Revelations in a Cinema and a Poorly Positioned Sofa (Part One)

Reading through the recent Mark Kermode biopic I encounter his description of his first viewing of the exorcist, his favourite film. He describes a transcendent religious experience in which the primal fear and atmosphere of the film elevated his consciousness from chump sitting in chair to a formless being concerned only with its own enlightenment! …yeah, I didn’t get that first time round. In fact once I began to truly reflect on this passage I came to wonder if I had ever experienced that about any film I’ve seen at a cinema. Is my cinema broken? Are the North London theatres that Mr Kermode used to frequent, slipping acid into the popcorn?

The circumstances of my viewing of the exorcist could not have been worse. The only aspect I got right was the hype. Kermode describes the hysteria surrounding the film in the early seventies. The BBC documentaries, the fainting in the aisles, the court cases, the questions in parliament, the protests, the minimalist trailer which portrayed almost nothing of the film, perhaps because the audience just couldn’t handle any of it, and I actually had all of that in the far more intimidating form of my Mother. My parents were always quite liberal when it came to what I watched. My father would occasionally express disapproval and my mother would often avoid my room for fear of what might be on-screen, but very little was denied of me. I think my upbringing can best be described by the following conversation:

“When can I watch The Evil Dead?”

“When you’re eighteen”

“But that’s ten years away!”

“…oh all right”

This was the attitude. The understanding was that if I was old enough to ask for it, I’d probably be alright dealing with. But not the exorcist! The exorcist was the one film I was never allowed to see! This would naturally build up an unhealthy amount of hype in my adolescent mind as it can be clearly proven that denying anyone any kind of experience only builds their insatiable lust for it. Case and point:

“Mum, can I watch Poltergeist?”

“Yeah.”

“Really?!”

“Yeah, why not?”

“Well isn’t it the one you don’t want me to watch?”

“I’ve never heard of it, Paul”

“Oh”

“Are you thinking of the exorcist?”

“Oh yeah.”

“IT’S NOT THE EXORCIST, IS IT?”

“No, it’s poltergeist.”

“Ok. You can watch that.”

“…what else is on?”

Several years later I discovered that poltergeist was an extremely effective haunted house movie, the influence of which can still be felt to this day. But there was no drive, no passion bringing me to see this film. I wanted to see the exorcist. I wanted to see the scariest movie ever made! And I did. I forget my age. It was before Channel 4s top 100 scariest moments in 2003 which we’ll come to later, so I was at least younger than fifteen. It was during the day, I watched it in three different rooms as it progressed (back then the one VCR would play out on channel six in every room of the house and I was often in control of it, so daytime programming would be “Blue Peter, the news, CITV, Countdown, Neighbours, Friday the 13th part V) and I don’t think I was paying much attention. I started in the back room, which is a dining room with uncomfortable seats, poorly placed to watch the old TV in the corner. Here I watched the slow building atmospheric opening scenes which succeeded only in boring me. Around the time Reagan is being examined with state of the art seventies psychological technology which measured sanity by piercing a throbbing jugular, I had moved to the front room which featured the most severe glare from the midday sun you could imagine. Finally the scene with Reagan masturbating with the crucifix and using the smoke-stained voice of Mercedes McCambridge for the first time had me flee to my parents’ bedroom where I watched the rest on their tiny ten inch television. I recall only being unimpressed with the rest of the movie.

This feeling of disappointment and frustration stayed with me for quite some time and when Channel 4’s aforementioned list of scariest moments ever came around I begged for the exorcist not to win. The idea of this movie I was unable to understand wining over my all-time favourites was just too much to bear. Fortunately for me, the shining won, but unfortunately for me, it’s clear I was missing something. It was many years before I discovered the exorcist to be the horror masterpiece it was. It was sometime around 2007, because it was then that I thought enough of it to loan it to an eight year old friend who came to me seeking the best horror I had to offer. Thinking about it I never saw the DVD nor indeed the eight year old friend again….then I bought the special edition, so it didn’t matter so much. Somewhere around this time I must have realised how much was going on in this film; the relentless atmosphere, the chilling quiet and startling noise, the sinister implications of the premise, the overtly horrific destruction of this young girl. So it has to be asked, why did I look at this wonderful piece of horror cinema as an impressionable adolescent and see nothing to like about it? Why did I wait until the DVD was reduced to clear to get a copy of it, when I already had VHS copies of every Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and even Sleep Away Camp years earlier! Was I just a gore fiend? If so, why wasn’t I wowed by the impressively gory and impressively executed effects in The Exorcist?

