Friday, June 28, 2013

Nerd Culture

Throne of Nerds 7
Throne of Nerds
Photo credit: Shawn DeWolfe
A friend suggested that I write about nerd culture, and the puzzle is figuring out exactly what that is. And where it ends and begins. Pretty much, we can agree that nerdiness/geekiness has to do with an obsessive interest in something. Yet when people obsess over The Sopranos or Mad Men, it's not considered nerdy in the same way that analyzing Buffy the Vampire Slayer is. And what about Game of Thrones? It's clearly fantasy, but EVERYONE is into it, even if they don't know a sword from a mace.

I don't think we can just say that Buffy is fantasy/sci fi and Mad Men isn't. I think it's that nerd culture has bled into popular culture. The geeks have inherited the earth. Now everyone is obsessive about what they love. It's a socially acceptable behavior now.

And of course, it's much more acceptable for people to be into science fiction and fantasy and gaming. It's gotten so that no one goes to ComicCon anymore because it's so damn crowded.

But what does it all mean?

As much as I love that Hollywood has been pandering to me, all these comic book movies have ultimately been bad for movies. There aren't enough movies without superheroes, and even though 50+% of gamers and sci fans are women, whenever a movie that isn't explicitly aimed at teenaged boys does well at the box office, the media falls over itself in shock that women still go to the movies. And then no one takes any chances on girl movies because superhero movies are a sure thing. Unless they flop, but no one talks about those.

This is probably why we have such great TV these days. More chances to take risks, and less targeting fifteen year old boys. Hence all the naked men on True Blood. Not that I think actors should be doing that much nudity as a routine part of their careers, but most of us do prefer sex to violence.

Nerd culture won't be in style forever, and that's as it should be. There are parts of it that can't die fast enough. Like the hierarchies. In every group, of every type of nerd, there's someone who starts spouting off to prove how smart they are. I've spent many indie pop concerts having to listen to some music nerd (who may have come alone) talking to everyone within earshot with the sole goal of proving that he knows more about indie pop music than everyone else there. 

Where is my medal for not punching these guys?

And the rush to say something clever about a show while the episode is still being broadcast. Jesus Fucking Christ, your comment about Jamie Lannister getting his hand cut off was not actually witty and now you just spoiled the big surprise for all your Facebook friends. It would be one thing if people did this in the spirit of OMG, I just saw this amazing thing and I want to discuss it with other people who just saw it. But no, they just thought of something clever and simply had to share it before stopping to check that it actually was clever. The rush to the top of the nerd heap is undignified, yo.

When nerd culture makes way for the next big thing, it'll still be around. And I hope that the rest of the culture will have a better understanding of it. Like the existence of nerd girls. The whole stereotype that fan boys don't get laid? Um hello? Fan girls here, totally into Star Wars and totally willing to bang fan boys.

Though not necessarily willing to wear a gold bikini.

What are your thoughts on nerd culture?

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