Alert Nerd: Our Scott and Jeans
Alert Nerd: Our Scott and Jeans
And now…the Alert Nerdians reveal their geek sacred cows, their “Scott and Jeans.”
Sarah: Diehard Niner
Scott and Jean are my original Scott and Jean. I’ve written about them before. I’ve also Tweeted about them incessantly and irrationally, gotten into fights about them in ways both constructive and not (okay, usually not), and inserted a mouth-foamy conversation about them (that is in fact based on an actual conversation I had with my husband) into a work of fiction.
So today, I’m going to talk about something else.
One thing about the actual Scott and Jean: there’s a lot of support for them out there. But sometimes, you have a symbolic Scott and Jean that runs in opposition to the established and accepted geek opinion. Then things get a little lonelier. There’s no guarantee that a chorus of nerdly-nasal voices will rise up with you, all “right on” or “peldor joi” or whatever.
So here’s my less popular Scott and Jean: the first two seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I love these seasons the most. I will defend these seasons to the death. I will declare episodes within them to be the best things Star Trek has ever done. So emotionally connected am I to this pair of seasons, I can’t discuss them with most people, because most people will tell me I’m wrong and the show didn’t really get good until they got Worf and an actual ship, man.
The moment Benjamin Sisko takes command of Terok Nor, the show is already diving headfirst into deep, dark issues of religion, politics, bigotry, revenge, and love. The characters resonate as soon as they arrive onscreen — Kira, the seething force of nature; Odo, the grouchy lost soul; Dax, the empathetic wise woman. Over the course of the first season, the show takes them places — we don’t re-set as soon as an episode ends. It grows the initially militant Kira in such a way that once the first-rate bottle show “Duet” rolls around, she’s seeing shades of gray that didn’t exist for her before.
Season two builds on this, opening up with a jaw-droppingly ambitious Bajoran-heavy trilogy that remains one of my favorite things Trek has ever done. It has twisty political intrigue, unabashedly swoony romance, and a truly legendary scene wherein two kick-ass ladies (Kira and Dax) fly into battle together. It also has a top-notch bit of comedy, courtesy of the very funny sequence that has Kira preparing to leave the station. Said scene involves quite a few of our regulars, and it snaps and crackles because we know these people, fully.
The Bajoran arc continues throughout season two, culminating in the big “who will be Kai, OMG?!” episode “The Collaborator.” The key thing that I think makes this arc — and this ep, in particular — such awesome storytelling is this: it takes a hefty, big-canvas storyline and makes it personal. We experience everything with Kira, and it makes the outcome all the more wrenching.
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the show’s entire run very much, particularly the gigantic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arc that closes out the series. And I don’t object to the additions of Worf and the Defiant — I just don’t find either particularly necessary.
It’s just…I remember moments and lines and looks from those first two seasons like they’ve been tattooed onto my brain. Like the climactic moment in season one’s “Dax,” wherein Enina Tandro gently touches Jadzia’s face and tells her to live a long, fresh and wonderful life. Or the shattering final shot in season two’s “Necessary Evil,” which leaves us in a grayer, more morally ambiguous place than most Treks have dared to. Or the part where Sisko punches Q.
It’s all there in these first two years, the greatness of this show. And when someone tries to tell me otherwise or dismisses DS9‘s early seasons as mere build-up or starts up with the ranty “blah blah I <3 Worf blah blah," I shut off and shut down. I don't deal because I can't.
It's my (other) Scott and Jean.
Jeff: Wolverenix 4-Ever
There’s a (small-“r”) romantic buried in me somewhere, one that responds to really tragic, really passionate, really melodramatic love. I’m also, and this is probably owing to that same love of melodrama, a lifelong X-Men fan. At the intersection of these two facts lies my Scott and Jean…
Jean and Logan.
I’m more up front about my love of Wolverine than most erudite comic geeks, but it’s not the grim, murderous Wolverine with all his hardass, quippy dialogue and the claws and the snikting that I love. My Wolverine — the character at his best — is an incredibly flawed man who is inexplicably, undisputedly in love with Jean Grey.
Not, mind you, that they should ever be together. He simultaneously wants to be better for her and knows that he can never be good enough, knows it so well that when Jean goes to Logan and does her best to seduce him, all he can do is send her back to Scott.
And there’s the rub. I love the romance between the two, but they can never be together. They don’t even have a will they/won’t they vibe to their relationship. They are doomed to not work out, but that doesn’t stop Jean from selflessly saving his life when he has his skeleton torn out of his body by Magneto. That doesn’t stop her from going to Logan first when she is resurrected by the Shi’ar in Phoenix: Endsong. That doesn’t stop them both from doing this when they meet during Inferno after literally years, what with Logan thinking Jean had died:
That’s why I can’t stand any of the new/old love interests that writers and editors blithely toss into Wolverine’s path: to me, it just dilutes his relationship with Jean. Especially if they’re a redhead. Heather Hudson, I’ll give you. That two-dimensional Rose chick from Origin, fine. But there’s an endless parade of random redheads and supervillains who Wolvy’s either marrying or hooking up with or falling in love with. Mind you, I don’t insist that these plot threads “nevar happened,” but they do annoy the hell out of me.
Matt: Nothing Sacred
One of my good friends — let’s call him “Schmave” — thinks I have absolutely shitty taste in everything.
He may be right; I do know all the words to most songs on the Chess concept album, after all. (I used to even know the variant lyrics and songs from the US Broadway cast recording, but time has killed those brain cells. They’re not missed, surprisingly.)
