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  1. I have a problem with the portrayal of RPGs and their players in the mainstream media. EVERY TIME, it seems, when RPGs and their players are portrayed on mainstream film or TV, they can't resist going for the stereotype. People who play RPGs are maladjusted nerds; normal people simply do not do such things. When we see it on "The Big Bang Theory," it's because all our male characters are maladjusted nerds. When we saw it on "Community," it was because our regular cast of attractive, if quirky, people, wanted to make the maladjusted nerd feel accepted and not like such a loser. When we saw it in "The Gamers," and "The Gamers II" ... well... actually, it was pretty good, but neither of these productions are what I'd call mainstream... the feel of these two productions is more like "made by nerds for nerds," to be honest. Independent films can afford to aim for smaller audiences. So I'd been hearing about this movie, "Zero Charisma," about a gamemaster, his game group, and how this hipster guy joins the game and shakes things up and the gamemaster winds up taking a dislike to him. I was curious; I wanted to see it. It's an indie film, and I had hopes. Regrettably, those hopes were dashed. Our protagonist, Scott Weidemeyer (Sam Eidson) is very quickly established as a stereotype; he's in his late twenties, perhaps early thirties, and lives exactly like he did when he was fifteen: heavy metal music, still lives with his grandmother in a room plastered with heavy metal band posters, fantasy art, and assorted Renfaire props, and has a lousy job as a donut deliveryman. He USED to have a job at the Friendly Local Game Store until he got canned for being too obnoxious and opinionated. Oh, and he's convinced that Hollywood stole his movie idea for "The Matrix." Our protagonist... is an angry, immature, maladjusted nerd. His friends aren't much better. One member of his group discovers his marriage is falling apart because he doesn't spend enough time with his wife. The others lack wives and/or girlfriends entirely, and tolerate Scott's tyrannical gamemastering and overbearing attitude because... well... we never get much explanation for why they put up with this guy. We establish quickly that this whole group is a pretty sad bunch, and that the center of Scott's world is that for a few hours every Thursday, he gets to be God. After twenty minutes of this, I began to wonder precisely who this movie was aimed at. Who wants to see this? Ordinary folks would be saying "Yeesh, what an unlikeable nerdy bunch of people. Why are we watching this?" and gamers would be saying, as I was, "Yeesh, what a poisonous, unlikeable stereotyped nerdy jerk being abusive to his poor geeky friends. Why are we watching this?" The zit scene in particular made me feel like I was watching staged bumfights between children with Down's syndrome; it literally plays as if you're watching a date rape. ...but then, we introduce Miles (Garrett Graham), a likeable, well-adjusted individual with an interest in gaming, fantasy, comics, and so forth. He has a decent job, an EXTREMELY popular fantasy and gaming blog, and a gorgeous, sexually insatiable girlfriend. He's lighter, funnier, more pleasant, and far more interesting than Scott... and when Scott's social circle starts gravitating towards Miles at the same time Scott's relatives invade his home life and start making it into even more of a living hell, the movie really gets rolling. Regrettably, it grows even less pleasant and more uncomfortable as it goes. The movie is pitched as a comedy, but it ain't real funny. It's the story of a bunch of squalid clueless losers caught between a loud, obnoxious, maladjusted nerd and a much nicer seeming person who is ultimately no less of a jerk. And as a gamer and general nerd myself, it made me feel kind of nasty and unpleasant. I shouldn't want to take a shower after seeing a "comedy." Even a "black comedy." This is a flick that can't decide if it wants to make fun of its loser protagonist or not, but ultimately can't decide what to DO with him, either. In short, if you're not a gamer, this movie is rather squalid and unpleasant... and if you're a gamer, it's rather squalid, unpleasant, and INSULTING. Either way, it's frankly kind of depressing. Not recommended. I really hope "Knights of Badassdom" is a better experience...
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