FFWD REW

The nerdiest badass

I saw this technique on TV once it just might work

Nerds loooooove imaginary self-defence techniques. It goes all the way back to the playground where the clumsiest least co-ordinated children would always try to boost their cops-n-robbers score by yelling “I’m bulletproof!” It’s wish-fulfilment — trying to augment one’s poor physical skills by using one’s imagination which presumably gets a lot more exercise. Announcing to your childhood friends that you’re bulletproof doesn’t work by the way — it just makes you a dumbass.

“Oh yeah? Well… I’m gonna get my lunch money back from you as soon as I master the Hadouken!”

“What the hell is a Ha-doo-kin?”

“It’s a magic laser that flies out of your fists you dumdum! Don’t you play Street Fighter 2 ?”

When such physically awkward nerds grow up we (er I mean they) still hang on to the idea that we (they!) can win a fight by making up some really clever technique that can totally beat everybody at any time. Nerd culture is filled to the brim with unbeatable self-defence techniques that somebody just pulled out of his ass one day. Let’s take a look at the three nerdiest:

• The Mask of Vulcan (from the animated series The Mighty Hercules 1963-1966). This here is the spiritual successor of the playground “Bulletproof” power-up and its cousin the “Everything-proof Shield.” Anybody who grew up watching crappy Canadian syndicated cartoons in the ’80s knows the phrase “Nothing can harm me while I wear the Mask of Vulcan!” It’s the schtick of a recurring villain who plonks a riveted-metal wastepaper basket on his head and then talks shit to Hercules until Herc figures out a way to get the mask off thus breaking the bad guy’s spell of invulnerability. The weird thing about this ancient Greek troublemaker is that he never actually does anything evil. He just puts his ridiculous Ned Kelly helmet on and brags about how unstoppable he is. At that point everybody tries to stop him. (From doing what?! He’s not doing anything!)

Is this guy even a villain at all? Maybe he’s just trying to show Hercules his new hat. Maybe he wants to give everybody their own magic helmets so that everybody can live in safety and there’ll be no more wars. We’ll never know because two minutes later an androgynous centaur and his mute satyr companion trip the guy or flip his mask off with a tree branch and it’s game over.

The Mask of Vulcan is a fairly easy costume to make at home but if you wear it to Comic-Con be aware that you are inviting all the other nerds to hit you.

• The Crane Kick (from the original The Karate Kid film 1984). This blatantly fictitious martial arts move looks breathtakingly amazing when you see it in a theatre in 1984 and looks completely stupid at all other times. Just balance yourself on one foot raise both hands in the air and hope that your opponent runs chin-first into your kick. As Miyagi-San says “If do right no can defence.” I don’t know about that; it kind of looks like the other guy’s fault for running chin-first into your kick. In the 2010 remake Jaden Smith won the tournament with a much better kick that actually looked effective and difficult to pull off. And we hated it because it wasn’t The Crane Kick. We’ll cheer for fake martial arts over real fighting every time no matter how spazzy The Crane Kick looks. (And it looks terrible. Watch it again and groan.)

• Death Blossom (from The Last Starfighter 1984). I have no criticism for Death Blossom. It works perfectly every time. Your spacecraft spins around like a disco ball in a centrifuge jizzing hot laser fire in every direction. Flawless victory! Just remember to only use it as a weapon of last resort.

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