I find myself bemused by the sense of entitlement and ownership we geeks have toward our media in this day and age. From how beloved literary characters are portrayed on the screen to how a popular television series ends, we have become so used to this pandering to geek culture that any perceived miss-step has become an affront to our very being.
Take the recent onslaught of disgruntled fans surrounding the finale of the television series Game of Thrones. Everyone in the fandom knew that this series would not end in a mutually satisfactory way. I mean, how can anything exceed let alone meet the expectations that we, ourselves, placed on it’s shoulders? Yet many people act as if this final season was one of the worst 8+ hours that has ever aired on television. Sure, I don’t think it was to the caliber of the previous seasons but, even if it were would fans have been happy even then? There have even been people complaining about the universally acclaimed Avengers End Game, claiming that ‘Fat Thor’ was fat-shaming and certain characters were misused in their deaths. There seems to be nothing that is immune to this tendency of negative reactions to, well, everything.
I write this as a lifelong fan of what has become, in recent years, known as Geek Culture. It is said that that The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, in many ways I have to wonder if it is not the Geek who have truly inherited the world around us. In the past couple of decades we have seen a wondrous growth in the popularity in the things we have loved all our lives even while facing ridicule for it. From comic book characters becoming mainstream to a plethora of fantasy stories being produced with massive budgets (and even bigger stars) the worlds we enjoyed in secret have been opened up for the world to see and they love it. Maybe, that in itself is the issue.
Ironically, while you would think we would revel in this newfound feast, we have become somewhat jaded by this bountiful plenty that is being handed to us on a silver platter. Yet with this gift that we have been given, there are many (including myself) who howl and complain that it is just not good enough. That we could have done better. Yet despite all of the complaining, we need more. The funny thing is, what we have is pretty damned good. In fact, if we had had a fifth of this 30 years ago, we would have thought we had died and gone to a much better place.
Have we forgotten the days when our beloved heroes and villains were considered childish & foolish with their portrayal relegated to children’s shows and low budget films? Have we really become so spoiled that a series that rivaled our very own childhood imagination is no longer enough for us? No, we haven’t for gotten, we have just been spoiled on the overwhelmingly good meals that the cheeseburger we once ate is no longer good enough for our highly pampered palates. Instead of the geeks who devoured every crumb left to us, rarely complaining and ever grateful, we now gorge ourselves with the buffet of delights dismissing each delectable dish as not quite to our liking as we polish it off before consuming the next another in search of a flavor long forgotten.
Don’t get me wrong, we geeks have always been a group of complainers but our complaints had been relegated to our personal groups where we jokingly laughed at films and shows that we secretly adored. We had our own form of the water-cooler talk whether it was over a tabletop game or just in the schoolyards avoiding physical harm. Unfortunately, with the rise of social media and instant communication around the world, those of us who privately bemoaned the absurdity of films like Masters of the Universe and Super Mario Bros. have found an echo chamber online that amplifies our vitriol for everything, no matter how slight.
Due to this echo of vitriol, we have developed into a form of Toxic Fandom. We have begun to taint the very things we begged and wished for as children a lifetime ago. We have started petitions for the artists to change video game endings that we don’t like, entire seasons of television that we don’t enjoy and even demand remakes of films because it ‘destroyed our childhoods’. Gone are the days we lamented a bad film and never watched it again, only including it in our collections when it was part of a boxed set. Gone are the days we laughed at B-movies made with our favorite characters and soon discovered an ironic enjoyment in their absurdity. Now that very fandom has been replaced by a self obsessed complainer who demands that the award winning chef to replace a masterfully done meal with an entirely new menu.
Ever since Peter Jackson showed us what could be done with a beloved story we have been hunting for that flavor again, even though there will never be another taste quite like that one. What will it take for us to accept the fact that we are now chasing a dragon ourselves with each fascination becoming less and less satisfying as time goes on? Will there ever be a truly fulfilling product presented to our now spoiled minds that will be universally hailed as a triumph of our now diminished imagination? No, of course not. With every bar set, we want it knocked down by the next one and so on. I fear the days of our faith in the fanciful are gone and our childhood fandom has been replaced by a jaded countenance that we wear in response to every new wonder presented at our feet.
When this wave of Geek Culture at it’s peak has come to an end, where will we be then? Will we accept that our day in the sun has ended, will we look back and realize what we ignored and complained about not knowing that the end was nigh. No, of course not, we will just complain that no one is making Superhero movies anymore or that television series have gotten dumb again. We will never be pleased even when the world is doing all it can to make up for the decades of ridicule and wedgies. We have become the very embittered people we avoided in school. We have become the Toxic Fandom and it is that worst version of ourselves that future generations will remember once our time has passed. The Geek may have inherited the Earth but, much like Daenerys, we will only end up destroying the very thing we have fought our entire lives to achieve.
Late To The Game 5/22/2019
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