Aaron R. Davis
Last night, on the phone with my mother.
Mom: I think my favorite show on network TV right now is probably The Big Bang Theory.
Me: I used to enjoy it, but I think I probably just can’t watch it anymore after last week.
Mom: Why, what didn’t you like about it?
Me: It keeps kicking me in the teeth. It was funny when it started, but now it’s just become this machine designed to shame nerds. I can’t stand all of the nerd-shaming. I mean, I kind of hate to even use that term that way, but the show is nothing but nerd-shaming.
Mom: Do you think so?
Me: Completely. When it started, it made fun of aspects of nerd culture, but seemed to genuinely like it. Now it just tries to make the characters feel bad over and over again for being geeks and “wasting their time” with stuff “for 12 year olds.” And I don’t like to be told I’m not normal and I should feel bad because I read comic books or I like science fiction movies.
Mom: But it’s just meant to be entertainment.
Me: But I’m not entertained! And besides, that’s a shitty excuse. Just because it’s supposed to be “entertainment” doesn’t mean I can’t be offended by it.
Mom: But why spend the energy being offended?
Me: Because last week’s episode basically had people sitting there and saying that comic books were stupid and for 12 year-olds and not for people who are smart. The implication is there that the ultimate goal in life for men is to stop playing with toys and hiding in their rooms (or whatever it is people think geeks do) and grow up to fuck a hot girl. That’s all it is. And that’s all the Leonard and Penny relationship is. It’s the worst relationship on TV. She makes almost no effort to understand him, and she clearly doesn’t have to, because he should just be so gratified to get to fuck a hot girl. What else does he even get out of being with her? I would never be with a woman who made no effort at all to understand or at the very least not denigrate the things I’m passionate about. I did that once, and I will never make that mistake again.
Mom: Okay, but she did read comic books this week.
Me: Yeah, but the show even tried to make that a joke. First, there were all the Cat Piss Men in the comic book store, as though that were the normal base population of guys who read comics. And then Penny just chose to read Thor because “he’s hot.” So that’s aimed at making both male and female readers look like assholes. Let me ask you something. You saw Thor. The movie, I mean. You saw all of those Avengers movies.
Mom: Well, I like movies like that.
Me: Yeah, but did you see it because Thor was hot or because you wanted to see it?
Mom: Okay, I get your point on that.
Me: I mean, jeez, we live in a world where two of the biggest movies of last year were an Avengers movie and a Batman movie. If the only people who like stuff like that are stinky shut-ins who are afraid of girls, how did they make so much money? Avengers made almost a billion dollars so far. Oh, and no one liked those Lord of the Rings movies, right? Everything is science fiction or comic books right now, and we’re really still trading in the dumbass stereotype that the only people who like that stuff are maladjusted and socially awkward? Fuck that. You think we wouldn’t have half the stuff we have now without Star Trek? It’s offensive. And speaking of Trek, who got me into Star Trek?
Mom: Well, I did.
Me: Yes, that’s right. My mother who is not a creepy Cat Piss Man got me into Star Trek and space travel and Carl Sagan because she loved those things, too. Am I a Cat Piss Man?
Me: Thank you. So how is it entertaining for me as a nerd to watch a show where the nerdy guys are now being made fun of by everyone — including their own girlfriends and wives — for being the age they are and still liking what is apparently cool to go see in droves when Joseph Gordon-Levitt is smirking his way through it, but dorky to read on your iPad? Give me a break.
Let me ask you this, Ma: if The Big Bang Theory did an episode where Raj started dating a woman in her fifties and then all the jokes were about how she was old and Raj had something wrong with him because he didn’t want to date a woman his own age and how 56 is elderly and too old to be dating anyone, especially someone younger, because only pathetic people who are awkward would want to date an older woman … would you still think it was just entertainment?
Mom: Okay, that’s fair. I get that.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.