Simon Pegg Says Sci-Fi Is Making Us Childish

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by cayman shen, May 19, 2015.

  1. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    I'm not trying to troll; obviously I'm an active member here and on several other "geek culture" sites. But I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, he's got a point. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, no doubt, but still. As a guy who regularly blows what ought to be a student loan payment on comics or props, I felt the harsh jab of something in Pegg's comments.

    Again, not trolling or trying to be insulting, just fishing for a thoughtful conversation.

    http://io9.com/simon-pegg-worries-the-love-of-science-fiction-is-makin-1705420424
     
  2. RogueTrooper

    RogueTrooper Well-Known Member

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    Simon Peggg is an ungrateful terd

    He begged JJ Assbrams to be in the NEW Phantom Menace (SW Ep7) ..which is like Blake7...but with Harrison Ford in it:lol

    But JJ said..."No, I need you to be in 'The NEW Lost'....where I con Hollywood to give me the reigns to take over and destroy both Star Trek and Star Wars,,,,,
     
  3. joeranger

    joeranger Sr Member

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    He has a point but I don't think it is connected to Sci-Fi. I see shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy being the turning point in "Celebration of Stupidity".
    Scifi tackles very mature issues. Dist 9, Minority Report,
     
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  4. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    Agreed. Sci-fi CAN be one of the most thought-provoking, introspective mediums. I feel like he's lumping it all into one category, which is obviously unfair and inaccurate. Maybe if Pegg had been probed further he would have clarified that he's weary of geek culture and not sci-fi per se? But I can't put words in the man's mouth obviously.
     
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  5. Michael Bergeron

    Michael Bergeron Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The themes in good Sci-Fi have always been mature and related to serious issues. If you didn't come out of a Star Trek episode "thinking", you're an idiot.

    The rebuttals in the article are more powerful than the original quote. For instance, I don't read comics, stopped when I was in my early teens. I also am not a fan of superhero movies (Avengers Who?). That doesn't mean I dismiss the art form as childish. Read MAUS and tell me it's for kids and doesn't make you think.

    Tackling serious issues or highlighting the human condition in a fictional setting has always been a way for society to address it easier. It's one thing to talk about racism in the 1960's, it's another to show a black woman on a star ship in the future.

    I consider myself a Simon Pegg fan but his comment here is just stupid. Perhaps he's referring to the CRAP Sci-Fi, like, you know, modern Star Trek. :thumbsdown
     
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  6. BlobVanDam

    BlobVanDam Sr Member

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    I'm getting more excited for the next Trek movie by the day.

    imo science fiction has traditionally been one of the most thoughtful genres for exploring mature and complex aspects of human nature, and has inspired generations of scientific experimentation and invention, and raised discussion of social issues.

    This is a problem with the dumbing down of Hollywood on a grander scale, and not a problem inherent to scifi. If a movie is well written, people have every right to take it seriously, regardless of whether it's a gritty crime drama, or a movie about apes taking over the planet. Perhaps Pegg is just in the wrong genre.
     
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  7. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    As much as I enjoy Pegg, he's still just an actor.
    Who cares what he thinks?
     
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  8. BlobVanDam

    BlobVanDam Sr Member

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    He's co-writing the next Star Trek movie, so I care plenty what he thinks in this case.
     
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  9. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

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    "Sci fi" is so broad that I don't think you can clearly say that it does anything as some monolithic force. I do think that there's an element of "extended adolescence" in the air these days, but it ain't just from sci-fi. Actually, I'd say "maturity" is undergoing a redefinition.
     
  10. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    He's an actor and a writer. Remember, he co-written Shaun of the Dead, Run Fatboy Run, Paul and The Worlds End, the last two listed being sci-fi comedies (with the very last one appearing much more serious in several spots than the one previous to that), as well as co-written all 14 episodes of Spaced.

    So, from a writer's point of view, I have to agree with him. It's not just the sci-fi genre that's suffering, it's ALL genres that are suffering the same degrading. Sci-fi films when they first started were mostly B-grade quick buck grabbers while sci-fi literature was where there was thought provoking material most of the time. And then 2001: A Space Odyssey came along and had the thought provoking along with spectacular visuals. Nowadays, there's not much of the emotional enduring and though provoking in sci-fi in film these days. The last sci-fi movie, to me, that seemed like that was Sunshine, which got a lot of love and hate from audiences.

    But most importantly, the real point is being missed:
    And that's the point. Hollywood films, as I've said before, have become nothing more than the film equivalent of fast food. Something quickly made, and quickly consumed and then to be forgotten by those who consume it. That's the point of his statement. And, as bad as it sounds, he's right.
     