So what the hell was moving me at this age? Well here lies the problem. I have no memory of any experience in a cinema like Kermode’s. The first horror film I went to see was Jan De Bont’s severely flawed remake of “the haunting” and I spent most of the film extremely tense about my family’s reaction to the noisy Brummie teenagers sat nearby. The second was 28 weeks later, (that’s right “weeks”, I missed out on the classic) which was marred by worrying about my then girlfriend’s reaction to the stupid screaming teenage girls behind us. Of course I subsequently learned that she hated horror movies and only ever saw them to humour me, so I’m sure the teenagers where the least of her problems. Is this the key? Was I too affected by the disruptive tendencies of my fellow audience members to ever actually enjoy any of these films?

The first film I ever saw at the cinema was Aladdin, of which the only enduring memory is the scene where Aladdin is in the desert with a huge tower rolling towards him, and he cunningly positions himself in just the right position for the window of the tower to roll over him. This was of course originally a Buster Keaton routine, so at least I had some taste in my infancy. Did it change my life and affect my adult self? I hope not because thinking about it, the tower was probably CG. My childhood was largely filled with popcorn action flicks like batman forever and Godzilla, and overly sentimental Disney movies like the Lion King and Toy Story. So where’s my big emotional breakthrough? The film that got me hooked and made me a cinema lover forever?

Well at the tender age of twelve we went to go see A.I, the Kubrick intended, Spielberg re-imagining of Pinocchio. This is the earliest example I can think of where I cried at a movie. Or at least forced back tears so that my sister wouldn’t see. But ultimately, this was Spielberg, and Spielberg was the master of forcing tears out of the audience with some highly clichéd plot tactics that tend to invoke strong initial reactions without really changing lives. The mother dies, the father goes away…to space, the best friend moves away… to space and all the little CG dinosaurs got eaten by the big puppet dinosaur. Boo hoo! None of this represents the real emotional sucker punch that Kermode endured in the Exorcist. Perhaps Robopocalypse will for future generations, who knows. The absolute earliest that I remember being completely floored in the cinema, was The Return of the King. I was adolescent, I broke into tears at just about all fifteen of the movie’s endings, and it made the grievous injury my grandmother had suffered to her hip in my absence a lot harder to concentrate on when I got home. So it ticks all the right boxes.

So it’s Return of the King that will have to occupy this special place in my heart. Only it doesn’t. It doesn’t because it had already happened to me before, several months earlier and in a much more discernible way. But it didn’t happen in a cinema…

P for part 2 soon!

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Return of the Nerds

It may have escaped your notice (hypothetical reader) that we haven’t posted in this site for eleven months. The lives of P and K have been somewhat chaotic in this time. K has decided not to be a fireman and is on her way to entering London’s Seedy underworld of book retail. Meanwhile P became lost in an enchanted labyrinth and was forced to survive of growing moss from nearby rocks and finally escaped by outsmarting my evil jailer (K Edit: he couldn’t be arsed to leave his room, he survived off chocolate and crisps and finally escaped when he couldn’t afford anymore chocolate and crisps). But we have both agreed to make more time for the site. So prepare for more lists, rants and an essay or two.
 
Much has happened in the last year-.1. The Oscars came and went, without anything from us going up. Suffice to say Hans Zimmer and Hailee Stienfeld should have won stuff, pretty happy about everything else. We had the summer blockbusters and passed to the other side and now feel the cool breeze of the winter and the fresh arty releases ahead, leading into awards season again. Expect at least two lists about all that. And of course our Search engine optimisation has failed so entirely we are now on the third page of results from Google. Getting back to page one shouldn’t be difficult but surpassing the inconsiderate bastards who named an electronic store “nerds get bored” will be trickier. Consequently you may notice frequent mention of electrical goods in our cultural essays, or you may notice a large fire in an electronics store, whichever’s easier.
 
