Why “Fangasm” Makes Me Angry. (And I’ve Never Seen It.)
A friend of mine recommended I watch a new show called “Fangasm“. I hadn’t heard of it before, but when I asked what it was, I got turned off pretty quickly. So much so that my friend felt I was being judgmental, and sort of apologized for even making the suggestion. She requested that we not even mention it anymore.
I don’t feel she owed me an apology for anything. And in my own defense, I don’t feel I was being judgmental about the show or its people. I will however confess that such a concept for a show did illicit strong, negative feelings inside of me. There are obvious reasons, and a few not so obvious ones that I thought I’d explore. I asked myself the question, “Why does this show anger me so much?”
Let’s start with the answers that are closest to the surface-the genre of the program, reality television.
Though I have over the years watched some reality shows, I watch fewer as time goes on. Today, basically none of it. Reality TV tends to anger me, because it asks me to believe that what is happening is indicative of how people actually behave. While I cannot deny that out there in this world there are people that behave the way people do on Fangasm or other such shows, it’s impossible for me to believe that they usually do. Science has taught us that the very act of studying something will, in some fashion, alter it. That could never be more true than it is with reality TV.
Reality TV takes any demographic and turns it into a collection of dancing bears. It doesn’t matter how innocent you think the group is, (there are even reality shows about the Amish, apparently), once it is on camera, it will not be true to life. Not 100%. That isn’t wrong per se, I suppose, but it gives a specific idea of a specific type of person. And then it seeps into society that if one is a member of said demographic, they must have something in common with Jane on Reality Show X. Not everyone is that stupid, (my friend isn’t) but I think reality TV is based around the fact that a lot of people are.
Secondly, as an actor and writer, I get pissed at the lack of creativity behind reality television. It’s cheap. It’s lazy. It’s not even junk food for the mind, as even junk food provides a small amount of nutrition for a moment. It’s actually gum. Maybe it’s even chewing tobacco-slowly rotting us from the inside. But mainly, it’s a ploy. I realize the point of show business is to make money, but should that money always be the easiest possible money, with minimum effort? Does nobody anywhere want to create quality drama, or explore intelligent humor? Fewer and fewer seem to want that every year, as formerly intelligent, educational, and useful networks such as The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and A&E morph into reality show repositories “History”, “NatGeo” and, well…still A&E, but it now stands for “Redneck Fetish Bait” instead of “Arts and Entertainment.”
Even the Weather Channel and Food Network are mostly reality TV. The quick way to make money without having to think.
Now, I have known a few people that work in reality television. They are smart people. But they acknowledge that such shows are basically cut together in a way that “suggests” the most dramatic story arc for any given episode. There are writers for such shows, but they are curators first.
So reality television as a whole is troubling and annoying to me. Yet I can’t swear there would never be a reality show again that I would watch, I suppose. Which brings me to the second part of my self-exploration on my feelings towards Fangasm; why does the concept of this particular show piss me off so much, when other reality shows might simply annoy me?
I will pretend for a moment that the nerds in this show are “real”. That is to say they are not, (as I actually suspect) actors that are geeking it up to make a “reality” show. So stipulated for the moment, your honor.
First and foremost, the show does for “geeks” what The Big Bang Theory does for them. (Another show I detest.) Both shows embrace this stereotype of geeks and nerds being pathetic, socially maladjusted goofs. Yet they somehow manage to have great lives. At least with Big Bang, they are written that way, as unrealistic as it may be. (A woman that hot dating that guy? Please.) But a show like Fangasm, exploits people who apparently actually are obsessive disciples of whatever. I wish “geeks” that were not eccentric buffoons would take a stand against shows like this more often. I’d do it myself, (actually I guess I am in a way) but I’m not sure if my fandom or knowledge for specific things qualifies as “geekdom” or not.
