Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Let It Be, Nerds. Let It Be.

Gentlemen, ladies, of all ages, races, and religion, when did nerd culture become stuck up its own ass?

For decades, centuries even, we were the outcasts. We weren’t accepted by popular society. Through movies and television by the other spectrum, the thespians, our image was relegated to stereotypes: skinny, short, large rimmed glasses, social outcasts with bad fashion senses, or the overweight 30 year old living in his parent’s basement playing World of Warcraft. While the world made fun of us, we ignored it. Let them have their silly visions. We knew the truth that these perceptions of geeks, nerds, and dweebs were far from the truth. And so we built a culture for ourselves. We were a haven for the unwanted, unknown, and unkempt. We were inclusive when the rest of the world wanted nothing to do with us.

And for a time, it was good.

Now the nerd empire is popular to today’s masses. Movies based off of comic books and tv shows from our youth. Video games have taken over as the most consumed entertainment medium. We live in a time where comic book stores were once dying, and now their businesses are reviving and thriving with new fans joining the circle. More people are interested in the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate. Game of Thrones would not be as popular as it is now if it weren’t for the nerd community at large.

So why, fellow nerds, are we so obsessed with kicking these people out? Because they are not ‘true nerds?’ Because they watched The Avengers movie but haven’t read the comics that follow their story from day one? Because their knowledge of a lightsaber is “that think Luke and that Vader guy use to fight?” Because they didn’t get picked on and harassed in school for being different from everyone else? Because they didn’t spend years being tormented by bullies for liking Spiderman comics, watching Star Trek, and reading Lord of the Rings?

Like it or not, popular culture is helping keep the nerd fandoms alive as difficult as that is to believe. I would argue that nerds have always been selectively inclusive. Most circles of the geek realm held to equality. It didn’t matter if you were male, female, transgender, black, green, blue, purple, whatever. You like Superman? Cool. I do too. Welcome to the club. Other sectors make you jump through hoops to verify that you are, indeed, a true fan. What is the speed ratio of the NCC-1701 flying into a wormhole when compared to a Klingon Bird of Prey K’vort class? Yes that was a Star Trek question. Yes, I have been asked that to prove my worth. And yes, I shook my head and walked away to talk to someone who lived in the real world. But for the most part, nerds and geeks welcomed everyone who was a fan.

This has been changing. Now there are rules, made-up laws that require everyone to show their worth before being accepted. You need to know this, this, and that just to get into the line. There are more questions at the door. If you’re not a straight white male, don’t even bother trying.

Why are nerds so defensive in their position now? You all may not realize this, but we needed the general public to be aware that these things called video games, manga, fantasy novels, that they exist and have fantastic stories waiting to be told. I can easily name a dozen stores across my region that would have gone out of business had comic book movies not become such a big deal over the past decade. Thank you Blade and Men in Black for starting a wonderful trend. The general public caring about what’s happening with Thor is a good thing. People are going out to the stores and buying products. They’re asking for more plot lines. They want to see the series continue, and artists are responding with more content. It’s fantastic! We shouldn’t be shunning these people for becoming fans because of the movies and tv shows. We should be embracing them. Join in on the fun! See what you have been missing all these years by poking fun at us…

But that’s the problem here, isn’t it? Nerds are trying to protect their culture because it’s now being consumed by the very people that harassed us. The jocks that gave us wedgies, the ‘mean girls’ that spread rumors about our sexuality, the isolation from everyone at school for not fitting in – it’s all too familiar for so many of us. Being a nerd and having this circle to go to gave us hope that the future would get better. And it has. And now those same people who use to pick no us, well they think we’re okay. They want to know what we know. They want to get involved in Captain America’s back-story ad find out why The Hulk has had 3 actors over 3 films. And we’re not happy with this. Why couldn’t you accept us back then when this wasn’t cool? Why did you insist on tormenting us at school, home, and work because we loved to speak like Yoda? And now you’re interested in our culture because it’s the hip thing?

I get it nerds. I really do. Like you all, I know it seems unfair that these people didn’t have to suffer through the same passage of life like us. They weren’t teased mercifully for liking Star Wars when everyone was into The Backstreet Boys. Okay as a young girl, this was my trauma, but hopefully you grasp the meaning from this. At the same time, by making up these unnecessary rules and regulations to keep people out, we’re becoming the bullies of our past and present. Why does it matter if someone’s interest in Thor started because of the movies? Who gives a crap, really? They want to read more! They want to get into the comic books! That’s a great thing! Who cares where their interest began. Think of the now. Think of the new blood we can bring into the nerd empire and our people will thrive for generations. Because if we keep up with these rules, if we continue to push back and be bullies to our former foes, our breed will die. Not only are we better then are tormenters and the popular people, we are not a group of 30-50 year old, balding, skinny or overweight, single white men. And if we are, we are destined for doom.

Nerds. It’s time to grow up. Accept people and their fandom for what they are. Else, no more Iron Man for you or the small future of fans that will cease to be if we don’t open the doors. Stop asking the questions. Stop forcing wristbands onto “fans” and stop harassing the misinformed. Let it be.

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