Not that long ago, in a galaxy known as the Milky Way, on a planet called Earth, I read the words 'Save a Non-Geek Today' in a PC Format1 editor's note, and was amused by the seemingly far-fetched concept. Little did I know that those words foretold the revolution that is silently sweeping over the world and converting the masses into geeks without them realising it.
A short decade ago, people who spent hours playing video games, reading fantasy, science fiction and comic books were thought to be weird and had chairs thrown at them wherever they went by their peers. These people went under 'derogatory' labels such as nerd and geek and were generally frowned upon for their silliness and were told that they should grow up.
What people don't know though, is that you can't keep a nerd down for long because they will go back to his secret lair (because we all have one of those) and hatch a plan, so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel, to take over the world! Which is exactly what happened, the nerds took over a chunk of the Hollywood machine and with it a large portion of the world. The message being sent out to the masses is, 'Don't f*ck with us! We know how to build guns that shoot lasers.'
There was a time
There was a time when you had only a handful of television shows and movies to pick from if you had a craving for super heroes, space or medieval settings, especially if you were an adult and wanted something fantastic, yet mature. Television and movie studios were reluctant to touch such material because they feared that they couldn't sell it to a wide enough audience.
Steven Erikson, Canadian writer of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series of fantasy novels, spent nearly a decade trying to sell his script for Gardens of the Moon and nobody wanted it because it was too ambitious! He'd walk out of studio meetings with his friend, and co-writer, Ian C Esslemont having heard words such as: 'Try something . . . simpler. Something like everything else out there.
Something less . . . ambitious.'2 Studios didn't want to invest in material that audiences might find to be too complicated or weird, which makes sense to a large extent but in the process they were grossly underestimating the intellectual capacity and imagination of audiences. People wanted something that would challenge them, hence the success of ventures such as The Matrix. People wanted to go to the cinema and be sold a fantastic story that is intelligent enough to actually buy into. People wanted, as Erikson puts it, 'sophisticated shit'.
This is the space-age
This, my furry friends, is where we are at, the space-age of television, cinema and literature in general. Admittedly it's a little annoying that the 'real' world is not the high-tech one envisioned by great minds like Isaac Asimov, in which the human race has conquered the stars. The nerds are in charge of a large slice of the Hollywood pie and, like the gay community, we (me not so much actually, which is an outright travesty!) have the buying power to sustain that hold. Since the release of movies like The Lord of the Rings, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, 300, Sin City and others beside sci-fi and fantasy have had a ubiquitous presence in the box-office.
Last year was great in terms of quantity! Seeing releases like The Green Hornet, Priest, the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Transformers 3, The First Avenger: Captain America, Cowboys and Aliens and Conan the Barbarian! This year we have Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance currently showing in cinemas and we are looking forward to titles like The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-man, Men in Black 3, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Fantasy, it would seem, is especially big in the form of television series. This is not surprising, however, considering the length of the average high fantasy series of books. Shows like Legend of the Seeker are rather lacklustre compared to their source material but the release of gems like Game of Thrones shows that the genre can really do well on this platform.
The masses love these movies and shows and don't even notice that they're buying into the worlds of the kids they made fun of in school. The nerds are taking over an important aspect of people's lives, their imaginations. Just take a look around you at the wide-eyed uninitiated masses captivated by dragons, lasers and men of steel on the silver screen or their LCDs and LEDs at home - slavish devotees of the wonder that is fantasy, sci-fi and comic books with the nerds at the head of the revolution.
1September 2003 Edition, Intelligence Publishing 2 Steven Erikson. Gardens of the Moon (2007 Bantam Press, Great Britain), Author's Note, pp. xi - xvii.
Charles Siboto is a delightful, albeit mischievous, young man of 25. When he's not standing perfectly still in the hope that people will leave him alone, he's reading something to do with horses and/or spaceships or blogging (goodbuddies inc. and The Jot Book) about that sort of thing. Call cell +27 (0)84 891 1726, email or connect on Facebook
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