Videogum

The Videogum Movie Club: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

At some point in the past 20 years, the role of the American nerd changed. He somehow became a respectable genre of human being. He was elevated from the dank corner of his parents’ basement to a vaunted place in popular culture. A seat at the table, so to speak. I’m not sure exactly where this started. Maybe it was when Lambda Lambda Lambda house beat the Alpha Betas in the annual Greek Games at homecoming. Or maybe it was when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs became billionaires. Who doesn’t like a billionaire? Of course, as with anything else in this world, once the process began, it has only accelerated over time, so that nerds are not only more accepted now, they are fetishized and celebrated. People want to BE nerds now*. What on Earth? The acceleration of this process has been magnified and quadrupled and exploded via the Internet. If you were to believe that the nerd-controlled Internet played an actual role in gauging what matters in the world, a statement I believe is verifiably false, then movies like Scott Pilgrim VS. the World are works of pure genius that will revolutionize the way we think about art, and jailbreaking an iPhone can end world hunger. Of course, that is not the case. In reality, nerds are still nerds, no matter how many albums Weezer sell, or how many Urban Outfitters bathroom books claim something to the contrary. Nerds have not inherited the Earth, they have only proven themselves a viable niche incredibly susceptible to targeted marketing strategies. And so Scott Pilgrim VS. the World opens fifth at the box office, making only 10.5 million dollars, and world hunger continues apace. Every time the nerds forget their place, the world is more than happy to shove them back in the locker. Get in the locker nerds, you’re confused!

That being said, Scott Pilgrim VS. the World is an enjoyable movie to watch with your eyes!

The movie’s reliance on comic book tropes and videogame kinetics makes it one of the more frenetic and enjoyably paced popcorn movies in awhile. It is just always moving! BING BONG BLIP BLOOP BOING! Admittedly, the visual trickery was a little bit like 3-D, in the way that when you watch a 3-D movie it is very fun and awesome for the first 15 minutes or so, and then the 3-D kind of fades into the background and the focus returns to the story/characters/HUMAN EMOTIONS or whatever. Same here. Luckily, when you did acclimate yourself to the aesthetic tricks to the point of paying attention to the actual story, the story wasn’t bad! Being white IS hard! We’ve all dated someone whose romantic history made us uncomfortable and tested our martial arts skills.

I never actually read the comic books, although I feel like that doesn’t matter here, considering how excited everyone was with how closely the movie followed the source material. I feel confident in feeling like I “get it.” But here’s a question: in the book, is Scott Pilgrim really such an insufferable whiny bitch tucked into a child’s body? NO OFFENSE TO MICHAEL CERA. He is an actor playing a role, and I’m sure he wore a full-body motion capture suit and had his tiny reverse-Avatar body CGI’ed in in post, but for a movie about a young man’s tortured love life, I couldn’t help but wonder the whole time: who would love THAT? He’s such a whiny little bitch! With a terrible haircut! And a weak moral center! What is all the fuss about, supporting female characters**?

The other major problem I had was the looming countdown of Ramona’s seven evil exes to defeat. Because after the first, let’s say three, I was feeling kind of done, but knew there were four more to go. And after the next fight there were still three, and so on. And when the fucking Evil Michael Cera showed up for a SURPRISE eighth battle, I almost barfed, just a big old OH COME ON barf, but luckily that turned out fine. Very charming, Evil Michael Cera. You almost had me there for a second, sir.

But all in all, the movie was very enjoyable. I could especially imagine enjoying it as a teenager. I’m not one anymore, and haven’t been one since the invention of color photography. But, the obsession with music (and I’m sure the mid-90s era Smashing Pumpkins ringer tees did not hurt tugging on my nostalgia strings) and the blind-muddling through ill-conceived love overlayed with the lazer blasts and the slow-mo fights and the pee bars and point counters: very adolescent. Very fun. There was one scene in particular, when Ramona goes over to Scott’s shitty apartment, and he cooks her dinner, and then they are sitting on the filthy carpet together next to a mattress with no bed frame, and the whole thing is incredibly romantic in the way that sitting on a dirty floor with a girl whose hair is more Panic than Manic (ding dong!) after eating pasta covered in store-bought sauce directly from the pot is romantic when you are 22 years old. I’m no longer at a point in my life where hanging out in a dingy apartment with someone who has no idea what they want to do with their life is in the least bit appealing or “sexy,” but I can remember a time when that was all that there was, and somehow it was enough. And I don’t mind going back there for a couple of minutes every once in awhile. Especially since I know we can’t stay there too long. The pacing of modern pop culture won’t allow it. DING DING DING BLIP BLOOP BONK.

Up-down-up-down-left-right-a-b-a-b-thumbs-up-select-start.

*Of course, the real nerds out here know that it is not all Yves-Saint-Laurent waistpants and thick Prada glasses. The real social anxieties of feeling ostracized and separate from your peers is as painful as ever. But as much as the fundamentals of being “different” remain the same we can agree that the public perception of nerds has changed drastically.
**Not to mention the fact that there was not a single moment that even half-heartedly attempted to explain why Ramona started liking Scott. She was cold and stand-offish towards him, and then they just were dating all of a sudden. Not even a lazy montage. NOT EVEN A LAZY MONTAGE!