The nerds have taken over Hollywood, America and the world. It wasn’t just superheroes either. Zombies, androids, vampires, wizards, aliens, werewolves, intergalactic sagas, Lego, H.P. Lovecraft, Tolkien, board games based on TV shows – though these things were never unpopular per se, they always belonged to children, or to people at the lonelier fringes of the culture. Now they are the culture.
It’s true that a lot of pop culture seems perpetually juvenile. It’s also true that a phase of extended adolescence seems to be the new normal — not just in the case of entertainment choices, but also concerning the delayed onset of careers and families, the traditional markers of settled adulthood. How much of this is a sign of cultural enfeeblement and decadence? Alternatively, how much of it is attributable to the new “problem of abundance” created by technology, which allows individuals an increasing plethora of options with which to customize their lives, even as it disrupts the stability of many career options? In other words, is the end nigh, or is this all just the latest sound and fury in the open-ended evolution of a species with no inherent telos? There are many interesting angles that could be explored regarding this topic. Unfortunately, since we inhabit a deeply-stupid media ecosystem, all slippery slopes must lead to you-know-who:
If many people in a society feel like outsiders and the major mass culture tells them loudly and constantly that this is a noble thing to be, then what kind of politics will you have? There are battalions of pollsters, number-crunchers and political scientists who could explain what happened in 2016 – but a Trump presidency became possible first with the popularity of characters like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne.
If the Venn diagram overlap between Comic-Con attendees and MAGA-hat wearers didn’t exist, it would have to be invented. It’s like a more mainstream version of intersectionality — all bad things are interconnected. The popcorn entertainment I disapprove of is basically the same thing as the worst political trends in the world. It’s convenient how that’s always the case. Ironically, just a few paragraphs earlier, he claimed that Marvel movies “reflect Americans [sic] paranoia right back at them to pack out theaters.” Apparently they also serve as a foundation to allow critics to make specious, not to say paranoid, connections in order to pack out a word count.