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cool_culture news

Patton Oswalt: "Geek culture must die."

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The angriest -- and smartest -- nerd in existence right now is Patton Oswalt. One of my favorite comedians and a guy that can provide you a detailed explanation for each of Neil Gaiman's Endless (and also tell you in what order they first appeared in Gaiman's The Sandman comic book series), Oswalt has written a brilliant essay describing how the many things that labeled some of us nerds or geeks have now fallen by the wayside. All of us are now nerds and geeks to some extent, or okatu (outsiders) as the Japanese prefer to call people that have been swallowed by their fanboy interests.

Oswalt's piece is online at Wired's website. Titled "Wake Up Geek Culture. Time to Die" (and you get just one guess what seminal science fiction film that line is from), the man states a convincing case why geek culture began to wither circa 1987 and why it's become the mainstream. Really? You don't think nerddom has gone mainstream when The Lord of the Rings wins the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars? Or when fans of The Real Housewives of Orange County obsess over the minutae of that show's characters in the same way that Dungeons & Dragons gameplayers once memorized the stats of Beholders, Orcs and Slime Molds?

"Everyone considers themselves otaku about something—whether it’s the mythology of Lost or the minor intrigues of Top Chef," writes Oswalt. "American Idol inspires—if not in depth, at least in length and passion—the same number of conversations as does The Wire. There are no more hidden thought-palaces—they’re easily accessed websites, or Facebook pages with thousands of fans. And I’m not going to bore you with the step-by-step specifics of how it happened. In the timeline of the upheaval, part of the graph should be interrupted by the words the Internet. And now here we are."

So where do we go from here? Oswalt, partly tongue in cheek, has an answer: overload the culture with geek thought until the entire system collapses upon itself. Only from there will a new counterculture arise and a new generation of outcasts united by their passion for a niche TV show, comic book, music taste or art form. To paraphrase Lt. Vasquez from Aliens, Oswalt may be right. Let's begin a crusade to have the contestants from Miss Universe tell us what their favorite scene from Joss Whedon's Firefly was, or how many times they've leveled up playing World of Warcraft.

Read Patton Oswalt's essay here.

-Wired but delivered with style and grace by Mrs. Crunchy via email.

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