Scott Pilgrim vs. the Cultural Critique

For a movie that hasn’t made much of a splash in box office take, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World certainly seems to have people talking. The movie opened 5th in the box office last weekend. It was beaten out by two new movies, The Expendables and Eat Pray Love, and by two movies who’d fallen about 40-50% in sales (one being Inception, arguable another nerd-bait feature).

Cinema Blend offers “5 Reasons Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Failed to Find an Audience,” but its reasoning is somewhat suspect at times, and even the title seems like a misnomer to me. “Scott Pilgrim” is currently the top Trending Topic on Twitter. My friends have been talking about it for weeks; a bunch of us saw a free advance screening, and a bunch more saw it on opening weekend. The blogs I follow regularly have been generally gushing praise. The issue doesn’t really seem to be that it “failed to find an audience,” but that the audience it found wasn’t really big enough to promise the kind of box office take that you’d expect with a $60 million budget. The whole phenomenon feels strangely reminiscent of Snakes on a Plane: Everyone was expecting the hype to equal success, when in fact it might have been only enough to make sure the movie makes a modest profit in the long run.

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Debating Whether Geeks Control Hollywood

Things will remain a little quiet here on the blog for a bit while I take care of some things, including setup following last week’s move from Philly and some revisions on an article about games I just had accepted for publication. (More details on the latter soon, as it should be freely accessible online eventually.) In the meantime, though, here’s a couple of articles to chew on, offering something like a point/counterpoint on the popular notion that Hollywood must take geeks’ opinions into consideration.

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Sex and the City “Geeks” (and Geek Studies) in the News

If a television show turned cultural phenomenon spawns diehard fans who recite dialogue by heart, wear costumes inspired by the show and buy all the tie-in products, are these devotees nerds? If the show in question is Star Trek, The X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the answer is certainly yes. But what if we’re talking about Sex and the City?

Mark Medley, a reporter writing for the National Post, asked me this question a couple weeks ago. Now, it kicks off an article titled “Female Trekkies.” (Another version, sans my brief quote, made it to the Victoria Times Colonist under the title “Sex and the City Fans. Geek or Chic?”)

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Links: Geek Shame, the Lulz, and Two Meanings for “Hardcore”

This weekend’s link drop is brought to you by Church, Jordan, Cabral, various Gawker blogs, and the letter Q.

Confessions of a Sci-Fi Addict:
Let’s start with this link-ful post from the Website at the End of the Universe, brought to us courtesy Church. The main link is to a newspaper column titled “Admitting addiction to fantasy, sci-fi books” (“after years secreted in the book closet”). I was just as interested in the links that accompanied this on the referring site, though (such as these great old Worldcon photos), and the claim that “While not exactly in leauge with the civil rights or suffragette movements, geek acceptance has come a long way from the early days of fandom.”

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Digital Déjà Vu

Musician/artist/writer David Byrne recently mused on how Ikea is like a video game (link via Boing Boing). He explains that the way everything is tagged with a label, the seeming meaningfulness of props, the tools at your disposal (e.g., tape measure, employees), and the implied task of finding appropriate stylistic combinations all amount to something like a real-world video game.

I wasn’t struck by the videogame-ness of Ikea upon my visit there, but I was hugely disoriented and amazed by the many living room worlds it had on showcase. David Byrne is right, though, that Ikea is a simulation of sorts, a kind of hyperreality. I can’t help but wonder if he plays enough games that it was invoking in him that feeling that so many gamers seem to find familiar—the déjà vu for the digital age, where you wonder for a moment if there was just a glitch in the Matrix, or if you’ve simply been playing too much Grand Theft Auto.

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Party in the Stacks

Cleaning out my mailbox, I came across a New York Times article forwarded to my from Lee S. several weeks ago about how librarians are hip now.

How did such a nerdy profession become cool — aside from the fact that a certain amount of nerdiness is now cool? Many young librarians and library professors said that the work is no longer just about books but also about organizing and connecting people with information, including music and movies.

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