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Penny Arcade - Comic - Helldon

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited October 2 in The Penny Arcade Hub

imagePenny Arcade - Comic - Helldon

Videogaming-related online strip by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. Includes news and commentary.

Read the full story here


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  • FuzFuz Registered User regular
    I had the *EXACT* same reaction.

    NightslyrVyolynce
  • SadgasmSadgasm Deluded doodler A cold placeRegistered User regular
    The real kicker is that no matter how much we rail against The Big Bang Theory and it's ilk, it's a ratings bonanza. This is still what the wider culture thinks of us.

  • poipoigirlpoipoigirl Registered User regular
    Yet I known someone like a couple of the characters in the Big Bang Theory.

  • SadgasmSadgasm Deluded doodler A cold placeRegistered User regular
    poipoigirl wrote: »
    Yet I known someone like a couple of the characters in the Big Bang Theory.

    Yeah, they're stereotypes, they're just amalgams of different nerd traits mashed together, you're going to hit something eventually if you use a big enough gun.

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  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Sadgasm wrote: »
    The real kicker is that no matter how much we rail against The Big Bang Theory and it's ilk, it's a ratings bonanza. This is still what the wider culture thinks of us.

    Eh, it's CBS. It's more how old white people think about "nerds."

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  • Commander ZoomCommander Zoom Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    It's my experience and opinion that every identifiable minority goes through a "minstrel show" period, along the timeline of its depiction in popular culture.
    As annoying as this is, it is still a step up from not appearing/existing at all, or being cast solely as degenerates, freaks, and/or villains.
    Some eventually make it to the point where their appearance is unexceptional and unremarkable - they're just there, like all the other "normal" people.

    To borrow and/or mangle a phrase:
    "First they erase you, then they hate you, then they laugh at you, then (a couple of other stages), then you win."

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  • Bobkins FlymoBobkins Flymo Perpetually Tired Registered User, Moderator mod
    I find it in pretty damn bad taste to compare the program to minstrel shows. An affinity for D&D is not the same as being black, good lord.

    BBT still sucks, but maintain some perspective.

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  • RonaldoTheGypsyRonaldoTheGypsy Or just "Ron" Registered User regular
    i'm not sure it's a step up from not existing at all

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  • LucascraftLucascraft Registered User regular
    I will admit that I liked the first few seasons of Big Bang. But at some point they started over-explaining the nerd humor to make sure that your average-joe viewer would understand everything. They didn't used to explain every joke. The show got pretty terrible when they started explaining the humor.

    Plus - I also dislike that it has basically just become another fairly generic romantic comedy. Back in seasons 1-3 when it was mostly just about the guys and their shenanigans, plus Leonard's crush on Penny, I could deal. Now they all have girlfriends and wives and it's just not the same show anymore.

  • dennisdennis Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    I find it in pretty damn bad taste to compare the program to minstrel shows. An affinity for D&D is not the same as being black, good lord.

    BBT still sucks, but maintain some perspective.

    You're really not going to like that catchy new term "nerdface", then.

    dennis on
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  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    I love first panel here. Just the idea that that phrase was eating away at the back of his mind all weekend.

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  • NightslyrNightslyr Registered User regular
    I never had any desire to watch the show (I'm the weirdo in the family who hardly watches TV), but other members of my family who are not nerds/geeks love it for some reason. From afar, it looks painfully formulaic.

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  • PreacherPreacher Registered User regular
    Nightslyr wrote: »
    I never had any desire to watch the show (I'm the weirdo in the family who hardly watches TV), but other members of my family who are not nerds/geeks love it for some reason. From afar, it looks painfully formulaic.

    It's basically a show about geeks written by people who treated all those sub groups so nicely on CSI. Like there was a clip where they were playing a game on the show that was purely just references to scifi and fantasy shows, no actual joke beyond "look at all these things geeks are in to".

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  • NightslyrNightslyr Registered User regular
    Preacher wrote: »
    Nightslyr wrote: »
    I never had any desire to watch the show (I'm the weirdo in the family who hardly watches TV), but other members of my family who are not nerds/geeks love it for some reason. From afar, it looks painfully formulaic.

