house battle of the nerds

We got some nerd battles going on up in this house as my son grows up. I’ve successfully passed on my love of reading, sci-fi, and video games (a bit too much on the last one), so my son is Harry Potter-loving, Star Wars geekin’, computer-game-playin’ nerd. 

He even got me playing Pokemon Go, and then freakin’ abandoned the game which sucks even more because I wanted to be on blue team (Go Ravenclaw! … yeah, yeah, I know they’re some other not-Harry Potter name. Don’t care.), but he convinced me to be team yellow, and now I’m a freakin’ Hufflepuff (I KNOW, again, don’t actually care about the real team names: They are Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, and Hufflepuff to me, and somehow I–a Pottermore-official Ravenclaw–am wearing Hufflepuff colors while I’m hunting down Evees. Wtf).

Also, Pokemon Go won’t let you change teams after you pick your team. BEWARE. This especially sucks because, apparently, yellow is a super unpopular color, so the gym aspect of the game is pretty much shut-down to me. All the gyms around are high-level blues and reds that take far more time than its worth to battle down for 10 freakin’ coins, at which point, oh, another red or blue team takes it right back over. Look at that. What’s the freakin’ point?

Personally, I think Niantic should have anticipated this, and randomly assigned teams. I mean, there are plenty of studies showing how color preferences impact food choices, film theory, and marketing–why wouldn’t they realize their goddamn teams would distribute unevenly? grumble grumble grumble

You can probably guess at the HP divides in our house by the Pokemon Go disagreement. Over the years, I’ve taken a bunch of personality tests (including the Meyers-Briggs based ones, and yes, I know that’s a totally biased/ defunct/ worthless test) to see which house I get sorted into. Over and over, I was scored between 70-85% Ravenclaw, 10-20% Slytherin, and a minimal percentage of Gryffindor or Hufflepuff. Then Pottermore was released and I took the Pottermore test (twice, because I lost my login info once), and both times was confirmed Ravenclaw.

It’s okay. You can say it. Neeeerrrrrdddddd. 

My son, on the other hand, took those tests for years and kept scoring as Gryffindor/ Hufflepuff, so he was devastated when Pottermore sorted him Slytherin. I was like, “My BOY!” but he’s just like, “NOOOOOOOOO.”

Weirdly, despite his love for the good guys in HP, he loves quoting Kylo Ren and Darth Vadar when it comes to Star Wars. Oh! And that’s our final nerd battle.

See, I’m kinda a Star Wars fan (OG, natch), in that the original episodes were a big part of my childhood– specifically, every year on my birthday, my family would relate the tale of how my birth interrupted my older brother’s much-anticipated opportunity to see The Empire Strikes Back (the family was living in Germany, and the English-speaking release had apparently just arrived). It seems my arrival interrupted big plans. Big plans. I did not hear the end of that guilt trip for like 20 years, haha.

Anyway, I like the franchise–actually, I like the whole space opera thing in general, honestly. I mean, holy shit, Jupiter Rising? Watch it as a big, glorious, not-to-be-taken-seriously space opera, and it’s so awesome. My husband could not understand why I was loving that film so much the first time we saw it, but I was like c’mon! Don’t watch it seriously–enjoy it for the camp that it is! Hilarious acting, cheesy costumes, big epic scenes, a genetically engineered werewolf soldier from space on a hoverboard? What’s not to love?

So, yeah, I adore space opera. It is so over-the-top, you have to be a humorless goon not to love it, and Star Wars falls squarely in space opera territory. It is so melodramatic and campy, and just a big ‘ole political soapy soap opera with fantasy elements, set in space!

So when my son comes in with deep, serious, deconstructive questions about the science or politics or economy or history of Star Wars, I’m like, “Uh huh, yeah. That is a contradiction. Don’t worry about it.” waves hand 

Because space opera, like normal opera, does not abide by the rules of common sense. Space opera, like normal opera, operates in a fantastical, upside-down world where all the rules as we understand them are suspended for The Story. So in a space opera, plot holes abide and technology stutters and stagnates in a contradictory timeline, and ducks show up every-friggin’-where and the most feared weapon is–inexplicably–a close-range laser sword.

At least Dune had an explanation for why they fought with swords. Star Wars deploys literal armies of robots shooting actual freakin’ laser guns, but somehow a couple hundred Jedi with glowy swords are supposed to be a political threat? So my stance is don’t question it! Just accept it. Just smile, and be like, “Okay! For the story!” and proceed.

But nope, not my Star Wars fan of a son. He says, “Where did Kylo Ren get the mask? Wasn’t Darth Vadar burned on pyre?”

“Yeah, probably a bounty hunter sold him a fake.”

“But he has the Force. Wouldn’t he be able to torture the truth out of him?”

“Not if the bounty hunter thought it was the real deal.”

” … I guess that makes sense.”

“Like, the bounty hunter was sold it by another bounty hunter, and who acquired it from some other asshole, and so on down the line–each guy swearing it was the mask of Darth Vadar, personally acquired by the guy who sold it to him, or at least the guy who sold it to the guy who sold it to him. So eventually someone brings it to Kylo Ren, swearing it’s the real deal, and he force chokes them for the truth, and they’re like I already told you the truth it’s really Darth Vadar’s mask, straight from Endor! Fifty fucking Ewoks died so you could have that mask! and he’s like, oh. Okay, then. And then cries to some melty piece of plastic about his granddad.”

Should be enough, right? But nope. My kid wants to know why technology doesn’t really progress in the Star Wars universe. See, my thought is, because the writers weren’t paying attention? But if I say that, my son just gives me this look, and I sigh with impatience.

The problem is, I’m definitely more of a Trekkie. It was adult-onset; I binged the entire tv series, from TOS through TNG, DS9, Voyager, and even 00’s Enterprise. I haven’t really gotten into the films, because I have a hard time sitting through films, period, but yeah. I’m a Trekkie, with Opinions about Trek. I could easily and happily delve into long discussions and debates about the progression of technology in the Trek ‘verse, or the relative merits of the captains–and I have.

My entire family is all-to-aware of my hypothesis that fucking Captain Archer is the reason Captain Janeway, centuries later, was forbidden by Federation rules from bringing her dog on-board the Voyager, because we all know how Captain Archer’s preferential (and, I would argue, endangering) treatment of Porthos threw a wrench in several first-contact situations), but Star Wars? C’mon! It’s a space opera, just meant to be enjoyed!

Unfortunately, my son has only seen The Next Generation, and while he’s (rightly) a fan of Data and Picard, he lacks the whole-series perspective gained by viewing TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise. (Seriously, Enterprise had so much suck. Can we just kick Captain Archer out an airlock and erase the whole time-war plot? Please?)

So I try, like a good mom, to engage with his attempts to find meaning in the meaninglessness of Star Wars. And that is … an interesting endeavor.

So I’ll be like, “Um, I dunno. Because it’s an essentially capitalist system? All the planets seem to have distinct cultures, languages, and monetary systems, and we’ve seen the influence trade treaties play–Star Wars is clearly structured around a far more quintessentially capitalist economy than 90’s Star Trek, which is structured around the Federation with the equilizing technology of the replicator. Granted, the Federation still had capitalist and expansionist leanings–as illustrated by the conflict with the Maquis–but it’s no-where near the inequality apparent in the Star Wars universe.”

… and my son is tuning out because there I am, on a Star Trek rant. Somehow.






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