The Gentlemen Nerds

Podcast / Pop Culture

Ep 25. The Gentlemen Hipsters

The Gents mourn the death of cool and the crass commercialization of fads. Learn how to get under their skin and what makes their teeth itch. A contest is announced for our fair listeners. Witty episode summary not included.
 

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1 Comment Ep 25. The Gentlemen Hipsters

  1. