Here’s something that I watched earlier today, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot since. It’s called Zero Charisma. Filmmakers Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews put this together and are trying to raise $15,000 for pre-production costs. It looks funny, and it reminds me of a time when I played RPGs and hung out with other socially awkward nerds like what are portrayed in the film, but I read some stuff that kind of bugged me a little. Here’s the synopsis for the film:
Twenty-nine year old Scott Weidemeier spends his time in exactly three ways: working a menial job at a local donut shop, caring for his ornery and abusive grandmother, and playing table-top fantasy games. Dungeons & Dragons is more than a game to Scott–it’s a calling, and as the Dungeon Master, he wields referee power over his players with an iron fist.
That is, until a new player enters the game: Miles Butler, a stylish, funny “neo-nerd” hipster who quickly charms everyone he meets. In his desperation to outshine Miles, Scott alienates himself from his peers, and eventually loses his game to this interloper. On top of that, the health of Scott’s grandmother takes a turn for the worse, and his estranged mother Barbara swoops in to take the house right from under his nose.
As the humiliations pile up, Scott struggles to retain some shred of dignity–even if it means a final duel with his greatest adversary.
I first heard about this when I read about it on Nerdbastards.com. There they asked “Is this simple Nerd Bashing or is it a realistic look at the harsh reality that some people just take things too far?” At first I didn’t really see it as either. I just thought it looked like a fun comedy that poked a little fun at nerds. Then I read the “notes” section underneath the synopsis on the films website:
Whether his specialty is computer networking, kung fu films of the 70s or vintage video games, we all know someone whose lack of social graces is overcompensated for by vast knowledge in a field most people couldn’t care less about–knowledge they’re too willing to share with anyone who’ll listen. While insufferable in real life, the know-it-all nerd is a popular comic staple of film and literature, as evidenced by Dwight in The Office, the comic book guy from The Simpsons and, most hilariously, Ignatius J. Reilly in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. We’re fascinated and delighted by these characters, because behind the selfishness, the contempt and self-aggrandizement is a real vulnerability, and a fervor more intense for its innocent simplicity.
The know-it-all nerd is especially relevant today, with the ever-growing phenomenon of infantilism, the inability of modern people (men, mostly) to grow up. From comic books to action movies to video games, more adults than ever before spend their time in fantasy worlds. In Miles we see the newest phase of infantilism: social acceptance. Today, a full-grown American man can read Harry Potter, play XBOX and own a complete set of Star Wars action figures and still expect to get laid. Can that be good for the future of our civilization?
This statement bothers me. I understand that sometimes geeks can take things too far, or we can become way too obsessive over things. I also sometimes joke that Atomic Moo is blog for guys in their mid-twenties to late-thirties with mild to severe arrested development. But so what if a grown man likes XBox, Harry Potter, or Star Wars? I figure as long as you pay your bills, take care of your family, strive to better yourself, and don’t cause problems, then who cares if you like playing D&D, or reading comic books (by the way, have you read any modern comics these days? Tell me with a straight face those are meant for kids), or that it’s becoming more socially accepted. If it’s one of those things that you liked as a kid and still enjoy as an adult, then who gives a shit? Why is it you never hear these questions for people who are obsessed with sports? I’m sure they loved the games when they were kids and that it carried into adulthood, and it also could be a fantasy world that they like to escape into as well. It just seems like a more socially accepted one.
Yes, I think it’s perfectly alright for a full-grown American man to read Harry Potter, play XBox and collect Star Wars action figures, and still expect to get laid, and I don’t see how that could cause any problems for the future of our civilization. How the hell could it? Since I started this blog, every day I see people who have developed their talents and skills to an almost masterful level. So what if their subject matter is more pop culture or geek related? It inspires me and makes me want to achieve more in my work so someday I can be up to their level.
I think I’ve ranted about this enough. I wouldn’t mind hearing what you people think, or what your opinions are, even if you disagree with me. If you want to learn more about this film and what they’re trying to do you can go to their website or follow them on Facebook. Let me know what you think.