Culture Shock

There was a new Star Wars movie last year.  It was pretty good, and made a lot of money.  There were a couple of Marvel movies, again good and very profitable.  Even DC, bless their hearts, did the best they could to put out a superhero movie.  If I wanted to go to work, or school, or to the dentist’s office wearing an Ant-Man T-shirt, I would be more likely to get a “hey, cool, I loved that movie” than a “what IS that thing on your chest?”

Nerd Culture has become Popular Culture.

Counterpoint:

star_tours_r2

I found this little guy while in the middle of that cleaning binge I mentioned yesterday.  Kind of pathetic looking, huh?

I bought him in, I think, 1993 or so.  I’d just gone to Disneyland for the first time, and they had the Star Tours ride running, and at the end it dropped you off in a gift shop which was, well, it was pretty barren really.  This wasn’t too surprising.  Return of the Jedi had come out ten years prior and Star Wars had kind of fallen off the cultural radar.  Kenner wasn’t making Star Wars toys, we’d all given up hope that Lucas would ever get back to the other six movies he’d mentioned, and sci-fi in general was in the middle of a serious decline. “The X-Files”, probably the first show to make genre fiction “cool”, hadn’t started airing yet so we didn’t even have sharply-dressed FBI agents hunting down Roswell rejects.  

At least we still had Star Trek: The Next Generation, for all of its misshapen foreheads and miracle particles, and there was a buzz online about something called “Babylon Five” that some crazy guy in LA was trying to talk the studios into bankrolling.

I bought this guy, and another for a friend, because just SEEING Star Wars merch was a crazy novelty.

Nerd culture – I prefer that term, you could also say geek culture or fan culture or anything that sounds best to you – is, in a lot of ways, a consumerist culture.  There’s a lot of energy and money expended in surrounding ourselves with totems representing our favorite stories, our favorite characters, our favorite universes.  Back in 1993, there was also a ton of effort – if you wanted to see old episodes of Doctor Who, you didn’t just load up Netflix and go, you needed to track down someone else who had those episodes on tape and ask for copies, if you wanted to read older Star Trek novels, well, those were out of print so you’d best get to checking used book stores and hoping, and if you wanted a small plastic representation of everyone’s favorite robot you needed to go to Disneyland and… well, settle for this.

It’s not an era I would be happy to return to.  Honestly, it was a pretty awful time to be a fan.

But this STILL sometimes takes some effort to absorb:

amazonr2d2

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