Sunday, October 30, 2011
The Big Bang Theory "The Good Guy Fluctuation" Reaction
When I started watching "The Big Bang Theory" last summer, it was at the suggestion of a couple of friends who both suggested that the show was really funny to "nerds" and people who appreciated "nerd culture". But that's really not the case. The show gets most of its laughs by mocking its nerdy characters, usually indirectly, and putting them into situations in which non-nerds can point and laugh and say "ha-ha, those nerds are socially inept."
Never was that more evident than in Thursday's episode, which included what had to be one of the most insulting scenes to the show's allegedly core fan base. In the scene, Leonard, Howard and Raj are rifling through the back issues at their local comic shop (aside: for some reason, the show always shows them going through the large back issue boxes when they're at the shop. Visually, I guess it works better then having them with their backs to the camera perusing a rack of new issues, but it's painfully unrealistic) when Stuart, the shop owner, comes over and literally says "Alert: Girl at 9:00." Then, when the group goes to all look, as if they've never seen a girl before (despite all of them having sex pretty regularly), Stuart tells them to look one at a time, and they do so, like the girl is a fucking diamond unicorn or some bullshit.
I readily admit to being a comic book nerd. I go to my LCS every Wednesday, usually at the same time, and have been doing so for the better part of seven years now. Never, not a single time, has the reaction to a female walking into the shop been for all the males in the shop to huddle up, have one of them quietly point her out, and then insist they only look one at a time. In fact, I'd argue that about 75% of the time I go to the store, there's at least one female there, and the male customers generally don't treat the female ones like mythological creatures who can't be looked at directly for fear of turning into stone. We talk to them like normal human beings. We have conversations with them, usually about comics, but sometimes even about other stuff (I had a really nice talk with a woman in the store a few weeks ago about football, which, admittedly, was surprising). "Girl in store" doesn't immediately mean "every guy try to hit on her", and not every female that goes to a comic book store is looking to give up her phone number (and much, much more) to the first guy who talks to her.
This was an insulting bit to everyone involved, and played on an outdated nerd stereotype to get a cheap laugh out of the vast majority of the show's audience that has never set foot in a comic book shop (and probably never will). Male comic book fans should be insulted by how they were portrayed -- as idiots who don't know how to act when a woman "invades" their "fortress of nerditude" -- and female comic book fans/artists should be insulted about their portrayal too. It's disappointing to see this from a show that does spend a lot of time courting the same audience it's outwardly mocking (the BBT panel at Comic-Con is always one of the best attended with some of the longest lines). The show has gone to this well more and more over the last couple of seasons, and if this is the kind of show they're going to put on every week, then I'm not sure it's the kind of show I want to continue to watch.