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Patton Oswalt is right…and I can prove it! January 8, 2011

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,

I really haven’t followed Patton Oswalt’s career. Of course, I’ve had a healthy dose of “King of Queens”, which can give you a small glimpse into this comic/actor. But it was the January edition of WIRED that opened my eyes!

First, you do not want to trust me…you want to buy the magazine and read the article yourself (it starts on page 98, entitled: “Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time To Die.”). I am going to manage a sliver of Oswalt’s revelations.

However, allow me to annoy you with a heap of pop culture references from Oswalt’s article that might motivate your slacker butt to seek out the mag for yourself:

Dungeons & Dragons, Stephen King, Edgar Alan Poe, Monty Python, Otaku, Nerd, Geek, Blade Runner, TRS Hobbies’ Monster manual, The Empire Strikes Back, Guns N Roses, Swamp Thing, Watchmen (comic books), Daredevil: Born Again,  The New York Times, The Sandman, The Dark Knight Returns, Springsteen, Madonna, Bennigans, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Glee, American Idol, The Lord of the Rings, Top Chef, The Wire, and Star Trek…that’s just for starters!

Yet, even this prodigious mountain of pop culture references is made level ground when Oswalt utters one word: Etewaf.


Here’s a lift from the article in Oswalt’s own words:

“When everyone has easy access to their favorite diversions and every diversion comes with a rabbit hole’s worth of extra features and deleted scenes and hidden hacks to tumble down and never emerge from, then we’re all just adding to an ever-swelling, soon-to-erupt volcano of trivia, re-contextualized and forever rebooted…I know it sounds great, but there’s a danger: Everything we have today that’s cool comes from someone wanting more of something they loved in the past.”


“Now, with everyone more or less otaku and everything immediately awesome…the old inner longing for more and better that made our present pop culture so  amazing is dwindling.” In short, time to re-boot. I think he’s right and I think I can prove it.

But, I want to take a rabbit trail to consider one small segment of what Oswalt is preaching: It became to easy to be a “buff”.

And, if you recognized that Seinfeld reference, it is not too far a leap to Jurassic Park and Dr. Ian Malcolm.

“The lack of humility before nature that’s being displayed here, uh… staggers me…I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here: it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility… for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could and before you even knew what you had you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it!” (Bold is mine)

The good news about the time prior to the advent of the internet is you had to earn it (whatever “it” was). As a child you waited for the monthly comic book to see how the story was going to play out. You remember Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”? No TV. He waited by the radio for the weekly Orphan Annie broadcast. The time between sparked imagination. It was an engine that drove desire.

Is it any wonder that we are stuck in a cycle of “re-makes” in movies and television? Is it any wonder that there are trilogies or worse (e.g., Harry Potter, et al). It’s like there is so little time to really think things through to get to the NEXT BIG THING. Let’s just dink with what we have, what has already been created, and do variations, not create new themes.

You want to be a Civil War buff, Biff? No problem! Wiki-this or Google that and Bing! This wasn’t possible for George Costanza in Seinfeld’s day.

If you were George, what would you have to do?

You would need to go to the library, search out and borrow the resources. If you were flush, you could go to the booksellers and buy the resources. You could even go to the edgier parts of town to used books stores to find your treasure for less money. Then you had to study. That prompted a desire to discuss your studies, beliefs and opinions with others, so you’d have to seek them out. These were not roadblocks to access, these were the avenues to access. Today? Gone!

You can be a buff in an hour or less. You can be conversing with other like-minded buffs 24/7/365…Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, whatever…if “everything is immediately awesome”, there’s a danger: your inch-deep-mile-wide knowledge creates your own Jurassic Park. And Dr. Malcolm would be very upset.

Is there anything morally wrong with the YouTube-and-PhotoShop-derived lifestyle? I don’t think so. But, I do believe the shortcuts have a negative impact over the long run. What comes to my mind is Lasik. Many thought it  was a good idea ten years ago. And many have discovered that the hoopla surrounding the new technology simply didn’t work for them. The outcome: more corrective procedures or back to glasses. In short, we are doing it because we can, not because its necessary or valuable. This got John Hammond in deep trouble.

So, Oswalt’s answer: blow it up and start over. I agree, to an extent, and I think I’ve set out some pop culture icons of my own to prove it.

“For a while – maybe a generation – pop culture pastimes will revolve around politics and farming,” Oswalt muses.

Sounds like re-birth to me.



1. Erlene Mohmand - January 9, 2011

whatever feels good to you, my man. still,i want nothing to do with this. too bad. Anyway, i have subscribed to your rss feed which really should work! Have a good day!

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