Wired.com recently posted an article by Patton Oswalt. It has the controversial title of “Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die.” As we head into the eye of the storm of Geekdom, it is an article that needs to be written. What is discussed needs to be brought up when there are girls who are going to Comic Con just to ogle Ryan Reynolds and The Dark Knight winning Academy Awards.
It might be hard to justify this article. Yes, it involves comic books, but it is also about the culture of comic books in general, as well as the whole of Geek (or Pop) Culture. I feel like I want to spend the time to respond to it because of my experience at Comic Con this year. As a nerd, I don’t know why I should be able to have a good and long conversation with Joe Quesada or Geoff Johns because fans should surround them like locus. But now, it’s more about trying to find Olivia Wilde or David Boreanaz than any of the comic book creators.
There has been a heaping helping of responses to this article. Looking at Oswalt’s Twitter page, it is just a series of links about what people are saying about it. The arguments are as follows:
Patton Oswalt: Mainly because of the Internet, nothing is niche anymore and being niche is the core of Geekdom. Real Housewives is as obsessed about as Lost. We need to destroy Geekdom so it can be rebuilt to what it was.
Most everyone else: No wait, there are all these other things that are secret. Geekdom has never been better. PS. You’re just an old man, Patton.
Anyone who is a nerd or a geek knows that something is wrong if saying that you write a blog about comic books can get you attention. I’ve gotten dates because of Four Colors and I’ve known my whole 24 years of life that that isn’t the way things should be.
I think the main problem with Geek culture is the same as the main problem with my generation as a whole. We aren’t bringing anything to the table. If you look at the work being produced by and for this upcoming generation, it is just a construct of everything that has come before.
What’s one of the hip new music trends? 8 bit music remixes from old Nintendo games.
Hot Topic is filled with screened t-shirts about The Goonies. If a nerdy show isn’t a re-make of something old, then it is basically a quote wall of 70s and 80s pop culture.
Youtube is one of the greatest innovations of our time and we’re using it for dick jokes and piecing together old Nicolas Cage movies. As Oswalt says “Why create anything new when there’s a mountain of freshly excavated pop culture to recut, repurpose, and manipulate on your iMovie?”
Oswalt uses a term called Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever. He cries out about the fact that we can now download Monty Python when just a decade ago, it was a sought after treasure.
Nerds are all about segregation. The outside world has not been kind to us, so we tend to remain in our protective bubbles with our like-minded friends. The responses that are popping up online are about the strength of Geekdom. Every post is littered with references to even more obscure groups and items.
Being a nerd has long been like the Jim Crow South. Granted, there is no call for a genuine comparison to the various racial segregation that have occurred in our shared history, but it lays out a good framework. We go to the same places, eat at the same restaurants, but we do not live in the same worlds.
What us nerds and geeks are not recognizing is that there are invaders in our lands and they control our destiny. The guys who would’ve beat on us a few years ago now have a say in what they want to see in our world. They can change the direction of Green Lantern or Dark Knight Rises. That is what needs to be addressed, but there is too much joy about our new-found acceptance.
In hyperbolic fashion, Oswalt declares that we need to bring about an A-Pop-alypse, in which we destroy everything that constitutes nerd culture so that we can rebuild our once precious lands. It does take the fun out of things when I can freely speak about who my favorite Doctor is with people who have never even heard of Doctor Who (it’s David Tennant by the way, though Peter Davison from the classic run is up there, as is the current Doctor, Matt Smith). I had to apologize to my girlfriend at the time for having a nerd-gasm of the new status-quo of Marvel after Secret Invasion and that’s the way it should be.
I would like the acceptance we have to continue, but the fashion in which it is happening is not how it should be done. To harp on a point that Oswalt brings up a few times, the pool is being diluted with every new web page about every obscure sci-fi tidbit. And with that diluting, the true meaning of the words “nerd” and “geek” are going to be lost. That’s the danger of Etewaf and the new found lover of Geekdom. It’s going to become a trend and as every Justin Beiber fan is going to realize in the near future, all trends come to an end.
So where do you stand? Go to Patton Oswalt’s Twitter and find some of the responses to the article. Trying times are ahead of us, nerds and geeks. Be prepared.