On the Rise and Exploitation of Geek Identity – A Thesis
Remember when it was a big deal when a big movie studio was making a superhero movie? It was a rare occurrence, a chance for comic fans of many stripes to rally around a film that would hopefully deliver what they want.
It seems fan gratification is now the norm. Studios now churns out superhero films every summer, hoping to capitalize on the blockbuster season. Everyone watches superhero films. Nerdom, what once seemed impenetrable, now find itself subject to many popular franchises. Everyone can identify as a nerd, a geek, a fan. Why?
Nerd identity has its roots in owning stuff. Comics. Collectables. Within the root of geek identity lies an essential piece of capitalist ideology: buy things to define yourself. Of course, capitalism turned to all the comic franchises in the 2000s, finding more original material to render into celluloid. But the rise of nerd identity also arose from the indie scene as well.
With over a decade of digital distribution of indie art of all kinds comes more identity reification. Web creators, whether it be film, comic, written, etc., typically mainly profit from the swag they can sell as a spin-off from their work. After all, you can’t pirate a T-shirt.
Of course, this business model – making money from swag fans can buy – merely reinforces the concept of set identity to purchasing power. Fandoms thrive through consumption, whether it be from the corporations or the independents. It all connects
While indie distribution secured nerd identity, and capitalism made it popular, nostalgia bolstered nerdom’s grasp of identity as well. When people are confronted with personal change, they often hold on to what they know: the stuff of their past. As long as man-children persist in avoiding the changes surrounding them, it seems we’ll never get anything new out of Hollywood for a long time. The era of reboots, adaptations, prequels and sequels has already begun, and we’re all dragged into it for the long haul.
But sooner or later, something will break.