Tag Archives: Hugh Laurie

Evan and Gordon Talk: Nerd Culture

EVAN: To start this off by ignoring our readership and addressing you, this week’s topic is a weird sort of continuation of the various posts on culture you’ve written, such as “manly culture,” “science culture,” etc. And similar to these other groups of people, “nerd culture” is a pretty nebulous sort of thing to define.

GORDON: No argument there. After all, even the “nerds” insist on calling out “fake nerds”- especially in regards to women/girls. But what is a nerd anyways?

EVAN: See, now I’m torn, because we do need to define it, but you’ve also directly referenced an issue I wanted to discuss in depth this week.

GORDON: How about we abandon our previous track record, and just plunge recklessly ahead and hope the issue resolves itself?

EVAN: Well, let me throw this image out there:

And then hope that suffices for now.

GORDON: Works for me. So what was it that you wanted to address specifically?

EVAN: Well, just last month there was this guy, a comic artist, named Tony Harris. And he wrote this post on his Facebook page that was essentially a tirade against “faux nerd” women, and how they are whores, and so on.

To break it down further, these are women who dress up as superheroes and what have you without knowing about the actual characters themselves. He is upset because, to quote him:

BECAUSE YOU DONT KNOW SH-T ABOUT COMICS, BEYOND WHATEVER GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH YOU DID TO GET REF ON THE MOST MAINSTREAM CHARACTER WITH THE MOST REVEALING COSTUME EVER.

Also that they attend to essentially just tease the regular con-goers and are actually not even hot, just “con-hot.” So yeah, he said a lot.

GORDON: Ah yes, I recall reading about this. And while I think we can all agree Harris went too far, is a bit hypocritical (seeing how most comic women ain’t exactly average looking), and probably getting too emotional, I can’t help but wonder if he has, somewhere in there, a point.

I mean, imagine if all of a sudden, something that you had been stigmatized for became popular, and people started trying to co-opt your identity knowing nearly nothing about it. I’d be ticked off too.

EVAN: That’s definitely something I’ve read people write about, that this used to be an exclusive club and that it took years to build up this knowledge and become, well, a nerd, and here are these noobs and they want in and it’s not that easy.

And I can see where they’re coming from as well.

But if you really love something, shouldn’t you want others to as well? The Avengers has an enormous following on tumblr these days [because of the movie], and these are people who are actually going out and starting to buy comics. They are helping sales, aiding the industry, etc.

GORDON: That’s true, and something I’ve considered, but there’s probably also an argument to be made for the other side. That something precious to you is being watered down and diluted for profit. I don’t believe that nerds (comic book nerds, anyways) can necessarily make this argument, but the line of logic is there.

Let’s try to come up with an example of this happening somewhere else, especially in regards to persecution.

EVAN: Mmk, go ahead-

GORDON: “Black culture” (or what was passed off as black culture) might be an example. Can you state that you’re not driven nuts by wealthy, comfortable suburban kids fronting like they’re from the streets of Oakland?

EVAN: Yeah, people are upset about it, sure, but there’s not this immense outcry over it. There are comic-con enthusiasts that are genuinely incensed that all of this is happening-

I doubt that an actual thug or gangbanger or whatever these rich White kids are playing at imitating is going to start freaking out that he’s getting ripped off. He’s going to laugh or shrug it off, because it hardly matters.

GORDON: I’d argue that the reason for this has more to do with the change in venue. It’s easy for the major players of the comic book industry to voice their opinions than, say, a Wu-Tang Clan fan in the late 90s. But maybe I’m wrong.

EVAN: For the most part, I see this as a mindset that is the foundation or core of hipsterism, and that we all feel to some extent, however minor. That we found something and we love it and there is a pride in joy in being one of the original fans.

And this outpouring of others somehow cheapens things. And all of a sudden we’re trying to assert how we’re better than them in some way.

“You chose to dress up as Spider-Woman? Do you even know who her alter-ego is, or what her powers are? Etc.”

GORDON: Again, do we not sympathize? Do we not feel frustrated with people who have more or less jumped on the bandwagon now that it’s all safe and socially acceptable to do so? Heck, just imagine if someone tried listing themselves as a fan of fine cooking, having only eaten sushi once- would you be ticked?

EVAN: If I equated sushi with fine cooking I guess I would, yeah. But just because we can understand someone’s anger and frustration doesn’t make it logical.

