A few years ago my colleagues and I wrote a collaborative blog post about the rise of the Hollywood Nerd and how that this new group of humans were bringing about the end of nerd culture. Boy, could I have not been more mistaken.
In a Post Avengers: Endgame and The Big Bang Theory world, it has dawned on me that the rise of geek culture hasn’t brought about the apocalypse, but a brand new era of actually giving a shit about things. When I was in high school eight years ago it was cool to not care about things. It was cool to say fuck the system, I don’t care about learning.
Nowadays, teens care. Being part of a fandom is actually cool. People proudly display their favorite comic book characters on their shirts, K-Pop bands like BTS are being embraced by western media. Teens openly admit to reading and writing fanfic and drawing fan art. Now, we’re allowed to brag about going to midnight premieres of superhero films, even Vin Diesel is a huge D&D fan, and high school valedictorians give graduation speeches about the environment. It’s now cool to care, and that’s pretty revolutionary.
Teens not only are cool when they care about the things they love, they’re also cool for caring about world issues such as climate change, racism, sexism, and LGBTQ+ rights. It’s cool to protest, it’s cool to be a feminist and “woke”.
However, this all comes with a caveat. It’s only cool to like superhero movies because they’re mainstream, and it’s nice that they’re mainstream, and that even some anime is becoming mainstream (I see people walking around proudly with Dragonball shirts), but being a cool nerd is still playing into the system and giving money to the Hollywood machine. It’s only cool when they deem it so, and if they never did, nerd culture would still be in the dark. In fact, if major makeup and lifestyle companies never embraced feminism for profit, feminism would have never taken off. It’s a hard concept to grapple with because it’s cool to buy a t-shirt that says feminist, but it’s also sad because it’s not longer defiant. If anything, it’s lost its meaning as it is now a product to be consumed.
In all, I’m happy that this shift has changed. I’m glad it’s cool to care and that we’re not as stigmatized for liking comic books or for being an activist. However, we should be wary to see where this shift in activism will go and try to pull it away from being commercialized as much as possible.
The picture above is from a Converse furry ad so that’s pretty cool.
24 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.