Sunday, January 5, 2014

Geek is Dead: part 1

"Geek culture" has been officially pronounced dead. Sadly, only the devout  have felt the disturbance and will recognize of it's passing into the Gray Wastes. How could this have happened? Who is to blame? Did it happen suddenly or pass from a slow, undiagnosed illness? The writing was on the wall and the final hour has arrived. What were the symptoms and more importantly, is there a cure?

Of course, after reading such a statement, you have the right to ask questions and dispute the proclamation.  You may ask, "Who made you king of the nerds?" Or you may say, "You must be really pretentious and elitist to claim the rights of and ownership of geek culture in order to make such a sweeping claim!"

But before you whip out your sonic screwdriver to prove who's is bigger....hear me out. Let's start with the fact that the term nerd culture even exists. Nerds, geeks and dorks were once words used to identity someone as a social outcast. It reflected someone who was intellectual and outside the mainstream with their interests in fantasy, sci-fi and hobbies. The insulting terms were all interchangeable,  lumped into a generalization that was intended to be derogatory.  But to be fair, we wore those terms like a badge of honor. The difference is that, now we have a "culture" that is not only considered socially acceptable, but it is part of the popular cultural norm....pop and nerd-culture, sharing a symbiotic relationship with the other.

Nowadays, you can enter any mall in America and purchase items that used to only be found at conventions....hats, shirts, mugs, wallets etc and they are all marketed for adults. In fact, the other day I saw a Deadpool t-shirt in men's section Wal-Mart. Deadpool is in Wal-Mart?! Allow that to sink in for a moment. Stores are flooded with products aimed at nerds, geeks and collectors who are not children. Is that a simple case of supply meeting the demand? Of course it is. There was always a demand for it though. But admittedly, the demand has never been so high. I can't tell you how many hipsters I've met who have donned the clothing for fashion with shirts that read "Geek is Chic" and " I Heart Nerds." Long ago, we once wore our nerd logos and crests to identify others of our tribe among the general horde. We took pride in our Spider-Man t-shirt that caused awkward glances, eye rolls and bullying. We suffered the fact we were outcasts for the solace we received when we encountered someone who gave you the head nod....that unspoken, "I'm with you brother. You are not alone." But the clothing and the items shouldn't and truly don't matter to someone who loves something. I love my daughter but I don't wear her image on a hat. That just comes from maturity. Some feel the need to identify themselves and label themselves as a defense mechanism in order to preempt someone doing it for them.

But wait a second, what is exactly the complaint? Doesn't this mean great and wonderful things will be in store for us? Wouldn't this mean the social acceptance of our passions lead to an acceptance of us as people for who we truly are? Doesn't the money machine keep rolling out box office and television hits that have actual quality, with good actors and story-telling? I still don't understand what the problem is.

To many, on the surface, it would appear that the geeks did inherit the Earth. We run the world in every way. But the geek culture is it's own separate entity. We convinced the world that the things we loved so very much, were not only cool, but also, the passions that they evoke are justified. So, is that how the acceptance happened? Is that how our passions became mainstream? The answer is no.

Simply put....We have been invaded. They realized that there was a party and that they were missing out. And like a loud and uninvited drunk they have crashed our party. They have entered our holy land (Comicon), they have distorted the history of our holy texts (comics and graphic novels) and these Skrulls, as I will be referring to them henceforth, have hidden themselves among our own people. Is this a social war? No....not yet. We need to convert them into our ranks. They have taken the first step toward accepting us in some form and now it is time to accept them. Because if we do not convert them, the consequence will be that they stay anyways.

=> Part 2 The Symptoms and The Cure

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