Wednesday, 20 May 2015


In the real media - that is, The Radio Times - writer and actor
Whaddya mean Clooney got the part?
Simon Pegg has upset fantasy and science fiction fans by saying something like “Nerd culture is the product of a late capitalist conspiracy, designed to infantalize the consumer as a means of non-aggressive control.”

I remember Simon Pegg from his series Spaced, and the over-rated zombie comedy with a second-hand plot and a rather dubious attitude towards male-female relationships. I don't remember him as a great essayist, but his apology to fantasy fans - now available on his blog -  is a classic of the TL;DR school. 

Long after most readers will have given up, Pegg apologises. 

In short:
I love Science Fiction and fantasy and do not think it’s all childish.
I do not think it is all generated by dominant forces as a direct means of control…much.
I am still a nerd and proud.

Complete with references to Baudrillard, an explanation of why his (rather excellent) series Spaced preempted the co-option of the extended adolescence by market forces and a bizarre claim that 'before Star Wars, The Hollywood studios were making art movies', Pegg's ramble tries to nuance his attack on fantasy. Of course, he blames the Money, which has turned an innocent genre into a manipulative spectacle.

Pegg, himself, is one of the innocents. Spaced did come before the relentless onslaught of nostalgia-based programming, which includes the dire remakes of films about stuff people liked as kids (was The Transformers reboot a matter of art?), that rash of TV shows about the past and the many many many many internet sites mulling over comics, toys, classic TV et cetera. And it was, at its best, a critique of the way that young people refused to grow into adulthood. 

I have a great idea for a version of Hamlet set on Vulcan
But Pegg's subsequent career has been supported by the industry he is attacking - and attack it he does, despite the kind words for the Mad Max reboot. And he has a choice: he could have auditioned for the RSC, but he took the role of Scotty in the Star Trek films. The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy coasts on conventions of mainstream cinema, and Shaun of the Dead is a celebration of the male lifestyle that refuses to let go of childish things. He's being a hypocrite.

And the statement that “Nerd culture is the product of a late capitalist conspiracy, designed to infantalize the consumer as a means of non-aggressive control” is correct, though I'd hardly call it a conspiracy - 'late capitalism' is all about non-aggressive control. No need to apologise, Simon, except perhaps for the hypocrisy of making art that panders to the very system you are rejecting. 


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