It’s here, people. We’re living in it. The Golden Age of Nerds is upon us. And it’s a glorious time to be alive! We’re under two weeks away from the next Star Wars movie — the important one we all really wanted: the sequel to Return of the Jedi. And all around us, the cup of nerdy pursuits runneth over.
I don’t know about you, my fellow old nerds, but I am grateful for this resurgence of nerdiness. Let’s go back to those days in the 80’s when video games were in the fullness of their youth. Arcades were still hopping but the market was nascent. From Lode Runner to Dig Dug to Burger Time to some little game called Super Mario Bros., we were happy to play these marvellous, blocky games.
Heck, I remember having a handheld soccer game which was little more than a grid of LED lights and some electronic sounds.
Now, we can sit in immersive Mechwarrior simulators or travel the galaxy or fight dragons in glorious resolution, seeing shadows cast from fireplaces or examining the texture of virtual cloth. Just think about the leap between Commando (arcade game) and any of the big name FPS. (Virtual) combat has indeed evolved.
And then there’s television. I mean, sure, the wealth of genre TV is vast but let’s just look at what nerds really care about: comic books and fantasy and sci-fi. Once upon a time, we were lucky to have Star Trek: The Next Generation and Airwolf (which was basically science fiction, c’mon!) and eventually the first Flash TV show. Some of the other offerings were embarrassing. I won’t name them because this ain’t a post about negatives.
Now, we’ve got DC and Marvel all over the place, making good shows which appeal to difference audiences, from the family friendly Supergirl and Agents of SHIELD to the teenager-friendly Arrow and The Flash to the adult Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix, plus a period piece comic book (non-superhero) show, Agent Carter. Think about that: A comic book show without superheroes! And more on the way with Legends of Tomorrow, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. And this time around, much of the audience is make up of people who didn’t read any of those comics. Amazing.
And, yes, let’s not forget all the other genre stuff out there, from the monstrous hits (like Game of Thrones) to the little engines that could (like Killjoys), there is no end to it in sight. New shows everywhere! Some good (The Expanse looks pretty neat) and some not so good (oh, Minority Report, coulda woulda shoulda).
Part of this is because we’re living past the age of cable and in the future world where there are literally hundreds of channels — thousands if you have satellite TV. So, there’s a need for content for all these outlets but let it be said there is also an audience for it.
Then there’s the cinema, the theatre, the movies!
Again, starting with the two majors (DC and Marvel), they are fulfilling dreams. We old nerds know we had them. When Superman was played by Christopher Reeve (starting back in the 70’s), we talked about seeing other DC superheroes in such blockbuster movies. It never panned out. And all we got from Marvel were some horrid TV movies which we enjoyed because they were the only crumbs we could feed our famished nerd bellies with. And then Michael Keaton did his Bat-Thing and it was good. Well, a liiiiittle campy.
Between then and now, though, we had a Dark Knight trilogy, X-Movies, a Blade trilogy, one or two Spider-Man movies, something called the MCU including a Guardians of the Galaxy movie — whaaaat?! — and many other big budget, A-list actor, studio backed, highly-successful comic book superhero movies. I don’t care which ones you liked over those you didn’t, what an accomplishment! And it ain’t stopping.
Flipping away from comics, we’ve got a new Star Trek franchise (including a new show, hopefully without any more group shower scenes), sci-fi YA series like The Hunger Games, a very successful Harry Potter series under our owl wings, a great Lord of the Rings trilogy, a Hobbit trilogy (just go with it), a series (made by a D&D nerd who drank a lot of protein shakes) about a space antihero who can see in the dark and a wealth of SF/F movies which range in quality and popularity and success.
All of this leading up to this month where we’ve got one of the progenitors of nerd culture, the granddaddy of blockbuster nerdy movies, coming out with a sequel to its premiere trilogy, directed by the guy who worshipped at the altar of Steven Spielberg, written by the dude who wrote The Empire Strikes Back, and produced by the woman who oversaw E.T., Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park.
And Han Solo is back, and Princess Leia General Organa-Solo(?), and Luke Skywalker — LUKE SKYWALKER! — and Chewbacca. And soon there’s going to be a Deadpool movie, and then Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Captain America: Civil War, and Warcraft, and Black Panther, and Suicide Squad, and Wonder Woman and, The Avengers: Infinity War, and so on and so forth and more. I cannot even begin to name them all.
Come on, people.
This is an embarrassment of riches. It is an exciting time to be an old nerd. Some young nerds get it but we know most of them don’t. How can they. For them, they grew up when this was no big deal. It’s not their fault. There is no comparison for them to make. Their frame of reference is too short.
Us old fogeys, though, we know. We know that there are franchises making billions of dollars from millions of people across all major media, all adapted from the material we used to get stuffed into lockers for reading. We know that the pretty people and the cool people are just as excited to see stuff which only nerds dared to love, back in the day. We realize (or we should) just how lucky we are to have lived long enough to see this golden age.
There should be no bitterness and little complaint. Some stuff will work and some stuff won’t. But there’s so much to choose from in mainstream media that you’ve got to find your sweet spot. There’s some show, some game, or some movie that is your jam. There has to be because there’s so much out there. If you haven’t found it yet, then you’re not looking hard enough.
We’re basically living in a house filled with popcorn, as cooked by a super-laser fired from outer space. It’s our time. We rule the world, now, my fellow old nerds. It’s what we all wanted.
TL;DR: Suck it, Jerry.
I am absolutely certain I’ve missed out on some key games, shows, or movies, either in The Story So Far or in The Not Too Distant Future. Maybe Constantine was your jam or it was Andromeda or it’s going to be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or it is the upcoming Half-Life 3. I am sorry if I did but you may send your letters of complaint to the address below.
And Kent, stop playing with yourself.