For years I’ve struggled with the geek is the new chic take in American culture. Everyone, even my parents, now claims to be die hard Star Wars fans. (Mom, don’t lie!)
That comment I shouted out to my Mom is what bugs me so much about this trend. It’s a bandwagon mentality. I don’t mind having a new legion of Star Wars fans, but don’t act like you have ALWAYS been Star Wars fans or have loved them since the beginning.
What got me thinking about this was an article posted on the Entertainment Weekly page where they talked about the anniversary of Stardust and how it was such a wonderful and marvelous film. For those who may not remember, Stardust was a project based on Neil Gaiman’s book by the same name. It was, at best, a mediocre success. The book and movie came out when Gaiman was known more for comics than his literary work.
OK, let me stop there. I already know that some people are going to shout at me and say what’s the difference between a comic book writer and a “literary” writer? They will say Gaiman is skilled in all forms of the writing craft. Here’s the point, I agree with you, but before Neil Gaiman was Neil Gaiman and before comics were geek cool, not to many people knew of Neil Gaiman and he was considered, with noses high in the air, as a comic book writer. He wasn’t considered literary except to comic book fans.
I saw a flashback video on a San Diego station showing a report from the San Diego Comic Con from 1989. They had a huge crowd of 10,000 people and the big draw was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Up until the year 2000, local coverage of Comic Con was a thankless job because they had to see the freaks and geeks parade downtown. I’ve been around long enough to remember hearing these words mentioned about the coverage from local reporters at Comic Con at the time.
I’m very torn with the fame of conventions because while I want to expand the culture in all things comics and SF, I think a lot of people that are fans today don’t respect or appreciate what took place before the big budget, multi-universe comic book media tie ins.
What I seriously dislike is publications like Entertainment Weekly suddenly finding an appreciation in work I suspect is due in large part to newfound popularity of a genre rather than true appreciation. Neil Gaiman has the successful American Gods, he has a new book out on Norse Mythology and now he’s a unique voice of pop culture. I’m not taking anything away from Neil Gaiman, but why aren’t publications like Entertainment Weekly looking at some of the contemporary writers of the DC British Invasion period? Why wasn’t there a discussion on Karen Berger, the woman who brought writers like Gaiman, Grant Morrison and other to DC Comics?
See, there isn’t going to be an article like that because those types of publications focus on the pop and sizzle of pop culture rather than the history and motivations that grew from the time. It could be that I’m expecting too much for Entertainment Weekly to dig deeper into the story, but Entertainment Weekly now devotes a large amount of their web presence to the coverage of Comic Con, just like other news outlets. What was a joke is now respected, but is it a love for the art or is it a free trip to San Diego in the summer time to rub elbows with stars that is the true motivation?