    It's basically a show about geeks written by people who treated all those sub groups so nicely on CSI. Like there was a clip where they were playing a game on the show that was purely just references to scifi and fantasy shows, no actual joke beyond "look at all these things geeks are in to".

    Huh.

    Never watched or had a desire to watch CSI, so that reference was lost on me, but, yeah, 'humor' that's simply "Look at how goofy nerds are! Isn't that weirdly endearing?" is both lazy and kinda insulting.

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  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    ...I like the big bang theory. For a similar reason to why I like top gear

    It's dumb and silly, I get a chuckle, but honestly I don't have to think too hard when I watch it. I like the abnegation. It's a good show for turning my brain off. My fiance watches the real housewives for that reason. It's spoonfed nonsense.

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  • PreacherPreacher Registered User regular
    Nightslyr wrote: »
    Preacher wrote: »
    Nightslyr wrote: »
    I never had any desire to watch the show (I'm the weirdo in the family who hardly watches TV), but other members of my family who are not nerds/geeks love it for some reason. From afar, it looks painfully formulaic.

    It's basically a show about geeks written by people who treated all those sub groups so nicely on CSI. Like there was a clip where they were playing a game on the show that was purely just references to scifi and fantasy shows, no actual joke beyond "look at all these things geeks are in to".

    Huh.

    Never watched or had a desire to watch CSI, so that reference was lost on me, but, yeah, 'humor' that's simply "Look at how goofy nerds are! Isn't that weirdly endearing?" is both lazy and kinda insulting.

    CSI was known for having a freak of the week style sub group humiliation that was basically "look up a wikipedia on this group, write an ep". That's how BBT does nerds. More insultingly is a defense that is brought up is actual nerds work on the show, but that of course acts like Nerd is just an interchangeable group instead of a sub category of all kinds of people.

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  • Commander ZoomCommander Zoom Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    [edit] meh, never mind. not worth getting in trouble.

    Sorry.

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  • T-DangerT-Danger Registered User regular
    Preacher wrote: »

    CSI was known for having a freak of the week style sub group humiliation that was basically "look up a wikipedia on this group, write an ep". That's how BBT does nerds. More insultingly is a defense that is brought up is actual nerds work on the show, but that of course acts like Nerd is just an interchangeable group instead of a sub category of all kinds of people.

    Ah yes, I remember the legendary 'furry' episode of CSI. I still cringe even today.

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  • PreacherPreacher Registered User regular
    T-Danger wrote: »
    Preacher wrote: »

    CSI was known for having a freak of the week style sub group humiliation that was basically "look up a wikipedia on this group, write an ep". That's how BBT does nerds. More insultingly is a defense that is brought up is actual nerds work on the show, but that of course acts like Nerd is just an interchangeable group instead of a sub category of all kinds of people.

    Ah yes, I remember the legendary 'furry' episode of CSI. I still cringe even today.

    Wasn't just furry's though. Like they did an episode on Hoarders that was just ridiculous garbage.

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  • JackJack Registered User regular
    And yet people love Deadpool, despite the fact that his entire schtick is "mental illness played for laughs".

  • jwalkjwalk Registered User regular
    i'm not sure it's a step up from not existing at all


    good lord that is awful.

    I've watched all of about 3 minutes of this show, pretty quickly figured out it's a terrible Hollywood stereotype of "nerds", but jesus I didn't realize it was THAT bad.
    what a piece of shit.

  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    i'm not sure it's a step up from not existing at all


    Came here to share the part 2 of his essay, which probably hits closer to home to male nerds on these here forums. It's also a bit more relevant to the comic, because Tycho seems to hate the same basic concept of what makes BBT not-funny even when they make you giggle: if you're a nerd, you will never be OK.

    Tycho's mom (bless her, she means well) is taking away the idea that the characters of BBT turn out fine, but they don't really. They're still petty, still the punchline of a joke and still maladjusted man-children. They mostly just found partners who tolerate their bullshit for some weird reason.

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  • SadgasmSadgasm Deluded doodler A cold placeRegistered User regular
    To be fair, that has more to do with how sitcoms work than BBT specifically. Sitcom characters are, to the MAN, petty, selfish man-children, we're just supposed to sympathize anyway because "it's who they are". It's what separates most shows from, say, Married With Children, where the characters were still horrible but constantly miserable because of it. I think it feeds into a kind of escapism for the audience, the idea that you can behave like neurotic dickheads with no social consequences and everyone will love you anyway.