Anyway, there’ll be a top ten list up soon, followed by a new category for nerds get bored entitled Crash Courses, which will recommend ten movies in any given genre to help introduce newcomers and hopefully convert some unbelievers. We’re starting with Romcoms and westerns later this week.
 
Meanwhile, welcome back and don’t shop with Nerds Get Bored electronics. =)
 
K and P.

Girly nerd or nerdy girl?

Writings on by the Lesser Spotted Nerd-Girl

“You don’t seem like the nerdy type…”

This is a statement I’ve heard a lot. It generally comes after my partner in the conversation has brought up some sort of video game/anime/comic/etc he (always he; I’ve never had this said to me by a female) has been playing/watching/reading/etc. I imagine the response he was expecting was nothing along the lines of a vague nod or ‘hmm-mm’, followed by a giggle and a ‘I really don’t know much about that, haha.’ Actually I don’t, if I’m honest, but the fact that I know anything at all seems to put me on some sort of nerd-tier, anyway.

This does not offend me, since the effect is not one of immediate disparagement but in fact of heightened interest in my company. Eyes light up and several titles and franchise names zip past my ears. In conversation, I grab one that’s familiar and run with that. Of course, this inevitably leads to me becoming more knowledgeable about these things, thus leading me to reach genuine nerd-status, instead of mere girl-nerd status.

Girl-nerd status seems to be slightly different than nerd-status. You are a girl-nerd if you are a girl who knows anything at all about any sufficiently nerdy subject, since it’s apparently unusual for girls to like that sort of thing. This is incorrect, of course- even the Nerds Get Bored blog right here is testament to that; of the four articles on Nerdiness, at least half of those have been by girls now, myself and K, who is also the co-owner of the blog. It’s also illogical, because since nerdy pursuits are generally media based, and we are exposed to the media, so it makes sense that we’re just as likely to develop interests in such things. There are, of course, a few possible reasons why the girl-nerd-tier exists, however. Firstly, there is the idea of ‘girly’ things, and ‘boyish’ things, and ‘nerdy’ things are inevitably ‘boyish’ things, and if there’s an absence of cuteness and glitter, then why would girls be interested? Although, there are girls with obviously boyish interests, which leads me to my next theory: there is a stereotype for ‘girl’ nerd, it’s just that I don’t fit it. Of course, it’s never obvious how I don’t fit it, just that I don’t.

As I said, however, this is no bad thing, as it seems to bring out a side of a person that you wouldn’t normally see; it’s the side that yearns to talk at length about its interests with rapid tones and glittering eyes and a sort of joy you don’t usually find in small talk. That, or I’m being evaluated as a possible brood-mare for some kind of nerd breeding programme, the products of which will eventually be used to hijack technology on a global scale and take over the world.

Contributor: LMC (light machine….cupcakes)

The Nerd in all of us: thoughts on nerdiness by a life long nerd.

Well you’ve come to the right place: From the age of six all I wanted from life was to fly Starfuries for Earth-Gov, the first book I can remember being read to me was Guards Guards while my ninth birthday was marked by the coming of Deep Space Nine. I can regurgitate Spaced almost word for word and I count myself amongst the few who like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

I, for my part, am at peace with my nerdship. I take pleasure in my memories of such classics as Babylon 5 (the mighty), Lexx (the porny) and Space Precinct (the “a little bit shit”) and I know that my life has been shaped, imperceptivity steered by the heroes of our age. By John Crichton, by Tim Bisley, by Citizen G’Kar and by the radiant Aeryn Sun.

I am the happy nerd, finding joy in a multi-verse of worlds and contentment in his heart. But that doesn’t answer your question, what is it to be a nerd? Let me instead answer through a question of my own.

Who was the youngest player in England’s World Cup winning team?

Who knows? Anyone? No? Well the answer was Alan Ball. You didn’t know that but probably someone that you know did. You wouldn’t think of them as nerd, they may wear a suit or hold a season ticket but they knew something only a nerd would know. In the city of London you are never more than ten feet from a nerd.

That’s right, nerdship doesn’t belong solely to those who love Sci-fi, those who take pleasure from the paranormal but to anyone who is interested by that which has nothing really to do with the real world, to anyone who takes joy from a fantasy, whether that might be Middle Earth, the Premier League, the world of stamps or the art of bakery.

