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Television Media The Media Entertainment

How Comic Fans & Shops Are Stereotyped 387

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-represent-that-comment dept.
brumgrunt writes "Why do TV shows, such as 30 Rock, The Simpsons, Heroes, and Everybody Loves Raymond, persist in so ferevently stereotyping comic book fans and stores? Den of Geek has pulled together eight examples, with video evidence to back them up ..." Minus one point for doubling up on Malcolm in the Middle. Plus 10 points for referencing Spaced, which I hope you all have seen.
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How Comic Fans & Shops Are Stereotyped

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  • Ehemm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bradgoodman (964302) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:44AM (#28123667) Homepage
    Wost... article... ever.
    • U.S. Manga Obscenity Conviction Roils Comics World [wired.com]

      In an obscenity first, a U.S. comic book collector has pleaded guilty to importing and possessing Japanese manga books depicting illustrations of child sex abuse and bestiality.

      Christopher Handley, described by his lawyer as a "prolific collector" of manga, pleaded guilty last week to mailing obscene matter, and to "possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children." Three other counts were dropped in a plea deal with prosecutors.

      The 39-year-old office worker was charged under the 2003 Protect Act, which outlaws cartoons, drawings, sculptures or paintings depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and which lack "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Handley's guilty plea makes him the first to be convicted under that law for possessing cartoon art, without any evidence that he also collected or viewed genuine child pornography. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

      Keep that cartoon coochie identifyably 18!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's a chance I'm willing to take for Bridget!!

      • by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3&phroggy,com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:15AM (#28124063) Homepage

        The frightening thing about this is, a court of law just got to decide that a comic book doesn't have serious literary or artistic value. The comic book in question is perfectly legal in other countries (it's available for sale in Japan). As far as we know, this guy has never molested children, doesn't have any desire to molest children, and finds the practice despicable. If he's a "prolific collector", one can assume that his primary reason for collecting manga is precisely the literary and artistic value that the court just ruled it doesn't have.

        Because of this decision, a man who (as far as we know) isn't guilty of any other crime will now be branded a sex offender for life. In addition to sitting in jail until he reaches retirement age, when he gets out he'll have to find a place to live that isn't too close to a school, and he'll have to warn all his neighbors that it's not safe for him to be around their children.

        • by BetterSense (1398915) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:43AM (#28124497)
          And people look back at the Salem witch trials, and wonder how that ever could have happened, and wonder why nobody stood up to stop it, and are thankful that we've come so far since those terrible times, all while completely failing to see the irony.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Hatta (162192)

          The frightening thing about this is, a court of law just got to decide that a comic book doesn't have serious literary or artistic value.

          He plead guilty. The courts didn't decide anything. He really should have stuck with it, as this law is clearly unconstitutional and needs to be overturned by the courts. It's a real shame that prosecutors are able to use trumped up charges as a bludgeon to dissuade people from exercising their constitutional right to a trial. Plea bargaining ought to be abolished.

          • by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3&phroggy,com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:01PM (#28125599) Homepage

            The frightening thing about this is, a court of law just got to decide that a comic book doesn't have serious literary or artistic value.

            He plead guilty. The courts didn't decide anything. He really should have stuck with it, as this law is clearly unconstitutional and needs to be overturned by the courts. It's a real shame that prosecutors are able to use trumped up charges as a bludgeon to dissuade people from exercising their constitutional right to a trial. Plea bargaining ought to be abolished.

            Ah, quite right, thanks for the correction.

            A court of law could have decided this, and there's a good chance they might have decided against him and his punishment would have been even worse than this. On top of that he would have had to spend massive piles of money he doesn't have, to pay for his defense, regardless of whether he won or lost.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by sexconker (1179573)

            The law is stupid - there was a supreme court case ruling "virtual" child pornography to not be illegal, and this law flies in the face of it.

            When it was created, the legislators said it would only be used to prosecute those who ALSO have ACTUAL child pornography. They lied, I guess.

            It's a witch hunt, plain and simple.

  • Sad but true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:45AM (#28123673)
    It may be a stereotype but if you walk into most comic book/anime stores and look around at the people in them, the vast majority will match up to the stereotype.
    • Re:Sad but true (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Narpak (961733) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:53AM (#28123765)

      It may be a stereotype but if you walk into most comic book/anime stores and look around at the people in them, the vast majority will match up to the stereotype.