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  • cloudeaglecloudeagle Registered User regular
    Honestly, I don't think Big Bang Theory is bad. I've never felt like it was a true attack on nerds -- it's more of playing up the awkward stereotypes of nerds that still exist in real life as well as celebrating them with science, fiction, etc. It's accurate enough I have to play translator for my non-nerd wife, and it seems like it would be odd for an anti-nerd show to continue to bring in folks like Bill Nye, Steven Hawking et al just to continue that attack.

    It's definitely not Futurama in terms of nerdery or intelligent humor, but it's not really overly offensive either. Honestly, this continued weird hatred toward this show just shows that we nerds are still pretty bad at laughing at ourselves. (And yes, I was an EXTREMELY awkward nerd growing up. Today I'm merely a fairly awkward nerd.)

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  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    Sadgasm wrote: »
    To be fair, that has more to do with how sitcoms work than BBT specifically. Sitcom characters are, to the MAN, petty, selfish man-children, we're just supposed to sympathize anyway because "it's who they are". It's what separates most shows from, say, Married With Children, where the characters were still horrible but constantly miserable because of it. I think it feeds into a kind of escapism for the audience, the idea that you can behave like neurotic dickheads with no social consequences and everyone will love you anyway.

    Absolutely, we can do the same exercises with plenty of other sitcoms. Heck, That 70s Show has pretty much the exact same character as Rajesh in BBT. I guess Pop Culture Detective took BBT as his case study because it is currently such a popular show.

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  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Jack wrote: »
    And yet people love Deadpool, despite the fact that his entire schtick is "mental illness played for laughs".

    Nah.

    H3Knuckles
  • SadgasmSadgasm Deluded doodler A cold placeRegistered User regular
    Quid wrote: »
    Jack wrote: »
    And yet people love Deadpool, despite the fact that his entire schtick is "mental illness played for laughs".

    Nah.

    Does it even count as a mental illness if the delusion is true? I mean, he's a comic book character who's aware of his fictional status, it just looks like mental illness to everyone else in-universe.

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  • Bobkins FlymoBobkins Flymo Perpetually Tired Registered User, Moderator mod
    BBT isn't bad because of nerd stereotypes, but because it presents some nerd stereotypes as perfectly fine. It is true that a lot of that is just crusty old characterization from sitcoms where you have the manchild man character and his girlfriend/wife who plays the straight woman/babysitter.

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  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Aldo wrote: »
    Sadgasm wrote: »
    To be fair, that has more to do with how sitcoms work than BBT specifically. Sitcom characters are, to the MAN, petty, selfish man-children, we're just supposed to sympathize anyway because "it's who they are". It's what separates most shows from, say, Married With Children, where the characters were still horrible but constantly miserable because of it. I think it feeds into a kind of escapism for the audience, the idea that you can behave like neurotic dickheads with no social consequences and everyone will love you anyway.

    Absolutely, we can do the same exercises with plenty of other sitcoms. Heck, That 70s Show has pretty much the exact same character as Rajesh in BBT. I guess Pop Culture Detective took BBT as his case study because it is currently such a popular show.
    ...It's what I like about Top Gear. Man Children represent escapism for the Lowest Common Denominator also known as the target demographic. Pretty much every super popular sitcom in the last 30 years has that. Friends, Seinfeld, Home Improvement, Full House.

  • Andy JoeAndy Joe The AdirondacksRegistered User regular
    The newspost opens with this sentence:
    We were still talking about Big Bang Theory after we wrote Friday’s Strip, and how my mom likes it because “that’s how I am,” which is a comment that is abrasive to the surface of the brain.

    Which reminds me of when my parents told me that Dr. House reminded them of me.

    I graciously chose to take it as a compliment.

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  • dennisdennis Registered User regular


    I'm trying to figure out why this feels different than BBT to me, and if I think it really should. Of course, the easy answer is "it's okay because he's a nerd". But the more you look into his background, he seems like a totally different kind of nerd than the type he was mocking. I continue to ponder.

