Comedian, actor and high profile nerd Patton Oswalt has written an editorial for WiReD Magazine titled “Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die”. In the article, Oswalt explains how our everything available anytime internet culture is making the concept of geek culture obsolete. Here is a short excerpt 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. …. 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.
This was just a portion of a much larger rant, which you can read on Wired, but these segments ultimately sum up an observation of over saturation. Do we focus too much on finding ways to recycle and remold the same shit, so much so that we bleed it dry? Does having information, communication and masturbation (it’s kinda sad how 3 little words sum up the entire internet) at your finger tips give too much of an instant gratification? Is our “what’s next?” mentality hindering creativity? Oswalt makes makes some good points. It certainly looks like we are coming to a cultural collapse, but increased access to culture inspires more art from society, does it not? For his point to make sense at all new art would need to stop. Which as of now, hasn’t. Has it slowed down? Maybe, but people are seeing more movies than ever. Geeks are still alive and strong. It’s impossible to consume all that is out there. The future is filled with possibilities. Personally I think Oswalt himself is too much living in the past and can’t let go of that “I saw (insert subject) wayyyy before it was popluar” mentality.
What do you think of Oswalt’s theory? Is geek/nerd culture over saturated? Is nerdom as we know it coming to an end?