5 Classic Geek Debates That Were Settled a Long Time Ago

The Internet is an infinite playground filled with imagination, joy, and childish assholes screaming at each other. The freedom of online discussion has elevated nerd arguments into an art form. But, just like modern art, there are still too many psychopaths flinging shit and screaming under the assumption that it's all as important as real thought.

Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
"THIS IS A POST-DECONSTRUCTIONIST MASTERPIECE OF HOW FLUTTERSHY IS THE SEXIEST PONY!"

Two people arguing over which is the coolest Doctor aren't losers, because they're both doing something they enjoy. They have all the advantages of football fandom with far more source material, a much wider variety of pitches, and the entertaining advantage that their hobby doesn't continually cripple people.

Ridley Scott recently answered Blade Runner's eternal question of whether Deckard is a replicant. And if you don't want to know the answer, then whatever you do, don't remember that he thinks he's a human in a sci-fi movie entirely and only about how replicants can pass as human. And as Cracked's nerdiest nerd -- I not only understand questions like "How did Pacific Rim's Kaidonovskys survive?" but have strong feelings about them and provide multiple answers -- I've found five more eternal nerd questions with definite answers.

#5. Star Destroyer vs Enterprise

With the ridicuzillions of stars in the universe you'd think there would be enough to both trek to and war over, but no. Star Destroyer versus Enterprise has been the iconic nerd battle since we looked at the Enterprise's wonderful mission to find new life beyond the stars and asked, "Yeah, but how good are you at blowing shit up?"

Paramount
Excellent at blowing shit up, pretty terrible at password choice.

The Star Destroyer redefined science-fiction cinema. Its first appearance taught us that far above the sky there is the awesomeness of space, and far above that there's an even cooler and larger spaceship.

LucasArts
Looming so hard, gravity is too scared to crash it.

The Enterprise is the image of advanced technology, humanity's best using its most advanced knowledge to learn even more. The Star Destroyer is the embodiment of irresistible bureaucracy: only an empire could afford to build something so insanely huge, and it's unstoppable despite being staffed with people so eminently replaceable that murdering the captain is how you add exclamation points to internal memos.

The resulting battle isn't just an action scene, it's an ideological debate. People have spent decades working out every possible angle of the conflict, from military tactics to technological interactions to raw energy outputs painstakingly extracted from freeze-frames of the source material.

Easy Answer: Enterprise

If your enemy has transporter technology and you don't, winning isn't one of your options. You get to choose between surrendering, exploding, or choking in space. Darth Vader can asphyxiate someone by raising his arm. Transporter Chief O'Brien can do the same thing by raising a few fingers and beaming them into space.

Paramount
"You spent how long training to choke people from a foot away?"

The Star Wars universe has never even heard of transporter technology, and so wouldn't have any defense against it. The Enterprise doesn't even need to beam photon torpedoes onto the Destroyer -- just remove any one of the million things the Destroyer needs to prevent itself from exploding and you're done. The movies established that Imperial technology is shorter-lived than Stormtrooper armor with a red undershirt.

Narratively, things are even worse for the Empire. The answer is in the "the" (and the italics reserved for proper craft names): the Enterprise is a named hero, while Star Destroyers are nameless minions. Not one in the movies has a title or a victory. Named hero versus minion only ever goes one way.

(Consolation prize: the Star Destroyer hasn't been in nearly as many terrible movies.)

#4. Sega vs Nintendo

In the '80s, Sega versus Nintendo was the Sharks versus the Jets, but on school playgrounds, and with even less convincing physical violence.

Todd Wright/Blend Images/Getty Images
But similarly based on making lots of noise.

We loved them no matter how cruelly or often they killed us every night. This was back when liking video games was less socially acceptable than stealing panties, which at least demonstrated physical ability, interest in sex, and several possible career skills. But instead of getting together to discuss games, Genesis and SNES kids would mock each other's almost identical passions. It's the purest example of capitalism fueling conflict among minorities who really should have been working together against wider social problems.

Easy Answer: Nintendo

Sega would go on to release more failed machines than a Skynet factory, and they were even less popular with the end users. The Sega CD, 32X, Saturn: they couldn't have eliminated childish joy faster if they'd released a cerebral bore trying to get your credit card number.

SEGA
Pros: looked a bit like Knight Rider. Cons: everything else.

I was a Nintendo fanboy, and I used to say that Nintendo could release a console that only they made games for and still succeed. I wasn't expecting them to actually test the theory, but with the Wii they've done exactly that. And made zillions of dollars. They're making so much money from so few intellectual properties, they threw the best one away just to show that they could. To say nothing of their terminal ignorance of F-Zero.

As kids we couldn't even dream of Mario and Sonic on the same console. Now we have Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games on the Wii.

SEGA
Our powers combine! To make something even worse than watching luge!

That's not just Sonic working with Mario -- that's Sonic crashing on Mario's couch because he's got nowhere else to go.

#3. Is Cobb Awake at the End of Inception?

The ending of Inception could have annoyed more people only if Dominic Cobb had spawned a mafia family, gone to a restaurant, and it suddenly cut to black. The movie ends with Cobb finally returning home to see his children. When he spins his totem top to find out if he's truly awake or trapped in a wonderful dream, he walks off to see his children without waiting to find out. And lo, the Internet went crazy.

Warner Bros
It got less attention back when it flew over Roswell.

Is he awake? Is he still dreaming? People went to insane lengths, like tracking down the movie's costume director, to find out if the children are wearing the same clothes as in previous dream sequences.

Easy Answer: Awake

This answer has multiple levels, and is therefore perfect for the movie. The first level is that we're not meant to know for sure whether he's awake or not. But the Internet reacts to ambiguity the same way Star Trek computers react to ambiguity -- screeching and violent explosions. The second level -- from the director himself -- is that the real answer is that Cobb doesn't care anymore; he just wants to see his kids. But that's garbage. If he truly cares about his kids, it's even more important that he knows that he's awake, otherwise those aren't his kids. And if he's prepared to accept a dream, he should have done that back before he manslaughtered his wife by mind-abusing her until she committed suicide. Oh, and watching her go insane for months without going back into her dreams to fix his spiritual sabotage, which is his only skill -- Jesus, Cobb.

Luckily, we can go deeper, and on the third level he's obviously awake. The camera cuts away just as the top starts to wobble. Which means he's awake! In the dreams, that top spins like a laser-aligned black hole. It won't stop before the universe ends or the dreamer dies, that being its exact described function. When we see it in a definite dream (you know, when he violates his wife's brain without her knowledge or consent), it spins perfectly.

Warner Bros
Of course, this theory ignores how it's really all about a dream about filmmaking on the holodeck.

So if it wobbles, he's awake. Easy. This theory is less about the mysteries of the movie and more about the effects of the Internet on people's intelligence. It's no longer enough to work out an answer -- they want to be told an answer from a definite source. But the whole point of the brain is working things out, not just referencing sources. Referencing sources is the Internet's job, not ours.

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Luke McKinney

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