Friday, June 26, 2009

4. 1337ism

It was the only thing my entomology degree was any good for. Knowing what distinguishes a member of the family Hymenoptera Symphyta from Hymenoptera Apocrita is a pretty much useless skill anywhere but the lab, but try saying it outloud in a string of other Latin terms. Blows the morons’ minds. Medical terms work well, too, although my money ran out before I finished my premed. Who cares? I had had enough, and I make good money now. To be fair, I could probably have gotten by with just a lit degree and a few microbiology textbooks. I didn’t know what I’d end up doing. You’ve heard of technical advisors? Watch to the end of the credits on some movie--there’ll be an advisor, making sure the military characters are all wearing their rank right-side-up, that the furniture in the period piece is the right style, that the animals are all from the same geo-climatic space, that the physics isn’t too ridiculous when they shrink the submarine and shoot it inside the patient. “Thanks to blah blah blah of the University of Blah at Blah Air Force Base at the Institute for Blah.” Well, I’m a geek advisor. That’s right, I do the geeks in movies and TV shows. Which basically boils down to embellishing some dialogue, because that’s all they really want. A few interjections, some name-dropping or a few wild rattlings-off of ludicrous jargon. See, geek speak falls into two categories: stuff you get and stuff you don’t. Basically, we throw in a few allusions nearly everyone who passed their GED can get, and then pile on a lot of crap that no one outside of that particular subfield will ever get. And by we, I mean me, and by no one, I mean no one except me. The point of the dumbed-down geek speak is to make you feel special--Ha ha, you’re in on the joke! Aren’t you smart for getting that! Apparently you remember something from high school!--and the second category is to keep you from thinking you’re too smart, making sure you feel like these guys on the screen really are geniuses, distant and apart from you. I find Pygmalion + X works well, as in, “Let’s add a little Cyrano to this Pygmalion” or “So what’s up with your Pygmalion turning all Svengali?” or “Don’t look now, but your Pygmalion has begun to woo the fretful portentine.” Nearly everyone gets Pygmalion, nearly no one gets whatever you end up tempering it with. Easy. Entomology, as I alluded to earlier, is a goldmine. Bugs can be worked into almost any situation, and nothing says “smart” like canned Latin. References to poetry are good for some stuff, but the problem there is that the really good lines usually don’t use particularly impressive words, and the morons are completely nonplussed. What I usually end up doing is using poetry in higher-end Type 1 geek-speak; it’s the stuff you’re supposed to get, in shows aimed at the less stupid demographics. Haha, aren’t you smart! You picked up on this line from Dryden. But do you get this reference to Robert Oppenheimer? No, no you didn’t--not if I’m doing my job right.

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