  11. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Let me point out the obvious.

    Pegg says, "Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about … whatever."

    Guess what? They still are. The fact that he doesn't recognize this simply suggests that "junk cinema" is all that he watches.

    In fairness I'm not entirely sure he's committing to the opinion that sci-fi films are the problem. It seems more that he decries the overindulgence of sci-fi/fantasy.

    Pegg says, "It is a kind of dumbing down, in a way, because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues."

    Pegg doesn't speak for me. And he doesn't speak for everybody. He can only reflect an opinion based on his understanding of his personal proclivities and that of his peer group. I, for one, work to improve the quality of life for individuals and society in general. These movies serve as escapism. He doesn't speak for me.
     
  12. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Historically Hollywood is no more or less atrocious as it's always been.
    I don't think the surge of popular escapist films necessarily means that more artistically innovative films aren't being made. Independent productions seem to be thriving in more ways than ever nowadays.

    And, if I enjoy watching The Hulk fight a Hulkbuster it doesn't mean I've abandoned my appreciation of Italian neo-realism, the dialogue of Mike Nichols or the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. You can have it both ways, no?
     
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  13. RogueTrooper

    RogueTrooper Well-Known Member

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    when did wankers like jj assrams and simon pegg GET control over so much of the things we loved as kids....?

    we are lost indeed...
     
  14. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    "It is a kind of dumbing down, in a way, because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about … whatever."

    This is an interesting statement.

    Pegg's very premise relies on the notion that all public interest centers around film and that all film is a reflection of public interest. How typically egocentric of folks in the industry to presume this. He doesn't seem to understand that many folks use film as escapism and seek meaningful experience in real life - not movies. I'd like to see him opine on Bollywood musicals - maybe they need to focus on things that are more socially relevant than escapist movies?

    "... emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about … whatever."

    OK is Pegg just taking the pi$$ out of us? Seriously. Do I have to explain how funny it is that he, himself, can't think of a "moral question" as an example? Is he just taking the mick?
     
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  15. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    I also think he's seeing the past with rose-colored glasses. Holding up the best of the best, like the Godfather or Taxi Driver, as an example of how movies were better in the old days, is disingenuous. Movies of that caliber are still made, and crappy fluff movies were made back then. We just don't watch them anymore because they haven't stood the test of time. Kind of like how you can still hear the Doors on the classic rock station, but you never hear Donnie and Marie.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
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  16. Cephus

    Cephus Sr Member

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    While I love Simon Pegg as an actor, as a writer, the things that he's written have been everything he complains about. They're all a bunch of dumbed-down sci-fi comedies that don't make you think at all, they're geared for the lowest common denominator. I'm supposed to take his opinions seriously how?
     
  17. Vivek

    Vivek Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  18. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Well-Known Member

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    ^Good post.. looks like I don't need to change my profile picture just yet
     
  19. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    I take it that you didn't get the point about The World's End, which was about how modern technology destroys humanity and individualism? It's after the characters reject the Network and it leaves Earth that humanity thrives and becomes better. Even Garry King, a man who had believed when he was younger that he could change the world, only to grow up and find out that the world can't be changed because the Network had control of it, is only able to start changing the world and himself after the Network leaves. He chose his individuality over the mass that the Network was.

    And you forget something: comedies represent the worst side of humanity or the worst state of humanity at the times they're written. This is true as far back as William Shakespeare, whose tragedies represent the best side of humanity while his comedies represented the worst. Romeo and Juliet was basically a "make love, not war" story, while Taming of the Shrew was about greedy people trying to maintain status with one woman's futile struggle against and eventual submission into that social norm. The same is true with many comedies even now normally deal with some sort of social issue, but its too well hidden for people to register it. Comedies are social commentaries, and those who don't get that are those who clearly aren't paying attention.

    So, just because Simon Pegg writes comedies doesn't make his point any less valid.
     
  20. joshvanrad

    joshvanrad Sr Member

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    You understand that JJ is a member of this forum, and attacking another member here with name calling is frowned upon, right?
     
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  21. NormanF

    NormanF Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    This is why I generally hate "articles about articles". When I first started reading this thread I was going to suggest we all relax until someone reads what he actually said in the magazine.
     
  22. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    A good response to the kerfuffle. It's gotta suck having every grouchy thing you say recorded and analyzed, but he replied with a certain amount of aplomb.
     
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  23. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Of course much of what he said would be taken out of context. I don't condemn him entirely.