  • applefatapplefat Registered User new member
    edited October 3
    cloudeagle wrote: »
    Honestly, I don't think Big Bang Theory is bad. I've never felt like it was a true attack on nerds -- it's more of playing up the awkward stereotypes of nerds that still exist in real life as well as celebrating them with science, fiction, etc. It's accurate enough I have to play translator for my non-nerd wife, and it seems like it would be odd for an anti-nerd show to continue to bring in folks like Bill Nye, Steven Hawking et al just to continue that attack.

    It's definitely not Futurama in terms of nerdery or intelligent humor, but it's not really overly offensive either. Honestly, this continued weird hatred toward this show just shows that we nerds are still pretty bad at laughing at ourselves. (And yes, I was an EXTREMELY awkward nerd growing up. Today I'm merely a fairly awkward nerd.)

    Agreed. Regardless of whether or not one thinks it's actually funny, BBT is definitely not an "attack on nerds"; in fact it is well known that the scripts and sets have been guided in part by an actual astroparticle physicist. If the show turns (esp young people) onto topics which they otherwise would steer clear of--which I think it does--then who can complain?

    As a professional engineer and researcher I have no problem with the overall treatment of science, engineering, and general nerdom--in fact I often find myself excited to recognize the little "shout outs" to tropes within my field that I've never seen in any other show. Most scientists in popular TV are just thin, barely recognizable, flavorless cutouts. What? You mean there are actually subdisciplines and specializations within science which are so distinct from one another as to be nearly incomprehensible to the individual specialists?

    And engineers? The even uglier stepchild--barely represented at all, let alone halfway realistically. Yeah, I'll say it, it DOES feel nice to be at EVEN RECOGNIZED in popular culture. To see yourself reflected in a character, even if it's slightly exaggerated for effect. So to present characters which can talk about science and engineering in even a halfway intelligent way in a highly accessible sitcom format marks a huge stride in my book.

    That being said... I do think a lot of the jokes are rather weak and fall flat. The humor is just generally not my cup of tea. So I can sympathize with that style of complaint. But claims about offensive nerd stereotypes? Naw, that just strikes me as overly sensitive, especially when BBT is compared to how geeks have been portrayed in practically every prior TV show/movie. Not even to the level of "intelligent, but misunderstood" .... but rather ... just artificial, pathetic, bumbling dweebs.

    And honestly, even Sheldon's character... I knew several guys like him (people legitimately "on the spectrum") in engineering school. Extremely intelligent and passionate. But definitely frustrating to talk to at times, mainly due to inability to recognize social cues and norms (esp. coupled with my own excessive politeness, leading to "social deadlock"). That part... is not terribly off.

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  • Red BaronRed Baron Registered User new member
    I actually like BBT, even with its insulting stereotypical characterisation. I find it disturbing that the missus and her family quickly identify it must be "my" show because that's how I am and all my friends are, but as someone pointed out, the show highlights how we are, still today, seen by non-nerds, which makes explaining difficult at best, futile normally.
    My daughter knows better and at 4 she already knows that the fictional character I most resemble is actually Tycho, in all its worrisome extension too. But she's no better than me on getting the message through.
    The virtue I find with BBT is that in mocking nerdiness it actually transmits the idea of better people working to a higher standard. My wife doesn't understand half the jokes but still she finds some common ground with the girlfriends, and not because of the nerd man-child with the straight feet-on-earth woman, but because of the man-child in itself most women find in most men, regardless of how they want to categorise us.

  • furlionfurlion Riskbreaker Lea MondeRegistered User regular
    Did any of you defending the show watch those two YouTube videos? If not you should, and if so how can you still defend it? Because holy shit is it worse then when I last watched it nearly a decade ago.

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  • MiraLangsuyarMiraLangsuyar Registered User new member
    Just a note: If you want BBT that is not horrible, just watch the IT Crowd. Like, really, just watch it. The IT Crowd does characterization without completely insulting the stereotypes behind them (as much as British Comedy can, at least, but then again nobody really gets out looking good).

    Also, the IT Crowd nails down the soul-sucking effect of being tech support pretty handily, so I'm glad they got that aspect of my life right.

