Dateline: Wednesday, March 6
I post a series of tweets lamenting the fact that although there is an entire academic journal devoted to "Wheedon Studies," the same cannot be said for The Walking Dead. This series of tweets, in my estimation, is both clever but also a call to the academic people who follow to a serious contemplation of putting together a panel for an upcoming conference deadline. I get ZERO response to these tweets. I STILL find this unforgivable. Of course, I find the general lack of recognition of my clever brilliance unforgiveable. I'm hilarious, mofo's.
Later that evening, I receive a personal text from a former student who says he has a colleague who IS interested in this panel. We exchange several messages, which ends in me having the e-mail of said colleague.
Dateline: Thursday, March 7
I send the first message to SC (now shorthand for "Said Colleague"). Throughout the next 2 days we send a series of really fun e-mails consisting of the kind of high-minded and high-handed speculation about the theoretical and cultural implications of a show that regularly shows off new and more disgusting ways to destroy the brain pans of rotting human carcasses.
I believe I have finally found that elusive thing I have been striving for: A person as smart and and geeky as me with the same level of ridiculous attention to detail and the training to back this up with a massive vocabulary of philosophical terms. I begin to feel...Nerd-vana.
Also Dateline: Thursday, March 7
A fan produced podcast called "The Walker Stalkers" that I follow on twitter announces a contest that will "give away" a chance for 3 listeners to ask a question live, on the phone, with Norman Reedus who plays Daryl Dixon. This demonstrates one of the ridiculously detailed things SC and I have been talking about for our panel of academic papers about The Walking Dead. I send a link to the contest to SC as an example, with the label "THIS."
Yet Again Dateline: Thursday, March 7
I return home from an advanced readings discussion group after 9:00 pm. I decide to mock up an entry for the contest, because I'm not sleepy yet, but I am in no condition to do anything real...and it strikes me as funny. Did I mention that I think I am hilarious? The contest requires that entrants send in a "photo" of the entrant with Norman Reedus, and that this reflect the amount of "LOVE" (capitalization original) the fan has for him. I consider this carefully. I predict that the majority of these photos with be one of 4 kinds: 1) Actual photos of people with Norman at conventions, 2) Slightly vampy pictures of girls making "kissy-lips" and showing cleavage at some representation of Norman, 3) Images that photoshop Norman into "me in my house" or photoshop the entrant into "Norman at Norman's house," 4) pictures that include text about how simply the thought of Norman helped the person overcome their own tragic, zombie-themed illness.
I know I can do none of these, nor can SC and I beat any of these on face. So, I figure the only thing we might have going for us is that we are smart. I mean STUPID smart. So I construct a graphic with three tried and true ways of making STUPID smart work for us: 1) Compare our smarts to Norman's Cool. Obviously, there really isn't much comparison. Norman pwns us. 2) Make fun of the fact that pretty much anyone who is cool pwns us. Point out that we might be STUPID smart, but that we certainly are just stupid when it comes to cool, 3) Use words well, really well, funny-so-it-makes-you-chuckle-but-doesn'
Datline: Friday, March 8
I wake up, and start to consider what actually winning the contest might mean. And here's what it means to a couple people who are planning to write academic papers about The Walking Dead, and who are STUPID smart: Best Fucking Paper Introduction In the History Of Scholarship. There are several reasons why this might actually BE a BFPIITHOS: 1) If Norman were to give us a "good" quotation, it would be a really awesome attention-getter. 2) If Norman were to give us a "bad" quotation, it would be an equally awesome attention-getter. Either way, whatever the dude might say we are STUPID smart and we can make that shit work for us.
Now, 3) is going to get its own paragraph, because when this finally occurs to me, I'm set on this for good. I'm going to enter this contest. This is a paper about a media text and at least partly justified by it's effect on fans. WELL WELL WELL. Sweet fancy Moses! The entire premise of starting out your paper with an introduction you were able to score because you entered a contest with other fans, run through a fan-produced podcast in order to win a question with hands-down the most popular actor on the show? FUCK YEAH! That's like theory and practice rolled into a big fatty you can smoke right there. Heck, don't even smoke it! Just touch it for the contact high!
And 4) What IF...just WHAT IF we could get Reedus to answer a question that might actually have bearing on the theoretical apparatus we're floating? I mean c'mon! We're STUPID smart, right? What better test would there be for SC and I than trying to write a question that solicits an actor to talk about the nature of the thing we THINK we are STUPID smart enough to know about!? And the Nerd-vana turns into a Nerd-gasm.
Also Dateline: Friday, March 8
Now...I WANT TO WIN. But, even though I think I am pretty damn funny and the everyone should look at this graphic and vote me ONTO the island, I'm also STUPID smart enough to realize several things: 1) I am not actually that funny. My best jokes are completely esoteric bits of quotations taken from French continental philosophers that most people have never heard of, much less understood. I might think my graphic is funny, but nobody else in the world - probably not even SC - is going to vote for this thing because it is clever. 2) I did not show any cleavage. My cleavage has been surgically reduced, so it's not great cleavage anymore (which I am completely glad about), but still - even if it was...I didn't use any. The picture I used of SC also didn't show any cleavage, though he would probably have an even harder time producing any than I would. I'm fairly certain that lack of cleavage is a count against us. 3) No tragic, zombie-themed illness anywhere in sight. 4) SC and I look nothing like the vast majority of people rabid enough about Norman Reedus to try to win a live phone session with the guy. Not that there aren't rabid Norman Reedus fans who look like us, but most of those folks would be too embarrassed or old enough to avoid doing stuff like this - or else have something else going for them - like that are ACTUALLY funny, or...tragic zombie-themed illness.
