Patton Oswalt: Wake Up Geek Culture. Time to Die
Actor and Comedian Patton Oswalt recently wrote an article for Wired called Wake Up Geek Culture. Time to Die. Oswalt goes on to explain in the interview how the geek culture is becoming obsolete due to the internet culture and how everything is available to us at anytime.
Here are a few little excerpts from the article:
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. You had to wait, month to month, for the issues of Watchmen to come out. We couldn’t BitTorrent the latest John Woo film or digitally download an entire decade’s worth of grunge or hip hop. Hell, there were a few weeks during the spring of 1991 when we couldn’t tell whether Nirvana or Tad would be the next band to break big. Imagine the terror!
When everyone has easy access to their favorite diversions and every diversion comes with a rabbit hole’s worth of extra features and deleted scenes and hidden hacks to tumble down and never emerge from, then we’re all just adding to an ever-swelling, soon-to-erupt volcano of trivia, re-contextualized and forever rebooted. We’re on the brink of Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever.
I know it sounds great, but there’s a danger: Everything we have today that’s cool comes from someone wanting more of something they loved in the past. Action figures, videogames, superhero movies, iPods: All are continuations of a love that wanted more.
Now, with everyone more or less otaku and everything immediately awesome (or, if not, just as immediately rebooted or recut as a hilarious YouTube or Funny or Die spoof), the old inner longing for more or better that made our present pop culture so amazing is dwindling.
Here’s the danger: That creates weak otakus. Etewaf doesn’t produce a new generation of artists—just an army of sated consumers. Why create anything new when there’s a mountain of freshly excavated pop culture to recut, repurpose, and manipulate on your iMovie? The Shining can be remade into a comedy trailer. Both movie versions of the Joker can be sent to battle each another. The Dude is in The Matrix.
The coming decades—the 21st-century’s ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s—have the potential to be one long, unbroken, recut spoof in which everything in Avatar farts while Keyboard Cat plays eerily in the background.
Oswalt's idea to fix this problem is to "to make the present pop culture suck, at least for a little while."
As you can see, Oswalt makes a very good argument in the article he wrote, some things I agree with others I don't. But one thing I have personally noticed over the last few years is that Geek culture has definitely become more mainstream. It's like everyone wants to be a part of it now because it's reached pop culture status. Who would have ever thought Geek would be cool? But, hear we are.
While I was growing up in the 80's I could get away with being a geek because I was a kid wearing Star Wars t-shirts and playing with G.I. Joe's. I never really grew out of it though, so when 90's hit... lets just say it wasn't easy being a geek in high school. It's weird to think that had I been in high school now I would have been the cool kid in school. There were obviously a lot of us that were just ahead of our time. Now it's over saturated. Geeks don't stand out the way they used too.
As for making everything suck to reboot pop/geek culture... no, I don't agree with that. I don't want to go through a time where everything sucks! De-evolution isn't the way to fix a problem. We just have to let things run their natural course. The hard core geeks will always hang in there. It's the wannabe geeks that are currently jumping on the band wagon that will eventually fade away. Some people just wont have what it takes to keep up with how fast everything is moving these days. But right now there are a lot of great movies, video games and technology coming out that are mind blowingly awesome!
I understand there's still a lot of crap being developed as well, but there is also some incredible talent in the world creating original ideas and telling amazing stories that restores our faith in certain aspects of geek culture. Why do away with all that to make room for more crap? Geek evolution has brought us to this point, and we will never go back to the way things were. We just have to adapt to the way things are headed, and it will be interesting to see where it geek culture goes from here.
That being said, it's not time for geek culture to die, it will never die, it can't die. It will only evolve.
What do you think about the path that geek culture is currently on? Share your thoughts with us and let us know what you'ld like to see happen with geek culture next.
Here's a little video that came along with the article Oswalt wrote. Make sure you read the full article here.