Look at it: A world built on fantasy. Synthetic emotions in the form of pills. Psychological warfare in the form of advertising. Mind altering chemicals in the form of food. Brain washing seminars in the form of media. Controlled, isolated bubbles in the form of social networks. Real? You want to talk about reality? We haven’t lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century.
—Mr. Robot, “Mr Robot”
At the end of March of 2013, I resigned from my job as editor/writer of a “geek culture” website for one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in the world.
My job—which I had for almost 3 years and was quite successful at based on sheer numbers alone—was being replaced by a person I had brought on as a writer to the site, and whose work for the company I had nurtured. I guess continuing on that “nurturing” line, my boss said I could still stay on…in a “den mother” role.
I realized at that moment, listening to all this as the person who was taking my job sat next to me on the little couch with nervous spots of sweat quietly dripping down his face, that my boss had no idea who the fuck I really was or was all about.
But to be fair to him—and to my replacement, who so much better encapsulated that type of desired uber-fan—my heart in terms of being a full-fledged proponent of “geek culture” had started to wane some time during the summer of 2012…some time after those vague uncomfortable feelings during that Comic-Con…some time after the Aurora shooting…my heart waning ever more as each domino in The Year Of The Mask, the year where politics and comic book culture converged, went on.
One of my stated jobs at the site was to present pop-culture sans politics, sans opinion, sans anything that might be controversial whatsoever. Everything that we covered had to be presented as uncritically as possible—a constant celebration.
And yet…geek culture itself was becoming increasingly political, even seeming to impact actual politics itself. In the process, a lot of what made comics and superhero movies fun was being destroyed…which would seem to back up my boss’s claim that all the politics/ideology/criticism should be removed from the coverage.
But there was something BIGGER forming from all this swirling soup of pop-culture fans, online controversy, and a shifting political tone. It was all like…a runaway train I could see coming down the tracks from hundreds of miles away. And it was all leading to this sort of…singularity.
And this wasn’t all just going to impact the fan community, or Hollywood, or whatnot. This was going to impact the entire world. It was going to change the entire world!
I couldn’t articulate all this at the time, however. I just listened to what my boss had to say on that Spring evening, went to my office, cleared out my shit, and sent a set of resignation letters to all pertinent parties the next morning.
Fuck geek culture. It was bullshit, it was literally eating itself. Fuck it—I was out.
And so I embarked on a three-year period of self-discovery; not so much Eat Pray Love as Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. I wrote a massive amount of stuff at that time. I read a massive amount of material, more than I thought I was ever capable of.
I changed…in such a rapid, profound way that to this very day I question it. What the fuck happened to me? Even things like my musical taste radically altered.
And that whole…fan community, geek culture, the peer group I knew. I had a harder and harder time relating to all that, to them.
I had crossed some sort of boundary. And I had first crossed it back in 2012, I think, at that convention…that’s when it started. Because everybody there seemed so happy; and I felt so uneasy.
Why wasn’t I happy too? What was bothering me? Why was I taking all these notes on the current culture, on the media? Why was I writing all this? Why did I care?
And then, sometime late 2015, it “hit” me. It hit me during the presidential race, where it was all leading to.
And then I just dug out all those notes, compared them to what I was reading every day in the news online, and I knew.
I saw the train.
Geek will eat itself; the icons of our culture becoming the faces of contemporary world politics. The “geeks” of one generation becoming the shapers of political discourse in the present. The media, pundits, and demagogues all too happy to co-opt these icons—if not also the disaffected groups of fans themselves.
It’s not just “kid’s stuff” anymore, folks—it’s grown up! We won!
They take us seriously now! It wasn’t all just a waste of time! Nobody will laugh at us anymore, or make fun of us!