I might be becoming a hipster. Why, you’re curious and well-tuned mind may be asking, would you ever be in danger of becoming such a thing? Well, simply put, because I am now living in the Nerd Renaissance; a fact that should drive me toward elation but simply leaves me utterly depressed. I find myself saying such Hipster phrases as, “I was a nerd before it was cool!” and “The original series was far, far better!” Where is the underground nerd resistance of old? What happened to the backroom D&D games? The Indiana Jones-esque searches for nerd paraphernalia? When did being a nerd become cool?!?
Maybe I should start by telling you about the nerd era that I grew up in better known as “The Nerd Inquisition.” In the dark ages of the 80’-90’s, one could only exist as a nerd in the cabalistic backrooms of hobby shops or basement dungeons of the fellow afflicted. See, nerds of my day were ostracized and persecuted much like the mutants in the X-Men comic books that we read. We were publicly humiliated, physically abused, and cursed to dwell in the fringes of society in a life of obscurity. It probably didn’t help that we were easily identified. What, with our fashionably challenged choices like BCG’s (Birth Control Glasses), corduroy pants, and novelty T-Shirts identifying our favorite fantasy character, we made it all too easy. Ours was the generation with the disciples of Shigeru Miyamoto’s 8-Bit Bible and Ridley Scott’s cinematic crusade.
We would persevere though. We would immerse ourselves in our interests and become the nerd elite. We would take our love of our culture and go to the extreme. Computer nerds would become IT professionals. Dungeon and Dragon fans would create new, better table top epics. Gamers, who spent countless hours in front on a television, would change the world’s perception of video games from a children’s toy to works of art. Comic book readers would write some of the most compelling and original stories in decades. We earned the right to be nerds through blood, sweat, and tears. We grew an appreciation for nerd culture through perseverance and understanding that, maybe we were different, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It was our thing. Now enter my utter confusion…
I think I missed the memo when being a nerd became hip. Now I can go to a local Hot Topic and find Comic Book T-Shirts, anime paraphernalia, and nerd culture throw backs from my age of nerdism. Playing video games is cool now! You can now take a class on video game programming. Hollywood is releasing our favorite comic books, anime, games, and novels as movies. And the individuals, who at one time criticized us for our fandom, are celebrating the medium. What have these new nerds earned? Modern nerds have never had to work for their nerd fix. They exist in this brave new world where, not only does our culture accept them but readily caters to them. There is no backroom dealing or hiding in the shadows. Being a nerd has become…cool. I shudder at the very thought. Where is the appreciation for a culture built upon the backs of those who earned the right to be called “nerd”? Being a nerd isn’t a fad or a subculture like goth or punk. Nerd is a lifestyle dictated by a love and a passion for an interest that is so strong that we literally change our way of looking at our world.
So, as I sit here writing this, surrounded by Gundams, comic books, anime, and plushies I must say new nerds…you’re doing it wrong. I merely ask that you earn the right to be called a nerd. Don’t make my entire adolescence some kind of trend and God please don’t let me become a hipster!