Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cartoon Network's "Level Up"- An Insipid, Insulting Ad-Campaign, Sure to Lead to An Even More Insulting TV Series

Hey all you geeks out there, NWC's Geddy Cahoon here with a very special rant. I know I haven't done Figure Fraction in a while... Again, it's not conducive to my schedule, but I'm gonna try to get one done as soon as possible. Anyway, I do have something to complain about today! If you'd like to hear a bitter, hate-feuled critique of the ad-campaign for my favorite network's newest endeavor, please hit the jump dear reader! A pretentious, holier-than-thou pseudo-essay about a show that is in no way intended for someone of my age awaits you!

      Okay, I don't think it should come as a surprise to anyone that I watch Cartoon Network CONSTANTLY. I loves me some Adventure Time and Regular Show, plus they also show Classic Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry. Cartoon Network has a new show coming out (It's not even a fucking cartoon, but that's the least of its issues) called "Level Up." It's basically about these kids who accidentally free monsters from a video game or something, then have to fight the aforementioned monsters. Kind of an alright sounding premise I suppose, there's nothing outwardly insulting about it... But then, you get to the advertising campaign... First off, they fucking use the term "video game" as a Verb. "Level Up is a show about kids who video game." I suppose one could use the it that way, but come the hell on! NO kid who plays video games talks like that! If anything, say "game." "Level Up is a show about kids who game" would not have jumped out at me as quickly as something blatantly written by a weary, 56 year old writer, phoning it in for that sweet, sweet Cartoon Network paycheck, using all the skills he acquired relating to video game linguistics from an 18 year old Nintendo Power magazine that he can only vaguely recall the contents of. The end result is something that sounds more like it would come out of the mouth of a serial killing robot who doesn't understand humanity than a teenage gamer.

     That's more of a minor peeve, admittedly; It was obviously just a failed attempt to make use of some somewhat-popular vernacular. They were off the mark a bit, but I can give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they meant well, as, again, despite the clunkiness of it, the actor's line essentially amounted to "This is a show about kids who play video games regularly," which is a series I would have no problem with, theoretically. But then... The commercial crosses one of my lines that should NEVER be crossed. They have little Talking-Head interviews with the actors throughout the commercial, with the various teen thespians half-heartedly boasting about the various things the show offers while clearly wishing this gig will lead to something less insulting to our collective intelligence.While one of the actors is being interviewed, he says "You know, we all do it [Play games] at night. We nerd out."

   NO. FUCKING NO. THE SIMPLE ACT OF PLAYING VIDEO GAMES IS NOT NERDY. WHEN WILL PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THIS?! It's such a transparent, obvious attempt to appeal to that demographic I despise - The faux-nerds, who think they're so fucking out there and cool because they reference Star Wars or play Mario Kart once every 6 months. These people are ruining it for the rest of us.This is really part of a bigger issue that was discussed in our first Podcast (Or maybe the second. Who knows.), which is the idea that "Nerdiness" is something that's currently in vogue within the collective mainstream consciousness. Now, please understand that my issue with this idea is not "I like this thing so NOBODY ELSE CAN LIKE IT." First of all, as Scott and I discussed, "Nerd" really is a universally applicable term. You can be nerdy about fucking ANYTHING! Birds, movies, dolls, stamps, Transformers, cars, History, ANYTHING. I feel that a "nerd" is someone who enjoys something beyond all reason. That something doesn't HAVE to be a video game, or a comic book. Being extremely devoted to Mario despite being a full-grown adult? Nerdy. Going into a comic store, and just looking around, because you're more or less fully aware of every comic book in there, and are open to reading anything? Nerdy. Nerdiness requires devotion, but also a degree of courage! You have to be devoted enough to Mario to not give a shit that some people might think it's odd that Mario 3D Land made your Christmas despite being a grown man.

   People that shop at Hot Topic for out of date internet meme t-shirts, or talk about how much they fucking love Marvel, and their only proof is that they're sort of excited about the "Avengers" movie are taking the integrity out of being nerdy about something. The word is losing its meaning. You can't just DECIDE that you're a nerd. It's something that kind of just needs to be, I think. TRUE nerds know what I'm saying. One Piece is one of the most important things in the world for me. I love it with every fiber of my being. I'm not ashamed to say that. Nor am I ashamed to say that my devotion to Mario and He-Man and comic books have led to me filling my room with action figures that I'm running out of space for. People who only like these things to give a certain vibe about themselves are tarnishing the meaning of these things for the real nerds. You can spot a faux-nerd in a crowd. We can tell the difference between someone who legitimately enjoys Batman for being a complex, often-twisted look at the constant struggle between good and evil, and the idea that good NEVER really wins, and someone who "Fucking loves superheroes man" because they pay $10 dollars to see a shitty Chris Nolan flick that completely violated Batman's arch-nemesis. If things like Level Up, and douchey people who just want to be seen as "Indie" or "Out there" persist, the very essence of nerdiness will be lost. Not to mention it's completely fucking stupid to try and seem "cool" by associating yourself with cartoons and superheroes, but I think I've made my point. Fuck those people, fuck cartoon network for perpetuating these ideas, and furthermore, don't waste my time with freaking Live action shows on the goddamn cartoon network, especially ones as derivative and insulting as this.



  1. Actually, the people who ruined nerdiness are the ones like you, the ones who obsessively wear it like some sacred badge of honor, who wrap their entire identity in it, instead of viewing the word nerd for what it really is, an insult, and letting that insult effortlessly roll off them like its nothing.

    Having a room full of actions figures is not something to be proud of. Wanting to marry One Piece and have lots of little One Piece babies with it is not something to be proud of. Thinking The Dark Knight Returns is "shitty" is not something to be proud of.

    Any subculture that is defined by what toys it buys is a pretty shitty fucking subculture by the way. At least youre right about Level Up though, it is definitely insipid, insulting trash, full of annoying twerps.

  2. Well I mean, I'm not averse to things that I like becoming well-known. I'd just prefer that peoples' interest in things that are extremely important to me be genuine. As for the action figure thing, I consider figures to be in the same category as t-shirts and posters. They're just symbols of devotion to something. The Dark Knight was a solid movie technically, but it had a lot of problems, One Piece is amazing, so I am proud to have it in my life. I think being proud of my nerdiness is a way of deflecting the insulting connotations of the word. Instead of hiding my feelings and interests from everyone, I'm just comfortable. People can call me what they want. Opinions opinions. Something tells me regardless of what I say we're not going to come to an agreement on this one, but thanks for reading and commenting anyway. And for what it's worth, I DID warn at the beginning that the content of this "article" was somewhat pretentious and holier-than-thou.

  3. Hey John, thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts! Be sure to check out the other stuff that we're into and post about and keep coming back with great contributions like the one above!