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Bob Chipman @the_moviebob
, 26 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Okay, so where we?


Let's keep this one a bit shorter, since there's actual work I should be doing...
Okay, so when does this all go goofy? As noted in previous thread, "nerd" and "geek" were two different things with complicated/nebulous origins and a certain amount of crossover between eachother, but they don't get mashed together until both become associated w/ "fandom"..
..a culture that already has a storied tradition of wanting seeing itself as a misunderstood "superior" class because of it's isolation from "mainstream" culture; which holds obvious crossover appeal to nerds/geeks who - yes! - are often bullied as children.
Funny thing about defining yourself (yes, even when true to one extent or another) as oppressed/shunned by "mainstream" pop-culture: What said mainstream thinks about you matters - in fact, you probably fixate on it ("What are you rebelling against?" "Whaddaya got?")
And nerd/geek/fan "culture" is properly obsessed with how the normies see them; creating the now-familiar "all geeks do X!"/"Hell yeah we do!!" feedback loop - oh, and the scene is getting "younger" too because Gen-X kids/teens have their own money...
...which is making fandom bigger - even while still ensconced within "itself."

Then, in 1977, the whole damn scaffolding gets blown to kingdom come. You know by what:
STAR WARS is basically all of Boomer nerd/geek/fan culture stirred into one thing: Old movie serials, Tolkien, D&D, space-race optimism, yearning for WWII-style binary good/evil heroic war narrative post-Vietnam, samurai-orientalism and drug-culture mysticism...
...Even the people making it think it's a niche item, but it turns out all that stuff wasn't as impenetrable for the normies as had been presumed - it just needed a big enough canvas. "Nerd culture" and "consumer youth culture" are now effectively one thing.
The dominoes fall pretty quick thereafter: Pulp-scifi makes a big TV comeback (TREK comes back as a movie series!), action figure "line"-following goes from the hobby shop to the cereal box, "high concept" SF/F is the Hollywood blockbuster template...
...electronic gaming goes from the computer lab to the billiard parlor to the living room - you get the idea. It takes awhile to get everywhere, but post-STAR WARS nerd culture gradually just becomes "culture." So how does nerd culture respond?

...not well.
Remember: Nerd/geek/fan culture has by now baked "societal victims of bullying and misunderstanding" completely into its core identity - partly because (again, YES!) *a lot* of those involved did experience that: "Nerd" and "geek" both started as insults for "weird kids."
But there's also the strong residue of the "fans are slans" attitude that bolsters all of this with copious reactionary elitism: "We're into this stuff because were superior and th mundanes aren't CAPABLE" of being into it." And now that's turning out to be... not the case.
You know what comes next: "Geekier than thou" gatekeeping - but it didn't have to. Not every once-marginalized subculture that goes mainstream has to react badly. But "everyone else is against us" isn't just nerd/geek culture's image... it's fandom's BRAND.
The whole of the fandom business had become built around the idea of the (pause for irony...) safe-space: The fanzine, the con, the comic shop, (eventually) the web-forum as the place you can "be yourself" safely from the bullies out in the mainstream...
..and there's A LOT of money to be had in that. And as much as (some) fans "need" sense of persecution to feel right, fan-media needs them to more. So nerd stuff that's "about" nerd stuff goes into overdrive in the 80s and 90s: More niche, more specialized, more expensive..
..and leaning SUPER HARD into the "they're out to get you!!" thing, thematically. In the mid-90s, this gets a gift-from-god boost when the moral-panic censorship police pivot from Madonna and NWA to video games - a "geek thing" (and chance to avenge the D&D Satanic Panic!")
Since this started in retort to a silly gamer thread, I imagine I can shorthand the way that played out: "Gamer culture" gets the win over Jack Thompson, fights dirty as hell to do it (correct approach under the circumstances IMO) ...but then doesn't turn it "off."
And the games industry, like the fandom-biz before it, recognizes that keeping its audience perpetually on "war footing" against "censorship" is a great way to build brand-loyalty - until you build it well enough that said audience "goes to war" on its own...
...and you end up with monsters of your own making that you can't control either taking over, poisoning (or both) the thing you stoked their paranoia to "protect."

Y'know, kinda like if a political party spends 50+ years telling it's base they need to be ready for war...
...against LITERALLY EVERYONE WHO ISN'T THEM and then one day there's only crazed/delusion bigots left IN the party and they decide they want a giant piss-colored human tumor to be in charge of it? (But that's another thread.)

Yes, A LOT of gamers, geeks, nerds, whatever have been bullied, and that really sucks because bullying is a bad, awful thing.

So have A LOT of people who are not, and sometimes in worse ways for worse reasons. I imagine that needs no explanation.
BUT! That doesn't mean that geek/gamer culture is somehow absolved of all bad internal behavior, and one such bad behavior is the repeated failure to interrogate things like the fallacy of "smart people are into X therefore I'm smart BECAUSE I'm into X"...
...and asking hard questions like whether we CHOOSE to fixate on "nerd persecution" bullying because the culture doesn't know what it's identity is without that aspect of it (or worse, encourages fixating on it because it's good for brand loyalty) and we REALLY should.
Because, as I hope all that convoluted history demonstrates... there are bigger and more long-term complicated things at the root of all this than a mostly self-serving persecution-fixation.

And now, because I've now drawn this out for several hours and almost 50 Tweets...
...let me close it out with the most relevant point of all:


And... scene.
Oh, and uh... I DID in fact just give all that away for free, but should you be so inclined (or new here) there's a Patreon for that:
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