Geek is the New Chic: How Comic Book Movies Killed My Quirky Individuality

February 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Geek culture is no longer subculture. It’s mainstream. If you’re anything like me, this should scare the shit out of you.

I identify as a nerd. I love comic books, cult TV, and in general things that most people don’t know about. As a daughter and niece of two avid comic book collectors and owners (my dad probably has about 40 grand worth of comics, at least, in his basement. I’m the only person, let alone girl, that I’ve ever met that has actually held an original #1 issue of the Fantastic Four), I’ve long found solace and satisfaction in ‘being a nerd.’ It felt like home. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was all about being an outsider, and it got me through middle school. I re-read Harry Potter so many times that instead of getting grounded, my mother would just take my books away. They’re covered in Go-Gurt stains to this day. I can’t even count how many times I’ve re-watched Arrested Development, and I think I’ve seen every episode of most Star Treks. I’m not sorry. Watching these TV shows and reading these books made me feel different and cool. I liked things other people didn’t like. I was devouring a section of pop culture largely ignored by my peers, especially at a point of change (puberty) in my life. I was special.

We can debate for hours the pros and cons of this selective, exclusive nerd community, but it won’t change the fact that it’s dead. The Avengers was the final nail in my kitschy coffin.

According to handy dandy Wikipedia, Joss Whedon’s Avengers made $1,511,757,91. That’s over a billion dollars. Divide that number by $10, the average cost of viewing a movie in an American theater, and that means a LOT of people saw it. (My calculator on my Mac read ‘error’ when I wanted to do the math. Woops, whatever I’m a journalism major.)

In the past ten years or so, lots of great comic book movies have been made. Some were true to source material. Some weren’t. But pretty soon, all of my Disney and Nickelodeon friends fell in line. Girls that liked iCarly also liked X-Men. It was horrifying. It was like someone took my little private world and mass-produced it and sold it. This is just one example – it’s everywhere. JJ Abrams remade Star Trek, he’s gonna direct the new Star Wars. Now everybody loves a good vampire story, and Kevin Smith is making movies that people actually are going to see (Zach and Miri Make a Porno, anyone?!).

Maybe it’s is stupid, but now that geek culture has become mainstream, it makes me feel wildly insignificant.  I’ve always been defined by art and entertainment other people had created. In my tiny Lutheran school, I was the ‘alternative’ girl. My Ramones t-shirt made me feel bad ass because I actually knew who the Ramones were. (Fuck you, Principal Amling. I don’t care how much you hated 13 year old liberal hippie me, I loved punk then, I love punk now, and I’ll love it til I die). Not only did the fact that I was ‘different’ make me feel safe, the fact that I was dreaming about superheros and characters that didn’t exist made it a lot harder for people to hurt me, boys or otherwise. All of that shit was my sanctuary. It made up for the fact that I was not the prettiest girl in the room. Now everybody loves it, and I’m just like everyone else. Still unoriginal, but not Megan Fox hot to make up for it.

I now have to challenge myself to be defined and protected by what I myself create. My cousin Joe, a libertarian writer, and some of my other libertarian friends (you know who you are!) are always touting the importance of the individual. While I don’t apply it to my life the way they want me to, it forces me to look inside myself as an artist. My writing is largely derivative, and that’s something I hope to change. I usually write about stuff other people have created. In fact, it’s what I’m doing now. My blog is named after someone else’s creation. How can I push myself past that threshold? When will I create something totally original?  And why do we feel the need to keep someone else’s creativity for ourselves and not share it to feel original? Whenever other people tell me they like Spider-Man, it makes me mad. Which is stupid. I’m not Stan Lee. So someone tell me what to do! Until then, I’m boring. I like pop culture and alcohol, just like all my other peers.

At least I’m the only girl my age I know that loves Iggy Pop. If anyone takes that away from me, I’ll probably kill myself.

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