I don't write full-time, I haven't yet arrived at that ultimate blessing/curse of doing what I love to do as my for-real employment, but Hipster, please! and, to a greater extent, my work at GeekDad has allowed me to supplement my income by actually doing something I dig. And I have you to thank for that.
'Cause it's what I do. I'm a thanker.
It's also *ahem* tradition that in this year-end wrap-up I thank longtime backers like Jason, Matt and Church (AKA: The Shadow Council), faithful supporters like Larry and Chris and Jarod, and new-found homies like Euge and kHill.
Which I guess I kinda just did.
It's also required that I hem and haw over what were the standout releases of the year, and this time around that's even more problematic than usual. I mean, I reckon I have my top spot reserved for either Kirby Krackle's Super Powered Love or Supercommuter's Products of Science depending on which way the wind blows at any given moment. But with stiff competition from (aforementioned homeboys) Adam WarRock and Mikal kHill, The Bossfights' phenomenal debut full-length, Illbotz hilarious Pudding is Delicious, that brilliant Weird Al tribute album and significant major label showings from old favorites like Anthrax, there really are no losers in this race.
But what I do most in this little year-ender is spotlight one particular geek that set the tone for the previous 12 months. Sometimes I single out a long-established musical innovator. Other times I point toward the future of our tribe. Mostly, though, I cheap out and pick a whole group of people as my "nerd of the year."
Which I'm about to do now.
As nerd culture becomes pop culture, fandom, long our secret, hidden shame, becomes our currency. Whether in a bar or at the supermarket, I'm just as likely to hear cats rattling off baseball stats as passionately discussing Galactica, and that's an interesting paradigm shift. But, lest you fear that this wholesale adoption of nerddom will somehow sour your loser-makes-good victory of brains over bros, let me point out that 2011's most potent, virulent and widely remarked upon flavor of fandom came from a very unlikely source.
Over the past several months, as the brony ranks have continued to swell, I've heard their little enclave often damned and even more so observed with a sort of stunned journalistic silence. But while I can't claim to be one of them – my casual association with the property likely paints me more as at most a "brony sympathizer" – I am here to say that they are no more confounding (or annoying) than any group of motivated Trekkies, Browncoats, Wrock kids, Juggalos or Volunteers fans. They merely represent a new breed of fanboys that are less afraid to let their geek flag fly, even when it does so in the face of the traditional trappings of masculinity.
In a culture where gender roles are so ingrained that we almost refuse to think about them, the idea of men in their 20s and 30s latching onto a "girl's TV show" for no other reason than they recognize its artistic merits gives me renewed hope. Sure, nerd life has long existing in a space that often avoids some common masculine pursuits – sports, to use one stereotypical example – but the idea of men willfully embracing a series aimed at females represents a small but significant shift.
If nerdism stands for anything, it's the dogged refusal to put away childish things. It's a willingness to cling to the joys and wonder of youth even as we feel ourselves getting older. We are eternal adolescents, reminders that one can grow old without ever growing up. This is personally liberating, but the larger specter of gender disparity stills haunts us as a group.
If we are ever to get past not only our own culturally propagated sexism but that of the greater world around us, we must learn to avoid our own long-laid traps. If we're to raise our daughters to understand that chemistry and coding and Call of Duty are as much within their realm as that of their brothers, then we need to set examples. Even minuscule ones. If we're ever to make the words "geek girls" – surely as buzz-worthy a phrase as "steampunk" or "dubstep" was in 2011 – an obsolete relic of our divided past, then we have to change the way we allow our culture to be defined, from within as much as from without.
A violently promiscuous new Catwoman or a line of fem-LEGOs don't represent steps forward for our nerd sisters; they stand out as further examples of our general miscalculation of what the women, young and old, in our midst both desire and deserve. And if a group of a dozen dudes getting together and combing the
You go the fuck on.
In 2011 bronies made news and music and memes and, yes, waves, and they did it all for the love of a cartoon. And if that ain't nerdcore, then I don't know what is.