It is a wonderful age in which to be a geek.
The most popular show on television is a fantasy epic complete with dragons, magic, and an entire lexicon of highly detailed names – places, people, swords, and languages themselves, each custom-crafted to the culture and geography of the imaginary world of Westeros. Game of Thrones has earned more Emmy awards than any other show in history, and its viewership (some 8.9 million viewers, as of the most recent season finale) has saturated mainstream culture.
A new Star Wars movie has come out every year for the past three years (and with Solo coming soon, it will be four)- and each one has dominated the box office upon its debut. Even the polarizing latest installment has proven to be a financial success on a global level, and fans such as myself are enthralled waiting for the next installment. Disney has committed itself to Star Wars fans by investing millions into the construction of “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” – a 14 acre immersive experience at its theme parks, replete with life-sized spacecraft and a cantina stocked with Blue Milk just like Aunt Beru used to pour. It’s set to open in 2019, and the eight-year-old version of me still can’t believe I’ve lived to see this dream become reality!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken the superhero film genre to a previously unimaginable new level – making even obscure comic-book heroes (Rocket Raccoon? Iron Man?) into household names, and creating the largest and most financially successful series of films ever designed – coming to its apex in the two part film “Avengers: Infinity War” this summer, but not before breaking presale records (again) with the star-studded cast of Black Panther. Never before has a film franchise managed to spin a story with continuity between 23+ feature length films, as well as 10 television series – all featuring an incredible array of talent in both the production, design, and acting casts.
Comic convention festivals have become a regular, annual occurrence – a perfect chance to congregate with like-minded nerds, geeks, otaku and fans. Attendance at San Diego Comic-Con has been growing every year, and the event has sold out for the past 10 years. The events have become so popular that recently San Diego has recently won a lawsuit trademarking the name “con”, which is why you see other cities, such as Phoenix, having to change the names of their conventions (although “Phoenix Comic Fest” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, in my opinion). Never worry, though, because new conventions are propping up all over – anime viewing conventions, horror festivals, Renaissance Faires and more have made the way to meet and rub shoulders with your fellow nerds more accessible than ever before!
Speaking of accessibility – video games have become a pastime shared by the majority of the population (65% of households include at least one person who identifies as a “gamer”). The industry now has the talent and technology to churn out dozens of award-winning games a year, and the conversation of games as an artistic medium has been launched, spawning exhibits in museums, galleries, and convention centers. Virtual Reality, once a mere figment of Stanley G. Weinbaum’s imagination in 1935- now, a real-life novelty whose potential is rapidly being mined for. Master film-maker Steven Speilberg states that VR-dominated reality (as is explored in the book and upcoming film Ready Player One) is a prophetic “amazing flash-forward…” of what our world might be like in the near future.
Even without VR being readily available (yet) – the internet’s influence coupled with amazing advances in modern gadgetry now allow streaming media to be shared and savoured across the continents and in virtually any space – in my current viewing lineup, I enjoy BBC’s Doctor Who and Sherlock along with TokyoTV’s Attack on Titan! – each directly imported from across the pond(s) in either direction to any device in my home, backpack, or pocket.
As a born and bred geek (my mother met my father while listening to Weird Al Yankovic’s “Yoda” – the stuff of romance, there) – I am exhilarated by the discussions going on online and in person, touching each and every one of my fandoms – predictive theories based on deep textual analysis, the creation and sharing of artists inspired by the same stories, characters, and worlds that I enjoy – the communal aspect of “Fandom” has become a huge part of my way of life, and I am immeasurably grateful for the friends and memories that being a “geek” has allowed me to make.
That concept – “Fandom” – is what brought me to begin this series. Maybe because I think too much, maybe because geeks invariably seek validation, or maybe because I hypothesize that other people out there feel the same way I do- that “Fandom” is more than a trite hobby that occurs when one places too much emphasis on their choice of entertainments. The idea that there might be much larger, philosophical ramifications of the stories that the world has come to know and love- that’s what brings me here.
Joseph Campbell once proposed that every myth that humanity has ever told is connected, somehow, to a “collective subconscious” – a type of dream that all society shares, and that the myth attempts to realize. These myths may include legends of great beings battling terrible villains, or might recount the creation of the world. Myths tell the stories of a man becoming a hero, through trial by obstacle, antagonist, or fate.
Myths often are religious in nature – telling the stories of gods and spirits, of a “chosen one” and the prophecy surrounding it. The tales may recount grievous wrongdoings, or related tales of redemption and reconciliation.
It is my proposal that Joseph Campbell is entirely right, and that our collective subconscious has invested value into these stories as our modern mythology.
Furthermore, these myths merit serious analysis to determine their philosophical and spiritual impact. If these stories are so spectacular that they capture the imaginations of millions of human beings around the world – there must be something that causes that resonance. Why else would the stories of Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins, or Naruto Uzumaki each garner such a devoted fanbase?
It is the mission of The Geek Canon to treat the mainstays of geek culture as if they were a type of scripture – to pore over the details of modern mythology in order to decipher deeper meaning in the collective subconscious.