The Fake Nerd Theory
I’m not usually a ranty sort of person (my boyfriend may disagree) but lately I have been encountering a frequently recurring problem which is becoming a source of great frustration for me. Some of you may be grievously offended when I say this, but the source of this frustration is none other than The Big Bang Theory.
I’ve never been the hugest fan of the show. I used to watch it fairly often, but it was never my favourite show. Yes, it has funny moments and EVERYONE loves Sheldon Cooper, but to me it’s always felt like nerds in a zoo, where everyone else in the show is normal, and the main characters form part of this weird little anomalous group of outcasts who no-one understands and everyone finds funny. When I compare it to The I.T. Crowd, where everyone is freaking weird in some way or another and the nerds are just their brand of weird, it makes me increasingly aware of how extra weird the nerds in The Big Bang Theory are made to look. But I’ve never begrudged anyone of their enjoyment of the show, until this year.
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For some reason DnD (Dungeons and Dragons… just in case anyone isn’t clear on that) has become fashionable to talk about. Even the most jockish characters are willing to ‘try it for a laugh’ or whatever, seemingly just so they can say they’ve done it, I guess! I’ve noticed a similar trend with Star Trek, although I’m willing to concede that is partly to do with the release of Into Darkness, with its undeniably hot all-star cast (making space sexy again… *cough Benedict Cumberbatch cough*). But the trouble is that people are now starting to talk like they actually know something about these things. They’ll drop some comment about a crit fail or throw a ‘live long and prosper’ into a conversation, which inevitably leads to this exact interchange:
Me: “Oh you play DnD?” (Alternatively, “Oh you watch Star Trek?”)
Person: “No, I heard about it from The Big Bang Theory.”
At which point the conversations comes to a staggering halt, because I don’t know enough about the show to say anything of value, and they don’t know anything about DnD or Star Trek at all… It’s not that I don’t want people to watch The Big Bang Theory, or that if they watch it they shouldn’t talk about it. I love talking about the TV shows I watch and it’s always great to have a moment of ‘this is just like that episode of (x) where this happened!’, but I don’t walk around going saying ‘winter is coming’ just to follow it up with ‘I don’t watch Game of Thrones’ (yes, yes, big shock).
I suppose an equivalent analogy would be to watch Thor and then claim to know a lot about Norse mythology. It just doesn’t work like that. Just because Sheldon Cooper plays ‘rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock’ doesn’t mean you can say you know who Spock is. I also have an issue with that game because anyone who has watched Star Trek: The Original Series will know that NOTHING can bring a Vulcan down… most certainly not a damn lizard!
Similarly, while I absolutely love and admire people who are willing to put their self-consciousness away for long enough to play a session of DnD or something similar, I am getting tired of hearing about people who’ve just played one session with a friend-of-a-friend’s-boyfriend’s cousin who’s ‘really into that stuff, just because they saw it on Big Bang Theory and thought it would be funny to give it a try themselves’. Kudos to you for trying it, but unless you actually plan on pursuing it, please don’t talk like you know how the game works! I’ve been playing for a year and I still have to double and triple check rules of game play.
Furthermore, don’t then find it funny when I get excited about the campaign or want to know about your character or the monsters you fought, because I am not a nerd in a zoo and if you don’t understand my excitement it’s most likely because you don’t understand the game and not because I’m kind of weird. DnD is not for bragging rights, and contrary to popular belief it’s not the pinnacle of nerddom… So if you’ve played it once and enjoyed it good for you but don’t bandy it about like an A+ maths paper, and if you didn’t enjoy it, maybe it’s not your thing, but there’s nothing wrong with the people who do.
As I come to the end of my rant, I would again like to say that I have no real issue with The Big Bang Theory itself other than the fact that it makes nerds seems very socially dysfunctional in a loveable way (and actually The Big Bang Theory wiki is quite good for the dedicated fans who actually want to know about this stuff). My issue is with the sorts of fans who treat The Big Bang Theory as some kind of nerd textbook, where if they watch enough episodes of the show they can bluff their way through a conversation with a nerd and walk away feeling clever. I have, however, found that the best way to cope with these situations is just to nod and agree, and then throw in some obscure reference or comment right at the end and watch them panic slightly… Bitchy? Yes probably. Does that make me feel guilty? Not really… no.