A couple more long(ish) posts soon to come. For now, here are some links.
“Hero Building”: On Gizmodo, an embedded video and some comments on “NY Jedi School Trains Lightsaber Enthusiasts (To Be Bigger Geeks).” The first few comments are mostly about how people are shocked that attractive women are in attendance, but that eventually moves into discussion of how profitable it would be to own a battery store in the area. For social researchers, the clip is worth watching for one instructor’s discussion of how the classes allow for “hero building” among shy attendees; otherwise, it’s worth watching because the lightsaber fights are actually pretty impressive. Updated for the line I meant to quote from the video but forgot about, near the end (thanks, Jordan): “It’s about nerds trying to better each other, and make their lives better through the dorkiness that makes them great.”
Nerdcore is “Insane”: The Boston Globe has an article on nerdcore that touches upon the tensions in the culture better than most newspapers’ takes that I’ve seen (link via Dan). MC Chris explains why he’s trying to distance himself from the scene, some of the rappers make a case why it’s an homage to hip hop rather than a (potentially racist) parody, and some nuggets here even suggest that it’s more like mainstream music stardom than one might imagine. Of the nerdcore concert at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, one documentarian notes, “It was insane. They eventually had to shut the show down…. They caught rappers doing coke in the bathroom, they were smoking joints on the floor. There was literally porn stars there.” (Incidentally, I’ve been informed that the porn convention in Vegas happens at the same time as CES.)
The Fall of the ‘Graphic Novel’: Eddie Campbell laments the loss of ‘graphic novel’ as a useful term (link via Journalista). Those who first popularized the term wanted to create a distinction not just between saddle-stitched and squarebound comics, but between those with literary and artistic pretensions that might find a foothold in mainstream bookstores and those that still carry a stigma of juvenility and geekiness. Of course, now it’s associated with traditional superhero comics and manga. It’s uttered with irony by many, transparent as a gussied-up term for ‘comics’ with no useful formal or critical distinction. In Eddie’s words, “it got borrowed by a bunch of boobs and it came back busted.” That may sound somewhat unfair, considering that even the artsiest comics artists tend to imagine their work as sharing the same medium with Spider-man and Dragonball Z, but as Eddie’s post points out, it’s the critics who feel the need to make some distinction, and that’s a distinction that could make quite a difference for some publishers.
“He’s about something that American nerd culture can get on board with: really knowing one subject and going all out on it,” says Ben Darrington, a Ron Paul supporter at Yale. “For some people, it’s Star Wars. For some people, it’s Japanese cartoons. For Ron Paul, it’s free-market commodity money.”
“The Internet’s Awesomest URL”: Kotaku refers me to Homotron, a new tech blog spinoff from GayGamer. Along with Pink Kryptonite (for comics) and Velvet Dicebag (for tabletop games), these form “an unassailable bulwark for gay geek culture to thrive,” according to Homotron’s welcome post. I’m not sure what makes it particularly “queer”â€”looks like your standard tech blog to me, so farâ€”but I’m fascinated by the implication that there is a distinct “gay geek culture” separate from (or nested within) geek culture more broadly.