Archive for the ‘Toys’ category

How Nerd Culture Became a Mainstream Culture

June 5, 2010

I remember growing up being classified for most of my youth as a “nerd”- I stopped playing sports very young, I read comics, I knew too much about topics only a few people cared about, and I managed decent grades in school.  I learned very quickly that- until I found my own kind to run with- to stay quite and keep my head down.  This was the pox given to those labeled “nerd” in that time, that of the outcast.  Move forward to today and “nerd” is the new cool.  Now it is okay to be different and be involved with things that were once considered too “nerdy” for the general public culture.  How did this happen?  How did being a “nerd” go from being a bad thing to being a good thing?  While I make no claim to be an expert, here are the reasons I believe the views have been changed over the years:

Video Games become one of the most successful forms of entertainment: For several years now video games have kept pace with all other forms of media in total sales both in the US and globally this includes movies, music, video and books.  There are also more gamers in more genres playing now more than ever.  In a report released in February 2009, there was 50 million users on XBOX LIVE and the PSNetwork.  Lets not forget the over 5 million that still play World of Warcraft like a religion.  The simple fact that there are so many gamers out there now makes it easy to see how video game culture become excepted as a norm so quickly.  The terms “WOW” and “Gamertag” are now common terms for anyone age 10-30 and even beyond.  We were a generation that grew up gaming and have made it the powerful entertainment industry that it is today.

The “Always Connected” Age of Computers: When I was a kid, it seemed odd if you knew too much about one thing.  Now, with the ease of the internet and the ability at any time to connect to it, anyone can quickly become an expert even if it’s in their own mind- about any topic within minutes.  In fact, it was seen at one point that owning a computer or such device was the factor that instantly made you a nerd whereas now if you don’t have at least a computer of some kind you are the person out of the norm.  We now live in a technical world that requires knowledge of things that once seemed only possible to those in the nerd world.  Even the computer age has grown more excepting of those that were once outcasts- at one time it was odd to have a “website” and “post on a messageboard” but now nearly everyone in on Facebook and has several blogs they read and message boards they post on.  The sub culture changed within itself to except what is actually happening: everyone is connected almost all the time and are part of the ever-growing universe that has become the Internet.

Nerd Topics go Hollywood: Breaking into the mainstream in the US is actually an easy feet if you can accomplish one goal: make a successful media item- especially in the form of television or film- and get people to watch it.  You can either let it happen naturally or you can market your item to the point where you tell people they are supposed to like it.  But all sarcasm aside, topics generally seen as only for nerds have become not only popular forms of media but huge financial successes, leading to even more media from those genres being created.  Look at all the franchises that used to be seen as “for nerds only” that are now part of “must see tv/films”: Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Lord of the Rings, Stargate,etc.    Then think about all the media that grew out of their success: Heroes, Twilight, Harry Potter, all the Stargate and Battlestar spinoffs, all the other vampire tv shows and movies.  Add to that the retro franchises like Transformers and don’t forget the huge success that comic book movies have had over the last decade, especially the Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Batman franchises.  Anything that was once seen as nerdy is now fodder for possible success in various forms of media.  In fact, there are whole movie and tv shows made based on the nerd lifestyle- Big Bang Theory, The Guild, Superbad- and they have all had success.  True that this is due in part to the quality of some of these works, but also to how fans of these shows support what they like.  In fact this helps to complete the cycle- at one time it was the ultimate in nerd to be a die hard fan of something -like a Trekker- while now it is all part of the experience of enjoying what you like.  Being a fan of something is actually cool now, and even a socially acceptable way to spend ones spare time.

Nerds outnumber the Norms and take control: I think everything above is due to one simple truth- there are more people now than ever that consider themselves nerds than ever before.  And, for the first time, it’s okay.  You can get excited a new Mario game is coming or a new Spider-Man movie is being made or the last Scott Pilgrim book is coming out.  People have become not only more tolerant about each others differences but also more free to add there support and love as well.  Nerds don’t have to fear the jocks anymore.  In fact, it is now the nerds of the 80’s that were once so tortured that control the output of entertainment of the world.  Why do you think all of a sudden all those movies were finally getting made?  Those same grown up nerds are also the bosses of their one time tormentors.  They can freely talk about anything they like without fear of abuse simply because nerds now outnumber the cool kids.  In fact, this balance is so off that in most cases the cool kids ARE the nerds, at least to some degree.

Sure, it’s odd to live in a time where being a “nerd” is not a bad thing.  But it’s a welcome change. Now let’s all get our +5 Dexterity vest, lightsabers and NERF guns and have one good LARP session.  Wait, that might still be too nerdy….

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It’s that time again….

July 18, 2009

Just dropping in between trips to let everyone know I’m off to San Diego this week for Comic-Con once again.  I’ll be updating regularly through the Twitter account-this time with pics from time to time.  It will be a hectic mess, but a good time should be had.  Hope everyone is having a great summer and I’ll be back in a week or so.

