Geeks and Nerds; we used to see them in our schools, in comic book stores and in malls. We used to think that they’re lonely, weird or not worth talking to. Now here we are, years later and Geek has now become the new “cool” thing in the world. How did this all start?
Geek culture started as an underground subculture at first around the early 1970’s, a few years after Star Trek had been cancelled. It gave birth to a tradition of cult gatherings of Star Trek fans who share their love for the show, make lasting friendships and even meet their favorite celebrities. This slowly grew into what we call “conventions”.
Pretty soon, Geek culture entered the mainstream with the opening of San Diego Comic Con on March 21, 1970. Later it came along with the Harry Potter series in the 90’s, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies and the Star Wars prequels. San Diego Comic Con became the “Go-To” gathering for all types of Geeks.
Eventually by the beginning of the twenty-teens, the Marvel Cinematic Universe changed the game and solidified geek culture as the dominant force in Hollywood. It even paved the way for multiple familiar fandoms. Sagas like “Lord of the Rings”, “Star Wars” and Superhero movies appealed to audiences with their message of “good triumphs over evil”. Young Adult Novels like “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” gave it’s message on how new generations should question and stand up to authority. It even paved the way for Anime shows like Studio Ghibli, Pokémon and Naruto (famously known for its meme, the Naruto Run. As described in this Vine below).
Fandoms also developed their own slang/fan-speak (canon, head canon, shipping, fanwork, cosplay), split themselves into a variety of fans (Hardcore fan purists, casual fans, Theorists, Stans, shippers, Prosumers, Critics, etc.) and eventually fandom became a series of different tribes. It developed a tribalist attitude.
But even though fandom has created its own culture, there’s a dark underbelly to fandom too. It comes equipped with their own versions of toxicity. (Gamer-gate, redditors, Internet Trolls, Bullying within fandoms, attacking creators when a movie/franchise goes downhill) The Star Wars fandom is a perfect example of toxicity in fandom. When the Star Wars Prequels first came out in theaters, fans lined up to see the next half of the Saga brought to the big screen. During its first premiere, it got a lot of positive responses from fans.
But when the dawn of the Internet came and social media came into existence, the loving praise slowly turned into vindictive hatred. Many fans started to believe that the Star Wars prequels were “the worst movies in the world”. Fans voiced out their disappointment that it drove George Lucas to stop making movies and give his project over to Disney. From an objective point of view, the prequels weren’t as terrible as they make them out to be. Of course, they did have their flaws in script-writing and wooden acting. But it was redeemed for its world-building and its backstory for Darth Vader. Even if Star Wars is the most well known and beloved movie sagas, it still suffers the burden of a mostly toxic fanbase. But it doesn’t erase out the other majority of positive fans who appreciate Star Wars for what it is.
As the Social media landscape grew, it even introduced us to YouTubers, Bloggers and Creative people who look to create content based on their love for their favorite fandoms, including essay videos and articles that analyze fandoms in a nutshell.
Hannah Cowton of “The London Geek”, is a blogger who writes blogs and is made famous through her blog explaining the fandom drama landscape Link: “We Need To Talk About Fandom Drama” by Hannah Cowton
ColeyDoesThings is a recent YouTuber who is made famous through her “entering the fandom” videos on YouTube, where she showcases the positive, negative and weird sides of the fandom through an outsider’s perspective. She currently is working on a documentary observing the BTS fandom (which is about a Kpop band)
So now that fandoms have developed over the last decade, where do we go from here? As we are entering into a new decade, we have seen fandoms for its pluses and its minuses. But right now, there is a constant battle between creator and fan, where it’s more about being pressured to make projects to satisfy your fanbase and less about telling a good story.
For a long time, I’ve been a part of some fandoms. Some of them helped inspired me to create stories. Since my motto is “I help you tell your story”, a part of me wants to help geek culture tell their story. I even have a desire to want to do documentaries on these specific topics within geek culture.
There needs to be a way to find common ground in all fandoms. We should remember that a fandom is about community. I hope that one day, we’ll enter into a new era. An era where it should be less about entertainment as consumerism and more about a community that unites through stories. It may seem like a dream. Sometimes, those dreams can become a reality.