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The Seether: Geek Activism
By Alex Loke
There was a time when I feared to tell someone I was a role-player. Of course, I'm still not proud of the fact, but I've come to relish the look on their faces when they wrangle with the fact that at some point, I played D&D. My spine tingles unconsciously.
I get the same feeling when I tell an eight-year-old that I ate Santa Claus.
No one thinks your 5th level Elf Wizard is cool. People don't want to hear about your adventures in the Multiverse and how you killed the Eternal Champion with your magical sword of slaying. There isn't a support group who cares about which season of Babylon 5 was better. In fact, people hate you.
So where exactly did we garner all this ire? Is it because of our preference for anoraks, medieval re-creation, snort-laughs, Mountain Dew, Babylon 5 or Monty Python references? Is it because we're responsible for mankind's greatest failure? Is it because we wield fabulous arcane powers? Regardless, my obvious response to such ire is usually measured and tolerant.
Lies make Baby Jesus cry.
I stand firm in my refusal to swallow the displeasure of others. Of course, this won't be the first time I'll be reprimanded for my refusal to swallow.
Someone once told me that 'tolerance is a two way street'. I consider myself to be sitting at the bottom of that said street, which also happens to slope steeply at about 70 degrees. I'd much prefer to be sitting at the top riding Jack Chick down it like a bobsled. No prizes for guessing where I plan on nailing the seat.
If the average D&D weenie held so much fear and power, can anyone still tell me they would be such acne-covered social outcasts? I'd pray for the day that I'd see a successful, attractive man, rolling in money and empty-headed women (did I forget to include the word 'naked'? How unlike me), so I could say to myself, 'there goes a damned good role-player!' I have my suspicions, considering the boom in the computer market, but I'll keep them to myself. Well, I would have if I just hadn't revealed all of them in the previous sentence.
Unfortunately, there is very little which can be done about the situation. I see three scenarios from which the world would accept role-players back into the social fold once again.
Scenario one is unlikely, implausible, but funny when you picture both of them destroying Tokyo. Scenario two sounds too impeachable. Scenario three has possibilities, but may involve work. At the core, I am a very lazy man.
The 1980's were both bitter and sweet for the hobby at large. We experienced the dizzying heights (the D&D Cartoon) and bowel-shattering lows (the D&D Cartoon) of popular culture superstardom. The boom was a precursor to the 1990's when role-playing was overtaken by soulless mega-corporate America in an effort to ride the cash-cow all the way into the meat-grinder that was public scrutiny.
Not that I minded this. The bigger the corporation, the bigger the PR engine. I was sure that role-players would be accepted once again, since Big Business is always morally superior and benevolent.
*cue Nativity Set and small baby with halo bawling it's eyes out*
However nerd-dom, like some mysterious crotch-itching, have had a violent resurgence. We live in geeky momentous times. Third Edition D&D and d20 are selling like chewable ecstasy at an underage dance party. Gandalf, Anakin Skywalker and Harry Potter are happily pelting Titanic's Jack Dawson with ice cubes and taunting him a life-jacket and flares. The vice-like grip of whining nerds on the Internet is as strong as it ever was.
The stars are right.
So here is my proposal. Email me with your name, credit card number and expiry date. Don't wait to think. Do it now.
The war starts here. Rational argument never works. People are more willing to listen to the uninformed Jack Chicks, Patricia Pullings and Governor Generals of the world. My proposal, this time re-stated to not include a shameless effort to take advantage of my audience, is to start my own group of lack-minded individuals to fight back with rhetoric and childish name-calling.
As I've said many times before, working within the system never works. However, copying a more successful system does.
Everything we need to form our own intolerant, quasi-religious posse for social justice is there. We have a bible-esque manual that at least 50% of us can quote religiously, that is also full of inconsistencies (First Edition AD&D Player's Handbook). I urge every one of you to switch off cognitive function and flagrantly re-direct the responsibility for your own callous actions onto an innocuous, though unorthodox social activity. My suggestion would be Curling. It's a silly sport.
Write to your favourite publication. Pass out candy to the kiddies. Hold seminars on 'How to Self-Actualise Using the Elder Sign'. Slip in a few choice terms into conversation like 'saving throw' or 'Malkavian'. Join the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), a Star-Trek Fan Club or local Satanic Cult. Legally change your middle name to something like "The Destroyer" or "Dice-master Zero". Rely on polyhedral dice to make those hard, everyday decisions.
Do it publicly! Do it on air! You can thank me later when the paramedics have removed the courtesy truncheon suppository that the network's security gave as a goodbye present.
Every starting religion needs a celebrity. Take a cue from Scientology! Celebrities are infallible and never go to jail. Turn a successful career in Hollywood into an engine to flaunt your bizarre beliefs and strange behaviour! Richard Gere did (referring to the Buddhism, not the gerbil incident). Imagine the publicity if we could have just slipped one of our kind onto Survivor Australia or into the Big Brother house. No whining, bitching or pig-stabbing - just hours of 10 by 10 foot rooms filled to the brim with orcs playing cards and guarding a chest!
Hopefully this campaign of calculated stupidity will begin to take effect. One day we'll be able to visit Mark Rein(Hagen: The Museum. People will finally laugh at a 'Carpe DM' vanity licence plate. People will be rolling d12s and betting on lucky fourteens at the casino. The old TSR administration will be arrested for peddling sub-standard game-related product and passing it off as an entertaining sidelight to mainstream gaming *cough Dragon Dice* and CNN will actually care. Lastly, the Keg Restaurant may even lift the lifetime ban imposed on my gaming group (stupid nudity laws).
Who knows where we could go from there?
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to leave. The hypocrisy faeries simply won't leave me alone.
Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your best role-playing inspired school-yard taunts. In return I promise to post the best of them in my next column.
Oft quoted of Thomas Jefferson is that, "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants". However, what is usually not quoted is the next line that, "it is it's natural manure." While this author does not advocate the flinging of refreshing manure, he does support the idea of a role-playing martyr (preferably not himself).
However, the author also wishes to advise sacrificing one's self to the altar of commercial failure, much like one Courtney Solomon.
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