Friday, February 19, 2010

As crazy as it got: hand me the tranquilizer gun

A program the Missus was watching the other night had a segment on these....people who paint themselves blue and run around in the woods, with pointy ears (and tails, RR, can't forget the tails!), talking like the creatures in Avatar. Free. No one with tranquilizer guns in pursuit.

Growing up, the weirdest thing on the radar were the Polar Bears: you know, those fellers, half lit maybe, who jump into the ocean for a swim. On New Year's Day. That was as crazy as it got. Sure, we had philatelists, train (or plane) guys, and Pynchon fans (guilty on 3 out of 4, yer honor) but they were 'mostly harmless'. Then George Lucas comes out with Star Wars: all bets are off, the clown car is here! People started dressing like wookies, and worse : Star Trek fans thought it was safe to leave their parent's basement where they lived, blinking in the light of day. It was ok to wear Spock ears, even to work! They were the tip of the weirdness schwerpunkt. Comic book fans and their conventions were the second wave. Comic books are not written for kids anymore. You can't hand a kid a comic book these days and worry about 'rotting their mind' as my parents did. O no. The 'super' heroes are angst ridden nutcases, 'bout as bad as the 'villains' , I am told. Children do not understand what is going on in them. The fans (adults, who should know better) hold crummy little conventions, dressing up and making nuisances of themselves. Now, with the inter-web, there goes the neighborhood: the digi-village has thousands of new idiots, sucking up bandwidth. They are everywhere, like cockroaches.

Back in the day, these people would have been culled from the herd. The harsh Darwinism of the schoolyard would have nipped any of this extreme dorkiness in the bud. But now we have them and other pernicious enthusiasms. Drum circles, taken from Native Americans, subverted into New Age rubbish ; graphic novels (even graphic non-fiction), all the rage in libraries, lowering IQs nationwide; Klingon weddings (see photo above), oyeah, and re-enactors. You know, people who dress up Napoleonic, Roman, American Civil War, World War I (!?), any war or period. These guys opened the flood gates for Renaissance Fairs and such and it has been downhill ever since. Never mind the Society for Creative Anachronism, founded in 1966 from a Medieval Studies department. This is what these people go to school for, so they can dress up like Midden Mary, without the dung?

You ask,"Why get in a swivet about these people, RR?". See, life in America is weird and stupid enough these days with Sarah 'abandon hope ye who enter I do not have opposable thumbs and I am happy' Palin slouching around, massive cuts in education budgets, and runaway partisanism; we do not need the daily jolt of this weirdness. America has never been too high on the cultural vine, and this kind of foolishness just exacerbates the problem.


Barrett Bonden said...

Innumerable reactions pop up in response to this gallimaufry but I must concentrate. A British take could well be contained in the statement: "I'll try anything once, except incest and Morris dancing." Sorry, I forget the attribution. But here in the UK we probably crystallise all these cultural blind alleys under the heading of Morris dancing, a rather pathetic activity with possible Medieval roots, for which most people would cross several roads to avoid. The fact is it's embarrassing but its adherents think it's jolly and shouldn't be allowed to die out. Other than the fact that I can't bear to watch it, is it doing anyone any harm? The answer is no. Thus it should be allowed to continue if only for the fact that science may eventually employ the Genome Project to identify the Morris dancing gene, and parents who worry more about their kids than I did may take preventive action.

Another concise reaction thing was contained in an episode of The Simpsons when the comic-book-collecting weirdo (forget his name) is facing extinction and says quite poignantly, "I have wasted the whole of my life."

As to comic books themselves I suspect you're right about the new target audience, but I am not in a position to confirm this. My optico-cerebral processes appear to have moved on and I find myself incapable of following a narrative split up into bubbles for which the sequence is not readily apparent. Under circumstances like this I tend to reach out for the hand of the author rather than the illustrator.

Swivet deserves wider promulgation.

Relucent Reader said...

Strange, I was going to mention Morris dancing as a British instance of wasted geekery,but reconsidered. I like the genome project take, may use that in the future if I may....
Perhaps all this foolishness does serve a function, as a pressure relief valve. Lord knows what these people would get up to without their enthusiasms..

The Crow said...

Don't hold back, RR - tell us how you really feel! (Big, cheesy grin on my face as I typed that.)

Back (way back!) when I belonged to Mensa, we had an event at my house to which the local chapter of SCA was invited to explain themselves.

I'm still waiting for that explanation. (I no longer belong to Mensa, and that sort of weirdness has a lot to do with the reason why not.)


Relucent Reader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Relucent Reader said...

Hahahaha, musta been a cabin fever moment, Ms. just came flooding out. I did feel better afterwards.
Yeah, if a group cannot explain in a sentence or two what they are about, run away, quickly.
Sorry to read of your bureaucratic troubles, pinheads like them supply grumps like me topics for rants.