Boo’s Field Guide to Nerds (part 6)

This very pale, unhealthy species spends a great deal of time inside a darkened movie theatre, in video stores, online downloading movies, ordering movies, watching movies and in friends’ houses doing all of the above. Like the IT Professional and the Animator, the Cinema Theorist Nerd subsists entirely on a diet of Curly-Wurly’s, dry Nutri-Grain, pineapple lollies and Diet Coke. This sustains them through the long, clammy hours of cinemagoing.

Unlike many other Nerd species there is an equal male/female split, and all kinds of Cinema Theorists can be found in schools, TAFEs and film schools, where they collaborate on a number of short film projects. At the apex of this Nerd pyramid sits the University Cinema Theorist. Despite their moniker, it is not their life’s work to create films, rather to obsessively devour them whole. In this self-constructed ivory tower they debate, construct, deconstruct, analyse and disparage their favourite filmmakers, from Kubrick to Kurosawa.

The Cinema Theorist may occasionally deign to attend such populist pap as Indiana Jones or Star Wars (if only to utter hollow chuckles throughout), but what they really live for is to appreciate films that no-one has ever heard of, or indeed would want to. Thus in conversation with this vexing Nerd, the average cinema-lover will find themselves shanghaied into a discussion about good films that somehow becomes an eyebrow-flicking contest about Fassbinder’s little-known shorts or Corman’s never before seen snuff films. It is unknown whether the name for the short film festival Flickerfest originated from this Nerd technique.

Their insistence upon demonstrating filmic knowledge is the key to understanding the Cinema Theorist. The most obvious example of this is the knowing laugh uttered at film festivals and the like. This irksome cry is not made to express genuine enjoyment or recognition but to convey clearly to the surrounding cinemagoers that the Cinema Theorist knows exactly what is going on and understands the filmic allusion. With the issue of noisy mobile phones in cinemas, it is surprising that more is not made of this disruptive habit.

The Cinema Theorist is so immersed in the make-believe world of cinema that they have lost track of much of reality (some may say the inspiration for many a feature film), and have trouble walking down a road without adding a swagger and an internal soundtrack, or leaving a room without saying ‘exit screen right’. The most extreme of these examples is the Tarantino Nerd, detailed below.

A subspecies of the Cinema Theorist is the Quentin Tarantino Nerd (the director himself a Nerd of international status). As well as studying his oeuvre late into the night, Tarantino Nerds have also devoted their lives to studying whatever it is the director studied as a Lesser Spotted Video Store Nerd: blaxpoitation, Hong Kong cinema, horror, action genres and so on.

Their enjoyment of film, and indeed their lives have become ensnared in a self-referential spiral, where they struggle to maintain their grip on what is original, remake, inspired by or just plain ripped off a minor Vietnamese exploitation flick that not even the Vietnamese are aware of. While Tarantino is considered a master of borrowing from obscure films to create something fresh, the Tarantino Nerd will battle to keep even one original thought in their heads. It is their deepest desire to pen a script as influential as Reservoir Dogs, and they may spend hours verbally art directing, casting, producing and storyboarding this Work of Art – the actual writing of the script is postponed until a future, unspecified date.

The Tarantino Nerd also takes great pleasure in quoting large tracts of dialogue from Tarantino’s movies, often in place of regular conversation (refer to the ‘Quotation’ section under ‘Habits & Preferences’). An example is as follows, with two Tarantino Nerds at lunch:

Nerd 1 (pointing to his sandwich): Mmm-mmmm. That is a tasty burger. You mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down?

Nerd 2: What?

Nerd 1: (suddenly and explosively): What country are you from? ‘What’ ain’t no country I’ve ever heard of. They speak English in What?

Nerd 2: Ah hah hahahahahah. That’s the best bit…and then the other guy’s all like ‘go ahead’ and then he’s all ‘arrggh’ and then he…

Nerd 1: Oh yeah…. and then just fucks those white kids up…

Nerd 2: K-pow! And Vincent’s all…

Nerd 1: …yeah…

(Nerd 3 walks in jauntily)

Nerd 3: What you doin’ you white-ass Korean nigga muthafuckas!

etc etc

This freeflowing vernacular allows normally weedy, fearful gentlemen to feel they can insert racist, homophobic or misogynist statements or words like ‘cunt’ and ‘bitches’ into everyday conversation without condemnation. Anyone else in the room won’t get a word in until this dialogue has run its course, which normally takes up to three days or more. It’s usually best at this stage to either exit the room or change career.

*Stay tuned for the final installment in ‘Boo’s Field Guide to Nerds’ with ‘Habits & Preferences’.

5 thoughts on “Boo’s Field Guide to Nerds (part 6)

  1. This blog resonates.Firstly I am in danger of becoming something of a cinema nerd myself – I fear that I am coming to increasingly inhabit a su subspecies of this kind of nred because of my addiction to hong kong kung fu films ( i envy tarantino's misspent youth of watching chop sockies). But I know there are worse cases out there than me so there is hope for me yet.Also, I have been attending MIFF over the last 2 weeks (bought a mini pass). I have been grinding my teeth together every time I have heard that knowing, hollow chuckle. Why do these nerds have to laugh when a character in a film is revealing painful emotional truths? I actually left a film early because so many nerds were chuckling hollowly at things that weren't even funny. true story. (who's in a worse state of mental health – me or the nerds?)

  2. Hey there Boo,definitely know a few of the cinema theorist subspecies of nerd. Particularly one friend who I love dearly has been on a campaign to immerse me in obscure arty films at acmi. The only thing is that he is not really about showing off that knowledge or judging films or other cinema goers. So sort of fits this up to a point…

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