Nerd Tears

This post contains spoilers about The Avengers that I already spoiled in my previous post regarding the movie so if you skipped that post then you might want to skip this one too if you’re staying spoiler free.

Let me tell you a little story about a phenomena I call “nerd tears”.

It was 2005 and the moment Browncoats had been waiting for was finally here: Serenity was hitting the movie theaters. Many flocked eagerly to the theaters to go see it and I was no different. I think it was a Saturday and I was seeing an early matinee of the movie with some friends. We were really enjoying the movie, cruising along happily until…

After we picked our jaws off the floor and our eyes returned to their normal size, I turned to my friend Nate and said, “Wow, Tyler is going to be pissed.”

Tyler, my fellow collaborator over at Your Book Is Why Daddy Drinks, was a HUGE Wash fan. Huge. Wash was the character he most identified with, the one he talked about after our short-lived, weekly doses of Firefly. Tyler, also, was seeing the movie that same day, only a little later.

Sure enough, two and a half hours later to the dot, I got a text from Tyler with three words: GOD DAMN IT.

With The Avengers coming out, Tyler was once again faced with the possibility of shedding a few nerd tears. You see, he’s a big fan of Agent Philip Coulson and while I never said specifically to Ty what happened, I implied it big time, poking him about how Wash basically got killed by a toothpick the size of a sycamore tree.

To which he calmly replied, “SHUT THE FUCK UP, MATT!”

Nerd tears happen when a geek, so invested in whatever they are geeky about, has an extreme reaction to something involving whatever they are geeky about, typically an angry or sad reaction. If you’re a gamer then you may still be bailing out the geek tears over the Mass Effect 3 ending (the tide of which was so high Betheseda had to go and create more content just to stem the flow). Star Wars fans the world over have shed enough geek tears over Episodes 1-3 to fill the world’s oceans. I’ve shed my own geek tears when I got to the end of Jim Butcher’s Changes, my brother had hot nerd tears of rage when he read what happens to Jon Snow in A Dance with Dragons. Geeks, by definition, are passionate about their interests and nerd tears are a product of that passion.

So, what have you shed nerd tears over?

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6 Responses to Nerd Tears

  1. Punkypal says:

    I generally don’t shed a lot of nerd tears. I accept that sometimes a story won’t go the way I want it to go. If no character I liked ever died or the ending I wanted was always what came to pass then there would never be any excitement or suspense. There would be no highs without the lows.

    I was a little sad when Dobby the house elf bought it. To me he was the most purely “good” character and most deserved to survive. I was more annoyed that I was left feeling that his death was not properly avenged, but I digress.

    My main gripe is when a story telling decision is made just to “put baby to bed”. For instance, when Whedon killed off Wash in “Serenity”. Wash’s death didn’t do anything to further the story. We learned that Reavers can be dangerious? I think we had already come to that conclusion. Wash’s death was simply to tell the fans, “Sorry, we killed off one member of the crew too many. We couldn’t go on even if we wanted to.”…time to put baby to bed. Well, that’s just bad story telling.

    So that’s my nerd tears. Bad writing. Take Star Wars ep. 1-3 for instance. I don’t mind so much that they made Yoda a lightsaber wielding cuisinart instead of a zenlike philosopher . I don’t really hate Jar-Jar (or even ewoks for that matter). I’m not much bothered that Vader goes, “Noooooooooooooooooooo!” at the end of ep. 3. To me, the prequils are not really connected to ep. 4-6. I looked at them as a “reboot” much like the most recent Star Trek movie. It’s a parallel universe Star Wars. That’s fine with me.

    What bothers me is that the writing in ep. 1-3 pretty much just sucks from start to finish. Don’t even compare them to ep. 4-6. Forget that ep. 4-6 exist. Just judge ep. 1-3 against other movies or even just against other sci-fi movies. I could write a book on how sloppy the writing was but others already have.

    So yea… bad writing.

    • mattmarovich says:

      I’d heard that one of the main reasons for Wash’s death was that Alan Tudyk wasn’t sure he’d be able to continue with the show or any future movies and asked to be written out. I don’t know if Wash’s death was necessarily pointless; sometimes people do “just” die in dangerous situations in seemingly pointless ways. Arguably, it was also to drive home the seriousness of crew’s situation with his death.

      I feel your pain about bad writing.

  2. Disagreements about the death of Wash and its validity (I loved it, personally, by which I mean it made me sad), I think my worst nerd tears were the end of The Return of the King, like, basically the last half-hour of it. I also cried, but tears of mixed sadness and happiness, during the Star Trek reboot, when Original!Spock shows up. The things he said about Spock’s friendship with Kirk just really touched me, and I thought the way he was handled (especially in the scenes with Zachary Quinto) was really respectful of Nimoy and his contribution to a cultural phenomenon.

    • mattmarovich says:

      What about RotK made you have Nerd Tears?

      Totally agree with you regarding Spock’s friendship with Kirk.

      • Punkypal says:

        Regarding Wash’s death in Serenity: [Whedon] “The fact of the matter is that it’s a great point of contention with many people. Without it, the movie would have been two hours of blather. I made a whole big thing about heroes getting people killed and the dangerousness of Mal actually becoming somebody who believes in something and how much they were laying on the line. And, I didn’t want to kill anybody. In my first draft, I didn’t kill anybody, it was 200 pages long and it was cute, but it was the second season, it wasn’t an actual film. It came along and I realized, you do this one thing, that nobody’s sees coming, the rest of the movie has enormous resonance and then you can just cheat the rest of the time. ‘Oh look, Simon’s dead ! Oh, not really. Oh look, River’s dead ! No, not really. Oh look, clearly Mal’s… not so much.’ And it works because you know, I might, cause I just did. You take anyway someone you love, and then every card is on the table.”

        Well that’s what he said… the only problem I have is, Wash’s death comes at the end! The only way the above statement hold up is if he intends and expects to make more Firefly down the road.

        I read elsewhere in a different interview that the reason he picked Wash to eat the harpoon was because when he does kill a character off (and knowing a project is coming to an end), he tends to choose the one he relates to most. The one that he had used to inject his own personality. It’s just a Joss Whedon thing.

  3. Punkypal says:

    …and I forgot to highlight, he does say, “you do this one thing….and then you can just cheat the rest of the time.” That’s what I felt from it exactly. It felt cheap to me. I guess that last battle in Serenity you wondered if they would survive or if they’d just all die in the end, but I don’t know if it made the movie better for that.

    In the episode “War Stories” I was a little surprised no one was killed there, or that they didn’t leave Mal behind so you wonder if he lives or not for at least a few episodes. In “Ariel”, “Our Mrs. Reynolds”, “The Train Job”, “Objects in Space”… yep, every episode they also all get away scott free in the end. So I get that there was a change. Mal is fighting for something again, not just his own skin (and his crew). There is something bigger at stake.

    But what I thought was the bad writing is that Wash’s death seems completely random. Joss reviewed his script, realized someone else had to bite the dust, but didn’t have an easy way to write that into the existing story in a meaningful way, so a harpoon flew out of his ass and that was it.

    But it’s hard to know what he was thinking because I’ve heard and read interviews where he has said all different things. Perhaps he just didn’t realize how much Wash was loved and didn’t think anyone would get worked up about it.

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