5 Classic Geek Debates (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.
"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 answeredBlade 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.
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?"
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.
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.
"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): theEnterprise 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Best Zombie Weapon
The best zombie weapon is one of the eternal nerd questions. It's equal parts fantastic and pointless -- even if it was based in reality and wasn't an obvious daydream about being a sociopath, fantasizing about the best weapon during a zombie outbreak is like picturing your best possible underwear during an orgy. They might be briefly useful, but most of the time your attention is going to be spent on other things.
"AND I WON'T BE THE WORST THING YOU'LL SEE AT EITHER!"
I've already explained why the most popular choices are wrong. Guns are useless unless you're carrying enough ammunition to build a castle to sleep in. Melee weapons are worse, because you can't dismantle an undead body with a crowbar without it at least slightly damaging your living (and infinitely more vulnerable) body. So now you're either infected or that fatal bit slower for the next attack.
Easy Answer: Lightsaber
To finish this unkillable debate once and for all: The best anti-zombie weapon is the lightsaber. Light, portable, near-silent, apparently infinitely powered, and never again will there be a single second's bullshit of frantically shaking padlocks/chains/handles/keypads while the hordes close in. It's the ultimate combination of lock pick and can opener.
In fact, zombies are the only enemy on which the lightsaber would actually work as a weapon. It would take real enemies one fight before they started using shotguns, flamethrowers, or more-than-one-person-firing-simultaneously.
"Thanks for not building a hidden blaster into the hilt that would instantly kill me."
With the unlearning undead, you can spin and carve through the hordes with total impunity. It even works to amputate and cauterize infected limbs. In fact, it's the only way to hack up infectious-fluid-filled meatbags at close range that isn't insane.
And don't give me any shit about it not being a real weapon. We're fighting zombies! If we're allowed to ignore enough laws of physics and biology to have zombies shambling around, a little bit of energy projection is nothing. Hell, thermodynamics will loan me that much energy just to clean up this appallingly impossible undead mess.
Superman vs Batman
Superman versus anyone is always fun, and always Superman. Superman versus Hulk? Hulk can match him for strength, but he can't fly, so just fling him into space. Superman versus Thor? If anyone is worthy to lift Mjolnir, Superman is worthy to lift Mjolnir, and we're back to Superman. Superman is the best. Which is why everyone loves it when Batman belts him right in the kisser.
Seriously, right in the Kryptonian kisser.
Superman versus Batman is a conflict we've already enjoyed, but this time we're not talking about story potential or effects on continuity. The question is: who would win in a fight?
Easy Answer: Superman
Obviously. Obviously. The reason all the arguments about Batman winning are so cool is that it's impossible but he's going to try anyway. Even his most awesome victory ...
RIGHT. IN. THE. KISSER.
... is only because Superman agrees not to kill him from space, meets him exactly where Batman politely asks, agrees not to kill him from space, gives Batman the first five shots for free, agrees not to kill him from space, and has recently lost most of his power in a little spot of saving the world from a nuclear mega-warhead. And even then he lets Batman beat himself to death while thumping Superman, then stands up as if to say, "OK, got that out of your system?"
When someone can literally kill you as soon as he looks at you, your only hope is to murder him before he even knows you're there. And since neither of them will kill, that's it for Bats. Superman could cauterize Bat's limbs off and dump him in a vat of life-sustaining bio gel before Batman could reach his first pouch.
That's the point of Batman, being able to have a go no matter how impossible the challenge. And that's the point of Superman, NOT instantly killing anyone who becomes a problem. Their ideologies are captured by (and are guaranteed to result in) this ass-kicking. That's why they'll keep fighting, and that's why they'll keep coming up with awesome new ways for Bruce to beat back the invincible, and that's why it'll keep being awesome despite being an obvious conclusion. Because the point of all these questions is the fun debate, not a definite answer.
Luke will answer any and every nerdy A vs B question on Twitter. If you have another argument for one of the above, he'd love to hear it! Enjoy more nerd conflicts with 6 Ways Iron Man Is Objectively Better Than Batman and The 6 Geekiest Sex Toys.
Luke unleashes Lovecraftian horrors on his website, tumbles, and will counter any arguments about the above on Twitter.