Humanity delights in the useless, the irrelevant and the immaterial. We immerse ourselves in the pointless, for just that reason, because it is pointless. If you beamed up Captain Kirk, if you deleted Lara Croft, if you led My Little Pony off to the glue factory the price of fish would not be altered by one cent! But that is why they are great. That is why we love them. They provide us with laughter, sadness, excitement and fear and they ask nothing in return. They are the kind worlds, they reflect reality, but safely, softly, for they are harmless and we who tread those lands are harmless too. Whether fantasy or football, rugby, roll play or the Rolling Stones we nerds are not to be feared, we are not extremists, we are not authoritarians, for we know there is more to life than life itself.

This is our Kung-fu and it is mighty.

So unite nerds, children of the kindly worlds, you should not fight between yourselves, you should not scorn those who worship goals over goblins or wizards over wrestlers. You are one and the same. Nothing you follow, nothing you revere matters to anyone else. This is not a problem, not an insult, not a disaster, this is freedom, it is contentment, it is peace. Let this truth set you free.

Contributor: Red Leader.

The Nerd vs the Girl: Nerdiness by a Nerd Girl.

If i had a penny for every time i’d been called a nerd, or a ‘nerd girl’…well I would have alot of pennies. Then i’d have to put them all in those little bag things and take them to the bank, and the person behind the till will look at me like ‘you’re broke aren’t you?’ And i’ll look at her like ‘can you please give me my five pounds so I can leave because banks make me nervous.’

So I’m a nerd girl am I? According to Wikepidia a Nerd is someone who avidly pursues intellectual activities, technical or scientific endeavours, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests, rather than engaging in more social or conventional activities.’ So I like Writing, and have attended Expo (and know what Expo is.) I have played an MMORPG (and know what MMORPG stands for.) So I would rather see a Sci-Fi than a Rom-Com, and I would rather read than rave. Does that make me a ‘Nerd’? Isn’t reading a conventional activity?

What exactly are the criteria for being a ‘nerd’? Do you like LOTR? Check. Have you ever engaged in a film-a-thon? Check. Do you have a world map? Check. Do you read, for fun? Check. Can you, of the top of your head, put the Star Wars movies in order of your favourite? Check. (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith, Attack of the Clones, The Phantom Menace.) Do you own Magic cards? Check. Do you have a ‘Web Comics’ tab on your browser tool bar? Check. Did you do everything in your power to get out of P.E in school? Oh yes.

However, I like Cheryl Cole. I like Taylor Swift. I like HEAT magazine and have been to see Avril Lavigne live. I can name all the members of Girls Aloud, and all the winners of ANTM (America’s Next Top Model.) I watch such American shows as Gossip Girl and Glee, The O.C. and The Hills. I own hot pants, and probably more pink objects than anyone else I know.

Then again, I do collect dice (I have over 50 now.) And the posters in my room go (left to right): The Dark Knight (the Joker), Grindhouse (Planet Terror and Death Proof), World Map, Ida (the missing link), Doctor Who (Matt Smith and Karen Gillian), Doctor Who again (David Tennant), Glee and Romeo and Juliet. I guess that probably makes me more Nerd than not. Now I look at my DVDs: I own all of Firefly (and Serenity), all of Buffy, most of the Saw series, District 9, Star Wars, LOTR, a fair bit of Tarantino, Donnie Darko, Back to the Future…but also Mean Girls and Clueless, Pretty Woman and Legally Blonde.

Now I’m confused.

I’m still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts (and queued up outside Waterstones, at Midnight, for the last 4 Potter books.) I’ve had actual dreams about becoming the Doctor’s assistant (followed by actual disappointment when I awoke.) I spent a good deal of one afternoon drawing a timeline of the Terminator movies, trying to prove it would never work. Is this all counter balanced by owning Britney Spears albums?

You know what really tips the scales? Writing an article on nerdiness. And posting it on a website you own called nerdsgetbored.com. One thing I know for sure. I’m more of a Nerd than a Geek.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a novel to start.

-K for Ketchup (it has to be Heinz)

I take issue with this article: thoughts on Nerdiness by an angry young man.

