After mentioning a couple of times that now, with the internet and whatnot, it’s so easy to find stuff and information that would’ve been impossible to find, what, 15 years ago, I read this article by Patton Oswald on geek cultures called Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die, and he puts it much more eloquently than I could.
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!
But then reflect on the advantages. Waiting for the next issue, movie, or album gave you time to reread, rewatch, reabsorb whatever you loved, so you brought your own idiosyncratic love of that thing to your thought-palace. People who were obsessed with Star Trek or the Ender’s Game books were all obsessed with the same object, but its light shone differently on each person. Everyone had to create in their mind unanswered questions or what-ifs. What if Leia, not Luke, had become a Jedi? What happens after Rorschach’s journal is found at the end of Watchmen? What the hell was The Prisoner about?
Now, I’ve never been a nerd in the otaku-sense, but as I teenager I was into the metalz and esoterica (which is pretty nerdy in its own way) and I guess the only reason I never really got into role-playing was the lack of fellow-nerds. Plus, I was and am terrible at math. (However, the fact that I am aware of the entire Duke Nukem Forever farce gives me away.)
I especially like the second paragraph in the quote, because, shit, remember that? When you couldn’t look stuff up on the internet and if you didn’t understand something in a movie or book, well, tough luck asshole. Especially if none of your buddies had seen or read it…then you were on your own.