TAGTIST 62309: …actually, if mine did this I’d be terrified

June 23, 2009

Transformers week continues…

TAGTIST 62209: Wish mine did this…

June 22, 2009

It’s Transformers week!

1984 was the greatest year ever

June 9, 2009

A ton of articles are popping up on this very same topic, so I decided to put in my own two cents worth.  However, just to be different, I’m just going to give you a list of everything that came out in 1984 and let those items be proof enough as to how awesome that year truly was to pop culture, America, nay…the universe as a whole:

Movies: Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, Footloose, Police Academy, Beverely Hills Cop, The Last Starfighter, Nightmare on Elm Street,  flippin Purple Rain, Revenge of the Nerds, Sixteen Candles, Splash, The Terminator, This is Spinal Tap

Television: Jeopardy, Miami Vice, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, Kids Incorporated, The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss, Night Court, Punky Brewster, Highway to Heaven, Murder She Wrote (hey, I watched it with my grandma)

Toys: the big obvious one is Transformers.  Transformers AND Ghostbusters in the same year?  How did my young mind handle the awesome.  There was also Mattel’s Secret Wars Marvel figures and DC Super Powers Collection.  These things were like plastic crack.  And let’s not forget Nintendo is just a few months away….

gotta love a toy commercial hidden in entertainment….

Music: the aforementioned soundtrack to flippin Purple Rain, 1984 from Van Halen, Bon Jovi, 99 Luftballoons, Run DMC, Spinal Tap, Chicago 17, Private Dancer (what’s love got to do, got to do with it?), Born in the USA, the Bangles, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Frankie Goes to Hollywood (and says to relax), Madonna’s Like a Virgin, Stevie Wonder calls to say hello, Wham! is two very friendly friends, and Cyndi Lauper is making hits

that’s what I think of doing every time I hear that song….

Comics: Marvel creates the crossover with Secret Wars bringing along with it Spidey’s new black costume and subsequent alien problems, Alan Moore -the eventual co-creator of the Watchmen- starts to write American comics with Swamp Thing, DragonBall in syndicated for the first time in Japan, and the friggin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their comic debut.

sooo many memories and wasted afternoons…

Damn.  What a great year.  Since my generation has no wars to define us, we are defined by the culture around us.  I can’t wait to tell my grandkids I was there for the big one-1984: the year pop culture was at it’s best.

Diary of a super geek: My trip to San Diego Comic Con!

August 12, 2008

Sorry it took so long, but it’s finally done!  I figured the best way to handle this would be in diary format, so without further ado:

Wednesday

My trip to San Diego started at the butt crack of the AM as I had an hour and 1/2 drive to catch a 8AM flight.  Little did I know that security at the Atlanta airport has now reached beyond overkill, past ignorant and back around to stupid…but that’s another article all together.  Due to the long wait in security I have to rush to my plane – which I almost missed!- and get the good news that I’m sandwiched in the middle seat between a friendly Asian gentleman and a large guy who slept the whole trip.  Funny thing is that as he slept he grew larger.  The saving grace was that the plane was full of Comic Con peeps; the nerd love was already being felt!

I hop off the plane four hours later but thanks to the magic of time zones it’s only been two.  My friend – who I stay with the entire trip- and her girlfriend pick me up and we go to a great Mexican place in Old Town, what I was later told was the original San Diego.   Very cool.  We head to the house to sleep of the awesome lunch.

Soon later I was introduced to the Orange Line trolley – my new favorite form of mass transit.  It’s like a subway system -or MARTA for Atlanta folk- but done up as a trolley and runs all throughout San Diego proper.  The Orange Line actually had a stop right down the road from my friend’s house, which made getting to and from the Con way to easy.  Good job, city of San Diego!

My friend tags along and we get to the Convention center and it’s already a buzz with people and activity.  Through some magic, bad ass-ness and just damn good luck my three day individual passes magically become a four day pass!  Now I get to attend preview night; Comic Con starts a day earlier than planned….

I instead get in line for the screening of JJ Abrams new show The Fringe.  This is when I make the first of my many Comic Con line friends.  They were all awesome – some I even traded numbers with and met up for dinner during the Con and even have talked to since that weekend.  The bad part is I that during the weekend I didn’t remember names as well as cities of origin so everyone become known by names such as Toronto, Denver, Spring Hills, etc.  In this very line I met Toronto and the San Diego Moms.  The Moms were great about telling me the best ways to experience the Con as they have been coming for years and everything they said proved exactly true.  After a wait, we finally were seated for the screening.

This would be my first tip to enjoying Comic Con if you ever get to go:  Don’t be afraid of waiting in long lines for an hour -or more- and make the best of it by making friends in the line around you.

