Not sure if you noticed, but years ago, there was a ‘big bang’ that occurred. It started small, unnoticed by the universe, but has evolved into something significant. The big bang happened sometime around Brian Singer’s X-men and the Star Wars prequels. My theory is that this big bang has resulted in a big boom of nerd culture. For example, I stopped by a clothing store today looking to buy a new backpack. I was excited to discover a ‘superhero’ section that was filled with t-shirts, wallets, stickers, jewelry, etc.. all adorned with DC and Marvel logos. I thought it was very cool and continued on in my quest to find the perfect backpack. My journey took me to the ‘large marts’ like Target and Walmart and of course, I found similar superhero inspired products filling their mainstream clothing racks. Nerd culture has definitely exploded at an exponential rate over the past few years. Take for example the top grossing films of all time. With the exception of Titanic, they can all be considered nerd genre films and they all have come out within the past few years:
- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
- Toy Story 3
- Alice In Wonderland
- The Dark Knight
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
To put this list into context, the next ‘non-nerdy’ film was The DaVinci Code at #36! Everything else was superhero, sci-fi, or fantasy inspired! Not sure if this recent pop culture boom was inspired from Hollywood or the other way around but a shift has definitely has occurred. Even this website was inspired by the San Diego Comic Con but there are now Cons all over the world, almost every weekend of the year. Hardcore nerds have to compete with the mainstream wanna-be-nerds to get coveted tickets to the San Diego Comic Con (Which is now sold out). Before, if you saw someone in a Green Lantern shirt, you knew they were the real deal. Now, you never know with the amount of nerd-wear that is so readily available. As a nerd since birth, this new bizarre reality is a dream come true…or is it? 10 years ago, I felt unique and different but now my nerd wear helps me fit in. Ironical. In the past, my circle of nerd friends took solace in our secret ‘nerd-speak’ among the crowds, but now there are more and more people who are fluent in our language.
Nerds are now main characters on TV shows instead of comedic plucky side-kicks like on The Big Bang Theory. Like this pic above, I’m afraid we are all starting to look the same. When will enough be enough? Will this new geek inspired trend suffer the same fate as the tech and economic bubble? It seems inevitable that the pop culture boom will collapse under it’s own immense weight someday. Will it reach a point when we are all sick of it all, causing the masses to reject geek culture and forcing nerds to return to the underground from which they came? In any culture, there are misfits in the fringes- who will be the misfits in a mainstream nerd culture? Who will be the nerds among the nerds? Once we recognize who the new nerds are, will we be able to accept them if they turn out to be skinny-jean hipster, Beiber-loving, Twilight fanatic? I don’t know the answer and I doubt anyone really does. If you really dwell on it, it’s a little disorienting. Nerdy girls are cute now, Comic Con is the hottest ticket in town, and everyone plays video games. The true misfits of today are the ones that are NOT on Twitter, haven’t seen the latest superhero flick, or doesn’t own a Iphone. Everything is backwards…or forwards…I dunno. It feels like a ‘temporal riff’ is occurring in my brain.
That’s why I am writing this rant. What do you think will be the outcome of this current prosperous nerd renaissance? Is what is occurring a good thing? Who will be the new nerd? Most importantly, how long will this new era last for? Your thoughts?