June 21, 2008

INTERNET STAR SPOTLIGHT: James Rolfe, a.k.a. The Angry Video Game Nerd

Welcome to my new series of posts: the Internet Star Spotlight. This series of posts will pay tribute to several Internet or YouTube stars who have entertained me, or affected me in ways never seen on TV or the movies.

And what better way to start this off with one of the- if not, the biggest Internet star today?: James Rolfe, a.k.a. The Angry Video Game Nerd.

But note, this article is not exactly geared for fans who probably already know everything written over here, but for people who don't actually know him still.

About 5 months ago, like every other teenager with a decent DSL connection looking for ways to kill time, I found YouTube to be a viable option for time-wasting. And when I went video surfing, I saw a title that caught my eye. It was named: Back to the Future by the Angry Nintendo Nerd. I was like, "Oh, I haven't seen Back to the Future for a bit of a long time!," and so I clicked it, and hey look! A nitpicky nerdy guy critiquing its video game version. How original.

But whatever, I had nothing to do and so I let it load and I watched it.

In the process of watching the video, however, I noticed something really weird: I was getting pulled in, I was laughing, I was getting entertained. I myself was surprised as to why I enjoying something I earlier dissed as unoriginal and amateur.

"Maybe it's the editing," I thought, "This guy'll probably suck in another video." And boy, I found a lot of Related Videos. But the one I clicked next was Top Gun, mainly because even though I never heard or watched the Tom Cruise movie, it sounded familiar.

And as you'd expect, I enjoyed that video yet again, and I let my skepticism and denial go. The rest, they say, is history.

Now, I've downloaded every single episode the Nerd has in his episode list, except the TMNT 3 episode but I'm gonna get on that. Right now, I'm gonna pay tribute to the Nerd who soothed my pain from the pressure of burning 5 discs each for 35 people in one day. I know it sounds pretty dumb and simple to do, but it's the pressure of deadlines. Nevertheless, I credit him for helping me get through that tough time. CAPTION: I've downloaded everything. Call me a fan.

Before "the Nerd"

James Rolfe was, and is still, an independent filmmaker with a fondness for horror movies.
Ever since his childhood, Rolfe says in his Cinemassacre 200 documentary, he has had a passion for filmmaking, and he has painstakingly tried ways aplenty on how to edit them since back then home video editing tools haven't sprung up to be great on the pocket of hobbyists.

But besides that, James Rolfe was an ordinary human like you and me.

A Joke
But in 2004, as a joke, he picked on the negative points of classic game Castlevannia 2 in an overexaggerated way. Same went for his Jekyl and Hyde review in which he "took it to the next level". He only showed it to close friends, and 2 years later, he put it up on YouTube. The rest is now history.

Basically, the Angry Video Game Nerd is a person who reviews bad games and gives a whole lot of emphasis on even the tiniest gripes, all the while cussing and ranting and shouting and drinking beer to soothe the pain. These characteristics have defined the characteristics of the Nerd, and frankly, I can't imagine watching an AVGN video without hearing him at least say the F word once.

But afterwards, to make a big "theatrical" finale, he does something to the bad game he reviews. It could go into the toaster, the Nerd could swallow some "oil" and turn a lighter on and spit on Rambo, or maybe it could get pooped upon. The list is endless, and ranges from the epic to the disgusting.

Unprecedented Popularity
He was the "Angry Nintendo Nerd", and now he's "The Angry Video Game Nerd" because he never expected the character to become as popular as it is now. And with popularity comes the rip-offs (there's one in particular that Irate-tates me) and the huge worldwide following spanning from the US to Korea to even the Philippines!

Why is he so popular?
I honestly don't know how the Nerd became so popular in two contrasting demographics namely, the baby-boomers of the 80's and the new generation of kids playing next-gen (of which I'm in). But maybe it's the fact that in at least one point of your life, you're gonna be playing at least 2 bad games. And boy, when you see the Nerd play bad games, it already looks too gruesome to watch. I mean, imagine how much suffering the Nerd had to experience by playing the game.

If you allow me to go all Paula on you now, it's like there's this connection between you and the Nerd while he's playing something because it's like your feeling his pain. It's all very surprising, really, because usually, when someone reviews a bad game (kinda like X-Play), you don't feel anything except being informed of something because it's too brief. The Nerd, however, takes his time with his reviews, and most of the time, they turn out to be both informative and entertaining.

And frankly, the Nerd probably doesn't think about editorial integrity first: he wants to draw the viewer into the video before the review, and that's where his real film skills come into play. Most notably in his Halloween specials, his cinematography skills are shown, while in the Super Mario Bros. 3 review, he puts his AfterEffects skills in full swing (aside from the other explosive videos like Die Hard).

Oh, and the swearing. Of course, if I said the F word to you right now, it probably wouldn't be as funny, but what about the Nerd's own concoctions like F**kfarts, F**kballs (which has T-shirts!) and lots more? Well, they may not appear funny on this post, but when the Nerd says it, it's just... right. Every foul word he says might as well fit every bad game he reviews, because, well, they're bad! And they're pretty catchy to be honest, especially since I caught myself saying "What a sh*tload of f**k" in more than one occasion.

3 years, and it's not stale
People will wonder why the Nerd's videos haven't gone stale yet. I mean, the average lifespan of a net show is probably a year or less, and that in itself is a considerable achievement.

But it attributes particularly to the Nerd's different styles of presentation in each and every episode. Every episode is unique and fresh, and so is the humor.

And the show's longevity might as well should've been credited to the makers of sh*tty games, because they're the ones who let the Nerd and his fans keep coming back for more- and what with more than 800 titles for the NES alone, the Nerd probably won't be leaving us anytime soon.

James Rolfe, the Filmmaker
There is another person outside the Nerd character, and that is his filmmaker side.

For years, James has been making films outside the Nerd character, and for an indie-web filmmaker, the quality of the videos are pretty impressive. The Deader The Better is one of his prides, and it's a pretty good homage to splatter effects of B-movies. I mean, yeah, there are some imperfections in the color grading, but the film mostly manages to make the look consistent and rather Sweeney Todd-like, albeit less artsy.

He even has some impressive stop-motion animation films, and some really funny points in his "You Know What's Bullsh*t?" series.
CAPTION: James' films are not for everyone.

Granted, James' films are not for everyone, but he has real potential. Plus, with his following, his streaming web movies will become instant hits.

My two cents on the Nostalgia Critic issue
I know it's fake, but were it real, I'd still rather not be involved in this. For one thing, the Critic has his good points and bad points, and likewise applies to the Nerd. That's all.

To sum everything up
There's that feeling of familiarity mixed with new, exciting prospects whenever I watch the show, and with that said, I'm not even a person who belongs in the NES generation, and that's why it's always so new and exciting. Looking forward to every new episode is always a guessing game. Will it be R.O.B.? How about E.T.? Yes, everything is unpredictable and fresh and that's just why I avidly support it.

Nerd, if you're reading this, I just wanna say, "Hello from the Philippines!"

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