    But he’s definitely seeing history through rose colored glasses. He was seven years old when Star Wars came out. I was eleven years old and a sci-fi fan at the time. I could tell you that sci-fi fantasy films I had seen up until then were films like these: The Land That Time Forgot, The Incredible Two Headed Transplant, Westworld, Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Phase IV, Giant Spider Invasion, Logan’s Run, The Thing with Two Heads, Deathrace 2000 and Beware! The Blob.

    Sci-fi was not all social commentary in the 1970’s. For every Soylent Green/Silent Running/Andromeda Strain there were many more films like Invasion of the Bee Girls and countless Godzilla movies.

    Until Star Wars a sci-fi fan simply accepted that every sci-fi film was defined by a single gimmicky premise, (Westworld – futuristic amusement park with robots – the rest just writes itself; Soylent Green – overpopulation and food shortage with a twist ending – the rest just writes itself; Sleeper – Woody Allen in the future – the rest just writes itself; Logan’s Run – future dystopia where young is virtue and old is vice – the rest just writes itself; The Land That Time Forgot - dinosaurs!; Phase IV - ants!)

    I remember standing in line to see Star Wars in 1977 and, based on the posters and trailers, I was predicting the film’s central gimmick was going to be “robots” and that the whole film would be about robots. I was wrong. The sci-fi element of Star Wars was only part of the backdrop to actually tell a story about characters and that's what made it stand out.
    (Not to mention the sci-fi aspect was to a level of sophistication not seen in 99.9% of “hard” sci-fi movies.)
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  24. Vivek

    Vivek Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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  25. Angelus Lupus

    Angelus Lupus Sr Member

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    Oh dear god, no...
    Mr Spaced and Shaun of the Dead thinks Sci-fi makes you childish? What a hypocrite!
     
  26. CharlesHouse

    CharlesHouse Active Member

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    It's a little frustrating to see a man who made his career off nerd culture and poking fun at himself being an overgrown child (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead) then started participating in the largest science fiction franchises (Star Trek, Doctor Who, presumably Star Wars) is insulting his audience while distancing himself. Reading his reaction, I have a hard time deciding what is backpeddling and what is genuine.
     
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  27. Michael Bergeron

    Michael Bergeron Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    No. As soon as anyone is titled "King of Geeks/Nerds/Whatever" they lose all credibility to me. There are so many people vying for that title it's stupid. We're a varied group with massively different interests. I am a nerd, I have no king. Anyone who claims that mantle is a pretender. :)
     
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  28. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    It's like being God of the athiests.
     
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  29. Darth Lars

    Darth Lars Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I think that science fiction and "comic book movies" could be both escapism and serious about societal issues.
    Star Trek TOS and TNG certainly were. Although TNG was largely made for kids it was so in an educational way - which was common for kid/teen shows at the time.
    What made Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back great was that it did not only have stunning visuals and was a "roller-coaster ride" but that it also had adult themes and believable characters.

    The issue here is just that many blockbusters from Hollywood recently have been in the science fiction or comic book genres while having catered to the lowest common denominator. J.J Abrams' Star Trek movies fall into that category, unfortunately.

    I think it is a good thing that someone involved in the next Star Trek script has thoughts along these lines. I just hope he comes to the right conclusions and is able to make something out of it.
     
  30. PoopaPapaPalps

    PoopaPapaPalps Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I think he's referring to a lot of these mainstream sci-fi/fantasy films. In particular, these "name" franchises and movies. I'm not saying they can't be good, but with something like Capt. America or Iron Man, you're really not going to get a solid character drama or something that reflects the human condition. I think he wants something more from movies, period, but I don't think he worded it the way he meant to. More and more now, I leave the theaters feeling empty and slightly disgusted at how many times I have to see buildings crumble into the streets.

    The movies I look forward to the most typically are small released things (cinema or stream, otherwise) that are scheduled to be released in the fall/winter season. Movies that really are a bit more adult. I wished there were more of those kinds of movies to be released intermittently all throughout the year, to offer some reprieve, but with how the system works now, where tent-pole movies seem to last all year round; I doubt that's going to happen.
     
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  31. Birdie

    Birdie Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hallelujah.

    Here's the crux of what he's saying
    I really don't think he's talking about sci-fi in general, but the corporate junk food that is mercilessly force-fed into the multiplexes ad infinitum. Genre movies don't have to be merchandise lead and dumb as a stump, but the studios found out today's punters like 'em that way :unsure
     
  32. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    I know a lot of adults who unashamedly enjoy superhero movies and comics. I don't know a single person who "takes them seriously." Is this an epidemic because this is news to me.
     
