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Bedlam Field Trip Y2K

Ubergoober, the rash of documentaries on Furries, Trekkers, the success of Best In Show and Mighty Wind--shardenfreud, joy taken in the misery of others, seems too harsh a word. I'm not edumacated enough on the subject, and it might be only concurrent with the rise of internet fandom that it's even possible, but over the last few years I've noticed the rise of the Dorkumentary as its own art form.

The nearest historical analogy I can find is the tours of Bedlam, the archetypical insane asylum, where one could take a walking tour, see the inmates, and reassure yourself that you were, in fact, normal. A bit extreme, but any other comparison lacks the friendly, ambivilent disdain that this art form expresses. There are similer emotions and concepts--my favorite will always be the early Christian doctrine of "abominable fancy," the joy taken by the blessed in the eternal suffering of the damned (bring popcorn!), but that lacks the gentle, condescending note, the idea that these are not bad people, not people to be feared--they're not insane or evil, they're just amusingly lame, and aren't we jolly glad we're not them?

Obsession is interesting. No-one can relate to an obsession they don't share. I stare in confusion at my co-worker who can recite numbers from baseball games across the country. I'm sure he'd be deeply worried by the werewolf LARP I used to play in every chance I could. Why is one of these "normal?" (shrug) Not important.

The gentle, ambiable two-facedness of the dorkumentary is what I like most about this neogenre. To simultaneously say "This is good," "These are humans," and "God, what geeks these people be," that is art.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 8th, 2004 09:05 am (UTC)
There are amusing extremists in every group though, millions watch football but only an elite few paint themselves green and yellow and sit at Lambeau Field in the middle of December.
Jun. 8th, 2004 09:25 am (UTC)
And they should have their own documentary. It might actually be interesting, even for those of I who dislike sports. If there's material enough about these people of color to fill an hour, that might be some fascinating material (though gamers seem more active to my mind, though I *am* a gamer, so I might think that.)
Jun. 8th, 2004 09:32 am (UTC)
I'm actually a closet gamer. I still haven't figured out if I'm a furry or not, nobody seems to know exactly what a furry is ;?)

If I'm not mistaken, it was actually sports that produced the first fans. I once encountered a car that was an exact replica of Dale Earnhardt's race-car--even down to the sponsor logos.
Jun. 8th, 2004 09:45 am (UTC)
AFAIK, the dubious title of "furry" goes to anyone that's brave enough, weird enough or okay-with-lameness enough to wear the polyfill 8mm nap synthetic leopard print mantle.

What do you call "coming out" for a gamer? I've liked "out of the kennel" for furries (though that sounds wrong somehow. Or because that sounds wrong. Dunno.)

Sports had a high-coverage broad media base that predated internet-based fandom--and what's the point of being a die-hard fan if people can't see you? But the internet has 1) allowed fringe groups to gather together like cliquish dust-bunnies, and 2) publicized what they do when they get together, which is a bit of a downward cycle.
Jun. 8th, 2004 10:47 am (UTC)
Well, coming out for a gamer would have to involve dice in some way. Gaming itself is so incredibly varied that dice are the only thing all games have in common. With the possible exception of card based games like Magic the Gathering (which I've never played)
Jun. 8th, 2004 10:11 am (UTC)
out of the...
furries... out of the kennel
witches... out of the broom closet
gamers... out of the dice bag?
out of the book closet?
out of the dungeon?
out of the minies bar?
Jun. 8th, 2004 10:16 am (UTC)
Re: out of the...
Really, gamers should be "coming out of mom's basement." But that's disparaging in a bad way.
Jun. 8th, 2004 11:14 am (UTC)
Re: out of the...
"Why's Bill wearing a ratty T-shirt with holes under the arms and a dragon wrap-around? Did he always wear those thick glasses?"
"Man, didn't you hear? He came out of the Basement."
"I don't get it."
"He let the d20 out of the bag. He's riding the Tram to Gencon. He retired his </i>soap</i>."(accompanied with a knowing wink)
"Ohhhh. That's too bad. I had an extra ticket to the Cowboys game this weekend."
"Yeah. Pity."
Jun. 8th, 2004 11:50 am (UTC)
Re: out of the...
That's terrible! Snerk. :)
Jun. 8th, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC)
The replies to this entry have brought me great amusement. :D
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )