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Patton Oswalt welcomes the impending geek-culture apocalypse

12.28.2010

In the decade-plus I've been writing about movies and various enthusiasms, the online landscape has significantly changed -- a handful of fansites has blossomed into hundreds of blogs and wikis and corporate-owned entertainment entities, studios are using the internet for more and more promotion and manipulation, and all minor details of films in any stage of production are reported and scrutinized at the speed of broadband and Twitter.

So being of similar age bracket and nerd background, I can sort of see where Patton Oswalt is coming from when he bemoans the rapid mainstreaming of geekness and how the once esoteric has become so easily available. In a new Wired article, the comedian reveals his formative years with comics and STAR WARS and D&D and sci-fi TV, expresses his dread of the current nerd state, and charts the path he expects it all to take (culminating in a pop culture cataclysm, of course).

Some highlights:

Fast-forward to now: Boba Fett’s helmet emblazoned on sleeveless T-shirts worn by gym douches hefting dumbbells. The Glee kids performing the songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And Toad the Wet Sprocket, a band that took its name from a Monty Python riff, joining the permanent soundtrack of a night out at Bennigan’s. Our below-the-topsoil passions have been rudely dug up and displayed in the noonday sun. The Lord of the Rings used to be ours and only ours simply because of the sheer goddamn thickness of the books. Twenty years later, the entire cast and crew would be trooping onstage at the Oscars to collect their statuettes, and replicas of the One Ring would be sold as bling.

When everyone has easy access to their favorite diversions and every diversion comes with a rabbit hole’s worth of extra features and deleted scenes and hidden hacks to tumble down and never emerge from, then we’re all just adding to an ever-swelling, soon-to-erupt volcano of trivia, re-contextualized and forever rebooted. We’re on the brink of Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever.

Here’s the danger: That creates weak otakus. Etewaf doesn’t produce a new generation of artists—just an army of sated consumers. Why create anything new when there’s a mountain of freshly excavated pop culture to recut, repurpose, and manipulate on your iMovie? The Shining can be remade into a comedy trailer. Both movie versions of the Joker can be sent to battle each another. The Dude is in The Matrix.

But that's barely scratching the surface. How does it end? Can it be "saved", or does it even need to be? Though I don't exactly agree with everything Oswalt says (I'm pretty much already embracing - and contributing to - the omnipresence of geek culture), it's highly recommended that if you consider yourself a veteran or even a fledgling geek that you go check out the entire piece.

(Oh, and grab his new book while you're at it.)

Extra Tidbit: What side do you land on? Are you from the generation or mindset that Oswalt comes from, or do you not see what the fuss is about? Was there a specific "moment" when you realized, loved, hated and/or accepted that geek culture was mainstream?
Source: Wired

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