  33. PoopaPapaPalps

    PoopaPapaPalps Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Personally, I think it's already symptomatic of a greater problem when these movies are being made/released every year with plans to continue to do so for the remainder of my adult life.
     
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  34. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    Considering most of his movies are comedies aimed at 13 year olds his argument is pretty invalid even if he's speaking of only mainstream scifi movies since he's been getting them made in hollywood for a while now.
     
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  35. Daniel Nelms

    Daniel Nelms Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Childish? Simon Pegg, the same man who played the comic relief in the last two Star Trek movies that had otherwise "serious" tones. The awful movie with the alien stoner.
    Maybe he was high during the interview?
     
  36. Mola Rob

    Mola Rob Sr Member

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    I must have missed his coronation as the King of geeks (thank goodness) and his opinion matters to me about as much as the opinion of a brick.
     
  37. DARKSIDE72

    DARKSIDE72 Sr Member

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    **** Simon Pegg he's ****ing scottie... who ****ing cares!!!
     
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  38. Sluis Van Shipyards

    Sluis Van Shipyards Master Member

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    I get what he was trying to say. I think a lot of us have questioned whether we're wasting our time with this stuff, but it comes back to it being something that we really like and it makes you happy. It's not hurting anyone (unless you're neglecting your life, family, kids, etc.) so who cares? I disagree when he says scifi has nothing to inspire, etc. because if you talk to a lot of scientists and engineers they will tell you that Star Trek, SW, etc. inspired them to become what they are today. I think scifi can do all of the things he said the other movies do. There's quite a few ST and Babylon 5 episodes that made you question society, relationships, your place in the world, etc. I don't think scifi has to be seen as childish.
     
  39. DARKSIDE72

    DARKSIDE72 Sr Member

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    Which is why niimon pegg is a ****ing ******!!!!!!!!!!

    - - - Updated - - -

    What's wrong with ******?
     
  40. batguy

    batguy Sr Member

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    I detect some butthurt around here.

    The guy has a point. Most sci-fi/fantasy is aimed at 13-14yo kids. Whatever deeper messages or anything else that shows up, it's all running a distant second to the main purpose - escapism. When grown 30-something adults spend huge portions of their disposable income on these interests, the "escape" has become the destination for them. It's not really supposed to be that way.

    Think about how someone like Simon Pegg would be experiencing the sci-fi/fantasy fanbase. He's a celeb and he sees the most extreme ends of it all. He's also starring & writing about it, which further immerses him into things. Maybe farther than most of us if you add up the amount of his waking life spent on it. All this has to be influencing his feelings & comments.
     
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  41. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Simon Pegg simply doesn’t like superhero movies. He doesn’t get them and thinks they’re ridiculous and adolescent.

    He’s not wrong. The premise of comic book superheroes is inherently silly. He is entitled his opinion and I don’t fault him for that. But he also tries to rationalize his dislike by associating their popularity to social pathology. Dress it up any way you like, but Pegg's basic message is that adults shouldn’t enjoy watching superhero movies unless there’s something inherently wrong with them.

    So we have Pegg, a Scottsman, citing a French sociologist to teach Americans about our own culture. What the hell does he know? His personal experience with the US is confined to Los Angeles. Enough said.

    Being a geek is about being unashamedly dedicated to something irrational and, if you’re an OG geek like myself, knowing the feeling of being marginalized or even persecuted for those passions as a kid. Geek “culture” is about appreciating diversity and finding communion with others also dedicated to irrational things and, in that community, finding comfort in your eccentricities.

    Pegg is an elitist sci-fi fan ... I wouldn't even call him a geek.

    Recently he's tried to "apologize" for the way his comments have been received. No doubt this is in fear that his interview with The Radio Times may put his Hollywood career in jeopardy. With that quick retreat from his own bombastic diatribe I have even less respect for the guy than ever.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
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  42. Cephus

    Cephus Sr Member

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    I don't even know what "taking them seriously" would mean. Are these adults thinking that there are real superheroes? Do they think that there are mutants and meta-humans flying around in the sky? What does this even mean?
     
  43. Cephus

    Cephus Sr Member

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    It all depends on how much time is wasted, I suppose. You can have a healthy interest and you can have an unhealthy, fanatical interest. There are plenty of people who spend all of their spare time focused on sci-fi or fantasy or comic books or whatever. There are plenty of people who neglect important things in their lives because they have to see that latest movie or buy that latest toy or whatever. It's the same thing that happened when people gave up everything to play World of Warcraft or Evercrack every second of the day. Some things are unhealthy in excess... no, EVERYTHING is unhealthy in excess. But that doesn't make these things wrong in moderation, nor a waste of time.
     
