Here’s something you might not be aware of! Did you know that being a “nerd” is now a desirable label?! Well, that was obviously a joke, because the fact of the matter is that being a nerd is now “cool.” With the success of superhero films over the last decade, society has openly embraced the disposition, and has even somewhat put it up on a pedestal. The concept has been romanticized, in a way, and is now part of mainstream pop-culture. Seriously, what is something like The Big Bang Theory, if not a romanticization of nerd stereotypes? The concept of the “romantic nerd” brings with it a form of acceptance. It’s okay now to identify as one; even if you only have a tertiary awareness of a nerd property. Having the audacity to buy a movie ticket to one of the biggest movies of the year, and watch explosions for two hours is a pretty low barrier for entry, so, why not call yourself a nerd?
The prevalence of things like Comic-Con, and the before mention superhero flicks, has pretty much rendered the term “nerd” superfluous. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. I’m not going to say that I haven’t enjoyed the last decades attention to the things I like, but, in a weird way, it’s made them less special. There’s something about having these things more attainable that makes them less desirable. It’s no longer something special that you and a few friends engage in. What happens when everybody is in on it? It’s not too dissimilar to what happened in “punk culture” in the early nineties. It was found that the audience for the genre was growing, and music executives recognized this, and capitalized on it by pumping out studio created punk bands. The problem with this is that the “edges” were smoothed out, and the message, largely political, was diluted to the point that it wasn’t even there anymore. At a certain point the content of the music started to change. Sure, the way that the music was structured was largely the same, but the “message,” or lyrical content became more, and more benign. In the mid eighties punk music was all about attacking societal norms and Reagan era politics, but by the mid nineties it would come to discuss such lofty ideas as taking your girlfriend to Disney Land. From Dead Kennedys to Good Charlotte… Oh yeah… In response to this shift there was created a division in punk fandom. Those that were “real punks,” and those that were “fake/tourist punks,” the older guard becoming almost militant in disposition.
The reason I went into that whole evolution of punk diatribe is that I see something similar happening in nerd/geek culture. Commercialization has taken hold, and there is a danger of dilution. In the name of “broad appeal,” the things we love will stop actually representing why we love those things. Just like with punk music, the structure will be the same, but the content will only vaguely echo the things we care about.
Being a “nerd” used to be a type of affliction that wasn’t based on a choice. For whatever reason, you just liked the types of things you liked. It wasn’t ever a positive, really, and was even the source of shameful feelings. You would almost become self loathing for loving something like Star Wars, or even math, too much, and why wouldn’t you? You would be constantly told to, “Grow the fuck up,” and “Get a life.” The criticisms, however rude, aren’t entirely without reason. Being a “nerd” usually comes with being steeped in the minutia of fictional universes and people. As a consequences a lot of reality based things get thrown to the wayside, and creates a stagnation of maturity. The stereotype of overweight guys living in a family members basement isn’t completely uncalled for. Sometimes, the things that people love take more precedent in their life than actually moving on with said life. Some people just can’t balance their interests with things like getting a job, having kids, or just getting themselves to a place where they can make it on their own. Hell, out of nerdom has risen psychological disorders, like ADD or Asperger Syndrome. It’s a slippery slope, and the dark specter of “priorities” is something that all nerds have to face, sooner or later.
Well, that’s a good segue!
I heard about this film a few months ago while it was making the festival rounds, and I was pretty much immediately intrigued by it. It seems like a really honest story, about a man that is a lot like what I was talking about earlier. In a world where these types of characters are usually represented as “cool,” it’s a really refreshing approach.
There doesn’t seem to much artifice going on in this trailer, and I immediately found these characters to be recognizable. While I’ve never actually played Dungeons and Dragons myself, it’s something I always wanted to play though, I did know a lot who did. They were some of my best friends when I was a teenager, and further through me down the nerd rabbit hole. Anyways, the characterizations seem pretty spot on. What I really love about the way they seem to have gone about them is it isn’t done with a wink and a nod. It seems completely sincere, and as far as nerd representations go nowadays, it is much appreciated.
Another aspect that I gleaned from the trailer is the idea that maybe being this deep into something isn’t necessarily a good thing. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be disparaging to someone like the main character, but they seem to be at least acknowledging the larger effects these types of attitudes have on their relationships, and lifestyles. The unwillingness to change, or adapt to new things is something, I think, that anyone that loves something has to deal with. We are all creatures of habit, to a degree, and the presence of this in the movie definitely has me interested beyond the face value of the concept.
This almost looks like a tragic comedy, that is going to be completely character driven. I’m not expecting the main character to come to any profound conclusions, or anything; I’m just hoping that it’s an honest, and sincere representation of the sub-culture. Which it seems like it is. So, color me excited!
When this film first premiered there was a danger that it wouldn’t be picked up for any real distribution, but thankfully Chris Hardwick and Nerdist have come out to champion the film, and pick it up for distribution. I’m super stoked about this, because I was worried that I might not ever see the film. Well, the wait is almost over! The film will be available through Video-On-Demand starting October 8th, and also a small theatrical run, if I’m not mistaken. Anyways, I’m really looking forward to this flick, if you couldn’t tell already, and given all the accolades it’s received so far, it would appear that my optimism has been well placed. Well, here’s hoping!