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We are being laughed at. A ranty article purely for debating purposes.

Leviatham

First Post
I hate it when people try to take the piss.


I hate it when they try to hide it under a veneer of “hey, I’m just like you!” Rubbish! I have difficulties taking it, and therefore here goes this article/rant.


For the last few years we have seen, and quite a few of people applauded, comedy series that feature geek people. Big-Bang Theory, Community, The IT Crowd, The Guild, A Town Called Eureka…Suddenly people are claiming that we geeks are “taking our place and being more accepted” because we’re getting more exposure on TV and the internet.


Nonsense! We are being laughed at!Most of those series put geeks into stereotypes and then compare those stereotypes to “non-geek normal” people to exploit what make them “funny”. With the exception possibly of Community (the series I am less familiar with), the rest blatantly and openly ridicule the role of the geek. Let’s take a look at the average geek characters of the series.


Let’s start with the young ones. They are all mega smart but socially awkward. Most of them have problems interacting with women, they are clumsy, have a poor sense of etiquette, have even poorer social skills. Geek women are portrayed as awkward and emotionally incompetent or detached and every single one of them has an “unique” approach to fashion.


The adults are more responsible, less socially awkward, they dress more like the average Joe does and they behave normally. Like you and me, that is. But they’re not in geeky jobs. If they are they’ll still have some awkward traits like poor social skills, a “unique” sense of fashion, or something in those lines.


Of course not every series is the same and not every character within each series is the same, but there are common points here and there. Let’s take a more detailed look to some of them. This are just the ones I am a bit more familiar with. It is not a comprehensive list, but just a list to illustrate my point.


The Big-Bang Theory


This is one of the biggest culprits. i don’t know if I should feel sorry or angry at this comedy/parody/mockery. The geeks are not just geeks, they are hyper-geeks. They have very obvious and impossible to avoid OCDs, PHDs and incredible jobs as scientists. And they don’t know how to behave in front of the attractive neighbor.


They either have such low self esteem they don’t think they’re worthy so no bother interacting, see the woman as a trophy to hunt, become so awkward that they always mess it up or, simply, can’t even talk to her.


Exactly how pathetic is that view, comedic or not, of what geeks are like?


Yes, it’s comedy and yes, I can laugh at many things, but there is no balance and the series plays a lot with the “Aww… you poor thing who can’t get a girlfriend” attitude. What I don’t like is that series is allowing people who are not geeks to laugh AT me, not WITH me. And make no mistake, there are plenty of people out there who laugh at us.


Admittedly the series has changed from the original season to today, but, better as it's got, it's still a long way off not laughing at geekdom.


The Guild


Where to start? Another comedy that takes the piss, blatantly, of an exaggerated view of what a guild of MMO players is like. But it’s not just that it mocks the players because they play, it mocks the players because they are geeks. They have dysfunctional lives and even have difficulties relating when not playing the game.I am sure there are plenty of MMO players like that, but the majority of MMO players I know are seriously normal people who don’t behave anywhere near what you see in that series.What annoys me the most about this series is that is produced by someone who openly and loudly claims to be part of the geek-society. And this is how you want the rest of the world to see the geeks you so much claim to love?


Seriously. If being a geek is such a cool thing, why not showing it? Why not writing the scripts so we are not nut-cases who need counselling or leave toddlers to fend for themselves near the microwave? Why not showing them just are you are in real life? Funny, clever, lovely, charming and a bit annoying. What is wrong with that? Because I really like it!


Oh, wait! because that probably won’t create the sense of ridicule that people need in order to laugh at us so they can feel better about themselves at our expense.


No thanks!


A Town Called Eureka


This one has a balance. Young geek, awkward geek. Older geek, responsible and mature geek.


Seriously. Did Fargo have to be THAT stupid? Did the chef have to be the fat bloke? Did the guy who run the place (don’t ask me for many names… not good with names) have to be the evil-up-his-own-arse genius? Did the sheriff with less-than-average-intelligence have to be the hero? Did the strong woman who can make a meal of said sheriff have to be the sidekick?


For a series with some very good plots and storylines, it sure has some of the stupidest character clichés ever.


And the funny bit?


We love it!The geekosphere has taken on those series and we (and I use the term “we” VERY loosely here) wear t-shirts, use the series slogans, take on nicknames, buy the DVDs and idolatrize the actors and actresses.


