Nerd culture is booming.
Every couple of months, we get a new big-budget SciFi movie in theaters. “Doctor Who” has become a household show and Harry Potter has its own theme park.
Nowadays, it’s cool to be a nerd.
Never seen “Star Wars?” You’re an outcast. Think “The Princess Bride” is overrated? Shut the front door when you leave. You don’t know every single Mandarin swear word used in “Firefly?” How dare you call yourself a Brown Coat. Never played Halo? You loser!
The coolest people today are the ones who watch every episode of “Sherlock.” The coolest parents are the ones who play Pokemon with their kids.
I am old enough to remember when this wasn’t cool. Carrying around a comic book in my elementary school could leave a student with a black eye. Mentioning Captain America as your favorite superhero in middle school would end in a week-long shunning. In high school, it started to change. I first noticed it around the fourth Harry Potter movie. All the cool kids went to the midnight showing. It was incredibly unusual.
You’d think that self-proclaimed nerds my age and older would enjoy this surge of popularity. We get high budget movies and books out the wazoo. We have tons and tons of TV to stream on the Internet.
There has never been a better time to be a nerd.
Yet, I often hear my friends put up a fight to the new crop of nerdlings we’re seeing. According to my friends, these baby nerds are simply jumping on the bandwagon. They aren’t true fans. They don’t deserve to call themselves nerds. We, the people who lived the stereotypical nerd life in school, have turned into the very bullies that used to torture us in the school hallways.
Why on earth would we want to exclude more people from joining our ranks? Most of us know how it feels to be excluded. We understand the deep pain that comes from being ignored, or worse, targeted. It seems so counterintuitive that we don’t want more people to fall in love with our fandoms.
Take the Pokemon “Genwunners.” The Genwunners are a group of people who firmly believe that only the first generation of Pokemon — the 151 Pokemon that were invented for the first wave of games — are worthy of any sort of praise. They feel that the later generations do not measure up and are, in a way, impure sellouts.
Head over to any Pokemon chat board, and you’re sure to find many people criticizing all new generations because only the first matters. People who got involved in the Pokemon universe after the second generation are simply wannabe nerds. They don’t really understand Pokemon. I cannot express to you how frustrating I find this mindset. There is nothing wrong with having a favorite generation, nor is there anything wrong with disliking another. But when another person becomes exiled because of a fan’s fanaticism, there is something very wrong.
Another fandom that is guilty of this is the ever noted Trekkies. I enjoy Star Trek. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood involve watching Captain Janeway and Captain Picard with my mother. However, I have not seen all the episodes. I do not know a word of Klingon. Were I to attend a convention and announce myself as a Trekkie, I would be willing to bet that half or so of the other Trekkies would call me a poser after hearing that I’ve never seen the animated Star Trek, or that I’ve never read any of the novels. Is it not enough that I enjoy the series?
Must I have every single line memorized and write my thesis in Klingon to be a true Trekkie?
There is one fandom that I think a lot of others can take a page from: “Bronies.”
Bear with me now, I know that this article just stepped into a storm of controversy. For those of you who do not know, Bronies are the adult — usually male — fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” I got into FiM after seeing a new section, “My Little Brony,” just for pony memes on Memebase.com. I was curious. After a few episodes, I was hooked. The show is well animated, well voiced and well written. It makes me smile and feel happy. I’ve come to identify with the main — or “mane” — characters. I am a Brony.
The one thing that convinced me to give FiM a try over say, Supernatural, was the fandom I witnessed on the internet. Bronies were about friendship and love.
Take for example My Little Brony’s contest they held last year. There were polls to elect everything from the best meme to the cutest. There was even a poll for the best troll.
Yes, the Bronies not only included those who hated them, but celebrated the haters. Bronies are not about exclusion, they are about inclusion. Bronies don’t care whether or not you can name all of the background ponies or know all the songs by heart. The fandom is all inclusive; we’re happy just to have you.
We nerds do not have to fight with one another to continue being nerds. I know that the newfound genre popularity in pop-culture is strange, but we should be celebrating it, not condemning it.
After all, look what being part of pop-culture has brought us. The Avengers movie would never have had the budget it did if it weren’t going to sell well. The Pokemon games would not still be going strong either. We probably would still be stuck with 8-bit graphics had gaming not become mainstream.
At the very least, we should be thanking these newbies for bringing our fandoms to the front of culture. If anything, we should be excited to share our fandoms with new people.
Kjerstine Trooien is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]