at first seem to have little to do with fandom, because it features a type of person you don’t see too much these days: the hyper nerd.
Remember that archetype? It was Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles/Weird Science, David Lightman in Wargames, Ronnie Miller in Can’t Buy Me Love, JayJay in Mazes and Monsters. (More about Mazes and Monsters next week.) And of course there was always one hyper nerd on those 1980s high-school TV shows. Even Her Stylishness Sarah Jessica Parker used to be one.
These days nerds have mostly given way to geeks, who are nerds who have an area of expertise that serves as a kind of power center. Even when they’re pallid, overweight and/or slightly smelly, geeks can muster up a wall of scorn for lesser beings that’s more-or-less analogous to coolness. Which is fine. But I miss hyper nerds. They remind me more of myself.
Thus, I present these guys, appearing in The Very Best Supaman Video Ever Of All Time. It’s been ages since I’ve seen anyone act this unselfconsciously dorky. They spell it “Soldier Boy!” And check out their little “gatt blowing a guy away” pantomime at -1:04. Awesome!
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It’s so frustrating to run across an academic paper about your favorite comic or movie or TV show. Academics always say one or two smart things and then spend the rest of a 20-page paper gabbling about incomprehensible theories we ordinary people don’t have time for.
It’s kind of cute, really. I picture a tenure-seeking associate professor of film or cultural studies (like the authors of 90% of these papers) tapping away on her trusty laptop — until she’s brought up short! She realizes she’s gone three whole paragraphs without citing Slavoj Žižek and she’s in danger of failing the intellectual Voight-Kampff test! TIME TO GET THEORY’D UP!!
For a normal person, the only way to read one of these articles is according to the following rule:
If a paragraph has a lot of scholarly references, skip it.
Take this neat paper I found about how Blade Runner and other movies with a grunge-tech vibe (Ghost in the Shell, Johnny Mnemonic, Akira, Hackers) all used one particular area of Hong Kong as their template. What makes a scruffy Asian urban neighborhood more “futuristic” than a scruffy American urban neighborhood? Answers after the jump.