Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Nick Colin – 5.10.2006

By Nick Colin

There was a time when it was “un cool” to read comic books, watch fantasy, dress in argyle or thrift store clothes, wear thick-rimmed glasses, and participate in games like Magic The Gathering. “Nerds” or “geeks,” as they were commonly referred to, had a difficult time pulling girls, making friends, or avoiding wedgies and beat downs.
Then, out of nowhere, the face of popular culture received a drastic makeover that would redefine these misunderstood beings.
The rise of rock groups like Weezer and Fall Out Boy, along with comic book films like X-Men and the new Batman, changed the status of geeks worldwide. Suddenly, it was “hip to be square.”
The origin of the rise of the nerds can be traced back to “geek rock” group Weezer and their front man Rivers Cuomo, who fit into every aspect of the geek criteria listed above.
The group had enjoyed success with its hit singles “Buddy Holly” and “Undone” back in the mid-90s, but faded out in the latter half of the decade. In 2001, Weezer exploded back onto the popular music scene with vengeance.
They sparked the “Emo,” short for emotion, rock revolution that basically consisted of melodramatic musicians whining about their failure to find a niche in society and experiencing love for the first time.
Today these groups, the most popular being Fall Out Boy, Death Cab For Cutie, Dashboard Confessional, and My Chemical Romance rule the rock world and have helped to spawn a unique fashion that requires teens to raid thrift and army surplus stores for wardrobe and apparel.
The popularity and acceptance of “Emo” and comic book fan boys is evident in television shows like The O.C. where the most popular cast member is the scrawny, awkward, comic-reading Seth Cohen (Adam Brody.)
Throughout three seasons of the show, Seth has been fought over by two very attractive girls, dated a rebellious hotty, and been hit on by Paris Hilton.
The comic references and nervous banter that once spelled doom when engaged in conversation with a female are now looked upon as cute and funny.
Furthering the ascension of the geek is the massive box office success of comic book adaptations. X-Men, released in 2000, and X-Men United, released in 2003, both grossed over $150 million domestically.
Batman Begins, released in 2005, grossed $205 million in the U.S. Comic book movies were always successful, but now that success translated into an edgy hip ness that was socially acceptable.
My friend Duke used to snip his underpants so that they would tare easily. This way he would only suffer through one wedgie a day. He never dared discuss his favorite comic books. His Magic The Gathering card set was safely stashed away in his backpack. He was unable to express any sort of individuality out of fear of humiliation and physical abuse.
Duke and his friends met like a secret society up in his room after school to discuss topics ranging from: Why Bruce Banner’s pants never ripped off like his shirt did when he transformed into the Incredible Hulk to the necessity of Superman’s cape. You’d think they were polygamist or that they were sacrificing live animals.
Now that comic books are cool, Duke is able to sport his Professor X t-shirt when he goes out to the bar on weekends. His head is high and his walk is looser than John Travolta’s in Saturday Night Fever.  He has a self-confidence and vigor to rival Dr. Doom’s. He has even met a girl who used to date nothing but basketball and football players in high school.
Abraham Lincoln said to “avoid popularity if you are to have peace” and William Penn said to “avoid popularity; it has many snares and no real benefit.” I guess it is ironic then that young Duke has found nothing short of peace in his new found popularity and acceptance.
The “benefit” to Duke is that his arms and legs, along with his pride, are no longer black and blue. He can be confident in who he is now.
The word geek, which means “somebody who is considered unattractive and socially awkward,” no longer has relevance or, at least the same meaning, in this age of tolerance. Kids, next time you feel like playing Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, or Magic The Gathering in the backyard, instead of baseball or football, have no fear.
Break out those Watchmen or Milk and Cheese comic books for show and tell without the fear of laughter or taunting. You are now socially acceptable.

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