This past year, my inherent nerdiness was finally challenged. My colleagues and friends know that I read a lot of comics and book, attend swing dancing club, play Dungeons & Dragons weekly, host board game nights and make all sorts of crafts in my free time. As the winter approached, I was asked the same question over and over again, “Aren’t you SOOOO excited for the new Star Wars movie?!”
“Meh, it’s not really my thing.”
“Oh, I thought you were a nerd.”
Um, what? Are the two mutually exclusive? Especially in today’s world?
People rush to me to talk about the Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones because they know I have background knowledge and passion about the characters. However, when I want to have in depth discussions about The Hand or sing my Luke Cage theme song, or discuss how interesting it is that Hellcat hasn’t officially appeared yet, people look at me with quizzical looks.
And this is why 2015 has been an interesting year for Nerd Culture. It is ok for you to watch Jessica Jones and discover her world now, and it is ok for me to have read about her, understand her relationships and the world she inhabits in the comic book, and that’s ok.
This year, we saw small time comic book characters make it to the big screen like Ant-Man, Vision, and Ultron. Even more obscure characters like Daredevil and Jessica Jones prompted binge watching session en masse. The classic sci-fi franchise Star Wars returned, seeing an age in which people were actually kind to one another and actively asked on social media, “Is it ok to talk about Star Wars yet?” Image Comics took over more than 10% of the comic book publishing market with creators writing more diverse and inclusive stories than ever before. European style board games have made a comeback. Podcasts like Serial, and Stuff You Should Know have made it ok to be knowledgeable and curious about the scientific aspects of our world again.
But what did it really mean to be a nerd in 2015? Gone are the days of the nerd who know Pi to the hundredth number, who was terrible at sports, had acne, and couldn’t get dates. There used to be a dichotomy between being a nerd and fitting into society at large.
This, however, is no longer the case. “Nerding Out” has a completely different context than it did even ten years ago. Nerd Nites continue to be a popular and ever growing phenomenon, where presentations are had in bars and topics range from the medial needs of werewolves to how to survive an apocalypse caused by mutant giant butterflies.
Even Urban Dictionary’s definition of “Nerding Out” is oddly vague, “When you’re discussing something geeky very intensely; When you know a lot of information about something unusual, usually nerdy, and express it with great enthusiasm.” Anything; you can nerd out about anything at all.
And that’s ok. If anything, nerdom and fandom have become more vast and faceted. What I mean is to say that it is great for a comic book reading Daredevil fan to have more people to talk to about a character. However, while there are more overall people talking about Daredevil, the realms are still separate; the history of Daredevil in the comics is much greater and can lead to speculation in the television series, whereas the tv show watchers know only a finite amount of information.
I think this is a glorious turn of events for nerdom, because you know what, I saw Star Wars: the Force Awakens and I loved it. While I had no interested in the original films, or the prequels, I feel I have been introduced and invigorated by a universe unknown to me, but beloved by many. In a world where classic franchises are being reintroduced all the time, I think problems like “Nerd Boy Problem #56” are no longer relevant.
And as librarians, it is our duty to advise and direct all those seeking out the nerdoms they inhabit. Be it football statistic for their fantasy leagues, or the scientific principles of time travel, or combing the internet for the best fan fiction of their favored franchise, we have the power to empower this new year.
So this year, let’s celebrate all levels of nerdom and make it the year of un-assuming fandom.