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  • Skull2185Skull2185 Cute'thulu Registered User regular
    zepherin wrote: »
    ...I like the big bang theory. For a similar reason to why I like top gear

    It's dumb and silly, I get a chuckle, but honestly I don't have to think too hard when I watch it. I like the abnegation. It's a good show for turning my brain off. My fiance watches the real housewives for that reason. It's spoonfed nonsense.

    Yeah, I haven't watched it in a while, but BBT isn't as bad as the internet hive mind likes to go on about. It was pretty bad in the first season or two where they tried too hard with the "we're nerrrrds" stuff. It's fine for laughing at some goofy shit for half an hour though.

    My mom absolutely loves the show, though. A lot of people I know's moms love this show... kinda odd. Maybe they feel like they're connecting with the stuff their kids are into? I dunno, but man does my mom love BBT. Which is good though, because until this show came out, she pretty much only watched Friends and Antiques Roadshow.

    zepherincloudeagle
  • El FantasticoEl Fantastico Toronto, ONRegistered User regular
    BBT gets a laugh out of me once in a while, but the show's on it's 12th or 13th season now, and it honestly should just end soon. Semi-spoilery alert: 3 of the 4 guys have girlfriends/fiancees/wives now, including the one no one ever thought would end up with one. Isn't this about the time now when you can just end the show with "And they lived happily ever after?"

    But something is more offensive than BBT now. Young fucking Sheldon. I can't stand shows that use the kid as the main star. Kids as co-stars, like Full House, Malcolm in the Middle or hell, even Three and A Half Men, I'm somehow fine with, but you take the worst character from a main show, and give them a spin-off series which involves a whole new cast of unknown actors to try to make bank, and I just hope the show gets canned before it can be renewed for a second season.

    Of course, it won't be. Better shows have gotten and will be axed before Young Sheldon does. *grumble*

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  • Huttj509Huttj509 Registered User regular
    dennis wrote: »
    I'm trying to figure out why this feels different than BBT to me, and if I think it really should. Of course, the easy answer is "it's okay because he's a nerd". But the more you look into his background, he seems like a totally different kind of nerd than the type he was mocking. I continue to ponder.

    One thing I ask in contrasting the 2, "where's the humor?"

    The Weird Al song and video is funny because it contrasts the musical style, and expected content of that musical style, with content that's very different. It has "the dork" being sincerely happy and brushed off. It contrasts the imagery of a back alley craps game with DnD, a drug deal with getting a copy of the Star Wars holiday special. The only line that feels "ugh" to me is the "name written on my underwear" line.

    When BBT is at it's best, it hits similar notes. But BBT doesn't just do that style of genuine. The image of 4 friends showing up at a costume party all independently dressed as The Flash is amusing. But the format of the show can't leave it there. Someone needs to point it out, and make comments, and that FREAKING laugh track.

    Depending on episode, depending on scene, BBT does have good moments. Sheldon unable to understand why his friend isn't comfortable accepting the money he's offering. The group just casually hanging out, having fun, secure in what they enjoy. These are the scenes my parents notice and thing I should like (and I do).

    It also has "butt of the joke" scenes. A LOT of "butt of the joke" scenes. Punctuated by oddly timed overenthusiastic laughter.

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  • CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    edited October 3
    There's also that thing where BBT treats "nerdiness" as an exclusively male domain. For all that it gets credited with bringing nerds into mainstream culture, fully half of us are still invisible. Women who have "nerdy" interests tend to get treated (in real life) like either good sports or unicorns at best, depending on whether we meet the imaginary standards or not; and attention seekers at worst.

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  • dennisdennis Registered User regular
    Huttj509 wrote: »
    dennis wrote: »
    I'm trying to figure out why this feels different than BBT to me, and if I think it really should. Of course, the easy answer is "it's okay because he's a nerd". But the more you look into his background, he seems like a totally different kind of nerd than the type he was mocking. I continue to ponder.

    One thing I ask in contrasting the 2, "where's the humor?"

    Wish the board had a "Thanks for the post, I have read it and found it to give me something to think about" button, rather than just "Agree" and "Awesome". (I'm pretty sure there used to be more buttons, too many buttons, but it's been long enough that I can't remember.)

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