  44. CutThumb

    CutThumb Sr Member

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    Lets draw a breath here. I think this whole thing , like everything else on the internet is being blown wayyyy out of proportion. As a life long reader of sci fi I agree with alot of his statement about the loss of deeper and interesting themes but thats more to due to the fact that sci fi ,like many genres, uses up all its ideas very rapidly and constantly has to upgrade and reinvent its self to remain relevant.
    The best stories I ever read are decades ago, in fact I think "Neuromancer" was the last really brilliant novel that totally changed the way I thought about sci fi but there is still good recent stuff out there, for example "All You need is Kill" ("Edge of Tomorrow") and "The Expanse" novels, which are nothing new at all, but they manage to combine old ideas and themes into a very effective modern sci fi space opera and I'm delighted they are filming them as a series!
    He's no elitist either (nor a Scot, he hails from near Gloucester ,not very far from where I lived for few years). Half the joy of watching "Spaced" is the cultural references that are scattered through out it, like "Thunderbirds", "X files", "Terminator", "Matrix", video games, robot wars etc. He's absolutely right about extended "childhoods" but he's using the wrong term really.
    What he means is we are no longer forced to give up the things we loved about our childhoods, like sci fi movies , comics, super heros, video games and such like in away we may have been culturally forced to years ago. Yes, I get some still get some perculiar looks when I show a few people my Star Wars stuff or DVD collections, but I'm in no way ridiculed like many used to be for their fandom. Some people used to be a bit sniffy about the fact I'd rather play a great video game than go out and get * in a pub, but hey guess what, all the local bars are shutting down because everyones at home these days watching "Game of Thrones on their wide screen TVs.
    "Geek" culture is hugely mainstream and the billions of dollars it brings in confers respect these days, particularly after the success of "Harry Potter", "Twilight" , "The Hunger Games", not to mentionthe Marvel Comic Universe, Nolans Batman series,and the "Lord of the Rings" . The list is enormous and growing and the fact it is so deeply woven into the cultural event fabric of a twenty four hour on line society does rob it of its "mystique" a bit ,certainly in comparison to a few decades ago, but I think thats a good thing. We aren't forced to "grow up " any more , and conform to all the boring norms like washing the car ,cutting the lawns and playing golf every Sunday.
    So I get what he says when he says he really wants to be thrilled again by newer things in sci fi but it just ain't going to happen, its all been used up. What we are left with is a lot of ways to tell old stories freshly and an aching nostalgia for our first thrilling experiences of it, which is why the new "Star Wars" series is just about the best news I've had this century.
     
  45. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    ^ I stand corrected. He's from Gloucester.

    Unqualified characterization of social infantilism serves no purpose. His argument might have some merit had he actually referenced some evidence that the popularity of superhero films is a symptom of psychosocial retreat from "real world" issues. But his statement entirely unqualified. It's just as valid if I comment that Pegg's fondness for wearing sneakers without socks to a red carpet event demonstrates his own infantile proclivities and retreat from "real world" issues.

    At best he might even cite anecdotal data that folks are taking the material "too seriously", but even then anecdotal data is scientifically worthless. Without data Pegg only lays bare his personal subjective beliefs. And, in that, he comes across as elitist.

    Other parts of his statements I've addressed in previous posts so I won't repeat them here.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
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  46. Bigdaddy

    Bigdaddy Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    It's just an opinion, and not one really worth a whole paragraph.
    Hypocrisy-rating.jpg
     
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  47. AJTaliesen

    AJTaliesen Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Not to be harsh, but if you're the one writing it....find a mirror, find the cause.

    The genre has historically not only been topical, but it's actually lead the way on many major issues, when in the right hands.

    Also...anyone who thinks they didn't geek out over old movies or air idiotic content just wasn't alive back then. It's true that they didn't have cons, but they did have fan clubs that collected all manner of nonsense, threw their actual underwear at stars, and unlike todays audience actually believed in MUCH greater numbers that the personas of their favorite stars was actual reality. Back in the day the LAPD used to get dozens of calls every week asking to speak to Sgt. Friday. I may watch the Simpsons, but at least I've never called a powerplant in Illinois (or Vermont, or Virginia. Mass, Oregon...etc.) to ask if Homer was working today.

    In the end, I think they probably just caught him on an off day and he put his foot in it. Happens to us all.
     

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