“Rejoice my fellow Nerdians! At last the time has come where we no longer have to fear ostracization from our peers. No longer shall we whimper in fear praying the cool kids find out about us! No longer shall we cry in the fetal position in a dank corner of solitude. It is with great pleasure that I announce the acceptance of Nerds from across the realm! Hail Hydra! (Stadium booms crowds cheering)”
– Excerpt from Patty Barry’s speech in 2087 at the 1954 Geneva Conference
Strange fictional speech aside, I wanted to touch upon how Nerd culture and Popular culture are starting to become one and the same. I’ve noticed that over the years things that kids would tease me about when I was younger about have started to go mainstream. Of course it was not nearly as cool when I was younger but that’s fine. You know what they say “what doesn’t kill you makes an emotionally scarred child with people issues” (I think that’s how it goes?). Getting back to the point, I’ve choose three hobbies that are traditionally viewed as “nerdy” and discussed how they are now mainstream. The three topics are: Video games, Superheroes, and Anime.
In junior high school if you played games you were a nerd. If you talked about video games you were a nerd and so on. Now everyone plays videogames in some form or another and I really mean EVERYONE. It does not matter if it’s Grand Theft Auto or Flappy Bird virtually everyone plays. In fact games are so popular that people watch other gamers play games for fun. What? If you have told my undeveloped ninth grader self this I would have simply looked at you like a mad man. With the help of Twitch and YouTube streaming gameplay is easy and profitable for professional gamers. Oh and video gaming became a sport too. It’s crazy to think about how quickly video games have grown in popularity. One of my favorite things about video games isn’t even the games, but the big gaming conventions. Every year I look forward to seeing conventions like E3, Pax, Gamescom, and TGS for the biggest announcements in gaming industry. It’s great that games are no longer just for dorks and lonely nerds. Also there is a great web series on YouTube called Video Game High School that I highly recommend watching.
As a child I loved reading comic books. Tales of regular people who gained extraordinary powers, good vs evil, cool costumes: I loved it all. Before big budget films and The Avengers superheroes were only for comic book nerds and creepy middle aged men living their mother’s newly refurbished basement. Then someone discovered that superheroes were awesome and could use them to make money rain from the sky. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and Marvel’s phase one flicks have blown superhero popularity into hyperdrive. Now major studios Fox, Warner Bros., Marvel, and Sony all have about 30 gazillion superhero films planned for the upcoming years. The madness has even spread to television. Hit superhero shows like Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be accompanied by the Flash series, Gotham and others in the upcoming fall season. It is only a matter of time before tight colorful spandex and a cape become the hottest fashion trends. I just wish people would learn the difference between Marvel and DC already!
Anime is a difficult one because it is not as obvious as the other two. Many Americans love anime, but keep it to themselves for fear of being judged. This media is certainly more accepted now than it was in the past. Some people love anime and don’t even know it. Perfect example is whenever I ask someone if they ever watched anime:
The usual response is “Nah man I don’t think I have”.
I say, “Oh really, what about Dragon Ball Z or Pokémon?”
Then that person responds, “Yo Dragon Ball Z? With the sayians and shit? Yoo man I loved that show! I thought that was a cartoon!”
Throughout the years I’ve learned that plenty of people watch anime, not just your stereotypical nerd types. In fact the other day I overheard my boss talking about Black Butler which is a well-known anime series. If you want actual proof of anime’s popularity visit any comic book convention year round. Comic Con is infamous for thousands of fans dressed as their favorite anime characters (it’s called cosplaying) and it’s weirder if you’re NOT dressed up. Although not as popular as superheroes or video games, anime is still a significant part of our popular culture.
So what do you guys think? Are these things now pop culture or still shunned? Leave a comment I would love any feedback!