Some things in life serve only to induce rage. No matter how small these annoyances may be, they are never insignificant. 'Rant List' is the chronicle of one self-loathing narcissist's seemingly unending pettiness.

Monday, 14 January 2013

87. "The Big Bang Theory" and its complete lack of humour and intelligence

^ This is not a catchphrase. This is the sound of creative culture crumbling around us.

       This show is awful. Absolutely and genuinely awful. I thought sitcoms were meant to feature comedic situations, not a wealth of ill-informed clich├ęs that are so tired and worn out that any humour and truth they may have held has long since become decrepit.

       What I really don’t understand is the nerd stereotype it portrays – all of them act like Screech from Saved By The Bell - a fairly out of date stereotype when it started 20 years ago. If you’re really trying to parody a modern nerd, my suggestion would be firstly not to hire people who are, for all intents and purposes, completely decent looking except wear glasses – it was blindingly obvious that “Ugly Betty” wasn’t ugly and it’s blindingly obvious that these guys aren’t nerds. If you’re going to stereotype them, at least make them look a bit more like Gabe Newell or something (a reference that anyone involved in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ probably wouldn’t get because it was genuinely nerdy).

       However, the entire show hinges on this really odd nerd stereotype, creating an unforgivable pretence that the jokes used within the show are somehow intelligent; that if someone watching the show actually gets one of the jokes within it, they are by extension intelligent. The jokes are founded on things like science – you have to be smart to get those! Except not really, seeing as it’s nearly exclusively primary school science that is poorly referenced in the show. You know what would be clever? If the jokes were actually funny, rather than just some misguided attempt at “smart people humour”. Smart jokes are brilliant, but never outwardly posture themselves to look smart – that’s what makes them smart. I’ll tell you what isn’t smart though; endlessly making wrong references to geeky things and constantly shoehorning in anything related to GCSE Physics. It’s just cringe-inducing. Bazinga, you piss-wizards.

86. Using the term “Pavlovian” to simply make yourself seem more intelligent than you actually are

^ Pavlov just has one of those faces that says "'sup bitches, I came here to kick ass and externalise your salivary glands in the name of physiology - ya herrrrrd?"

       I don’t dispute for the second that the term ‘Pavlovian’ has its merits and does indeed serve a very valid purpose; within an instant utterance, people familiar with the term get that you’re trying to conjure up the idea of classical conditioning. Fair dos.

       However, what bothers me hugely is when people bandy ‘Pavlovian’ around as a means to make what they’re saying seem more deep and insightful than it really is. It happens all the time in any kind of debate (I say ‘any kind of debate’, but I really mean internet forums because I’m a massive e-nerd) and even work situations. There was a period of my life where I spent about 6 weeks of hearing people utter it in every meeting, every day. A small minority were absolute correct to use it and made brilliant points with it. Others were simply not; they used it without really knowing what it meant in the hopes it would illicit a few nods of agreement from other people in the room. The most depressing fact was that it did. However, when you turn a term like ‘Pavlovian’ in to a thoughtless buzzword, it ceases to have any real impact. Instead, your utterance of the word simply showcases that you’re so devoid of the ability to think for yourself that you have to resort to regurgitating the leftovers of someone else’s wisdom, whittling down their intelligence to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to make yourself look as smart as them. Good work, thickie.

85. Video blogging

^ Got to hand it to this guy. He's got bollocks putting his face to something as offensively annoying as this awful excuse for viewing.

       I thought about being subversive and doing this entry as a video blog to showcase exactly what I hate about video blogs, but then there were plenty of reasons not to;

1) I’ve a face for radio / written word
2) sheer laziness
3) it’d be too dangerously hypocritical, even by my standards
4) because shut up, that’s why.

I know people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. However, at this point, if The List is any kind of glass house, its windows have been long since shattered by bricks of self-denying criticism and the structural integrity of the building is currently in grave question so I’m just going to continue lobbing things.

       Blogging allows slightly too many with nothing at all interesting to say a platform to subject an unwitting internet to their boring rambling (much like this blog dur hur hur hur etc.). Don’t get me wrong though, there are a tonne of incisive, well thought out blogs that have a consistent theme, interesting content and all that bollocks. But for every interesting blog, there are fifty that are essentially about nothing other than their author.

