Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Pop Culture Vault Vol. 2 Part III Geek Backlash

Remember these guys? John Fritz, Frohike, and Langly”? I am guessing at least some of you are shaking your heads no. These three men made up “The Lone Gunmen”, a spinoff of the X-Files, which a college buddy of mine affectionately referred to as slashdot TV. These characters first appeared at the end of the first season of the X-files, and became mainstay recurring characters for much of the run of the show. The Lone Gunmen were nerdy, hacker, conspiracy theorists who hung out in a basement, and ran some sort of an underground newspaper. Awesome. Their unspoken ringleader, Frohike, was a friend and associate of Fox Mulder (geeks of a feather flock together) and would help him out whenever Mulder needed to hack into the FBI mainframe or bug the cigarette smoking man’s phone lines.

“The Lone Gunmen” aired in the fall of 2001 and sadly ran for only one season. Yesterday, FOX released the DVD set of this lone season, which includes an assortment of bells and whistles, like director’s commentaries and interviews. I confess, I found myself waxing nostalgic for the days of the X Files universe gone by. X - Files was THE show, and the Lone Gunmen weren’t able to commercially sustain an entire season on their own, but they were a great group of quirky characters that were both amusing and endearing to watch. The Lone Gunmen, might have been the geekiest show to ever make it on Network television. Most shows that are “deemed” geeky, like the Star Trek franchise, the X-Files, Sliders (Rembrandt lives on!), and the Twilight Zone are primarily about things that “geeks” like: outer space, aliens, lasers, monsters, time travel, etc. The “Lone Gunmen” was about a bunch of geeks who liked all of those things, and had no real lives outside of each other’s companionship and interests. This show was the biggest geek wet dream of all time, because it was the very nerdiness of the protagonists that drew then into their adventures. Their hacker abilities and UFO expertise was what allowed them to on a small scale, save the day every week to extricate themselves from situations that placed them in adventure; it was complete high fantasy, and I loved every minute of it.

The Lone Gunmen were unabashed about their own identity. They were geeks and they were proud of it. This is a sentiment which I wholly endorse, because I think far too many of us cover ourselves in a shroud of shame. Why is it any more embarrassing to know the name of every single episode of Original Series Star Trek, than to know what the pitching line up was for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954? Why is someone dorkier because they follow the NASA space shuttle launches, instead of the personal life of Paris Hilton?

Here’s the other thing – something is embarrassing only if you are embarrassed by it. If you collect Star Wars figures and hide them under your bed, it only makes it that much worse when your friend goes to get the bouncy ball that roles underneath it and discovers you for what you are. A nerd of the grossest and most hideous kind. Much better I think, to display them plainly in the light of day, on your bookshelf, the way you would a vase of flowers, or a sports team mug. Don’t worry you have nothing to be ashamed of. I mean what’s the worse that could happen, you get cancelled and taken off the air?


Anonymous DC Dionysian said...

Tell me you don't really know the names of all of Star Trek's original episodes. Please.

6:45 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Not ALL of them...

11:39 AM  

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