It’s not so much his opinion of my opinions as how he reacts that always gets my blood boiling. I’ll confess that I enjoyed something or other on some message board thread at one of our shared online haunts, and he’s up in my virtual grill within seconds.
“What the fuck is your problem?” he writes. “You actually LIKE that festering pile of shit? You are a fucking moron, you scumsucking pig!”
In response to moments like these, I tend to shut down, or tread carefully away, else I’m sucked into a near-endless cycle of snark, vitriol, and being heavily moderated by board overlords.
It’s not so much Schmave’s specific response that makes me so angry; it’s the IDEA behind Schmave’s response, that there’s an opinion so disgusting to him (or to anyone) that the mere mention of it sends one into fits of rage.
That’s why my “Scott and Jean” is having no “Scott and Jean.”
I say that with great love and affection for my fellow geek bloggers, all of whom I know I will enjoy reading as they dissect their own personal sacred nerd cows. But to me, the only sacred nerd cow is that there is no unslaughterable bovine in the geekverse. Nothing is off the table; everything’s always up for grabs, and that’s good…as long as it’s good.
In other words, I can’t imagine any storytelling decision or filmmaking choice or characterization that I unequivocably hate, because if that decision/choice/characterization was handled well, then I’m on board. Break the pieces, pull de strings, shit in the toybox — I honestly do not care. If it’s good (or maybe, more precisely, if I like it) then there’s nothing so sacred to me that I won’t sacrifice it.
Maybe it’s cause my therapist says I’m a pleaser, and I want to make everyone happy by letting them have their Scott and Jeans while I quietly claim none. Or maybe it’s cause I’ve been in too many stupid internet scrapes to ever react as virulently as Schmave does (although the great thing about having a friend who overreacts all the time is that it’s impossible to take him seriously).
Whatever it is, I stand firm. You ask for my Scott and Jean; I say I have none. Scott and Jean themselves could be transformed into flesh-eating zombie trolls trapped in L. Frank Baum’s Oz and speaking only in rhyming couplets; if it’s entertaining, I’m there, history and characterization be damned.
Just don’t ask Schmave what he thinks. You seriously don’t want to know.
Chris: Busting. ALL OF IT! Makes me feel good.
I loved Extreme Ghostbusters.
Don’t get me wrong, adding “extreme” to the title was such a throwaway idea on the part of Sony marketing –- yes, by adding “extreme” you didn’t have to call it “the real,” but it still smacked of one, last gasp at pandering to the dying 90s. They might as well have called it Cyber Ghostbusters –- it would have tasted just as stupid.
But beyond that, I did and still do revel in it. And I was in my mid to late 20s when it came out. Every morning it would be on YTV (kind of Canada’s poor cousin to Nickelodeon) at 6AM, because YTV didn’t split its broadcast for East and West, and Toronto got first dibs on scheduling. So, while kids in Ontario got to watch it at 9AM, I’d stumble out to the living room with the sun barely coming up, hit record, and go back to bed. I loved it, but I love sleep more than anything. That’s what VHS was invented for. DUH!
Imagine my surprise then to find that a lot of Ghostbuster fans would outright hate the show. They hated the new equipment (even though the new traps did make a lot of sense, design-wise), they hated a young team (even though university students wasn’t exactly a stupid idea), they hated the diversification of the team (even though they were unable to explain why adding a guy in a wheelchair, a girl, and a Hispanic was a legitimate complaint and not, say, discriminatory hate), and they hated that the original team was mostly gone.
I have some perspective on this though, and I’ve found a simple, cascading rule regarding Ghostbusters fandom:
If you saw the original in theaters, you hated the sequel. If you were introduced to the franchise via the sequel or the first cartoon series, you hated Extreme Ghostbusters. And I’m sure if and when they make the third (2010? Who knows?) or when the “hardcores” play the video game, they’ll hate that too.
Well, let me tell you something about Extreme Ghostbusters –- clocking in at a few dozen episodes, each one was more like the darker episodes of the original cartoon. Let’s face it, the original cartoon had some amazing shit in it, like Cthulhu, vampires, werewolves, dragons, you name it. It also had some amazingly slapstick episodes too, where the ghosts are less creature and more individual.
Every episode of Extreme Ghostbusters had them dealing with monsters –- outright, alien, monsters. They fought a golem, actually formed by a frustrated rabbinical student! WHEN ARE YOU EVER GOING TO SEE THAT?
Here’s the deal –- you can’t be hardcore if you’re not going to embrace it all. You don’t have to like it, but hating it is a slap at something you supposedly love. Somewhere out there is a fan that likes the same stuff as you AND they love a few things you don’t. And you love stuff they don’t. So, what, it’s time to fight? How is that a) ever going to be resolved and b) how is that fun? It’s supposed to be fun. If it’s fun to tear something apart, even only some of it, then you’re not here for the same reason as I am.
You don’t have to tell me that Ghostbusters 2 is a plot carbon copy of the first movie –- I know that. Adding Slimer is pandering to the kids, Janine macking on Louis is meant to be non-threatening to the main Peter/Dana reconciliation, and the painting at the end is goofy. But c’mon! Ghost train! Slime! Spirit photography!
Someone once asked me, what if the new Ghostbusters video game sucks? I said as long as I get to pick up a proton pack and fire it, they can have my $60. I don’t need a story. I might not even need to see a ghost. Just let me fire a proton pack at a wall and I’m happy.
I look at it like this –- your fandom, your true fandom, is like your family. You might not like parts of it. You may even hate parts of it. But if someone else starts to talk shit, even about the stuff you don’t personally like, you’ll fight for it. I’ll fight for Egon’s ponytail. Because Ghostbusters –- all of it –- is my Scott and Jean.