There are times I consider handing in my nerd card. You know, the nerd card that comes with all the perks of being a nerd. See, there are several things in nerd culture now that I’m just not interested in: Game of Thrones, Adventure Time, Archer, My Little Pony, etc. I’ve tried them all at one time or another and just couldn’t get into them for various reasons. Game of Thrones, for example, I found too confusing with far too many characters introduced all at once and then trying to keep track of all the different factions and sub-factions. Someone provided me a flow-chart once, stating that it would help me understand things better. I’m sorry, but no, if I need a confusing flow-chart to understand something, then the storyteller has failed at their job of engaging me.
There have been times that I’ve said that I’m not interested in this or that. Most times, people are understanding about it. There are, however, rare instances where someone will say, “Your loss!” or “You’re missing out.”
Am I, though? Am I really? Is it really such a huge ordeal that I’m not interested in one particular form of entertainment?
Last year, the game The Last of Us was released on the Playstation 3. It was hailed by many as the game of the year and it did, indeed, win many Game of the Year awards from various sources. When I saw the trailer for it, I just shrugged and said, “Eh,” which confused a friend of mine. They couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting hyped for it. To me, I saw a generic post-apocalyptic setting (like we haven’t seen that hundreds of times already, even in video games), with zombie-like monsters (ugh, zombies? again?), and gameplay which looked and felt an awful lot like Uncharted. Now, I liked the Uncharted games, but I didn’t love them. I played through them and enjoyed them for what they were: fun, empty action games that derived a lot of its plot, characters, and story from other sources like Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones.
And yet, when I voiced my disinterest in The Last of Us, I was met with comments like “It’ll be your loss!” or “You’re missing out!” Some said it was the greatest game of ALL time, not just the year. Really? For something so generic and derivative? I’ve yet to play and I’m in no rush. I might play it when it drops down to around $20, like when it goes to PS3’s Greatest Hits collection.
My point is: is it really some giant loss that I don’t play this one game? No. Will my life continue without it? Yes. It’s just a piece of entertainment. Entertainment is generally a form of escapism, for the purpose of distracting us from our real world problems. It’s used to create conversation like, “Did you see that movie?” or “What did you think of so-and-so’s art in this comic?”
Now, can it evoke strong emotions? Sure. Can some people find a piece of entertainment relatable to their life and find some deep meaning in it? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that EVERYONE will see it that way and it sure as hell doesn’t mean that everything in entertainment will have that affect on someone.
Look at the things I enjoy: Doctor Who,the new Ninja Turtles cartoon, comic books like Elephantmen and Locke & Key. Do I enjoy Doctor Who? Hell yes. I feel that even a bad episode of Doctor Who is still a good piece of television. Do I think everyone will enjoy Doctor Who like I do? Certainly not. There are even sub-factions within Doctor Who fandom who loved David Tennant, but don’t enjoy the work of Matt Smith. Some even stopped watching after Tennant left. Are they missing out? For cripes sake, no. It’s JUST a TV show.
And that’s really the whole point of this: whether you’re among a certain fandom or not doesn’t mean that you can hyperbolically judge someone just because they’re not interested in your fandom. The only thing I’m “missing out” by not watching Game of Thrones or playing Pokemon is understanding all the various memes that pop up on my Facebook by friends or on nerd websites that I frequent. My life will go on unaltered if I don’t watch Game of Thrones.
Our culture today is incredibly driven by consumerism, as my friend Corey Nowlan said. As he says, “Advertising is supposed to make you feel like you’re missing out on something. People learn from advertising.” And he’s right. There’s this inane immediacy or idea of “keeping up with the Joneses” where you’re supposed to feel like less of a person if you’re not getting that product! Anyone who doesn’t love this product are just not as good as you. They’re missing out! It’s ridiculous.
Oh, but you are totally missing out if you haven’t read my book.