The geeks are here…out from the depths of book and comic stores to take over the world.
It wasn’t so long ago that geeks quietly inhabited lesser-known comic book stores, played trading card games in the solitude of their parents’ basement and avoided certain school hallways to escape the taunts of a menacing bully.
Now, however, with the recent influx of superhero movies, comic book conventions and big budget fantasy TV dramas in mainstream media, it has never been cooler to be considered a geek.
Louise Bolland, an 18-year-old QUT education student and full-time fan girl, says the concept of “geek” has changed because it’s become a more socially accepted norm.
“It appeals so much to people because it’s an escape from normal mundane life,” she says. “I go to Supanova because it’s a place where I can find people who share my interests and hang out with friends as well as see the cool things people make in relation to fandom stuff.”
The geek pop culture movement can be found everywhere with blockbuster movies, TV shows, graphic novels and the continual growth of pop culture conventions and expos saturating the industry.
Geek culture is even a part of the shows you don’t expect. If you watch Game of Thrones, True Blood, Glee, Dexter and Supernatural or have seen movies such as The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter or Twilight then you are a part of the mainstream geek trend.
QUT media and communication lecturer, Dr Jason Sternberg, says the movement emerged from small sub-cultures being influenced by hit TV shows.
“It’s a combination of both the rise of hipster sub-culture which has really appropriated the big nerdy glasses and the retro fashion,” he says. “It’s still seen as daggy and still dorky, you wouldn’t necessarily want to be called a nerd, but it’s kind of celebrated affectionately.”
Today, fan boys, fan girls and geeks can be found everywhere; this new trend is taking over every aspect of mainstream culture quicker than you can say “Holy rise of the geek, Batman!”
Paul Quinn, owner of collectable and gaming store Fastbreak Sports, sees the increasing geek trend as a benefit. “It’s a positive…you’ll find kids’ mathematics and their English improving.”
CBS’ hit show The Big Bang Theory is credited with increasing the number of students choosing to study Physics at A-Level by 17 per cent. The geek movement is also responsible for turning introverts into extroverts and helping shy wallflowers express themselves and overcome social anxieties through cosplay.
Cosplayers (as pictured), short for ‘costume play’, find their hub in the comic conventions and expos where participants can flamboyantly wear costumes and accessories to represent characters or ideas from manga, anime, comic books, video games and films.
ACE Comics store manager, Pól Rua, says the appeal of costumed role-play is transforming into another identity.
“You know there’s this idea that with characters in masks, if you’re wearing a mask you can be anybody,” he says. Dr Sternberg agrees: “The appeal of fantasy is that the superhero is always the alter ego of the nerd,” he says. “I think that’s got a bit of appeal and it gives things like ComicCon and Supanova the chance to give like-minded people an opportunity to get together and celebrate their own identity and nerdom.”
A video of Wil Wheaton (actor, blogger) at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo went viral when he was asked why being a nerd is awesome. The reason the video strikes a chord with viewers and geeks alike is because they feel he perfectly articulates what it means to be a nerd today. “Being a nerd or being a geek…it’s not about what you love, it’s about how you love it.”