Posts Tagged Pawn Stars

Scavenger nation

Storage Wars Pawn StarsSome people say we’re heading toward the apocalypse, but in one respect we’re already there. No post-apocalyptic tale would be complete without scavengers, crafty survivors who pick through the kipple to find useful and valuable items. Apocalypse or not, those people are already out there, and they’re T.V. stars.

It started with the History Channel’s Pawn Stars. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock (or in a bunker), this isn’t a show about pizza delivery guys. It’s about a pawn shop in Las Vegas that specializes in rare items with some historical value.

If you want to sell your Soviet rocket launch keys, this is the place to go.

Since Pawn Stars, reality television has been all about scavenging. Tru TV launched its own series, Hardcore Pawn, which shows the seedier side of the pawn business. The show is definitely more hardcore than its History Channel counterpart: it’s about a pawn shop “in the heart of Detroit’s Eight Mile” run by a family of loud-mouthed shysters.

It’s not just pawn shops either. There is an entire industry based around bidding on the contents of storage units, and shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters depict it in all its glory.

Shows like these are a lot of fun to watch; they feature cool stuff and its easy to relate to people looking for bargains. However, there’s a bit of an unfortunate vibe to it all.

Everyone knows that the economy isn’t good and that the job market is dwindling, which brings me back to the apocalypse. In a post-apocalyptic scenario, the whole economy will consist of buying and selling material goods that were made before the world ended.  How different is that from a show about people who dig through abandoned storage units looking for treasure?

Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch these shows, and others like American Pickers and Oddities. It’s just funny to see scavengers get their moment in the spotlight.

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Comic adults

Justice League by Alex RossOnce upon a time, if you were an adult and you read comic books, people thought there was something wrong with you. Until Marvel revolutionized comic book storytelling in the 1960s, comics were seen exclusively as kid stuff. After all, what adult would take a story about a guy in tights and a cape seriously?

Apparently, a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that more adults read comics than children. Many comic-reading kids grew up but didn’t want to give up their books (who could blame them?) and comics have grown more sophisticated to appease these mature readers. That’s great, because some of these so-called “grown ups” can act pretty childish when it comes to their favorite reading material.

Wired.com recently ran a short review of the new television show Comic Book Men. It’s a reality show about Kevin Smith’s comic book store, sort of like Pawn Stars for the nerd set. Take a minute to read the comments.

It’s amazing how much anger can be stirred up by a reality show about silly middle-aged men running a comic shop. The reviewer didn’t like it, saying that it reinforced negative stereotypes with its all-male cast and their tendency to make typically male jokes about women and gay men.

Luckily, Kevin Smith and company have some staunch defenders. One commenter called the author a “douche,” another said she was “pretty lame;” a third commenter said she shouldn’t be allowed to write professionally.

When a female commenter (Mary 229) came to the author’s defense, she was labeled an “angry fangirl” and taunted. “Mary’s turn on’s [sic] include whipped men, spreading inflammatory lies and invective about Rags Morales, and crying misogynist every ten seconds to invalidate the other persons [sic] point. It’s “angry fangirl 101,’” said commenter “John.”

I’m not taking sides on this one, but I think some of the comments were pretty ridiculous (once again, feel free to follow the link and decide for yourself). Since this is the Internet, I have no idea how old these people are or what their life stories are, but I can’t imagine any circumstances where statements like that would be acceptable in public. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but how about a little civility?

These comic fans should really listen more closely to their favorite characters. Has Superman ever called anyone a “douche” because they disagreed with him? Does Captain America angrily stereotype people when he disagrees with a government policy? Spider-Man is constantly being hunted down by the police and press; does he ever respond with anything besides witty banter?

When comics were read exclusively by kids, superheroes were role models. The morality and emphasis on good citizenship that started out as a way to educate children became an integral part of most heroes’ characterizations. Even in today’s age of moral ambiguity, a lot of it remains.

It’s kind of funny that a bunch of adults reading the same books can’t pick up on those lessons. These characters treat everyone with dignity, even their enemies. That seems like a pretty easy thing to understand. Superheroes are super because of their extraordinary abilities; I don’t want to live in a world where having manners is an extraordinary ability.

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