I am a self professed nerd. This should be fairly obvious from the stuff I've written before, whether that be over analysing trailers, explaining every detail of minor superheroes or singing the praises of a Japanese children's TV show. Some years ago, in the recent past, it could be argued that there was a stigma against people who enjoyed things that were considered in the realm of geekdom. Cartoons, comics, games both video and card based, collectibles and vintage/retro stuff were all considered stupid at various points. But the 2010's have allowed the world of the nerd to come front and centre, where the things nerdy kids grew up loving have somehow been allowed to be the biggest industries and franchises in the world.
This is both incredible and horrible. But why?
Genuinely Good Multimedia
Predictability and Insult of Intelligence
And honestly, trailers and promo material these days is getting so out of hand people have to consciously AVOID the very material that is intended to get us excited for stuff. Most recently, the trailers for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse have given away some or even ALL of their crowd pleasing surprises in an effort to guarantee more ticket pre-orders. The ever-clutching hand of capitalism has allowed this to happen in the video game space as well, with sections of a game getting cut into chunks and served to different companies or hidden behind paywalls in order to taunt fans who want to experience the whole game with an often undeserved price tag. These decisions just seek to insult the intelligence of the fandom, who often can see right past it, but are still somehow so blinded by dedication that they pony up the money for these companies for those brief minutes of distraction.
But then you get fandoms who go too far and get too dedicated, who then start violently lashing out at people who have done little to deserve it. The fandom for the excellent game Undertale are the most recent offenders, creating a vitriolic following on sites like Tumblr (No surprises there) and YouTube. In one case, popular games commentator Markiplier had to stop playing Undertale and stop enjoying the game because the fanboy backlash has too severe, who threatened the video creator because he was 'playing it wrong', apparently. There was no emotional separation of the fans enjoyment and a personality's enjoyment of the game, which immediately lead to death threats, because we're just that fucking stupid nowadays, I guess. I'm all for calling out something or someone bad when that thing is undeniably bad, like MLM schemes or bad movies, but threatening to kill a man because he didn't play an open-ended, multi-choice game the exact way that you wanted it to be played is infantile, idiotic and clear signifier that this culture needs to die before it gets too powerful.
Geek Chic and Nerd Blackface
The thing about the nerds of yesteryear is that they were rejected by the popular society that prides superior aesthetic genes and physical abilities above everything else. To an extent, that is always going to have a place in our society due to it's very natural links to the science of early man and survival of the fittest, but with time comes understanding and acceptance. This is why gay people face far less marginalisation and hate nowadays than they did 100 years ago. Yes, it still exists, but we have understood and accepted it more than we ever have, which is awesome. A similar thing can be said of mental health. I personally deal with anxiety issues linked to atychiphobia. I don't let it rule my life, but it does mean that I inherently limit myself and have problems with my fear of failure, whether that be academically, vocationally or socially. And because our society tackles mental health issues way better today that they did years ago, I have been supported in this by workers of the NHS and my friends and family. However, what TBBT does is attribute mental deformities with ridicule. Suffer through an episode of TBBT and you'll find that it's essentially a high budget version of being bullied in the playground. It's the thuggish sporty kids calling you names because you like to read or because you're quiet and unassuming. It makes fun of people for being different from what's 'normal'. The characters in TBBT clearly have mental and social deformities. And they're FUCKING PUNCHLINES. Sheldon doesn't understand how social interactions work. LAUGH AT HIM. Raj can't function around women unless he is completely out of control of his senses. IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE HE IS LESSER. Leonard has severe confidence issues at work and at home. LOOK AT THE NERD LOSER FAIL AT EVERYTHING. Howard puts on a front to hide the repressed, religiously loyal person he hates being. ISN'T BEING PERFECT GREAT GUYS, CHECK OUT THESE FAILURES OF MEN.
In many ways, my response to this issue is no different from the psycho, pitchfork sharpening fanboys themselves, but goddamnit, they're getting angry over people not enjoying something right, as opposed to when outright literal bullying and stereotypes have turned over billions of dollars in profit and have done irreversible damage to the way it's viewers think. It's not the best justification, but it'll do.
And yet it continues...
So, hopefully we all come out of this undamaged, with our precious childhoods intact. Or at least with a sequel to Dredd. Come on, Netflix, make us happy... or else.
The Editor in Chief of Foul Entertainment, Mike edits most of what you see on the site. He runs the production of our podcasts, and currently pens Pop Culture Club and The Death of Video Games