JUMP CUT
A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA

 

 

Notes

1. Even John Hodgman, the speaker who "roasted" Barack Obama at the 2009 Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, D.C., highlights through his very presence the prevalence of Jobs and Gates in geek culture. In Macintosh commercials Hodgman plays the stodgier, less hip human embodiment of non-Macintosh computers that use a Windows operating system. Like Justin Hammer, Hodgman's character is another unflattering analog for Bill Gates. [return to page 1]

2. There is a history of Jewish male images and responses to notions of Jewish men as nebbishes. This sometimes plays out as extreme masculine prowess/obsession with sports or athleticism. For example, Triumph of the Spirit (1989), portrays the story of Greek Jewish boxer and Holocaust survivor Salamo Arouch who was forced to fight by his German captors. Invincible (2001) revisits this theme with a plot inspired by the life of Jewish strongman Zishe Breitbart and similarly shows its hyper-masculine protagonist in contrast to German Nazis. [return to page 2]

3. Note also a Jewish comedy tradition, e.g., Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Allen’s influence on proto-slackerism in the form of the nebbish Jim (Jason Biggs), protagonist of American Pie. See also Walter Mitty.

4. Following William Strauss and Neil Howe, we define Boomers as being those persons born between 1943 and 1960.

5. Non-apologists for Crumb, who read him as unapologetically racist and/or misogynistic, should nevertheless find value in our critical reading of Crumb's persona and work.

6. R. Crumb’s id (as a character no less) and “Li’l Hitler Pig” appear in Crumb’s work just as Frank appears in David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet (1986). Lynch and Crumb work in the mode of Boomer geeks. The Boomers resisted hippies and formed strong geek identities that would make the Gen-X geek’s rise to cultural prevalence possible.

7. Again, it is important to acknowledge that Crumb’s intention here is arguably ironic psychodrama rather than melodrama, but the melodrama survives regardless.

8. Some noteworthy late Boomer / pre-Generation X Geeks include: Alan Moore (b. 1953), Frank Miller (b. 1957), Jim Jarmusch (b.1953), Michael Moore (b. 1954), comics artist Charles Burns (b. 1955), Joel and Ethan Coen (b. 1954 and 1957), Cameron Crowe (b. 1957), Spike Lee (b. 1957), and David O. Russell (b. 1958).

9. Interestingly, Dreyfuss himself appears in one scene in The Graduate; he plays a lodger in Mr. McCleery's boarding house in Berkeley, delivering the single line: "Shall I get the cops?"

10. Richard Dreyfuss is a key figure in the rise of cinematic geekdom, playing the geek hero of three significant and immensely popular 1970s films: American Graffitti (1973), Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

11. Note the return of the Boomer geeks in 2008 with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Interviewed in Entertainment Weekly #988/989 (April 25 / May 2, 2008) both Spielberg and Lucas claim to be forever suspended in their 20s or 30s. Says Lucas:

“We are not gonna get gray. We are not gonna get old. We are as young as we’ve ever been, and we don’t recognize the fact that we’ve gotten older. Do we?” Spielberg replies: “It’s true. I’ll never forget when I was making Jaws, [producer] David Brown said, ‘I’m nearly 60 years old and I feel like I’m 24.’ I’ve always felt that way about myself. [. . .] I’ve always sort of time-locked and mind-blocked myself in my 30s, and that’s always the age I feel” (35).

12. Key Gen-X geeks include Richard Linklater (b. 1960), Alexander Payne (b. 1961), Daniel Clowes (b. 1961), Mike Judge (b. 1962), David Fincher (b. 1962), Steven Soderbergh (b. 1963), Quentin Tarantino (b. 1963), David Cross (b. 1964), Joss Whedon (b. 1964), Ben Stiller (b. 1965), Jon Favreau (b. 1966), Judd Apatow (b. 1967), Will Ferrell (b. 1967), Kevin Smith (b. 1970), Sarah Silverman (b. 1970), and Diablo Cody (b. 1978).

13. This is somewhat counterintuitive to Bauman’s emphasis that the vagabond is in a constant state of admiration of the tourist’s economic empowerment. Our reading of Bauman acknowledges the tourist’s desire for the authenticity of the vagabond in order to shed light on Gen-X anxieties surrounding discomfort with their privileged status as “tourists” under globalization. [return to page 3]

14. Watchmen being a major comics milestone in Gen-X and comic book culture.

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