      At my local comic book store (it also sells books; specfic, fantasy, horror etc, and board games) I rarely if ever see any of the TV stereotype nerds. Then again I live in Norway so I guess it might not apply here or something. The people I see down there when I go to shop are mostly "normal" people. Everything from teenagers to old people browsing books or comics; and yes there is a pretty even distribution of girls there to. That being said reading comics, specfic or etc, (or being a nerd for that matter) is pretty much a none issue here; i.e. read/do what you like to read/do the rest of the people don't give a fuck one way or the other.

    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      Yup, the one near me looks like the one in Heroes

      I've only seen it through it's window, which needs a good cleaning, as I can't think of any reasdon why I'd ever want to go inside - unless there was a large poster offering money to the 1000th person through the door, and the counter stood at 999. However, I digress. It did look like it was rows and rows of comics, with posters on the walls and a few spotty-faced children inside. So from that I wouldn't say it was a stereotype - I'd say it was an accurate

      • So from that I wouldn't say it was a stereotype - I'd say it was an accurate depiction.

        Something being a stereotype has nothing to do with whether it is true or not.

  • Human Nature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Akido37 (1473009) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:46AM (#28123691)
    It's human nature to want to feel better than someone else. It's the "us versus them" mentality that pervades our culture. Geeks/nerds versus "normal" people is only one facet of the problem. It's seen everywhere, from Republicans versus Democrats, urban versus suburban versus rural, and black versus white.

    Sadly, I don't think there's a whole lot we can do about it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CFTM (513264)

      It's even in our religions. On one level it helps build communities, on another level it causes wars!

      Booyah!

    • It makes it especially difficult in this case, since we *are* better than the funnybook cranks.

      • It makes it especially difficult in this case, since we *are* better than the funnybook cranks.

        Yeah keep telling yourself that. Some day it will be true.

    • Re:Human Nature (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:03AM (#28123885)
      Thing is, most of the Simpsons writers are geeks and nerds. That's why the show's so full of pop-culture and science in-jokes. The League of Extraordinary Freelancers, for crying out loud. It's not "us versus them", it's self-denigrating humour.
    • by colfer (619105)

      Sadly, I don't think there's a whole lot we can do about it.

      Correction, it's a continuing struggle. Forty-five years after Selma, the U.S. elected Obama. It didn't happen by magic, or by some inevitable trend in human nature.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      No, it's societies that creats that image.
      Watch small children, they generally want to get along. It's around age 5 that parents start instilling an US and THEM mentality.

      • Re:Human Nature (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:32PM (#28125185)

        You've never been around small children for extended periods of time, have you?

        Children by nature are extremely selfish. Parents have to work hard to get little kids to share. Seriously, try working at a daycare or something with kids from 2-4 years old. They tend to start getting better and more civil around 4 years old. Definitely a lot easier to reason with at that age, you simply can't reason with a 2-year old.

        In my experience (I volunteered once a week at a daycare for about 6 years), those children who do share well at an early age have either been actively taught that by their parents from day 1, or they have a timid or mousey personality. In the case of timid children, they tend to have things demanded from them and taken rather than actively sharing with the other children.

        Kids may play reasonably well together, but they certainly don't share well naturally. It's an unnatural thing that must be taught.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dirtside (91468)

          It's an unnatural thing that must be taught.

          I wonder who first learned to share, then?

  • The Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:48AM (#28123703) Journal

    Why do TV shows, such as 30 Rock, The Simpsons, Heroes and Everyone Loves Raymond, persist in so ferevently [sic] stereotyping comic book fans and stores?

    Well, the article didn't help me answering that question, it just illustrated the stereotype.

    My guess would be (1) because it's funny and (2) even someone like myself who spent tons of time in a comic book store get a kick out of it. A lot of other stereotypes like hair brained teenage cheerleader will catch you a lot of criticism in the media. Those geeks you make fun of in high school? The ones that are hyper obsessive with social disorders that spend more time in their room reading than anywhere else? Those are the people running a lot of stuff today. So I guess it's ok to make fun of them all you want ... even when they've become your boss. Other stereotypes hurt: i.e. "Math is hard."

    I do wish this article had broken down the social stigma it has associated with it though ... although perhaps there's not much to break down.

    • by hjf (703092)

      maybe it's because they really are like that.
      In my city there's a comic book shop, focusing on comic books. I went there to ask for some manga, and the guy was barking that manga is crap, he doesn't sell that shit, etc... the guy was really the simpsons comic book guy, only thinner and with short hair.

      So, I decided to open my own shop (yeah), and I focus mostly on manga, but I also keep some american comics. I understand the guy, kids drive you crazy and all, but it's part of the job. If you don't have the

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In my city there's a comic book shop, focusing on comic books.