GORDON: I wouldn’t say that there’s not a logic to it. I mean, a major part of being a nerd is, and always has been, the social pariah element. All of the sudden you have these people trying to claim to be on the fringes of society? It’s condescending and insulting.

EVAN: I think that’s the issue- They’re not trying to “claim to be on the fringes of society.”

GORDON: I disagree- I feel this is a coward’s way of feigning rebelliousness and all that.

EVAN: Sometimes people who haven’t been exposed to comics for much of their lives see a movie, or read a trade, and go to a con. Maybe they wear a costume. That doesn’t mean they’re going into this thinking, in any way, that they’re suddenly a part of this group of outcasts.

Comics are popular now. I mean, more than they’ve ever been. To say “I like comics” is no longer the sort of thing that’s going to get you shunned. People are going to raise their eyebrows and wonder why you think that’s a big deal.

GORDON: Comics yes, no one is gonna argue that. The title of “nerd” however, that’s different. And after all, “nerd” is a much larger term. It applies to gamers, to film, and so on.

EVAN: So how does one become a “fake nerd”?

GORDON: Therein lies the rub- there’s always gonna be more obsessive nerds out there. People higher up and lower down the hierarchy. But for the most part, I think we can agree that a “false” nerd is one who does not meet the criteria in that diagram you posted.

The “social ineptitude”, the “obsessiveness”- if it’s not actually there (no matter how much the person or persons might insist otherwise) then that person is a “fake” nerd.

EVAN: So am I a “fake nerd”?

GORDON: Do you call yourself a nerd?

EVAN: I don’t really call myself anything. But I’d also say that many of the girls who go to cons and find themselves attacked by Harris don’t refer to themselves as anything in particular either.

GORDON: Then no, I wouldn’t define you or them as fitting this category. Like I said- Harris went overboard.

EVAN: I just don’t think social ineptitude needs to be a requirement in this. I think you could be a nerd and still have friends, and achieve some level of popularity. The diagram above really shoehorns the definition. I mean, what if I did call myself a nerd?

I’m fairly smart, about 80% of the time I’m thinking about comics, or comics-related media. At the same time, I’m a fairly social guy. What does that mean?

GORDON: You think about comics 80% of the time?

EVAN: I think about comics a lot.

GORDON: 80% of your waking thoughts is a craaaaaazy lot, though I’d say your self-identification as a nerd is flawed. Serial-killer in the making would be more accurate. But we begin to split hairs at this point.

EVAN: I guess it’s like, does Hugh Laurie have the right to play the blues?

GORDON: Hugh Laurie can do whatever the **** he wants. As does anyone. With everything he does, can he identify himself first and foremost as a blues musician? Not really. At least, that ain’t how we’re all gonna think of him, or remember him.

EVAN: Does it matter that it’s what you identify as first and foremost? I am positive that at some level, yes, he does identify as a blues musician.

GORDON: It does matter how you identify yourself first and foremost. I’ve eaten bugs on multiple occasions- I don’t declare myself “Gordon Brown: Bug Eater.” The rest of the stuff I do outweighs it by far.

EVAN: You’re missing my point. You’ve eaten bugs, so on some level you can identify as a bug-eater.

If he identifies as a blues artist less than he does as an actor, that doesn’t negate the fact that he identifies as a blues artist, and what we’re talking about is people being able to say that they can and do relate to a culture, and that doesn’t make them fake adherents of that.

GORDON: Let me offer another example: I’ve been camping, and I occasionally read survivalist pamphlets. For me to call myself a “survivalist” would nevertheless be inaccurate and misleading. That’s the crux of the matter, I believe.

A nerd is someone who is in this for the long haul- a person who enjoys The Avengers or Nolan’s Batman trilogy isn’t. At least, not necessarily.

EVAN: I’m not saying that a person who enjoyed The Avengers equates being a nerd. That’s like, half the Earth’s population, if the box office is any indicator.

I’m saying that a person who saw The Avengers, and then heads over to their local comics store to check some out, and gets really into it, has the potential to become a “comics nerd” of sorts. And people who see them and scorn them for not being there from the beginning should be ashamed of themselves.

If we’re sticking with the example of film and comics and so-on.

GORDON: And I agree- those people should not be viewed with derision. But that’s not who we’re talking about here.

