Geek Culture

Geek Culture
Silver Screen Button Mashing

Stephen Colfer | 27 May 2008 12:15
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Back in 1989, a fat-cat Hollywood producer (or so I picture) had a revelation: Those videogame things he'd seen around were gaining a large and untapped following of little runts. He envisioned a film starring characters based on those kids, a film made for those kids. A film not like Tron - an adaptation of a videogame - but one with gamers as the unlikely heroes. What audiences got was The Wizard, something that even 5-year-olds frequently described as "poo." Even if we overlook the fact that it was basically a feature-length Nintendo ad, The Wizard can pretty much be summed up by the following IMDB quote: "There are numerous factual, audio and continuity errors with the videogames." Using pre-recorded video, button mashing actors and vague dialogue that had nothing to do with what was onscreen didn't fool our younger selves back in 1989. It didn't start fooling us any time over the next 19 years, either.

There's been some pretty bad offenders over the years. Malcolm in the Middle had mysterious game-less Game Boys. Every soap has the generic kids sitting in front of a TV that produces R2-D2-like sounds. And then there was 2006's "horror porn without the porn" flop Stay Alive. But there have also been rare gems such as South Park's "Make Love, Not Warcraft" that have managed to stay faithful to the games they portray, earning fame on TeamSpeak channels across the internet. Instead of listing every show or film that's attempted such a feat, I've found three examples of how to do it perfectly, just about right and completely arse-ways.

By far the worst offender I've seen in a long time occurred in a recent episode of Scrubs entitled "My Hard Labor." The gaming aspect of the story focuses on Turk playing his new videogame instead of spending time with his newborn daughter. As with 95 percent of all Scrubs storylines, it all wraps up with sentimental music, the realization that life is great and occasional parental neglect is, in fact, all right after all. But that's not really the problem here; the problem is the horribly inaccurate and occasionally absurd actions and dialogue that surround the whole ordeal. First we see a screen of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars in which the character seems to be running in circles around a truck. We then cut to Turk and JD mashing on their Xbox 360 controllers like they're trying to type an angry letter rather than play their magic co-op game that's clearly set to single-player.

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