        Damn! You city is way better than mine. In my city there's a comic book shop, focusing on feminine hygene products.

        I'd much rather shop at you comic book shop.

        • Re:The Answer (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Belial6 (794905) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:36PM (#28125245)
          You kid, but many 'comic book shops' end up focusing more on games and collectibles than comic books.
        • Re:The Answer (Score:4, Informative)

          by bitt3n (941736) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:43PM (#28125333)

          In my city there's a comic book shop, focusing on comic books.

          Damn! You city is way better than mine. In my city there's a comic book shop, focusing on feminine hygene products.

          I'd much rather shop at you comic book shop.

          I'd rather shop at yours.

          "Hey there, good lookin'! So... shopping for yeast infection medicine, huh? Vagisil -- great choice. Clearly you're a woman of class. The kind of lady I'd like to take out on Friday night, say, 8 o'clock, Denny's? I'd pick you up, but my mom needs the car."

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "Those are the people running a lot of stuff today."

      Yeah, for some other person who was popular in School.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:48AM (#28123709) Journal

    Folks get stereotyped on television? You don't say?

    I've never seen athletes stereotyped as bumbling morons.
    I have never seen good looking women stereotyped as airheads.
    I have never seen Christians stereotyped as clueless and out of touch.
    I have never seen factory workers stereotyped as beer guzzling, bowling addicted rubes.
    I have never seen Southerners stereotyped as trailer trash.
    I have never seen rich folks stereotyped as constantly stepping on and using others.

    Comic book folks are the only ones stereotyped on TV. Call your congressman.

  • I was shocked that The Big Bang Theory was not mentionned. When it comes to stereotypes, geeks and comics, it should be the reference show. In particular "Captain Sweatpants" who so much looks like the typical comics reader ... :p
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Wowsers (1151731)

      The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon's love of comics make him look like a child, even if the character is super intelligent. Surely at the characters age (past university age), you'd grow out of reading comics!?

      • Surely at the characters age (past university age), you'd grow out of reading comics!?

        And I see we've come back to the WWII & prior era attitude towards comics... that they are only for kids.

        I know that this assumption has always been there among some subset of the general public, but comic books have been popular among adults for some time, probably with the heyday in the 50s and 60s.

        Check out some of the graphic novels out there. Definitely appropriate for adults, and some are definitely not approp

      • by internerdj (1319281) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:18AM (#28124095)
        Yes we should all grow up and take up manly hobbies like playing with cars or watching other grown men play children's games for outrageous salaries...
        • by The Moof (859402) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:10PM (#28125777)
          You're just as bad as the people you're mocking.

          I'm a nerd, and have been since I was a teen. I also played sports during my high school years and beyond. I still enjoy watching sports (well.. up until yesterday when the season ended for my team), and I still enjoy watching anime and reading comics. It's possible to be involved in sports (as a fan or participant) as well as have an interest in nerdly delights. Perhaps some balance would be a good thing to have instead of a drastic pull to one extreme or the other.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by internerdj (1319281)
            I enjoy watching sports as well. My general point is all of our adult activities are at there core childish. Or rather children play at adult things with reduced rules. The elitist attitude that my neighbor who spends hours and hours in his garage across the street working on a car he never ever drives is any more valuable or adult than me sitting inside playing video games or reading comics or watching anime is just degrading. The idea that someone chooses a hobby over some other hobby is really meanin
      • I wouldn't give Watchmen to a 12 year old even if they could understand it. It's not exactly what I'd call family-friendly.

      • by q2k (67077)

        I'm 41 and just last year got into reading comic books.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Flame bait much?

        Seriously, there are comics for all ages, and you know it.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Because the show sucks the the 'intelligent nerds' often get the science wrong.
      Also, the comic shop owner is just a normal guy.

  • by jockeys (753885) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:51AM (#28123727) Journal
    Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons (to name one) is not a caricature. He's a real guy. I've met him. He lives in most comic book shops. He will make fun of you for liking the wrong comics, he will make fun of you for buying the wrong set of dice. He is the alpha nerd, and he's not going to let you forget it.

    AFAIK, I'm still banned from the Laughing Dragon in Dallas because when I was 12 years old, I suggested that I liked DBZ better than Akira.
  • Ah, is this the human concept you call "humor"? It is so illogical.
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:51AM (#28123733) Journal

    You insensitive clod!