Can’t we see we are being used and abused by a bunch of people who are there to make money?They have found a niche that can be exploited for laughs and they don’t give a monkeys about us. They give a about getting the next production contract for the next series. And if they have to laugh at us for that, then so be it.


Of course not everything is bad and horrible and even I have to admit that some good has come out of it. We have gained more exposure in some circles and some people have felt empowered to “come out”, so to speak, and be themselves in the face of adversity. Plenty of people have identified traits with those of the characters and realised they’re not alone. The community has become more self-aware. And that is good.


In fact is very good.


But it’s time to stop now. It is time to start giving the world a more positive spin on geekdom. For starters expand outside science and gaming. There are sports geeks, make-up geeks, biology geeks, cookery geeks, car geeks…


Secondly, please be balanced in the portrayal of our idiosyncratic personalities. We are all like that, geeks and non-geeks. Why does the world have to be able to laugh at us more than at anyone else? Why laugh at anyone at all?
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Black text on a black background - no can read!
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Oh.. how did that happen?

I can see it OK in my browser!

Either you selected the colour, or copy/pasted it from anothe program which had set the coluor to black. Since folks can view this site via a multitude of devices, themes, etc. it's always best not to choose colours for your text because you ahve no idea what background they're viewing it on. For example, Tapatalk also defaults to a black background.

Might be worth pasting your text into Notepad or something (since Notepad is incapable of formatting text) and then pasting it back in, but right now it can't be read by a lot of people!
 


Based on the tags I see when I quote your post (stuff like ), it looks like you copy-pasted from a Word document, which causes the site to try to match your formatting. If you do that, it's often best to click the icon with a red X at the top left, which removes formatting, making it easier to read.

Oh, and I personally thing the Big Bang Theory is a piece of sh**, because it's designed for people to laugh at geeks. The Guild on the other hand is funny because it's meant for geeks to laugh at themselves. I mean, the woman in charge, Felicia Day, is a gamer. She's pointing out that we do a bunch of stupid stuff in our hobbies, but she still does it with love.

And Eureka is funny because everyone laughs at everyone. The sheriff is a charming dolt. The scientists have a nice mix of personality types, but everyone has a flaw, be it foolishness, egocentrism, or various obsessions with their own pet projects. (Except for Allison, who is just an all-around bad-ass.)

Have you seen The League? It's a show about Fantasy Football guys. It's clearly made with love, and they make fun of each other like crazy. Now, sure, we don't have a super serious drama about RPGing, but most of the comedy out there is not done out of malice or mockery.

Except, I reiterate, for the Big Bang Theory, which is atrocious.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The Big Bang Theory does, indeed, laugh at geeks. It also laughs at Penny's stupid sporty boyfriends (hell, one was so dumb he was worried they were going to blow up the moon) - it's a sitcom. It laughs at the characters in it. This one happens to feature geeks as the main characters; there are plenty of sitcoms which feature sportsmen or waitresses or manic hotel owners played by John Cleese or the last human alive on a mining spaceship. We laugh at them, too. I don't get why you'd think geeks are being singled out. Sitcoms laugh at the characters in them; this one happens to feature geeks. Sounds like your issue is with the sitcom format, not the geeks.
 
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Leviatham

First Post
Since laughing at someone for lack of knowledge or mistakes says a great deal more about those people (nothing good, by the way) than about me, let them laugh...

Assuming of course they're laughing...
 

BriarMonkey

First Post
I tried watching Big Bang Theory once - and only got about 5 minutes into the episode before I gave up on the whole thing. It was pathetic. It was like they were trying too hard to be geeky/nerdy/sciency and thus everything felt forced. The humor was lame and the attempts to endear you to the characters really just made me question why the show had such a following. I may be a bit of a geek or nerd myself, but I found nothing redeeming or with which I could connect in their portrayal.

There was another show, a game type show, King of Nerds I think? They had a couple teams of geeks and nerds that partook in challenges such as trivia, costume design, etc. Anyway, I saw a couple of those episodes. Again, it was pathetic. Part of the challenges were designed, at least in my opinion, to exploit the stereo-typical pigeon holes that geeks and nerds are placed into - meaning, they were designed so others could laugh at them. Sure, there were challenges that they were good at, but those were actually set up to be quite boring and still, they managed to turn some of those into events for mockery. Another two thumbs down.