Thus I come to the conclusion: If I want to win, I will need to engage in RHETORICAL MEANS in order to persuade people to go to this website and vote for our entry, once it's there. I will be unable to rely on the normal audience to vote me in. See above. Thus, I will have assemble a NEW AUDIENCE in order to make this happen. But guess what? I am STUPID smart, and I know a bunch of people who study social media for a living. Those folks are going to eat this up! All I need to do is enter into their streams of influence, talk it up the right way as an experiment in theory/practice...and I've tapped into a vast resource.
Yet Again Dateline: Friday, March 8
My campaign to re-constitute the audience for this contest begins. It just so happens that running concurrent to this whole set of shennanigans is the Society for Media and Cinema Studies conference in Chicago. Bwahahaha! I have friends there. They have friends there. These people implement social media to do...like...bunches of everything. I make strategic contacts and secure the agreement of several people to act as my injection points into the conference network of connections. With these people the following kinds of arguments are going to get me purchase (and enough gumption to get people to vote in this contest): 1) It's about the convergence of several media types: podcast, television, telephony, internet. 2) It's for research - they're scholars, too, afterall. 3) The media people are even more into the co-expression of theory/practice than I am as a rhetoric specialist. The idea that I'm DOING what I'm WRITING about is going to be just their kind of thing. 4) These are the people in my field most likely to also be fans of a show like The Walking Dead. 5) This is a fan thing. Media scholars are interested in fan things. 6) This is really pretty fucking cool. Media scholars like things that are pretty fucking cool. 7) If we actually got to ask the question, I'd be taking it DURING the Rhetorical Theory class I teach, so MY STUDENTS would get to be part of the whole thing. These people are also teachers, and teachers love this shit! I make several other connections to inject into other networks, including SC to tap into one of the most ultimate hidden resources of rabid fan-, nerd-, and geek-dom: High school and college debate teams. We are GOLDEN. Even if we don't win, we are going to make it a close race.
Dateline: Saturday, March 9
The deadline for the contest entry is midnight. At around 10 am or something, I tweet about entering the contest and being #InItToWinIt, and @mention The Walker Stalkers. They, to my surprise, tweet me back and remind me that I must enter via e-mail. I tweet back and assure them that I know, and am just waiting for some confirmation from SC. Just a hint: THIS WILL COME BACK TO HAUNT ME. Honestly, it was as if some cosmic narrator was writing it in as a foreshadow. I'll just say this: I HATE COSMIC NARRATORS WHO FORESHADOW ME. I also hate that I am tempted to believe that my arrogant hashtag doomed this entire enterprise.
Also Dateline: Saturday, March 9
I compose a thorough and chatty e-mail to The Walker Stalkers and attach our graphic. In it I have included a Larry-King worthy interview question. (Ok, maybe I'm overselling. Suck it. You've probably already guessed why.) At 7:51 pm CST I hit send. I check my sent mail and all appears well. I rub my palms maniacally together, and think about world/contest domination.
Dateline: Sunday, March 10
I awaken hungry with competitive edge. I am ready. My phone is charged to initiate injection in the streams of influence. Thundercats are go. At about 11:25 pm CST I see it: THE tweet from The Walker Stalkers that says the contest entry is online. I go to the URL to view our competition.
As expected, categories 1-3 are there. I don't see any stories of tragic zombie-related illnesses. I'm actually glad. I didn't really want anyone to suffer. But, WE ARE NOT THERE. Nope, no second page.
Well, I figure, they were probably swamped with entries and we didn't make the cut. There was no cleavage, afterall. And our question may have simply been rejected outright as too heady. We STUPID smart people like to comfort ourselves that our genius is misunderstood - ya know, because it helps get through those cold, lonely nights when we are reading Freud on the couch with our cats instead of getting laid.
To notify the streams of minions who had awaited my call to action like Saurman's Uruk Hai ready for battle, I sent the tweet to retreat. I @mentioned The Walker Stalkers in the tweet, and apologized to the minions that we had been cut from the competition for #TeamReedusInterview.
Now, before you think that fate was DONE fucking with me just wait. Because, no - you see, it turned out that The Walker Stalkers saw my tweet. The tweeted back. And ONLY THEN was the devastation complete.
The e-mail containing our contest entry...the set of electronic impulses that was to start the grand design of contest domination...WAS NEVER DELIVERED. That's right. My sent mailbox LIED.
There were a few more tweets exchanged and a search made for any sign of our entry, but...none were to be found. The starting point for the grandest of grand schemes to manipulate a contest for dual research purposes (the voting itself and the hopefully an answer to our question) had died another anonymous death in that "series of tubes" that Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens had warned us about. It was dissimulated in the ether. Never would the regular audience of The Walker Stalkers have a chance to read my clever graphic and reject it as not actually that clever. Never would I have a chance to gauge whether a bunch of scheming, geeky academics could overcome cleavage appeal. No...it was not meant to be. It turns out that STUPID smart can just be plain stupid.
But, we already knew that.
( In which moments happen. )
And, why is there a mood for "exanimate" (how many people know what that means w/o looking it up? I mean, I got a near-perfect score on my GRE language test and I don't), but not for something like "foolish". That's just foolish.
>>"Fans aren't the only ones who want to see Daryl and Carol become a couple on The Walking Dead.
>>Norman Reedus, who plays the bow and arrow-wielding hero, said the love connection should happen between his character and that of Melissa McBride's - with a few addenda.
>>'I want to play it with no game,' Reedus, 44, said at an Academy of Television Arts & Sciences panel Tuesday in North Hollywood. 'I want her to make the first move, and I kind of just whimper.'"
Why yes. That would be super awesome with me.