    Seriously though, attempting to legitimize them as "Graphic Novels" is just spin and makes you look more ridiculous. I will confess privately that I liked the original Hellboy comic (Note: notice no attempt to spin it as a "Graphic Novel"!) Its a comic.

    • Comics are not books; they are pamphlets. :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      That's silly.

      Let's look at this first from the non-comic perspective. Novels are a subset of books. There is criteria to establish what is a novel, and what isn't. I have a novel in my hand right now... is it a book? Of course. But if I tell you I have a book in my hand, can you say that it is definitely a novel?

      For comics, why would this not apply as well? There can be comic novels, there can be comic books. I think we can agree on this.

      The problem with calling them comic novels is that "comic n
    • by story645 (1278106) <story645@gmail.com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:32AM (#28124323) Journal

      You insensitive clod!

      Seriously though, attempting to legitimize them as "Graphic Novels" is just spin and makes you look more ridiculous.

      Although I agree with you 'cause the "graphic novel" label gets thrown at every comic under the sun, technically a graphic novel is a subset of all comic books; a graphic novel has the whole plot structure (rising action, climax, falling action) wrapped up in one book (or over the course of the series), whereas many other types of comics stretch the plot out over the course of an arc, and a few collective arcs can be combined into an overarching arc, and a comic series often has many overarching arcs. Basically "graphic novels" have one big climax. A good rule of thumb is: do all the chapters/books in this series tie into one big event (usually at the end)? if yes: graphic novel

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PhrostyMcByte (589271)

      When I hear "Comic book" I think of a 20-30 page X-Men. When I hear "Graphic novel" I think of a ~150 page Scott Pilgrim book or a ~600 page Blankets. Graphic novels also usually have a definitive ending. I see that distinction.

      I think the problem comes from people who are too worried about looking like a stereotype, too worried about looking childish -- so they sell graphic novels as a more mature, adult version of a comic. Which is totally false -- smart, mature comics with well written story arcs do

  • I dunno. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Steauengeglase (512315) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:01AM (#28123859)

    Often times comic shops perpetuate their stereotype, but as far as service goes, I've never had an issues. They are manned by people who are genunnely interested in the product they are selling. Now walk down to the record store and you get something pretty different. They tend to have no interest in selling you anything, are disinterested and view your purchases with comtempt, but they are cool kids so we forgive them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      Actually I think you'll find that there's plenty of record stores that are more like your experience with the comic book store. It's the same with any niche, you will find that there are stores run by little despots who have gone mad with the knowledge that they're the only place in the county where you can get an obscure issue/vinyl/floppy of Super Punk Octo Pudding Gas Mark Seven.
  • is it just me that thought it was a shame this ended, it managed to remain funny to the end
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      is it just me that thought it was a shame this ended, it managed to remain funny to the end

      Part of being good is knowing when to bow out so that people remember you as being good.

    • by eln (21727)

      It had to end, it became too difficult to sustain the high level of humor while having their characters age normally and maintain a continual story arc through which the characters continue to evolve and get involved in new long-term situations.

      In my opinion, it jumped the shark when Jamie was born. Sure, it was still pretty funny, but it was clear that the road they were going down was not sustainable forever. Add to that Frankie Muniz thinking he was a good enough actor to maintain a movie career, and y

  • by Lendrick (314723) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:07AM (#28123925) Homepage Journal

    Let's say, hypothetically, that you walk into a comic book store. There are five people in there browsing comics. Four of those people are fairly normal looking folks who are just there to buy comics and leave. The fifth one is a large guy with poor hygiene who corners you and talks to you incessantly about whether or not Captain Kirk could have single-handedly taken out the Death Star, and seems oblivious to the not-so-subtle signals you're giving off as you try to back away.

    Who are you going to remember? The four normal people, or the smelly dude who wouldn't leave you alone? Hell, *I* stereotype comic book geeks, and I *am* one. When I see them portrayed that way on TV, I usually get a laugh out of it, because I've met the exact sort of person they're portraying.

    That said, I think the classic HOLY CRAP IT'S A HOT CHICK IN MY COMIC BOOK STORE thing is a bit overdone. There are plenty of hot chicks, my fiancee included, who like comics. (Oh yeah, there's another stereotype -- Slashdot readers are all single, right?)