       This is something that has flourished to a nausea-inducing level in the world of video blogging; or, as the incredibly thick would put it, ‘vlogging’. It’s like every modern teen / childish twenty-something desperately clingy for internet fame and their nonsensical musical persona has a Youtube channel nowadays. On this, they will subject a potential internet audience to a variety of 'to camera pieces' where they talk about their day, their interests or something else stupid and essentially pointless to anyone other than themselves. 

       A lot of the time, our "vloggers" will pretend that they are actually hosting some kind of genuine show, as if they had any kind of relevant content to pad out their otherwise random sentences haplessly strung together. In the process of this, they'll adorn their webcam filmed visual vomit with logos, superimposed text and other scribbles that look like a five year old got their crayons out on the screen. They’ll also post-edit everything to absolute hell and back in an attempt to give their vapid speech some sense of momentum; maybe they’ll use the constant jumps in cutting as a way to add in a “hilarious” gag where they’re suddenly wearing a fedora, who knows! That's just how wacky they are!

       Amidst all the webcam yapping and glitzy after effects though, there is almost nothing left other than some self-involved young person’s ego making words and begging young Youtubers to follow them. If this is how entertainment and human interaction is evolving, we are absolutely doomed. I’m preparing my bunker as we speak.

Monday, 7 January 2013

84. People who don't understand what irony is

^ It was very ironic that when I googled 'irony', most of the images were not actually ironic. The irony continues as Jefferson was a believer in God - he was just pro secularism / separation of Church and State. Crumbs.

       Those of you who are using the term ‘ironic’ to mean something darkly funny, mildly unfortunate, tragicomic or whatever else have you: the only remotely ironic thing about the entire situation is that you are using the word ‘irony’ when you clearly don’t understand what constitutes it. Please learn how to use the word correctly before telling me that something is 'ironic' - I am petty enough to immediately correct you and explain why it wasn't ironic.

       As an aside, wouldn’t it be totally meta if this entire post about irony really showed that I didn’t know what irony is? I think I’ve confused myself.

83. Internet atheists

^ Mr. Blue-MS-Spraypaint is a tool.

       If it wasn’t patently obvious from a few of my previous entries, I am rather unreligious to say the least. The last thing I want to do is rant and ramble about it, so to sum up – I am a godless heathen and think science is the way forward blah blah blah something about no afterlife, evolution rocks.

       But as much as an infidel I may be, I can’t deny that there are occasional positive aspects to religion. For one, the last thing I’d want to see is a homogenised global society where everyone believes in the same thing and acts in the same way; a world of constant agreement would stagnate quickly, leaving no room for humanity to develop. It'd also make my BSc in Anthropology even more worthless. On the other hand, there are a wealth of problems assorted religions have wrought upon the world too (and in some cases, continue to – I’m looking at you, Popey), so it's a mixed bag.

       Where we run in to trouble is when we assume that individuals (and by extension, their actions) are endorsed representatives of all people within a vaguely affiliated group. You know, sort of like how in the aftermath of 9/11, all of America decided that anyone Muslim was a bad person (and by extension, Hindus and anyone else vaguely Asian was probably a rotten egg, although that’s a rant about America’s ignorance / Fox news for another day). The implication is of course that no one person within a religious group could have any sense of individual autonomy and disagree with the actions someone else took in the name of their unfortunately shared culture. Sure, there are shared beliefs, but you’d have to be as sharp as a satsuma to think that all members of a religious group unquestionably think in the same way.

       And so I, finally, come on to my gripe – internet atheists. This particular brand of keyboard-warrior thinks it is their responsibility to constantly lambast any issue with a religion as indicative of any and all religions – and indeed, each discreet religious individual - as a whole. Yes, the Pope is a massive hypocrite telling the world that their priority is to feed the starving, whilst he sits in a gold gilded castle, festering with aged automatons and primordial ooze like a modern day Dr. Wily*. 

^ Artist's impression of the Vatican, circa 1988.