We’re talking about ****ing hipsters, about people who have just enough knowledge of a culture to give themselves the veneer or adopting it. People who wear glasses as a ****ing fashion statement. You know the kind.

It’s about motives. The noob who is just now getting into the culture isn’t a “false” nerd- just a young one. The person who call himself or herself a nerd to co-opt the social stigma (now that it’s all but gone) deserves contempt.

EVAN: I honestly don’t think that what these people are trying to co-opt is the social stigma.

GORDON: My poor choice of words. I mean the false sense of rebellion. Like people who post pro-gay Facebook statements simply to draw attention and applause to themselves. Fake-rebels. Fair-weather activists.

EVAN: That’s fine, and I agree that these people are not to be applauded.

I just think that for the most part, people are realizing that there is a lot in the “nerd culture” that they find interesting and accessible, and are gravitating towards it. Not out of some misguided attempt to be on the edge of society, but because they legitimately enjoy whatever it is they’re trying to engage with.

GORDON: I agree- I simply don’t think it’s these people most old-guard nerds are angry at.

EVAN: But how can they differentiate? That’s a huge issue. It’s this reaction of the community against anyone that’s not legit, but without any way of truly being able to tell how people feel-

A person can go to comic-con in an elaborate costume simply because they enjoy the aesthetics and design of the character. They’re not required to know everything about them, and shouldn’t be hissed and booed at when they don’t.

GORDON: That in and of itself is another issue. If I showed up to the social justice convention dressed as Che Guevara  you’d best believe I’d better know a thing or two about the guy who I’m completely dressed up as- but we’re moving off track.

EVAN: But the point of social justice conventions isn’t to dress up as your favourite revolutionary- that’s entirely besides the point. I bring it up because it’s completely cogent to our topic, because it’s exactly what Tony Harris was railing against.

GORDON: Tony Harris ran his mouth and made a fool of himself, I ain’t trying to defend a word of what he said or wrote, only the general perspective he seems to be coming from.

EVAN: What I’m saying, without negating your points is this, and I’m going to try to wrap up since we’re 15 minutes past our cut-off, is this:

I’m someone says “LOL im such a nerd” and they wear glasses with big frames and have a Green Lantern patch on their backpack, yeah, I’d say that’s not okay. But a large issue is being able to, as a community, acknowledge when “outsiders” try to access what it is that we love so dearly.

We like comic books and Star Trek and Dungeons and Dragons, and if other people might as well, that’s fine. Just because others weren’t always welcoming of us in the past doesn’t mean we should do the same to others. Especially when there’s some likelihood, even a little, that they could one day be as big a fan as you [as hard as that may be to believe].

GORDON: Well put. Be sure to stop by next time for our discussion of . . .

EVAN: Of . . . uh . . . I threw out this topic last week, what’ve you got?

GORDON: Let’s address the portrayal of drugs- weed in particular- in media and popular culture.

EVAN: That’s a pretty contemporary topic too, because of the legalization in Washington and all that. Sounds good to me.

GORDON: Let it be so then. Merry Wednesday to all, and to all a good night!

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Batman: The Dark Knight Re-Cast

Before we begin, I want to make something clear: I have not seen The Dark Knight Rises. I can’t speak to the actors or the story or Nolan’s heretical-yet-genius take on either. I am further not saying that the actors in the trilogy didn’t do a good job- they were great, however this is Culture War Reporters, and with Batman (and the whole DC Universe) being so popular right now, and with Nolan leaving for other projects, we really can’t help but speculate if Batman were to be re-done, who would be the best fit for the characters?

Bruce Wayne/Batman:

Actor: Michael Fassbender

Why We Want Him: We here at CWR aren’t the first (by a long shot) to speculate on Fassbender for the caped crusader. Simple fact of the matter is, the Irish-German actor has both proven to have the suave poise needed for Bruce Wayne (see his roles in Inglorious Basterds or X-Men: First Class) and the brutish physicality needed for Batman (see his roles in Hunger or 300). Beyond all that, the man has got the strong, square-jaw typically more associated with Batman, which while not required for a good Batman (just look at Bale) is still a plus.

Cons: I’ve never actually heard him do an American accent, so I am gambling a bit here.

Alfred Pennyworth:

Actor: John Cleese

Why We Want Him: Because he is John ****ing Cleese, one of the funniest men to have ever ministry-of-silly-walked the earth. While Michael Cane did a great job as Alfred, like Fassbender, Cleese simply looks more like the classic depiction of the Wayne’s stalwart servant.

