BREAK OUT YOUR POKE BALL AND COMIC BOOKS BECAUSE GEEK CULTURE IS IN.
ART CREDITS: Caroline McNally
Story by Caitlin Manocchio
Captain Americas, Sherlocks, Sailor Moons, Buffys, and many more of the most popular TV characters all roam the halls of WonderCon. Thousands have traveled to the Anaheim Convention Center in California to embrace their inner geek.
“Attending conventions have become a part of what it means to be a geek,” says sophomore creative writing major Melanie Stoffel.
WonderCon is just one example of the many geek convention events held in the Southern California area. Geek themed conventions host an array of panels, costume contests, signings, and sneak previews of the latest happenings in the realm of pop culture. Artist’s booths fill up the massive Artist Alley hall with handmade fan art and jewelry featuring the most popular characters in the mainstream media. In the past celebrities in attendance at WonderCon have included: Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Katee Sackhoff, Felicia Day, Will Wheaton, Gary Oldman, and more. Geek conventions give attendees the opportunity to dress as their favorite characters from movies, television shows, books, and graphic novels free from judgment because in today’s world many consider geek culture to be the latest trend.
“Geek culture is extremely different now. It is the culture surrounding the world of pop culture,” said sophomore creative producing major Victoria Wang.
Being a self-proclaimed geek or nerd has become mainstream according to many Chapman students. Not too long ago being called a “geek” would have meant “a person who is socially awkward and unpopular,” according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, but there still are some individuals who hold this definition to be true.
“Geek culture describes people that are not with it and people that don’t know how to interact with most other people,” said junior nutrition major Elyse Fischground.
Some students at Chapman disagree with this conception of the geek culture movement.
“Geek culture is being invested and enthused about any subject,” said sophomore digital arts major Amelia Nista.
Many Chapman students believe the word geek encompasses passionate lovers of comic books, graphic novels, books, TV shows, films, art, and much more. Two of the most popular self-proclaimed nerds of geek culture are young adult writer John Green, of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns novels, and his brother Hank Green, creator of the popular web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
“Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it,” said John Green. “When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
In 2007 the brothers created their own youtube channel, Vlogbrothers, and created the term “nerdfighters” for people all over the globe to identify with.
What is a nerdfighter?
Nerdfighters are “a community that sprung up around our videos, and basically we just get together and try to do awesome things and have a good time,” said Hank Green.
Southern California has become a hub for geeks and nerds to assemble at conventions including: ComicCon (San Diego), WonderCon (Anaheim), VidCon (Anaheim), Anime Expo (Los Angeles), and Comikaze Expo (Los Angeles). Three weekend events such as these allow geeks of all ages to engage with artists, writers, and actors who have succeeded and established their place in the history of geek culture.
This new wave of geek culture shows more women than ever before getting involved in gaming, comic books, graphic novels, TV shows, and anime. However, they often find it hard to be accepted by their fellow male nerds. Men at these conventions have often harassed female con-goers and as of 2014 women and men have petitioned for an anti-harassment policy to be instated on the site Geeks for Consent.
“Comics and games still seem to be viewed as a man's realm and often lead to women being shamed or face suspicion about being a part of the culture. I think this is because, for a while, women weren't really stating that they were interested in the subject and have only recently come forward to say that they are geeks,” said Nista.
When asking female Chapman students how they feel about the attitudes towards women in geek culture they believed there is often a stigma against female geeks.
“The men in geek culture look down on women and think it's impossible that women can like gaming and comics just as much as them,” said Wang.
While Wang feels the male circle of geeks don’t accept women, sophomore digital arts major Cheyenne Somers has a mixed view on the issue.
“I think it depends on what circle of geek culture we're talking of. In the circle of comic books, women are definitely not accepted. That’s only slowly starting to change with books or certain TV shows maybe. Things are really at a changing point for this and it’s hard to give a definite answer,” said Somers.
Actress and founder of the website Geek & Sundry, Felicia Day, believes that there shouldn’t be labels of geeks. Instead, she simply believes that everyone should support and be supported by the culture.
“I don’t self identify necessarily as a girl geek or a girl gamer. I self identify as a gamer or a geek and I just happen to be a girl,” said Day. “I just encourage other people just to find yourself outside of other peoples judgment and then you don’t feel the need to justify yourself to them. You just love what you love, look how you look, and you enjoy what you enjoy.”
Many interviewed felt that being a geek or a nerd has become a sub-category of pop culture. At geek conventions like WonderCon, attendees can meet thousands of geeks and nerds from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter if attendees dress in costume or their everyday clothes.
At WonderCon all are welcome.