Let’s say I do qualify as a geek for a moment, though. A theatre geek maybe. A Shakespeare geek more specifically, if you like. You wouldn’t know it on any given day. I don’t wear my hair like Shakespeare did, nor do I dress like him when I attend his plays. I do have a shirt with him on it. (A shirt) but I am not likely to wear it every day, and certainly not to a formal affair. If you came into my room, you’d have to actually look for signs of Shakespeare. (The third shelf of my bookcase if you’re curious.)
In short, I love his plays, and I love performing them. I love talking about them with people who know them. I’d be in one per year if I could. I’m even writing a play based on his plays. Furthermore, I don’t embrace many social norms. I can be a hard to read pain in the ass. So where’s my tv show? Where is my free meal ticket? I guess my passions aren’t interesting to TV producers, because I don’t make a pretty constant ass of myself over my fandom. I am not obsessed. So, I don’t get a show.
If your very identity is tied up in what you are a fan of, whether that be Stan Lee, or Star Wars or differential calculus, you’ve crossed a line in my world. That isn’t to say that people don’t have the right to be this way. They do. I support their human and legal rights as much as I support anybody else’s. People have the right to be obsessed geeks. Just as people have the right to never bathe, and to fart with vigor in the seat across from me on the bus. That doesn’t mean I find such people personally appealing or acceptable company.
There are people I do admire. People who have achieved good things in fields I pursue. I’d enjoy meeting some of them. I like to think I’d be dignified if I did. While I can’t predict with 100% accuracy how I would behave if I met some of the people I admired, I feel comfortable in telling you I would not reach up and rub their face.
You see, I couldn’t get away with that. Nor would I want to. If I did so like the jack ass in that commercial did, I’d be rightly seen as a creepy, obsessive loony tune. But if a geek does it, and it’s George Takei’s face? Well that’s just great television! It’s passionate and ever so geeky, right? No, it’s criminally sycophantic in the real world. But who cares? Geeks! (If Takei had shoved that loser, I’d have given him a standing ovation. But that’s not Takei.)
Same goes for a hot woman in an R2-D2 cocktail dress. Did you notice how every single female “geek” in that commercial for Fangasm is hot? That’s true geekhood there…find the hottest women, and put them on television, and make them talk about the fact they love comic books or something. Where are the homely geeks? The overweight ones? The ones with imperfect skin? Oh yes, this is reality TV, and unless the show is, “Ugly People Wars”, we don’t want them on our show. Sorry but if you aren’t a pretty female geek, you don’t get to work with Stan Lee.
The guys, as far as looks, may be a bit more “average” looking… so an average looking guy might be worthy of working for Stan Lee. But then again the guys play into the plaid wearing, unshaven, crazy hairdo stereotype, so that works. They are so passionate about what they love, they can’t find the shampoo. It’s endearing, I suppose? If a comic book genius wore a suit and tie all day and drove a Volvo, would he be less qualified to work with Stan Lee? No. Would he fit into this 3-ring geek circus? No.
So I suppose if I had to sum up, shows like Fangasm anger me because I see them as yet more lazy, fake television productions. I suspect that the “geeks” are not real, and I am somewhat insulted that I am asked by SyFy to believe that they are. It pulls on the heartstrings of people who think, “Gee, I’m just a geek too…there’s hope for me!” Except there isn’t in this context. First, it isn’t geek if it goes mainstream, and that’s what all these shows are doing. Secondly, they are looking for performers, not geeks.
I actually prefer to believe it is all staged and fake, because the alternative is even more unsavory to me. The idea that such people allow themselves to act like this, and then get rewarded for it by a television network, while I sit here in my room, just as passionate and just as weird (but hopefully more socially adjusted) as any of them, but without a TV show is sickening. I get told I need to straighten up and behave as the world expects. These fools get to be as childish as they want to be, and get paid for it.
I prefer one standard. Either everybody, everywhere gets to be true to themselves, and reap the benefits, or nobody does.
Have you seen the show, or shows like it? Are you a geek? What do you think?