I take issue with this article. I want you to know that I respect you at least enough to think you ought to know before we go any further and get our wires crossed, but I’ve let you know now, and we’re going to have to deal with it. I’m just saying. I don’t want to have to tell you about it in any greater detail than I already have because I don’t feel you would understand, and in all honesty that depresses me an inordinate amount. I don’t want to give you any ideas. I’m not that kind of girl. I’m not even a girl. I’m a man, a big man, and I take issue with the fact that I have been invited to write something for all of you in my prospective capacity as a living, breathing, sweating nerd. I especially take issue with the fact that I accepted the invitation, as if I might even enjoy conveying myself to others as, thing of things, a nerd. As if I had the right to walk into any room I chose and start pointing fingers at people like I’m some kind of person who can spot nerds despite not being one. The whole thing stinks if you ask me. The worst of it is, I’m not even bored. In fact, I’m not even going to submit this. I’m going to burn it. So there.

Far be it from me to deconstruct and suck the fun out of concepts on a perpetual and backbreaking level, it is relatively precocious to have to point at anyone with the point of telling them they are or are not a nerd. Am I a nerd? As I write this (though, like I said, you won’t know it) I am watching Dr. Who, though it didn’t dawn on me to write it as ‘Doctor’ as it is in its official facet. I own what I like to call a ‘matured’ collection of DVDs – in that it is of a sufficiently nerdy size, as opposed to pornographic or obscene in the majority. Never mind that it is – and yet I don’t live with my parents, and had to build on my collection whilst simultaneously paying rent and all of those kinds of things. I dabble in gaming, but have never enjoyed a tasty nutritious power bar or any MMORPG-affiliated energy drink, and I’m only here because I’m waiting for the World Cup to come back on so I can resume getting drunk in my underpants (boxers), quietly slobbering down my chin and onto my chest, nuggets of cheesy Doritos bobbing in the saliva in my navel, in the good sense that the people close to me whom I hate (my friends) will not judge me. Plus it turns out that I prefer to Crisco to Expo, so I think we can agree that it’s more difficult than you or I had ever imagined. And I take issue with that.

Nerdiness is overrated. Websites are overrated. The information highway is so lazy that we have to use it all the time. It has lost all purpose. It wanders the cold, empty rooms of its house in its dressing gown, swaying and grabbing frantically for ledges, moaning disconsolately in the gloom at loves lost, times gone by and those free range eggs in the fridge that have passed their sell-by date of which he considers risking it but probably shouldn’t. This site sold out long ago. Before its inception it was all about the principle, about the dust and blood and bricks and mortar of the operation, and that was cool. I was into cool back then as well. I was there, I made that speech at the Royal Inauguration of Principle and Principality about cool. You know the one. “Ladies and gentlemen…” Well, you know the rest. I was all for cool. After that, I think it’s fair to say, the site went downhill. Words are what nerds use to make websites cool, but did you know that republicans in the USA invented words to try and prevent the electorate from handing power to its first white president? You probably didn’t, but that doesn’t surprise me. Words are on record as confirming that, given the chance, they would definitely support a foreign despot in England, should the opportunity arise. Don’t trust words. In fact, you shouldn’t trust me anymore unless I communicate with you via something that doesn’t require words, like lunging for you from across the dinner table with knife and fork in my hands, swiping relentlessly at the flesh protecting your jugular.

So I don’t consider myself to be a nerd, as it goes. I’ve undergone a little introspection on this and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t fit the bill. The minutiae are too fiddly, the variables too needy, like the sounds of bored children wheedling forever on in my ear. You know how it would go: I’d write something and all of you would tell me it was too long, too short, too off the mark where nerdiness is concerned. I’d have your boredom in my ears, right in there. I can’t deal with that. My fingers are too fat to get it out again. And now I’ve lost my mind. I’ve literally gone insane. So thanks. Well get this: I got a nosebleed the other day when I was in the bath. Not nerdy enough? What, was the water too hot? Perhaps I can’t sit at an angle. Maybe I am a nerd. You can’t accommodate for something like that. You know where you can stick your feedback. That’s right. In a properly-formatted file. I’ll read it later.

I can’t do this. I’m sorry, but it won’t work out the way you want it to. Look, forget me. Forget this ever happened. I’ve you in mind. Forget me. Go. Please… Just go.

Nerds.

Contributor: A good, but seriously angry, man.