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Simon Pegg Says “I Am Still A Nerd And Proud,” Praises ‘Ex Machina’ And ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Simon Pegg Says "I Am Still A Nerd And Proud," Praises 'Ex Machina' And 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

As you might’ve heard from the chatter being passed around today, Simon Pegg landed himself in a bit of hot water with fans in a recent interview. “I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science-fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and thinks we’ve been infantilized by our own taste,” he said, adding that he was concerned about the “dumbing down” of the culture. Now the actor has posted a very long clarification of his thoughts on his site Peggster, and he’s honest about having been a bit reactionary.

“The ‘dumbing down’ comment came off as a huge generalisation by an A-grade asshorn,” he admits, going on to explain by shining a light on two recent hits “Ex Machina” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” that genre movies can elevate beyond the form. Here’s what he said to say: 

In the last two weeks, I have seen two brilliant exponents of the genre. Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road, both of which had my head spinning in different and wonderful ways and are both very grown up films (although Max has a youthful exuberance which is nothing’s short of joyous, thanks George Miller, 70) I’ve yet to see Tomorrowland but with Brad Bird at the helm, it cannot be anything but a hugely entertaining think piece.
I guess what I meant was, the more spectacle becomes the driving creative priority, the less thoughtful or challenging the films can become. The spectacle of Mad Max is underpinned not only multiple layers of plot and character but also by an almost lost cinematic sense of ‘how did they do that?’ The best thing art can do is make you think, make you re-evaluate the opinions you thought were yours. It’s interesting to see how a cerebral film maker like Christopher Nolan, took on Batman and made it something more adult, more challenging, chasing Frank Miller’s peerless Dark Knight into a slightly less murky world of questionable morality and violence. But even these films are ultimately driven by market forces and somebody somewhere will want to soften the edges, so that toys and lunch boxes can be sold. In that respect, Bruce Wayne’s fascistic vigilantism was never really held to account, however interesting Nolan doubtless found that idea. Did he have an abiding love of Batman or was it a means of making his kind of movie on the mainstream stage?

Surely Pegg is asking some big questions about the intersection of commerce, genre, and culture, but his point isn’t to provoke as much as to take a step back and observe how things stand: 

The point of all this is just to get my position clear. I’m not out of the fold, my passions and preoccupations remain. Sometimes it’s good to look at the state of the union and make sure we’re getting the best we can get. On one hand it’s a wonderful thing, having what used to be fringe concerns, suddenly ruling the mainstream but at the same time, these concerns have also been monetised and marketed and the things that made them precious to us, aren’t always the primary concern (right, Star Trek OST fans?)

Also, it’s good to ask why we like this stuff, what makes it so alluring, so discussed, so sacred. Do we channel our passion and indignation into ephemera, rather than reality? Not just science fiction and fantasy but gossip and talent shows and nostalgia and people’s arses. Is it right? Is it dangerous? Something to discuss over a game of 3D chess, perhaps.

And as Pegg wraps things, he reiterates his own passion, however questioning, for all things geeky: 

In short:
I love Science Fiction and fantasy and do not think it’s all childish.
I do not think it is all generated by dominant forces as a direct means of control…much.
I am still a nerd and proud.
Love and rockets,
Simon

Be sure to read his full thoughts, and let us know what you think of Pegg’s commentary on the nerd culture at the moment.

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