While I haven't seen the other shows which have been mentioned here, I can sympathize. I can laugh at myself, and do so often, but I don't need to be told by mainstream media that everyone else needs to laugh at me too. That is reserved for my friends.
 

Leviatham

First Post
Oh, and I personally thing the Big Bang Theory is a piece of sh**, because it's designed for people to laugh at geeks.

Hear hear!

The Guild on the other hand is funny because it's meant for geeks to laugh at themselves. I mean, the woman in charge, Felicia Day, is a gamer. She's pointing out that we do a bunch of stupid stuff in our hobbies, but she still does it with love.

Uhmm... I can't see that, sorry.

Fistly I don't bite that "it's been done for geeks and thus is fine to laugh at us because she loves us".

Secondly, even if that is the case (let's give her the benefit of the doubt) that series is available for other than geeks to watch and, trust me, they believe people are like those characters. They laugh at us and, unfortunately, there are people out there stupid enough to believe we're all the same and also that we deserve the mockery.

And Eureka is funny because everyone laughs at everyone. The sheriff is a charming dolt. The scientists have a nice mix of personality types, but everyone has a flaw, be it foolishness, egocentrism, or various obsessions with their own pet projects. (Except for Allison, who is just an all-around bad-ass.)

They all also fall into very stereotyped cliches like the father or mother figure. And they're still laughable. The mix of personality is not to show idiosyncratic traits, but to show flaws and, when needed for the resolution of an issue, some resilience.

Sorry, but I still can't see how they do that in a healthy way.

Have you seen The League? It's a show about Fantasy Football guys. It's clearly made with love, and they make fun of each other like crazy. Now, sure, we don't have a super serious drama about RPGing, but most of the comedy out there is not done out of malice or mockery.

I haven't seen it, so I don't have an opinion on that one. I'll keep an eye for it.

I don't care if it is not done with malice, to be honest. Lack of malice doesn't make its effects any less pernicious.

Except, I reiterate, for the Big Bang Theory, which is atrocious.

Hear hear!
 

Leviatham

First Post
The Big Bang Theory does, indeed, laugh at geeks. It also laughs at Penny's stupid sporty boyfriends (hell, one was so dumb he was worried they were going to blow up the moon) - it's a sitcom. It laughs at the characters in it. This one happens to feature geeks as the main characters; there are plenty of sitcoms which feature sportsmen or waitresses or manic hotel owners played by John Cleese or the last human alive on a mining spaceship. We laugh at them, too. I don't get why you'd think geeks are being singled out. Sitcoms laugh at the characters in them; this one happens to feature geeks. Sounds like your issue is with the sitcom format, not the geeks.

I won't argue with the fact that most sitcoms are all about laughing at things and that's indeed part of my issue.

However I am talking about the sitcoms that affect geeks and the ones that portray geeks, not the rest. The fact that the genre in general is built upon mockery doesn't take away my point that it mocks geeks, which is what affects me.

If anyone else feels they should fight for sitcoms not to mock them in a different area, then they can feel free... I'm on my corner here! :)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I won't argue with the fact that most sitcoms are all about laughing at things and that's indeed part of my issue.

However I am talking about the sitcoms that affect geeks and the ones that portray geeks, not the rest. The fact that the genre in general is built upon mockery doesn't take away my point that it mocks geeks, which is what affects me.

If anyone else feels they should fight for sitcoms not to mock them in a different area, then they can feel free... I'm on my corner here! :)

I think singling out geeks as the only people who shouldn't be the subjects of a sitcom is even more insulting. Unless your point is just that sitcoms shouldn't exist; and that isn't something I can get behind at all. In that world, we don't have Fawlty Towers or Blackadder (laughing at hoteliers, soldiers, butlers and more) and that ain't a world I want any part of !
 

What are we supposed to be able to laugh at, then? Humor is the result of unexpected or awkward elements juxtaposed or presented at a distance so we can laugh instead of worrying about the consequences. Everyone's lives have moments of unexpected awkwardness. Life is supposed to be funny. And I think you're misinterpreting normal jokes as being somehow intended to hurt or mock.
 

