New Nerd Culture Sells The Wrong Kind Of Escapism

An Exhortation against nerd rage
An Exhortation against nerd rage 20th Century Fox

I remember and am sometimes nostalgic for the days when pop culture garbage meant the world to me. The days wherein my inveterate fears of death and loneliness were bound up in casting news and all the pseudo rage that came along with it. Eventually I began to care gradually less about the cultural implications of Return of the Jedi or whether or not Deckard was a replicant in service of facing the realities of my life, a bleak prospect that ultimately allowed me to enjoy the aforementioned films in a way I hadn’t been able to before.

It’s a necessary juncture in every nerd’s life. But now the art of escapism has been perfected and frankly perverted in such a way that at some point one has to actively severe themselves from the hyperbolic weight the industry now thrives on. This is what brings me concern. There is no longer an impetus to “grow up,” if you will. In fact, the mission statement of our society seems to champion the exact opposite. The liberating truth that was once married to the ideal of putting aside our childish toys has been devoured by this new culture of capitalizing on our sentimentality. It negatively impacts the quality of entertainment and, more importantly, the quality of life for its most raptured generation.

The link between loneliness and “nerd culture” isn’t exactly a tenuous one. From its inception, genre properties have catered to outcasts and pariahs. Now that formerly niche genre properties have become the mainstream industry standard, fans no longer have any compunction about basking in the spoils of arrested development. I, too, have fallen victim to this. For a brief time I found that my life was mostly comprised of “waiting.” Waiting for trailers to drop, waiting for sequels, DLC, and prequels and reboots, while the time in between was spent convincing myself that it was totally fine to reduce my focus exclusively to these things.

This is a prescription to miss your life. Continuity nonsense doesn’t do as good a job as you might think at distracting you from the bleakness of life. Analyzing Rey’s lineage or what Luke meant in The Last Jedi trailer can’t be substitutes for real world problems, it isn’t an even exchange. Escapism isn’t a cure for the dismal nature of existence, but a momentary reprieve from it.

This isn’t a call to shun your fandom, nor is this an admonishment of it. It is merely an exhortation to reevaluate its place in your life. Not only for the sake of your personal betterment, but also for the betterment of the properties your fandoms derive from. I think you’ll find that you’ll enjoy these things a lot more once they no longer define you or relieve of you reality.

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