Thursday, July 31, 2008

The demise of the modern nerd.

There was, at one point, an entire industry devoted to cranking out the nerds of tomorrow. I studiously attempted to avoid the siren's call of Dungeons and Dragons role-playing games, Spiderman comic books, and that game with the cards and dice that those guys used to play in the third-floor corridor at Glebe back in my high school days. Come to think of it, that game may well have been some sort of variation on Dungeons and Dragons as well. I don't know. Because I studiously avoided becoming embroiled in that scene. It appeared to be addictive, and would likely have resulted in some ribbing at my expense courtesy of my football team-mates. And although today I remain friends with some of those third-floor hallway dwellers (and relatively few football team-mates), I still have never come to understand those games and those pop cultural phemonena. Like Battlestar Galactica, or Matrix Revolutions. And I regret this. Immensely.

Now, I will be the first to say that I am a nerd. It was much later in life that I allowed my flag to proudly fly, no longer worried or encumbered by such trivial high school issues as popularity or the desire to get laid. (It turns out that at the age of 19, being smart about stuff is no longer an obstacle to getting laid. Amazing, eh?) There are many, many types of nerds, and I would fall into, I suppose, the Cliff Clavin category. Or maybe the movie nerd category. Or the music nerd. Or...whatever. There are many categories, but the one that still carries the strongest branding is the Comic Book Nerd. If you were into comic books as a kid, you are a NERD. Which may well have led to a certain amount of social awkwardness, ostracizing, or even bullying, if there were little jerks in your high school or at your college. Or at your first office in the cubicle next to you. Or in your family.

The point I'm trying to make here is that from a very early age, most of those I knew were cultivated. Bred, trained, assimilated and subsequently fully immersed in the world of nerd-dom. And although it may have meant a fairly lonely and otherwordly existence for three or four years, it paid off. Where would we be today without the nerds? It's people who were comic book nerds during my formative years that have allowed and advanced the creation of Iron Man, The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk, Wanted, Watchmen, and every other movie coming out the rest of this summer. In fact, where would we be without comic books this summer? We'd be watching WALL-E, which is spectacular, Indiana Jones and the Exploding Fridge, which is disappointing, and...um...Mamma Mia? I guess? We now NEED comic book nerds. Not just them, but nerds of all kinds! Tech nerds, to put the movies together. Movie nerds, to write and direct. Bloggo-nerds, to discuss and promote these films in cyberworld!

Thank GOD for the guys in the hallway upstairs at Glebe twelve years ago. Thank GOD for Dungeons and Dragons, graphic novels about The Incredible She-Beast, and Rush. Well...most of those things. These are now the people who make the entire world go 'round, and we rely on them for our continuing survival. So it seems only logical that we would want to keep them healthy, happy and multiplying.

Apparently not. On Tuesday, I went to a comic book shop, the deliciously nerdy-named Wizard's Dungeon, for the first time in my life. I took my youngest step-son there, because he wanted a comic book. He is too young to have seen The Dark Knight, but he hears enough people talking about it that he became curious about the character Two-Face. And he wanted a Batman comic so he could see what Two-Face looked like in the comic books. I asked the guy behind the counter (who wasn't quite straight-outta-the-Simpsons) how I could find one. And you know what? I couldn't. There are apparently two series (out of six hundred or so) of Batman comics that are appropriate for nine-year-olds. In fact, there are maybe six series, total, of comic books being made today that are tame enough for children. Out of I don't know, six million. We ended up with a silly, cartoony Batman comic and a Digimon comic.

The comic book guy told me that the average age of his customers is about 30-35! This is insane! How can we create new, productive comic book nerds if they can't even pick up a worthwhile comic book until they're 16? Not only that, but the movies that might inspire them to pick up comic books can't be watched by young kids either. Now, I LOVE The Dark Knight, but there's no way kids can watch that one. So how do we create the nerds of the future? Perhaps I just don't have the kind of foresight required to see how the Wii kids and XBox kids of today will become the creative geniuses that shape our world of tomorrow. This could happen, and perhaps I'm missing it. But I am really scared that twenty years from now, we'll be totally out of comic book movies. And we'll be left with Indiana Jones 16: The Golden Defibrillator, and remakes of Mamma Mia. And I'm not sure I want to live in that world.

3 comments:

  1. Matt (Tall Rogers Guy)August 3, 2008 at 11:27:00 PM EDT

    hey eric, nice entry, i notice you said you went to a place called wizard's dungeon? i dont think ive heard of it, where is it?

    im a comic book nerd, and i go to a place on hazeldean called the wizard's tower.

    i go there about at aleast 2 or 3 times a week to see whats new and pick up my comics.

    i personally think more people should read comic books, i find that i can get alot more enjoyment out of a good comic series rather than an actual book series (minus godfather and a hannibal series' of course)

    well thats my little schpeal, see you around rogers
    cheers

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  2. Ah, I was wrong. It IS in fact the Wizard's Tower on Hazeldean that I attended. Perhaps the "dungeon" part was invented in my mind somehow.

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  3. Matt (Tall Rogers Guy)August 6, 2008 at 5:12:00 PM EDT

    well, perhaps you were thinking of the andriods dungeon, its the name of the comic book store in the simpsons, maybe thats why it was in your head

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