Not much to say about The Fringe.  It was….okay.  A lot of crazy setup.  Nothing really special.

Afterwords I strolled over to the exhibition hall to check out preview night and my god was it a bit of a mad house.  There was obviously a large number of the people that were there to only get free stuff and buy all the exclusives.  It got maddening and I dreaded that the floor would be like this all weekend.  I decided to call it a night and go to dinner with the people I was staying with.  All in all, not a bad travel/first day, but man was I exhausted.  Remember, by the time I got home it was nearly 2am to me and I had been up since 6am.  Ugh.

Thursday

Today was my “check of the floor and get the stuff I couldn’t get last night” day.  Thankfully, the floor was much less crowded and I got everything I wanted both free and exclusives.  The floor had some pretty amazing things on it, made up of movie and TV studios, video games, comic studios, and shops that sold anything pop culture related.  It was like a flashy flea market for super geeks.

After some time on the floor I decided to check out my first panel:  a reunion of the cast from The Greatest American Hero.

This was a blast.  The three main cast members were all there and very friendly.  It was like my childhood all over again.

Later in the day I went to two other panels: Visionary Comic Creators and the Marvel comics panel.  While it was great to see live and in person a few writers and artists whose work I’ve been enjoying for awhile the panels weren’t all that excited or informative.  I assumed Marvel would announce something big, but they mostly said “wait and see” which was disappointing.

With the time change killing me, I decide to call it an early night again -by this time it’s 10pm back home!- and to dinner again with my roomies for the week.  I had to save up, because tomorrow started the big days….

Friday

Today started a bit earlier than the previous days, only because I’d had learned how the lines worked and I knew I needed to be in place early to get where I wanted to go.  Most of my morning was dedicated to following the crew from SPACED around and I had an agenda.

At 10am they announced where the line was to draw a ticket for a chance to be a part of the SPACED signing.  Huh?  See, how the “limited” signings work is you show up to the signing booth, they tell you what line to get in then you draw tickets to see who gets to actually get into the signing.  That’s Comic Con logic for ya, I guess.  I was fortunate and drew a winning ticket on the first try.  Then I headed to get in line to get into the room where the SPACED panel was to be held.  Told you I had an agenda.

I get to the room and surprisingly there is no line so I just walk in.  You quickly learn at Comic Con that you plan to attend the panel before the one you want to insure that you have a seat when the time comes.  Having no idea what this panel was I was soon pleasantly surprised.

Turned out to be a panel celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Power Puff Girls.  While on the surface that may not seem all that exciting until the entire cast comes out and you discover that these guys have voiced many of the best cartoons from the past decade if not more.  Chief among them was Tom Kenny, known mostly for his work as SpongeBob.  This was a really funny panel and a great surprise.

The SPACED panel was as I expected it to be.  That’s not a bad thing either.  Simon, Edgar and especially Jessica where very humble and gracious to the fans that turned out.  They answered the questions amazingly well and seemed to have a good time.  Now on to the SPACED signing.

I was saddened to realize I was one of the few people in line who wasn’t just there to see Simon.  I sort of felt sorry for the fans in line that didn’t get a winning ticket that morning, only to loose to a guy who just had them sign their t-shirt or a postcard they gave out during the panel.  But Edgar and Simon were nothing but fun and chatty – I didn’t even have time to say anything due to the fact that Edgar started a conversation with me that carried over to Simon (it was in reference to the spelling of my name and where I was from).  I attempted to pay Jessica a compliment without seeming skeevy, and she smiled and said “Thank you” in here surprisingly shy way.  The first part of the agenda finished, I had some time to return to the floor and check out a few of the shops and booths I didn’t make it to the day before.

As the evening turned to night, I made my way to Hall H: the largest of the panel halls at 6500 seats.  I didn’t have to wait in line again and walked in just in time for the Spirit panel with Frank Miller.  I have to say while the panel was nothing special the movie clips they showed, aided by Samuel L. Jackson’s appearance, made the movie look much better than the trailer does.  Nest up was the Star Wars panel, where they showed clips from everything Star Wars -including the new video games, movie and TV show.  The clips were great but I spent the rest of the panel talking to my neighbors; it felt to much like a business meeting for me.

Now to the meat of the night.  It began with an awkward panel with Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow (of all the Seth Rogan and Will Ferrell movies), Zack Snyder (300 and Watchmen director) and Frank Miller.  This panel was mostly Kevin and Judd making vulgar yet hilarious jokes while Zack laughed and Frank seemingly was bothered to be there.

Soon after this, Kevin came back with the entire cast of his new movie.  This was a great way to end a day.  Seth Rogan and Kevin Smith were awesome together and it made the movie seem like it was going to be great jsut based on the actors-director synergy.  The topics were varied and many, but everything got turned into a dick joke eventually.  I had a headache I laughed so hard.

