Cinepub


Documental: Nerdcore Rising by Jamie

The internet has done many great and wonderful things. It has made instant, worldwide communication possible, it has become a repository for all human knowledge and it has allowed for the easy dissemination of massive amounts of the filthiest pornography known to mankind. Seriously, there’s shit on there that would make Pinhead baulk.

But that’s not all it has done. It has provided a safe haven for geeks. Millions of people who used to sit alone in darkened rooms playing on their computer were suddenly connected to millions of other people who were also sat alone in darkened rooms playing on their computer. Before anyone knew what had happened, geek had gone mainstream. Sure there had always been gatherings at conventions and geek culture has always been around but this was different. Geeks not only utilised the internet but they were it’s pioneers, boldly going where no man had gone before, finding new lands and building websites upon it… or something like that.

Now it’s almost impossible to find any aspect of life which has been touched by the hand of Geek. It’s kind of easy to influence the world if you’re the ones who know how to utilise it’s greatest technological development. Now we’ve got all kinds of things tailored specifically to geeks. Movie companies, for example, will specifically keep track of what the geeks are talking about with regard to their latest film, especially that rash of comic book movies we’ve had lately. God forbid you piss of the geeks. Bad word of mouth, in an instant over the internet, can really fuck up that big movie you had such high hopes for.

TV has caught on as well. Think of all the TV shows which are tailored specifically to geeks and geek humour hoping to get that all important internet demographic. Shows like Robot Chicken, Family Guy, The Big Bang Theory, Myth Busters and a whole host of others. We are Geekdom. All your culture are belong to us.

The reason, I think, that geek culture has permeated so fully is that everyone has a little bit of geek in them (And you can have a bit more in you if you play your cards right. Smooth.) Everyone has that movie that they can quote without even thinking about, everyone has a video game that they love and everyone that little piece of pop-culture that they are obsessed with. It just that you’re full on geeks that to the next level.

It turns out that geek culture has even gotten itself into that most unlikely of places, that would seem to be almost it’s exact opposite, the world of Hip Hop. The sub-genre, nerdcore as it’s known, has been growing in popularity over the past few years and I myself have become exposed to it through mc chris frequent contributor to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. To give the uninitiated an idea of what nerdcore kind of is, I shall post here ‘Fett’s Vette’ probably one of mc chris’ most popular songs.

So there you go. That’s a small sample of nerdcore and it’s essentially exactly what it seems to be, rapping about subjects which one would typically associate with Geekdom, things like Star Wars, computing, role playing and the like. It also happens to be the subject of the documentary we’re going to look at today ‘Nerdcore Rising’. Wow, that’s probably the longest preamble to a review I’ve ever written.

Anyway, Nerdcore Rising follows the story of the grandfather of nerdcore, MC Frontalot as he embarks on his first national tour and the ups and downs that he and his band, The Minibosses, encounter along the way. It also interviews some of his fans who show up to watch him play and they are arguably the most interesting parts of the film.

The parts that follow the band are interesting, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that they seem just like every other documentary I’ve seen that’s followed a small band embarking on their first tour, just with a slightly geekier edge. And it is that geekier edge which does provide some amusing moments. For example there’s a scene where they are discussing their first ‘groupie’ who has followed them for three shows. They start to make fun of her a little bit until they come to the realisation that the reason that they’re being a little mean is that girls make them nervous.

There’s also a scene in which one of the band members tries to explain the rules of Magic: The Gathering, a game which requires level of geekiness far beyond what I can muster in order to play it. This explanation takes about two hours and forty five minutes. Still it’s that passion for their obsessions that you really have to admire in the hardcore geeks and I do because I know I have a similar level of passion for my own particular obsessions.

Still, as I said, the most interesting aspects of the film are the interviews with MC Frontalot’s fans. It’s through these that you really get a sense of what his music means to them as geeks and you get a wider view of geek culture as a whole. The sense that you get throughout most of it is that they’re just appreciative that someone is out there making music about the things they care about. They have no interest in rhymes about popping caps in asses and pimpin’. They want music about the things I mentioned earlier, Star Wars, computing, role-playing and the like and they are just really glad that someone has finally created a genre of music they can relate to.

Also of interest are the interviews with other musicians. They’ve got rappers from the more mainstream areas of hip hop, other nerdcore rappers (including mc chris) and permanent geek favourite, Weird Al Yankovic. What’s most impressive is that the mainstream rappers are really quite supportive of the whole nerdcore movement. They respect the fact that they are making music that is important and culturally important to themselves. Most importantly they respect the fact that they are keeping it real. It was really quite touching. Oh, and Weird Al was just his awesome, awesome self.

The tour culminates with a performance in front of 7000 people at the KPAX gaming expo, set up by the guys from Penny Arcade. I gotta say that it’s a beautiful thing to see geeks gathered together, waving glowing lightsabers around and just having a good time. As for MC Frontalot, well, whilst I fully support the whole nerdcore movement and respect him and his efforts, I can’t say I’m a fan. Something about the way he raps just kinda irritates me. I think I’ll just stick with mc chris for now… Though there was a group called Optimus Rhyme and, even though they are now defunct, that name alone demands at least a listen. It’s also good because my own idea for a nerdcore rap name, Hip Hoptimus Prime is still available. In terms of other ‘geek‘ musicians outside of the nerdcore subgenre well, I don‘t think you can ever go wrong with Jonathan Coulton.

Well, that’s that. Overall it was a fairly enjoyable documentary even if it didn’t get me fully on the nerdcore wagon. I’ll give it 3.5 pints out of 5. Laterz

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