Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gentlemen Broncos

We are, those of us on the edge (or who've at least parked our Winnebagos on the viewing platform at the edge of the edge) in love of edginess. The tooth-sucking glory of America's "alternative," inheritors of the counter culture. This is usually defined as the arty, as an army dressed in black. Leftists, goths, the dominion of the pierced and freaks in general. Well, yeah. But there's another edge out there. An alternative to the alternative.

Defined as squares. Nerds, aging hippies who've turned to megachurch Christianity, sci-fi geeks, role play geeks, Mormons and the home school crowd. They're off the mainstream too.

Jared Hess' Gentlemen Broncos is a loveletter to this kind of weirdness. The interface of sci-fi geekdom and Utah quirky cultishness.

The story is, basically, a diversionary tactic. A nerd who's lost his father writes a touching, and touchingly bad, SF story where his father is the barely-disguised hero in a future dystopia that's a cross between Logan's Run and Buck Rogers. A cheesy popular SF writer with writer's block steals the kid's story at a nerd writers camp where the writer is the star attraction. Then he publishes the kid's work as his own. The nerd punches his former hero out. In the end, he wins because his mom (a quirkly ex-hippy turned Christian) has registered his story with the Writer's Guild.

That's the plot. But that's sorta like saying Napoleon Dynamite was about a high school election for class president. What it's really about are all those people that America considers uncool. Hess, in his own cool way, considers them cool. He gets into the molecular structure of their subcultures. He doesn't mock them so much as groove on them.

And that's pretty cool.

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