I was going to stay for the SPACED screening, but there were a ton of people trying to get in and the group behind me said they were going to watch the “new Shaun of the Dead guy’s movie”.  Ugh.  I’d rather watch the DVD’s at home.  So I call it a night -at this point it’s nearly 2am back home.

Saturday

An even earlier start due to the fact that this is the day everyone said was the most crowded.  I get there to line up for the Heroes panel and, I kid you not, had to get in the longest line I’d ever seen in my entire life.  If it had not been for the awesome people I met in line -hi Denver!- I would have called it a day.  But once the line got moving we all went in and had a seat no problem.  I was really surprised how cool everyone was and how smoothly the large crowd was dealt with.

For the Heroes panel they literally brought the entire cast out and said “thanks for your support.  Let’s watch the first episode of the new season.”  Wha-huh?  And they do.  The whole friggin’ episode.  This was a top Comic Con moment not just because of how awesome it was for what they did for for what was going on: imagine watching a show with 6500 of that shows biggest fans.  People cheered and hissed.  The audience got into it.  It was awesome.

The Lost panel was next and, of course, they didn’t reveal anything about the show (they haven’t even starting filming the new season yet).  Matthew Fox came out with the two producers and they were funny and gave out great prizes to the crowd for asking questions.  While it wasn’t much, this had to be the best “planned” panel of the weekend, so it wasn’t a disappointment.  You could tell these guys love their fans.

Having been filled to the brim with nerdiness, I wondered the floor for a bit before deciding to call it a day and spend the afternoon with my housemates.  And they made dinner.  Sweetness….

Sunday

My friend I was staying with came with me today to see what it was all about so I let her plan what we did a bit.  We checked out the floor and shopped a bit and then went to Ballroom 20 (the second largest panel room) for the Harold and Kumar panel-she’s a fan.

We lucked out because we came in and they were showing an episode from a show.  We had now clue what we were watching but as it went on it got more and more hilarious.  Turned out we were watching the upcoming season premiere of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  I was an instant fan.  The three writers/stars came and and were great, soaking up the fans and very humble.

The Harold and Kumar panel was also actually pretty good.  The guys were funny, but completely opposite to the characters they played in the movies.  After this, my friend had to leave so it was back to the floor for me.

I met a few more artists, had lunch with people I had met the day before, and then we headed to the last panel of the show: a sing-along screening of the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  What better way to end the weekend?

All in all it was an amazing trip.  So much so I’ve already bought my 4 day pass for next year.  No I just have to count the months down…..

Here’s some other highlights of my trip:

1.  Meeting everyone in the lines/panels, especially Toronto, Denver, San Diego and his wife, and Clearwater.  Hope to see you next year!

2.  Running into Seth Green in the stairs and actually saying “hey man!”.  His response?  “Sup dog” just like he would have in Can’t Hardly Wait.  Flippin’ awesome.

3.  Finally seeing a Kevin Smith Q & A session.  If you ever get a chance to go to one don’t even think about it, just go.

4.  Picking up a sweet Masterpiece Megatron on the super cheap after dealing with a guy and having no clue what we where saying to each other.

5.  Playing Street Fighter IV and actually kicking some ass.

6.  Being 10 or so feet away from Claire the cheerleader.  She is absolutely flawlessly beautiful.

7.  Seeing people excepting each other for being themselves and everyone having a good time (yeah, that’s a cheesy one, but oh well)…

8.  Just having a great weekend with old and new friends!

Again…it was a blast – even with the crowds and the long lines- and I recommend it for anyone who even has the slightest interest in going to make plans to go; it’s completely worth it.  I got to see things that I like, got introduced to new things and met some really amazing people while seeing people I really look up to and enjoy talk about things that everyone there loved.

Off to San Diego!

July 22, 2008

I’m about to go pack and get ready for bed as I leave for the airport at the butt crack of dawn tomorrow.  I’m both excited and nervous, but mostly jsut looking forward to the whole thing!

If you’re interested, I will be making updates, but how and when depends on my computer access for the week and weekend.  My dream goal would be to post a journal of my day after I get done, but I have to be honest: running home to post a blog most likely will not be top on my “to do” list each day.

I will, however, be sending constant updates to the Twitter page throughout the week – that’s I promise I should be able to keep.  I post where I’m at, who I’ve seen, and any valid news to Twitter first, so you may want to check it out.  The link is the first on the list of “Links of Interest” over on the right.

Also, unless I get some time to work on it tonight, the TAGTIST posts will be stopping until I get back.  I appreciate everyone who have commented or messaged me as to how much they like the feature so I regret it is taking a few days off, but what can you do….It’s gonna be a busy couple of days!

So that’s it….if your coming to the Con try to find me!  I’ll be chasing Jessica Hynes all over the place, so I should be easy to find….

oh, Daisy….