  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:07AM (#28123937)
    Ya know, stereotypes exist for a reason; they're a fairly accurate portrayal of peoples' observations. Am I saying it's right to use them to pre-judge people? Absolutely not.
  • by fermion (181285) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:08AM (#28123955) Homepage Journal
    I don't know that comic shops and the patrons and owners are stereotyped more than anyone else. I think like most so many other categories, they are used because they are mysterious. For example, most people do not read any significant number of books, and even fewer read significant number of comic books, so people who do are mysterious. Even fewer people write, so people who do, especially the amateurs that tend to occupy the genre fan fiction category, are triply mysterious. Whining about it just makes us look like losers.

    The article makes us really look like losers. The one thing that is more stereotyped than the comic book guy is the cheerleader. Save the cheerleader is both a catchphrase and an irony, because why does a girl who cannot be killed need saving, a la Buffy. Yet we continue to want her to be the damsel in distress. Bringing these two archetypes together was brilliant. It is the thing that Heros does that no one understands. Why do shows use stereotypes. Because most people are simplistic, and have trouble with multiple levels of meaning.

    Rocko is equally brilliant in that it is a good depiction of early young adult hood, when one is forced to learn to live. It is not a pretty sight. It is full of lots of scared people who deal with their fears in different ways. Some by hiding in books, some by finding a new playmate every night. Either one of these is stereotyped and seen as reasonable when on is young. Being offended by Filbert says more about one's own issue rather than the character. I find the show hard to take sometimes, but it is because it is so real.

    The rest of the most of these are simply too pop culture and too obvious to even give credence. Suffice it to say that we need to be secure enough with ourselves to not freak out anytime we are ridiculed. We do the same with people we do not understand, like cheerleaders.

  • by Snap E Tom (128447) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:14AM (#28124037)

    Sometimes, "Stereotypes are a real time saver," as The Onion put it. Growing up, Lee's Comics in Palo Alto, CA was my neighborhood comic book store. Working there from the early 90's, there was a guy named Jeremy. I remember vividly the day Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons was introduced (or shall I say, First Appearance). When I watched that episode, me and every other kid within a ten mile radius said, "Jeremy!"

    After school the next day, me and my friends went in, ran to Jeremy and said, "Hey Jeremy, did you watch the Simpsons last night?" "Yes," he said groaning, and obviously tired of the question. Why was he tired? Because Jeremy looked exactly like Comic Book Guy - Beard, receding hairline, big rotund body always wrapped in shorts and t-shirts. Only difference was that Jeremy wore glasses.

    Jeremy, Real Life Comic Book Guy, wherever you are now, I salute you. You were a huge impact on the lives of many kids in the 94306 zip code.

  • Because it's true! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Amiralul (1164423)
    I walked into to different comic book stores, in two different states while being for the first time in the US, in February. There were exactly I imagined them! Huge piles of old comics, new comics, action figures, maniacal comic books guys (the one from Colorado told me he had 500.000 comic books at his home but he was nice, giving me a free '60 Action Comics incomplete issue as a bonus plus a 20% discount to a nice DC Comics Cover Girls huge album, since I've spent some bucks there). So, anything I I saw
  • Nothing worse than sensitive nerds. There goes my breakfast.
  • by Chatsubo (807023) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:41AM (#28124477)

    That show completely makes the point that this guy misses. The male leads on this show are all completely stereotyped. They're completely nerdy and totally bonkers about comic books. And who cares? I don't. I think the show is funny. It does throw some of the stereotypes to the wind (some of the characters do get laid), but otherwise I like it for the fact that it makes fun of nerdy/geeky/whatever-your-favourite-label-is people, in a way that doesn't degrade them.

    What a bunch of whiny idiosyncratic losers we are if we fail to laugh at ourselves once in a while... Go watch a Chris Rock standup or something, realize that sometimes laughing at your own stereotypes can be a good thing. Maybe if you stop bitching about it, people would like you more.

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:49PM (#28125427)

    He once impressed a girl... just to see how it feels.
    He was created by a makefile... that he ran himself.
    He once wrote some buggy code... for an entomologist.
    He can sometimes make a fool of himself... dancing.
    He has a best friend... because he likes to be unpredictable.
    He is the World's Most Interesting Geek.

    "I always use computers, and when I do, I prefer Linux."

  • Present! (Score:3, Funny)

    by paiute (550198) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:22PM (#28125977)

    I have nothing to add. I just thought my sig belonged in this thread.

  • Positives, too (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ericlj (81729) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:03PM (#28126691)

    Having a wife, I am sometimes forced to watch shows like Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker. In one episode, she tells the eager young women that one of the best places to pick up wealthy, unattached men is at comics conventions. I was a little surprised to hear it, but her logic made sense.

Two is not equal to three, even for large values of two.

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