Does that necessarily mean that all religious individuals are horrible people with no sense of perspective or reason? No, not really. It does mean that the Pope is a joke, of course. But if you find yourself on a corner of the web populated by atheists, they have a horrible tendency to ramble on about how one person’s actions immediately showcase how ignorant and unfeeling the rest of the religious world is. Take Reddit - a usually quite great website, it sporadically bursts at the seams with self-righteous atheists bragging about their attempts to correct Christian thinking. Brilliant work, you zealot. You're like the drunk who tries to pick a fight at the pub to show off how handy with your fists you are, except now you're accompanied by a pretense of intellectual superiority.

       I’m not defending religion here – I think it’s ultimately a little flawed, but that’s just me. Who cares what other people believe, even if you’re a staunch atheist who lives and dies by evolutionary theory and the pursuit of science? As long as religious individuals aren’t forcing anything upon you or negatively affecting the lives of others, don’t actively seek out to do the same - by all means call them up on it if they are, mind. Despite the intellectual hard-on it may give you, it is not your job to “correct” their thinking. On the contrary, that only makes you as misguided and idiotic as the militant evangelists who originally incensed you in the first place. As you’re the only ones who really care about being vocal about atheism online, you make it seem like every other atheist is an over the top intolerant sap, hell-bent on converting others like a godless missionary. Contrary to popular belief, some of us aren't that intolerant.

       To be blunt, every individual, regardless of what they believe, has the ability to be a terrible person. Being an intolerant atheist doesn’t make you better than an intolerant Christian, you elitist hypocrite. An arse is arse, whether you’re religious or not.

*Bonus points to you if you understand this reference. If you don’t, this is how I picture the Vatican in my head.

82. How badly Donkey Kong Land for the Gameboy has aged

^ As much as the Gameboy game has aged, nothing is a relic of its time as much of the CGI animated series. Every episode had at least one song. At least. Christ.

Disclaimer: if you didn’t play videogames in the 1990s, you’re probably better off not boring yourself with this. Go read me ranting about something less nerdy above or below this (good luck with that, it's all super nerdy).

       So a while ago, I decided to buy a Gameboy Pocket. You know, one of those antiquated portable gaming consoles from the ‘90s that has long since been superseded by the Gameboy Colour, the Gameboy Advance, the Nintendo DS, DSi and now 3DS. Essentially, it’s a relic that should provide a lovely opportunity to absolute immerse one’s self in a ridiculous amount of nostalgia.

       As part of this nostalgia-binge, I also made an effort to pick up a lot of classic games that circa 1989 -1996 were the absolute peak of portable gaming technology. Games like Super Mario Land 2, a classic that is still as masterfully enjoyable a platforming romp as it was 21 years ago. Amongst this bundle of regression-enablers was 1995’s Donkey Kong Land – a game that was essentially an attempt to recreate the majesty of the SNES’s Donkey Kong Country on a handheld device. Where DK Country has aged like a fine wine of distilled 2D shenanigans, attempting to play DK Land feels like someone repeatedly jabbing you in the eye with a particularly sharp-nailed little finger.

^ This was cutting edge in 1995. In our lifetimes. Think about that for a second. Text messages on a phone are more aesthetically pleasing than this.

       I realise the Gameboy is very old, but the attempt to recreate DK Country’s lush, vibrantly bright, and colourfully pre-rendered environments and characters in black and white, on a screen that is murkily lit at the best of times has not stood the test of time. Whilst I never remember this game being easy, I quite genuinely can’t make out what is going on half the time any more which makes everything infinitely harder. The biggest challenge is trying to figure out exactly what you’re looking at, as backgrounds, obstacles and monkeys fade in to one blur of monochromatic nonsense until you’re throwing your Gameboy down in frustration. It becomes a horrible episode in Where’s Wally-esque eye-searching, where every few minutes you randomly realise that bramble you saw was actually a small animal that has come to kill you for the umpteenth time. Or that platform you just jumped to was actually just a decoration in the background and you’re now falling to your inevitable death.

       Picking this game up again at the ripe old age of 23 has quite genuinely killed a small part of my childhood – that’s like the opposite point of nostalgia, isn’t it?