“We’ll be fighting in the streets, with our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone, and the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong.”
“Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who
If you know these words, chances are you’re a nerd. A milquetoast. A milksop. A dork. A poindexter. You enjoy your ability to remember minor details; in fact, you revel in it. Maybe you watched Freaks and Geeks and recognized yourself in some of the characters. Perhaps your go-to nerd crush in the 90s was Darla, 7 of 9, Jean-Luc Picard, or more recently, Legolas. It’s okay. We won’t judge (unlike Maxim). You watched Eureka, X-Files, and found 3rd Rock From the Sun amusing for the characters’ social awkwardness and alienation. I get it. I’m a nerd. I know all the plot points and characters in Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who (new and old), and what I don’t know, I can (re)discover on Wookiepeedia, Memory Alpha, or the TARDIS Data Core.
But hold on one gosh-darn cotton-picking minute there, pardner. I ain’t no geekifying nerd!
Chances are, you are. Memorizing baseball stats? NFL junkie? Fantasy Football? That’s just Dungeons & Dragons for sports-fans. Think about the fields you follow and the ones you have detailed knowledge about. You can be a nerd or a geek about just about anything. I’ve worked in construction. Ever seen a structural engineer or architectural student get a mind-boner about TIR? Read about it here and gasp that you don’t get your internal organs microwaved at work every time you walk past a window. I get the same kind of mind-boner looking at power tools in Home Depot. Along with being a sci-fi nerd, I’m a carpentry nerd. It appeals to my maths and physics brainmeats. That sweaty asshole who turns up in a pick-up truck with a giant steel box of tools? They can probably do advanced geometric calculus, statistical analysis, and Euclidean geometry in the shower. I’m a music nerd of both kinds, meaning that I make and collect music. I’m a comic book nerd; I read, write, and draw comics. I’m an art nerd. I love cinema. These are all things I geek out about.
About a year ago, Techcitement ran a similar piece about geekery, called “When Did Geeks Get Cool?”, and It didn’t really give a cogent answer to the question, but I think I can: 1989. When Bill Hicks stood up and climbed out of the intellectual closet, things changed for geeks.
And because you can’t have enough Bill Hicks, here’s his rip on Jay Leno and advertising (caution, NSFW) from around 1990 that’s — shockingly — still valid nowadays.
Over the last 25 years, we’ve seen the rise of the geek, the people who get excited about things are getting more people excited about the same geeky joys. Bill Hicks was excited about literature, and he had a clear disgust and disdain of advertising and commercialism. Bill Gates was excited about technology, software, and now charity. Steve Jobs was excited about progressive miniaturization of the technology experience and pushing every other manufacturer on Earth to make more exciting products. Could you imagine a decade ago that we’d have a Retina display tablet or a computer screen made out of water? These things are happening, and they’re worth geeking out about.
Okay, maybe not that much or you’d never get anything done, other than stacking cups.
What has been happening over the last decade, though, is that marketers have been watching who gets excited and what excites you. More and more blockbuster movies and computer games are announced at San Diego Comic-Con. More movies are based on comic books. You’d be shocked, unless that’s your geek-spot. Here’s a few for 2013:
- Iron Man 3
- Kick-Ass 2
- Bullet To The Head
- Superman: Man of Steel
- The Wolverine
- Red 2
- Thor: The Dark World
- Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
That’s about $150 of your annual entertainment budget right there, if you went to see all of these alone. And you probably will.
So, comics are cool. Movies based on comics are cool. If you’ve ever seen The IT Crowd or Spaced (both available on Netflix streaming at the links, you lucky, lucky bastards), you’ve already seen a crowd of social misfits consistently referencing pop-culture, social media, comics, and media. You might even own a “Bacon Is A Vegetable” T-shirt, available from Diesel Sweeties, a webcomic. You should probably own it anyway, after seeing it on Top Chef.