The Nerd Microcasm: When There Is No Other, We’re Stuck With Each Other
An interesting thing happens at places like Fan Expo, where all we nerds are gathered together: you see, in the greater world, we nerds band together and defend each other against the rolled eyes, snorts of derision, and snarky comments that have been hurled our way since we were old enough to nerd out. But in the safe, smelly confines of Fan Expo, there is no other. There’s just us.
Quoteth Sartre: Hell is other nerds. (This is, of course, Dave Sartre, renowned Star Trek…yeah, this joke is out of steam.)
What this means, in practical terms, is that when you get all us nerds together, we stop being nerds and start just being people again, with all the quirks and qualms we have out there in the real world. Suddenly I don’t want to come to the defence of a guy dressed in an ill-fitted Batman costume, because the asshole just totally shouldered me out of the way so he could look at a fucking TARDIS cookie jar.
This becomes particularly clear in Q&As, where very, very quickly people’s true and often extrordinarily annoying tendencies begin to manifest.
For example, here’s a gem from each and every Firefly related panel for the past 11 years:
“Is there going to be another Serenity movie? Or is the series going to come back? Can you ask Joss Whedon to bring it back?” (I watched Nathan Fillion drop the hammer on a guy about this today and it was glorious). Now remember, we are nerds. By our very definition, we are obsessive, fact, and detail oriented people. We spend enjoyable hours trolling message boards, news sites, everything available sniffing out new info about our favorite franchises.
If Joss Whedon even said the word ‘Firefly’ near a Fox executive, the Internet would explode. We’d know. Immediately. Everyone.
And yet, here we are, listening to yet another idiot ask a question they already know the answer to. It’s not only infuriating, it’s vaguely insulting. These people (and god dammit they are legion: Dollhouse, Firefly, Star Wars -then that actually happened-, I even heard someone ask Shatner if he was going to write any more Tek Wars novels and he practically laughed them out of the Expo.
There are also the ones who really want to espouse their theories about a show (I watched Chief from Battlestar Galactica respond to one once, “I’m just an actor, dude. I’ve got opinions about things, but they’re no more valid than anyone else’s in the room. So, yeah. Next question?”), those who want a hug (Zachary Quinto actually let her. Class act.). Perhaps it’s having a foot in the industry and being and knowing actors, but there is a staggering amount of confusion about the fact that actors are people and not (as many seem to assume) the God Emperor of their franchise.
And then there are the walks.
In a truly classic ‘this is why nerds suck’ vein, you have never seen more actively disruptive and socially unaware walking patterns than you have at an Expo. There’s the ‘lean-forward-stagger’, the ‘I’m trying to dart nimbly through the crowd but lack nimbility’, and, of course, the aforementioned ‘swag seeking missile’ which generally cuts a swarth of awful through any crowd while loudly exclaiming to all within earshot their excitement at swag which is 99.99% of the time from a major, current franchise so it’s no mystery that it exists.
(From last year: the fiancé and I were literally shoved aside by a screaming girl who exclaimed in genuine shock and awe, “OMG! Look! TARDIS earrings!!!” If you throw a rock in any direction at Fan Expo you will hit both Doctor Who merchandise AND someone dressed as the Doctor. It’s the modern day Star Trek. These earrings should be no surprise to anyone with eyes. …unless those eyes were taken out by that rock I threw. In which case, your joy is legitimate and I am sorry for blinding you.)
And for all my ranting, I’m sure I’m in there too.
For the last two years, I haven’t had time to build costumes (as Fan Expo consistently follows a busy theatre season) and thus I’m that ‘half there guy’, the one browsing both the booths and the costumees, but seemingly oddly apart from them.
It’s a little like not wearing a costume to a Hallowe’en party. Particularly the hardcore female cosplayers give you the look of ‘Who wore a Hawiian shirt to Prom?’ thing, which is actually pretty cool. I’m being nerd-shamed and I deserve it.
And yet for all of this, the first time I heard a ‘that is so wrong’ comment from an asshole outside the Convention Centre about a larger girl in an unflattering Sailor Moon costume, I was immediately back on the side of my fellow nerds.
The nerd microcosm is a bit like a family; they’re your people, you’re stuck with them, and some of them are assholes. And frankly, it’s awesome that there’s a place where I can recognize that, because it means we’re all actually being ourselves.
Assholes and all.