Cons: Standing at 6’5″, Cleese is bound to dwarf everyone else on scene with him.

Dick Grayson/Robin/Night Wing:

Actor: Jensen Ackles

Why We Want Him: Obviously, this isn’t the same Robin that wears a bright yellow cape and red outfit, because, you know, who needs stealth? Ackles, simply put, has the height and build to serve as a believable counterpart to Fassbender, as well as the acting chops to match the devil-may-care personality Nightwing is usually portrayed as having.

Cons: When I was drafting this list, I told myself that I wouldn’t use anyone who had already been in a Batman movie, and as Ackles did the voice for Jason Todd/Robin in Batman: Under the Red Hood (which is a surprisingly good movie), I am sorta cheating here.

Selina Kyle/Catwoman:

Actress: Olivia Wilde

Why We Want Her: Let there be no mistake- Catwoman is no easy character to play, and many a fine actress has attempted to take on the role, only to get scratched. I won’t say that I think Wilde is at long last the one who will nail it, but rather, if I was a gambling man (which I am), my money would be on her.

Cons: Like I said, it’s a gamble with any actress- runners up would be Noomi Rapace, Zoe Saldana, or the reanimated body of Eartha Kitt. Another major point would be that Wilde, to the best of my knowledge hasn’t (to my knowledge) been in any major action roles.

The Joker:

Actor: David Tennant

Why We Want Him: Not only does Tennant look the part, but on nerd-credit alone makes for a valuable addition to the movie. We’re talking about the zaniest Doctor Who and a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In short, we have an actor good enough to do Shakespeare, who already has a history of playing semi-psyhcotic characters, who has a rabidly loyal fan following, and who has the perfect facial features for a classic Joker.

Cons: Tennant is just slightly taller than Fassbender, which while certainly making for a scary Joker, might be a bit much. Vincent Cassel might make for a decent alternative, only I’m not sure he can do an American accent.

Commissioner Jim Gordon:

Actor: Byran Cranston

Why We Want Him:
It was Evan, actually, who suggested Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad) for the role of Commissioner Gordon, and while I would’ve initially cited Stacey Keach as the logical choice, Cranston, while not quite as heavyset as your classic Jim Gordon, is one powerhouse of an actor (seriously, go watch Breaking Bad).

Cons: Let’s face it, Cranston, as good as he is, does look a little like Gary Oldman’s Commissioner, and there’s a decent chance that you’d have that constantly gnawing at the back of your mind while you watched the movie.

Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle:

Actress: Emma Stone

Why We Want Her:
Emma Stone is already established as a good actress (see The Help or Superbad), and unlike Wilde, has had a bit of action experience in Zombieland, and if rumors are correct, is going to be doing some action in an upcoming film called “Gangster Squad“.

Cons:
Barring her role in Zombieland action roles, I don’t know of any other action roles Stone has had, which for playing Batgirl is obviously an issue, though that could be avoided by simply skipping ahead to Oracle. Plus she just played Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man. Felicia Day would make a decent runner-up.

Edward Nigma/The Riddler:

Actor: Neil Patrick Harris

Why We Want Him: Look at him. Look at him! That is Neil Patrick Harris, and he is amazing. Look up the word “Awesome” in the dictionary. Do you see a picture of him? No, because that’s how awesome NPH is- if they put a picture of him in the dictionary nobody would ever read anything but the “Awesome” definition all the time. This guy would make a- no, the– perfect Riddler.

Cons: There are no cons- how dare you even read this! Though if NPH was too busy being awesome to play the Riddler, Steve Buscemi would be a nice backup.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot/The Penguin:

Actor: Patton Oswalt

Why We Want Him: Besides his short stature and general pudginess, comedian Patton Oswalt is a huge comic book fan, and offering him the role of the Penguin seems only right and natural.

Cons: Other than his voice acting, I don’t believe I’ve actually seen Oswalt in any films, and in off-chance his live action work isn’t up to par, there’s always Tobie Jones.

Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy:

Actress: Bryce Dallas Howard

Why We Want Her: Howard can already do some decently evil characters (see her role in The Help), and on top her general acting abilities already looks the part of the deranged eco-terrorist, Poison Ivy.

