The Big Bang Theory: Explosively Dividing The Geekiverse
[Editors Note: We have with us our very special first guest writer, show him some love and welcome to the group, Ash]
After watching the first three seasons of The Big Bang Theory, I’ve noticed something. The show seems to divide people who think it colors “nerds” in a certain light. In these arguments, the word “stereotypical” seems to get thrown at these characters. You know the image: the socially awkward comic book/sci-fi genre fan who has no fashion sense and is plagued by strange medical conditions; or the hyper-intelligent geek who’s so smart he’s actually stupid. Such as Sheldon, the self-proclaimed most intelligent of the characters, while trying to make a new friend ends up talking to a little girl in the children’s section of a bookstore. He decides they can be friends based on simple, shared interests; but can’t see how what he’s doing could be seen as socially strange, or even illegal.
While there are jokes that poke fun of these things in BBT, some people really seem to take offense to it. Now I’m a genre fan; I like comic books, video games and toys, I’ve been to Monster-Mania conventions and I have a ton of collectibles. I get the humor on the show; and in my life as a fan I’ve seen that nerd stereotypes really can be true, not just the bad ones. I can admit that I see these nerd traits in myself. I’ve lined up for hours to meet celebrities at conventions and for midnight video game releases. I was part of a podcast about shitty movies; so I like to think my nerd credentials are in good order. However, I have certainly been mocked many times over the course of my life; and I know how much that type of mockery can hurt. It’s something anyone can relate to.
I know self proclaimed nerds who both love and hate the show. I personally don’t think it’s offensive in any way; but if someone has an issue and thinks the show is making fun of them, they may need to look at themselves and see if they’re happy with what they see. There are two small, bit characters on the show whom I don’t think even have dialogue: Captain Sweatpants and Lonely Larry. I think everyone can do the math with these implications: genre fans are fat slobs in sweatpants that’ll never get a girlfriend. Well, the main characters in the show break that stereotype; they have sexual relationships and they aren’t lazy or messy. I think the show does try to show that “geeks” can be regular people; and that “normies” can also have the propensity to geek-out (Penny developing an MMO addiction). Sadly however, the Captain Sweatpants and Lonely Larrys of the world do exist. I personally feel that one of the points of the show is to explore some of the things that make us insecure about ourselves through the characters, and come out better for it in the end. Sometimes turning a mirror on yourself can be hard. If you think Big Bang is making fun of you, then your self esteem may not be where it should. If there’s anything we don’t like about ourselves, not just as nerds but as human beings, we can certainly fix it without giving up on our passions.
I’ve heard some say that they don’t like the show because now people think all nerds are like the characters. Okay. So what if they do? That might be someone’s only exposure to the geek lifestyle. If you tell someone you’re a comic book fan and they get excited and say, “Oh! Like on The Big Bang Theory!”, don’t roll your eyes and get pissed. That might be that person’s only exposure to the things you love and they’re actually trying to relate to you. They don’t assume you are Leonard or Sheldon or any kind of nerd. If someone really did make assumptions about you based on that show, does that sound like a person you want to relate to anyway? Fuck no. That person is an asshole. And that’s the whole point. Only an asshole would think things about you as a fan based off a TV show rather than your own personality and character.
So, be the nerd and person you want to be in the real world, and let the fictitious nerds do their thing. Besides, since when do movies and television portray things accurately? Never, the characters are convenient archetypes to make writing jokes easier. So why should they start with geekdom?