People who know me personally are well aware of the fact that my interest would be considered, by colloquial definition, “nerdy.” I grew up during the 90s at the start of the anime boom, latching on to manga and video games like many others my age.
Later in life, to complement my interests in anime, manga, video games and superhero films, I discovered tokusatsu when fan-subbing, where fans translate shows and movies from other countries, became more prevalent.
I don’t avidly plunk down thousands upon thousands of dollars into memorabilia and merchandise. I acknowledge the various criticisms of the various films and series of which I partake, like how anime and manga tend to tell the same kinds of stories from series to series, or how the storylines of a lot of popular video games sound like they were written by high school students taking a creative writing course for the first time.
Fortunately, I can take a joke that’s made at the expense of the things I enjoy, a skill that is sadly being under-utilized, if not downright bred, out of future generations. Much of this is made worse by what is now being touted as “geek culture” by the mainstream media.
Merriam-Webster defines the word as a noun meaning a person who’s socially awkward and unpopular.
Secondary definitions denote the person’s intelligence, expertise or high levels of enthusiasm for an activity or field of interest.
In the past, many people kept these interests to themselves or revealed it in very limited ways because of the inherent cruelties of the schoolyard. However, thanks to the advent of the internet, more and more people are able to share their interests with others from the comfort and safety of their own homes, allowing for many of these communities to flourish in what is now known as “fandoms.”
Herein lies the paradox of “Geek Culture” if we are to apply the aforementioned definition of “geek.” Part of that definition relies on the person’s social ineptitude, implying that they are outside of the parameters of what would be considered “normal” in a community.
However, now that these people, who were once outsiders, have a community to call their own, does that render the term “geek” erroneous and irrelevant? On top of that, does the mainstream media embracing the geek aesthetic render that aesthetic as part of the societal norm?
Such questions can be debated endlessly, so allow me to close this article by opening the floor to reader input. If you have an opinion on the topic, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Geek Culture Paradox” in the subject line or leave a comment on the article at globeslcc.com. I will respond to your opinions in a follow-up installment of The Weekly Reel.