Cons: Yet again, we’re faced with the issue of a lack of any action roles to serve as evidence that Howard would do well here. Plus she was apparently in one of the Twilight movies, which is the general moral equivalent of clubbing a baby seal to death using another baby seal.

Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow:

Actor: Kevin Bacon

Why We Want Him: If you’ve ever seen the film The Hollow Man, you really wouldn’t need to ask.

Cons: The man is getting on in years, and his incarnation of the Scarecrow would probably more of an intellectual and physical antagonist.

Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze:

Actor: Hugh Laurie
Why We Want Him:
I had some difficulty trying to figure out who would make a really good Mr. Freeze (Jim Rash was my first reaction). Evan suggested Hugh Laurie, and after some consideration, I guess I can see it- it’d be neat to see Laurie in the role of the villain, at the very least.

Cons: None. The back story of Victor Fries is so touching that not even Arnold Schwarzenegger could butcher the moment they revealed it back in Batman & Robin.

Dr. Harleen Francis Quinzel/Harley Quinn:

Actress: Kristen Bell

Why We Want Her: I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently there’s this push among Bell’s fans (you might remember her from Heroes, just before the series started to tank) for her to play Harley Quinn. Hey- give the people what they want.

Cons: Seeing as how Bell has already had some experience playing a super-villain, there’s really not a whole lot negative to say here.

Bane:

Actor: Jason Momoa

Why We Want Him: Look, I haven’t seen Nolan’s Bane, so I can’t make any comparison there, and with regards to the character in general, despite the whole “Count of Monte Cristo on Steroids” backstory, I’ve only ever seen Bane portrayed as a thug juiced-up on venom. Regardless of which way you’d want to take the character in a reboot, the man for the job is Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, HBO’s Game of Thrones). The man is a freaking beast.

Cons: I’ve seen Momoa in Conan and Thrones, where he’s got a clear physical presence, but I really can’t say if he could hit the intellectual side, and really be Moriarty to Bruce Wayne’s Holmes.

Homeless Guys 1 and 2:

Cameos: Frank Miller and Alan Moore

We We Want Need Them:

As much as Miller is a raving, qausi-fascist lunatic and Moore a man who thinks he’s a wizard, it can’t be denied that both of these men have had a major impact not only on Batman, but on the world of comics- having them pass by in a seen would be, in my own opinion, a neat little salute (not the kind Miller likes, though).

Cons: There’s a strong possibility that Miller will go on a rampage when the moon wanes into a crescent, frothing at the mouth (Miller, not the moon) and swearing it’s part of an Islamic global conspiracy to destroy America. Moore will huff set paint until the voices in his head start singing in key.

Let Them Talk: Hugh Laurie’s new blues album

Hugh Laurie puts out his first blues album tomorrow.

If you’re American (actually, if you’re anyone with a television who’s not British), you know probably Hugh Laurie as Dr. House, that snarky doctor with the good writers and a screechy female following. If you’re British, you know Hugh Laurie as that guy your parents talk about who seems to be sort of common-law married to Stephen Fry.

"The question of why a soft-handed English schoolboy should be touched by music born of slavery and oppression in another city, on another continent, in another century, is for a thousand others to answer before me: from Korner to Clapton, the Rolling Stones to the Joolsing Hollands. Let’s just say it happens."

And if you’re into New Orleans blues, you have no idea who Hugh Laurie is at all. But don’t worry! He isn’t doing a blues album because that’s the cool thing for actors to do now, and he isn’t trying to convince anyone that he was born in New Orleans. He’s doing it – well, he’s doing it for no discernible Hollywood-esque reason. He’s a musician and he love New Orleans blues, and in the context of his celebrity it doesn’t really make a lot of sense, and he knows and admits that: “Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south.”

As someone who – well, I’m not like a jazz expert, let’s just say As a 21 year old who knows who Jelly Roll Morton is, there were two things that made me want to pay attention to this album. The first was the preface he wrote to the album, at once gushing about the greats and saying that he doesn’t want to see blues “confined to a glass cabinet, under the heading Culture: Only To Be Handled By Elderly Black Men”. The second was his recording of St. Louis Blues, which starts out with a seriously impressive (but not obnoxious) piano intro, and features Hugh Laurie singing in all his British earnestness, and it somehow works. This is not the album of a poser or a bored celebrity. Elvis Costello reportedly said, upon hearing Laurie play, “This guy is a musician before he’s anything else. He’s probably a better musician than an actor.”