Sunday, February 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Fanboy

Last week, I promised to make some nerds angry. Since doing so is about as easy as shooting fish in a barrel with a bazooka the same size as the barrel itself, here I am making good on my word!

Speaking of words, one in particular is going to be the basis for this week's little discussion. The word "fanboy": it gets tossed around quite a lot, doesn't it? But can anyone out there claim to really, truly know exactly what it means? I believe I do, and I'll try to define it in the easiest way possible so that from now on you will know a fanboy the moment you see one.

First things first: you can be a fangirl, too. This isn't an exclusive club like the Shriners we're talking about here. fans can be any gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. And for the record, you can also be a fanboy of a gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. It's funny that way.

So here's my ultimate definition of the term: being a fanboy is simply a indication that you are heavily invested in a certain thing to the point where it stops being casual interest and becomes nerd-like obsession. Someone who reads/analyzes a lot of comics and spends thousands of dollars a month on collecting and organizing them is a comic book fanboy. Someone who knows every line of dialogue in all six Star Wars films and owns every action figure of even the most obscure character from the movies or novels is a Star Wars fanboy. Someone who walks around wearing their favourite players' hockey jersey, memorizes goalkeeping stats, and goes to a bar every other night to watch the game with their beer buddies is a hockey fanboy (Yes, sports fans, stop kidding yourselves; you're all nerds too. You just prefer balls to lightsabers. Take from that what you will).

The thing that separates fanboys from just plain fans, though, is bit more complicated: it mostly involves elitism, aggression, and finding common enemies. Here's a helpful example to illustrate.

I really, really, really like Kraft smooth peanut butter. I like it to the point where I am a Kraft smooth peanut butter fanboy. I eat Kraft smooth peanut butter at least three times a day. I've bought it so many times that I know how many pieces of peanut butter toast I can get out of one jar. I can recite from memory every single one of the ingredients, as well as the recipes that they usually have on the backs of the labels. I have posters of Kraft smooth peanut butter hanging in my bedroom. I know the names of all the people who had a hand in inventing it, in what year they did so, and in which part of the world it happened. If you were to try to engage me in a conversation about a totally unrelated issue, like the BP oil spill or Obama's health care plan, I would somehow find a way to steer the conversation back into the waters of Kraft smooth peanut butter, to the point where you will be so annoyed with my obsession that you'll eventually just stop talking to me.

Let's bring a second person into the mix now. We'll call her Veronica. Veronica is a fangirl as well, except her obsession revolves around Kraft crunchy peanut butter. When Veronica and I are together, the two of us will inevitably start to bicker about our interests. In most cases, though, neither of us will harbor any malice towards the other; I respect Veronica's interest in a Kraft peanut butter product, and vice versa. Our arguments don't involve bashing one another, but rather boasting why we think our respective peanut butters are superior. Veronica thinks having peanut shells in every bite is fantastic. I think peanut butter should flow like liquid across the top of my toast.

Now, here comes a third person: Stuart. Stuart is a peanut butter fanboy. But Stuart doesn't like Kraft peanut butter. Stuart likes Skippy peanut butter.

Instantly, Veronica & I will put aside our small differences and gang-bang the hell out of Stuart's opinions. This time, we're not in it to convince Stuart how great our peanut butter is: we're in it to rag on how shitty his peanut butter is. Instead of using logical defense, Veronica and I resort to mockery and humiliation. For example, while our earlier conversations might have sounded like this: "Smooth is clearly better than crunchy. Having peanut shells in every bite cuts up the roof of my mouth", they now sound like this: "Stuart, you are a facking n00b! Skippy peanut butter is teh gay!" We actually take offense that Stuart has the gall to even consider any other peanut butter brand.

Oh, and jam? Don't even get us STARTED on jam.