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asleep at mal 9/09
"Wake Up, Geek Culture, Time to Die" 
12/29/10 12:40
asleep at mal 9/09
Yesterday, Coilhouse wrote about Patton Oswalt's Wired piece "Wake Up, Geek Culture, Time to Die". I've been thinking about it since reading it, to the point of dreaming about my own reactions to pop culture and becoming a punk in the 80's.

I agree with a lot of what both Oswalt has to say and what Joshua Ellis brings up in the linked Coilhouse article. Being a geek or a nerd (as it was defined in the 80's) isn't freakish the way it once was. But I also think that while pop culture may be reaching "Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever" there are still large numbers of creative types making new and interesting art, music, film, etc.

Remember how disturbed you were when you first heard Devo's music in a car commercial, or The Cure followed by Erasure while grocery shopping? I know it creeped me out a bit, but the music I listen to now is as outside of the mainstream as anything I loved in the 80's was then. And maybe in 30 years, I'll hear Aesthetic Perfection or Gogol Bordello at the grocery store, but by the time that happens, we'll all be dancing to something else.

The same goes with movies and film. There's always been a distinction in my mind between the two, and movies are all too frequently garbage (and have been since I was in college - my favorite film then was The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, Her Lover; a decidedly non-mainstream film to this day). I think the last time I went to a mainstream movie theater was in December 2009. But there's lots of interesting stuff going on in independent film, and some films that have gotten wider release than just the art houses one would expect. And occasionally big Hollywood makes a great film in spite of the stupidity of the studio system (Moon or Black Swan anyone?).

The big thing I think both Oswalt and Ellis miss is that the things that made us freaks in the 80's and 90's are more mainstream, but there are lots of other subcultures that have not been co-opted. Hipster assholes are everywhere in LA, but we also have great small theatre, bands, independent film and web series, teenage freaks of many persuasions, and writers and artists who create new and interesting work regularly (including Coilhouse which is awesome and full of good stuff each issue).

Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever is not a death knell for creativity, just a warning that what made us (old farts now) freaks isn't the same things today's freaks search out. It's time to try something new, guys, and then Etewaf isn't a big deal. And the internet is often a good place to find fellow travelers, which is in some ways easier and in other ways more difficult (too much information; too many hard to find styles).
12/29/10 21:56 (UTC)
On the positive side, like fags in the family, now everyone not only knows a geek/nerd, but has had a personal geek/nerd experience - they may even have experimented in college! They'll vote nerd-friendly on marriage and healthcare issues. They won't discriminate on the basis of nerd, nor follow a church that declares them the antichrist. Sure that giant douche, or me, proclaims their nerd interest on their t-shirt while they do manly shit in the gym - but that muscley douchebag is not going to push a nerd into the locker - not unless that nerd is also a douchebag jock acting like a jerk, perhaps.

The other thing is that while you may co-opt nerd culture, you can't mask stupid. Sure you can laugh at bad special effects, but nothing hides someone who misses the cues of cultrual unintentional discrimination and stereotypes - and once you get past someone's "like" groups, it's hard not to notice when they can't explain what they like or analyze events from their perspective. Nerd is sometimes defined as an extreme knowledge base in obscure interest areas - well if the interest area isn't obscure, it still yields itself to token "like" clicks but doesn't prevent anyone with the capacity to launch themselves into the abyss of trivial compulsion.
12/30/10 13:53 (UTC)
eh. I can't read the article due to a promise I made myself about reading anything that has the terms "wake up & die" in it. ;-)

I also have sworn off reading anything about the demise of anything written by anybody. The articles are always too full of either fear or anger, and conjecture on wishful thinking.

Mind you I haven't read the article. :-P
But from what your saying it's the same thing in this one. They Always miss the point. Things change and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.

I say why not keep open to it and go along with the ride? It turns out that my nephew is listening to music that I have allowed myself to 'get used to' and now like.

However I fear falling to anachronism like nothing else, and work hard just to 'accept' what's around me. That includes culture.

Plus those articles always talk like we live in a all or nothing world. Geekdom Especially will never be overrun by a single thing. Just not how it works. It's an adaptive changing thing - which is exactly your point I think.

It's a shame. I like Oswalt's comedy a lot. But I would have to break a promise to my Samuraininjaakumasentaihokajimaster by reading his article.

::shakes head::

12/31/10 23:40 (UTC) - Hearing ya!
First of all, happy new year, gorgeous! I haven't quite adapted to a shared-space lifestyle. I will be more in touch soon, I swear.

But, although much of geek culture has gone mainstream, I think there's always gonna be some stuff that's too nerdy/out there/etc for the masses - and good. It shouldn't all be the geeks shall inherit the earth. That's one thing I have always kinda liked about being in a subculture - you have to try to find the really good stuff.

Which is more or less what you say above, that Oswalt & Ellis have missed a point, & I heartily agree.

May 2011 bring us many more opportunities to be our fine, freaky, geeky, selves.

1/11/11 21:21 (UTC) - much delayed response
I have the same problem with Oswalt's piece that I have with Coilhouse's own mission statement - 'a love letter to alternative culture, written in an era when alternative culture no longer exists.'
It's just incredibly naive. In LA, in some other cities, it's easy to say that. Try looking the least bit weird and going somewhere else. Just because something has a website, a Facebook page, a magazine, does not make it 'mainstream'. And as long as this is a capitalist country, anyone embracing DIY and unique art that isn’t mass-produced, packaged, and sold in a mall is always going to be counter-culture.
I also take exception to the idea that everybody is Otaku about something - for one thing I think that's really watering down the actual meaning of that word. And then because I'm not, and I know I can't be the only one so he's just wrong. I've actually never found 'geek culture' particularly charming or interesting because I find all the trivia and one-ups-man ship of people obsessed with trivia really annoying. I DON'T CARE that Matt Groening included all the main characters for Futurama in the opening credits. I don't need to speak Klingon to enjoy Star Trek.
I also see an apparent confusion between nostalgic retro fluff and geek stuff. Since when was Pac Man or Nintendo alternative or underground? Just because serious gamers are currently derided as basement dwelling trolls does not mean that all video games and all people who ever played them are now grandfathered in to some elite clique. And being a nerd in middle school, while admittedly terrible, doesn't grant the person some life long badge of honor. People that collect old action figures from shows they liked as kids aren't necessarily geeks, some of them are probably just going through mid life crises.
Etewaf is only going to be a problem for people who've got no personality of their own, no taste, no preferences. Because a lot of what's out there, past and present, is garbage.
2/26/12 20:57 (UTC)
Stumbled across this rather late, and I have nothing much to add beyond:


2. May I friend you?
2/27/12 22:39 (UTC)
2. Sure. Welcome to the ventenation.