Is scrutiny ruining nerd culture?

Nerd culture is all about the little things. We love to scrutinize and analyze every tiny morsel that we can find online. Set photos, casting announcements, leaked scripts all make nerds drool at the mouth. Speculating is half the fun of being supremely passionate about all things nerdy. Perhaps the biggest point of speculation that every nerd engages in is guessing at the story of the latest nerd motion picture. If a movie is trying to keep its plot under wraps, nerds feel like its their duty to try to figure out the story before ever seeing a single frame of film.

But are we ruining the movie-going experience for ourselves by speculating and puzzling out the story ahead of time? And are we taking micro-scrutiny too far? I would say yes, we are. If you need proof, you only have to look to a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars episode eight recently set the Internet on fire with the release of the film’s first poster, which revealed the subtitle for the upcoming sequel. The new film due out in December is titled The Last Jedi. The poster is a simple starry background with the Star Wars logo and title at its centre in a deep red font. That’s it. Nothing more. No pictures, no cast, no BB-8. Just a logo and a title. But that didn’t stop nerds across the world from dissecting those three little words to death.

The teaser poster for Star Wars Episode 8: the Last Jedi


A quick Google search shows there are already dozens of news stories on the reveal and hundreds of results already speculating as to its meaning. Keep in mind as of writing this, it has only been three days since the announcement. In just three days, there is already a flood of analysis pouring over the lore of Star Wars in hopes of informing what is to come.

Speculation is ranging from the title referencing Luke Skywalker as the official last Jedi, since Yoda said as much in Return of the Jedi, to the title referring to the star of The Force Awakens scavenger Rey, to the villain of the last film and son of Han Solo, Kylo Ren (spoilers I guess for a movie that’s two years old). There are hundreds of theories trying to find the “hidden meaning” behind the chosen words.

But it goes even further than that. The micro-scrutiny has even been focused upon the colour of the font chosen for the poster. Fans have likened the colour choice to other Star Wars films, Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, which both used the red-coloured font.

It’s at this point that I have to say we’ve gone too far. Trying to find story details in the colour of the font on a teaser poster is beyond ridiculous! I’m not saying there isn’t meaning behind the choice of title and font colour, of course there is. But we, as nerds, are ruining the movie for ourselves before we even get to see it. We’re ruining the movie over a teaser poster. We’re running the movie over a choice of colour. We’re ruing the movie over three little words.

The reason films try to keep their plots a secret is so the audience can have an enjoyable time when they go to see it. Despite the many, many flaws that movie producers have (that’s a blog for a different day) for the most part they want people to enjoy their film. They want the film to be an experience that people will be talking about for years to come.

Let’s play a little hypothetical.

If Empire Strikes Back was released in theaters today, the massive reveal would have never had the same impact as it did back in the 80s. Had Empire released in 2017, current nerd culture would have poked, prodded, and dissected every bit of pre-release material until someone would have guessed that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. (spoilers? Really? The movie came out in 1980.)

If you guess for long enough, eventually you stumble upon the truth. That’s what I’m afraid of for all us nerds as we move forward. If we spend this much time and energy scrutinizing upcoming nerdy films, we will inevitably spoil the movie for ourselves. Now for some of you, you might love that kind of thing. You might love knowing everything ahead of time and simply watching it unfold exactly as you predicted. But for me, I love to be surprised. When I sit down for the lastest release, I want to be taken on a journey. I want to experience twist and turns. I want a movie to surprise me. But I’m afraid if nerds keep micro-analyzing everything, like I just did in this blog, then none of us will ever be surprised again.

You’ve heard my opinion, now let’s hear yours. Do you like to be surprised when going to the movies or do you like analyzing all the pre-release material? Comment down below or tweet at me  to have a conversation.


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