Musings of a Christian Geek about the Word, Geek Culture, Science, Music, Movies, and anything that is deemed noteworthy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lights, Camera, the Battle for the Mind: Part 1

On traveling back to the topic of this entire blog melding geek culture with Christianity, I have discovered a sad trend in modern Western society. Any geek is aware of the phrase “Han shot first” or many a geek can tell you of reading thesis style works like a paper on how the UNSC Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) knew about the existence of the halo rings before the events of Halo. These types of works and slogans are what separate Geek culture from that of mainstream, however small that line may be these days. What they highlight, though, is the prospect of taking fiction way too seriously.

In the world today what does it matter whether Han shot first or not? Star Wars: A New Hope is a work fiction and George Lucas has a right to do whatever he wants with his own work no matter how dumb the choices may be *cough…the prequels…cough*. Who really cares if ONI knew about the halos beforehand? At the end of the day, Halo, is just a series of video games, books, and movies designed for entertainment. I have always thought that if geeks would spend as much time on real world issues as they do debating and worrying about fictional devices, problems might actually be solved in the physical world.

Why am I picking on geeks and their crazy love for all things sci-fi and fantasy? I really am not. You must understand that I myself am a geek and a huge fan of both Halo and Star Wars (I am an even bigger Green Lantern fan but let’s not go there). Rather than bashing geekdom, I am bringing to light an awful but ubiquitous truth.

This problem is the inability of people to separate reality from fiction. You might be asking, “What do you mean?” To which I say, I believe the majority of people in Western society think life is just like a movie. The first time I thought about this concept is when, in 2009, the current administration sent out a briefing to various law enforcement agencies describing “Right Wing Extremists.” This briefing was leaked out almost immediately by some police departments who didn’t agree with the politics of the form. What the administration failed to realized is the fact many people in America do not agree with their point of view and would not enforce the briefing or take it seriously.

See, in movies dealing with government and military, people blindly follow leadership as a matter of plot convenience. Take the Star Wars trilogy, for example. The Storm Troopers blindly follow the whims of the Emperor and Vader to the death in many cases. This is just not the case in real life. Even steel gripped Nazi Germany had its share of detractors within its own borders. Government and public disagreement would be even more prevalent in a free thinking country such as the United States.

Lately I have been strangely drawn to the show, Doomsday Preppers. A trend which I have noticed throughout each show is the irrational fear of each prepper. Most are afraid of economic collapse leading to societal destruction; but, others are afraid of super volcanoes, coronal mass ejection (CME), global pandemics, and much more. Every one of these fears can be traced to an individual movie which I believe each prepper saw beforehand and decided to prepare for. CME came from Knowing, super volcanoes came from Dante’s Peak or Volcano, and global pandemic came from Outbreak.
Each of these preppers are preparing for some climactic event like we all have seen in disaster movies, but the truth is very boring in comparison because, in life, we are not driven by a plot. Economic collapse does not lead to the post-apocalypse as many of these individuals would like to believe. If this was the case, the landscape during the Great Depression would have been populated by roving bands of looting cannibals. The truth behind CME is that ejections hitting Earth is a common occurrence and has never burned up the surface of the planet. Global Pandemics are already a reality. AIDS is one of many Global Pandemics occurring as we speak and I don’t see men in Hazmat suits patrolling the streets announcing quarantine.

“But these geeks and preppers are just exceptions,” you may say. Well, no, sadly, people in everyday life are prone to movie logic as well. Gun ownership is very common in the current public climate. It is not unusual to hear complaints about lack of ammo capacity. Why would anybody in everyday civilian life be worried about how many bullets their gun is able to carry? This logic is a result of movie conditioning where the term “gun violence” is defined as a grand shootout involving the hero trading fire with accuracy challenged henchmen resulting in a Mexican standoff with main villain. In reality, “gun violence” usually involves one or two shots fired which may result in horrible internal and external injury.

Okay, gun ownership and expectations still don’t have you convinced? Take a look at two effects named “The CSI Effect” and “The House Effect.” Both of these phenomena are named after television shows each effect is based off of. “The CSI Effect” is making it harder for prosecutors across the country to present cases because they cannot always present the 100 percent full proof evidence which is provided each episode of a crime drama. “The House Effect” engenders unrealistic medical expectations and sometimes costly and dangerous self-diagnosis. These effects have come into prominence because lay people (mainly the general public) believe medicine and law to be just as streamlined, high tech, and successful as what is presented in House and CSI. Basically, the public cannot separate television from reality.