Leviatham

First Post
I think singling out geeks as the only people who shouldn't be the subjects of a sitcom is even more insulting. Unless your point is just that sitcoms shouldn't exist; and that isn't something I can get behind at all. In that world, we don't have Fawlty Towers or Blackadder (laughing at hoteliers, soldiers, butlers and more) and that ain't a world I want any part of !

I haven't said that. At all.

I have said the sitcoms that target geeks are the ones I am talking about. If anyone else wants to argue about other sitcoms that mock someone else, they're welcome to do so.

Also I am not saying sitcoms shouldn't exist (no idea where you get that from reading my posts), but I am saying the way they laugh *at* and not *with* in unhealthy. It's a sign of bad writing that they laugh at anything.

Also about the two examples you give: Fawlty Towers doesn't laugh at hoteliers. It laughs at *one* of them. And it's not because he's a hotelier, but because he's an obnoxious idiot. Complete difference.

As for Blackadder, it's a historical comedy done with way more taste than any sitcom that features geeks and better than 90% of today's sitcoms. Not sure how many people can identify with a 15th Century butler...
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I haven't said that. At all.

I have said the sitcoms that target geeks are the ones I am talking about..

Ah, well I'm afraid then that I don't grasp the fine dinstinction between "I don't think sitcoms should target geeks" and "geeks should not be the subject of a sitcom". A little too subtle for me! :)
 

Leviatham

First Post
What are we supposed to be able to laugh at, then? Humor is the result of unexpected or awkward elements juxtaposed or presented at a distance so we can laugh instead of worrying about the consequences. Everyone's lives have moments of unexpected awkwardness. Life is supposed to be funny. And I think you're misinterpreting normal jokes as being somehow intended to hurt or mock.

Not at all. Also let's not pretend that the fact that there are no consequences in the sitcom itself doesn't mean there aren't consequences outside.

I have a friend who is single for reasons that are not relevant. He is 37. We were at a social gathering and decided to tell that he likes painting minis. "Oh, you must be a virgin then!", was the attempt - rather tasteless - of a joke.

The reason? That woman had seen "The 40 Years Old Virgin".

Believe me, it wasn't funny.

My own experience: Recently I met a guy at another social gathering. I explained the reasons why I was traveling to Edinburgh (Conpulsion) and that I was a bit of a geek and love games.

His response: "You don't look like a geek or act like a geek. You might have geeky interests, but you are not a geek! Geeks don't come to this sort of places and talk to people".

We aren't supposed to laugh at anyone. We might laugh at anything, but not anyone. That is not healthy. At all.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Not at all. Also let's not pretend that the fact that there are no consequences in the sitcom itself doesn't mean there aren't consequences outside.

I have a friend who is single for reasons that are not relevant. He is 37. We were at a social gathering and decided to tell that he likes painting minis. "Oh, you must be a virgin then!", was the attempt - rather tasteless - of a joke.

The reason? That woman had seen "The 40 Years Old Virgin".

Believe me, it wasn't funny.

My own experience: Recently I met a guy at another social gathering. I explained the reasons why I was traveling to Edinburgh (Conpulsion) and that I was a bit of a geek and love games.

His response: "You don't look like a geek or act like a geek. You might have geeky interests, but you are not a geek! Geeks don't come to this sort of places and talk to people".

We aren't supposed to laugh at anyone. We might laugh at anything, but not anyone. That is not healthy. At all.

The issue there isn't anything to do with geeks, though - it's that your friend met an obnoxious person. Obnoxious people will find other ways to be obnoxious. I'm sure that woman was obnoxious to plenty of people at that party.

In many ways, geeks have never had it better. I do believe that shows like BBT and Doctor Who and so on have helped destigmatise geekdom. I appreciate that you don't feel that's the case, but I believe it is.
 

Leviatham

First Post
The issue there isn't anything to do with geeks, though - it's that your friend met an obnoxious person. Abonixious people will find other ways to be obnoxious.

In many ways, geeks have never had it better. I do believe that shows like BBT and Doctor Who and so on have helped destigmatise geekdom. I appreciate that you don't feel that's the case, but I believe it is.

She wasn't obnoxious, she just wasn't funny and cracked a joke based on a silly movie that gave her the impression that people who pain minis are saddos with no social skills or the ability to get a girlfriend.

Dr Who has nothing to do with geeks.

As to how BBT has helped destigmatise geekdom escapes me... Comunity maybe, but Big Bang Theory? No chance.
 

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