I’m a nerd. I’m a geek. I’ll say it proudly. Though, there was a time when I wouldn’t be able to say that statement out loud. There was a time when I couldn’t say it at all. If I did let out some aspect of my inner geek, I would be picked on relentlessly. And that was the way it was for many young kids. And in some ways, even some adults. But, in recent years, that seems to have changed. Movies based on comic books are the largest block busters of the year. Video games have become one of the largest entertainment industries in the world. There are now hundreds of cartoons specifically aimed at adults. Being a geek is cool. And I think it’s a little bit insulting.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just me being possessive of the things I love. There's never a problem with more people loving the same things. More people to talk about it with. More people to line the pockets of the creators, which then means they create more awesome shit. It’s a win for me.
What upsets me is that all of this happened with zero regard for those that had to suffer beforehand. Whenever I see some frat kid wearing a Batman shirt, I get an uneasy feeling. That type of person was the sort to give me trouble as a kid. Now, they’re walking around, claiming fanship for something that caused me torment at their hands? I’m not even exaggerating. I’ve occasionally run in to some of my childhood tormentors. This is a thing that’s actually happened.
On top of it all, this mass appeal of geek culture has hurt some properties. Take for example, Suicide Squad from last year. The movie got heaps of marketing, and was one of the marquee titles for the summer of 2016. That is par for the course. Comic book movies make huge money. But my issue, is the quality of these movies. And the way certain characters from it were treated.
The best, and easily most egregious example, is Harley Quinn. If you payed attention during Halloween last year, she was everywhere. One of the most popular costumes, and most of them were based off the Suicide Squad version of the character. My issue is, even in a genre where characters have dozens of alternate versions, the character from Suicide Squad was awful. And as far as I’m concerned, every single character in that movie was bad. None of them were good representations of who they are in the comics, and that’s a shame. They became marketing tools, and it worked. People who aren't as savvy on the subject ate it up, and Harley specifically is now nearly as well known as Batman himself. Not because of a good movie, but because she was a carefully planned marketing tool.
Star Wars, my personal favourite franchise, is another strong example of the main stream's hand essentially fucking up something awesome. I’m not going to say that the new movies are awful. They’re being guided by the experienced hands of Disney, and that means they have all the money in the world to make the movies looks great. Unfortunately, even with such a hefty financial backing there is a clear lack of care going in to the films.
You don’t even need to try hard to support that argument. There has been a Star Wars movie every year for the last three years, and we can expect two more years of this trend. The movies keep coming out, because they make money. The obvious abuse of a beloved franchise is something that doesn’t sit well with me.
In geek culture, we love shit. We value well crafted characters, stories, and worlds. That’s what makes us tick. It’s what spawns the rabid fanaticism in us. That wouldn’t exist if the content was churned out by faceless corporations. If you want us to be passionate, throw the same passion in to the work. Otherwise, we were abused through our younger years so some big wigs can get some money, and all of our favourite things can be turned in to merch pushing machines. And honestly, if you’re okay with that, I’m coming for your geek card. It’s probably a fake anyway.
Shane Gordon is a father, geek, and rage-aholic. He likes video games, comic books, and tends to hate long walks on the beach. Considering himself a swiss-army knife of writing, he plans on freelancing as a career, just so he can call himself a word mercenary.