Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

Patton Oswalt and the Death of Nerd Culture

Right off the bat, let me say that I’m someone who has called himself a nerd before. Thanks to many long years of experiment and self training, however, I have managed to transform myself from a shy, awkward social pariah into a gregarious, outgoing social pariah. So it goes. I don’t really want to make a big honkin’ deal out of it, but apparently Patton Oswalt does.

If you don’t know who Patton Oswalt is, he’s a hilarious comedian. I’m a fan. When I was a child pariah, I spent many hours staring at the television during the dark days of the 80s comedy boom. That was when pretty much anyone with a funky sweater got a chance to tell jokes. Thankfully, all of those comics were shot and their funky sweaters burned in 1991.

Much as I like Oswalt’s comedy, I take issue with some of his points in a Wired article of his that I read yesterday. It deals with the Internet’s affect on nerd culture. He has this to say:

The problem with the Internet, however, is that it lets anyone become otaku about anything instantly. In the ’80s, you couldn’t get up to speed on an entire genre in a weekend.

As an aside, I didn’t know what otaku meant, but apparently it is a Japanese word that means “someone who is obsessive about something”.

Oswalt makes a great point. The Internet has made it easier to find out about obscure stuff, and that means that basically anyone can nerd out about anything quickly and easily. This is hardly a tragedy. In fact, I one might conclude that there’s never been a greater time to be a creative person. Yes! A creative person such as, say, a writer or a comedian.

That aside, what’s with the fitness hate, Patton?

Fast-forward to now: Boba Fett’s helmet emblazoned on sleeveless T-shirts worn by gym douches hefting dumbbells.

Just because someone lifts weights they’re not into obscure stuff? That guy probably writes Patton Oswalt furry fan fiction in his spare time.

I remember the betrayed and exposed feeling when my little sister started liking Guns ‘n’ Roses as much as I did — No, damn it, they are my band! — but isn’t it really kind of nice that everyone, no matter how obscure their tastes are, can find a community of people to relate to them?

If anything, I think the Internet has shown us first that everyone is a nerd, and second that it’s okay to be one. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.

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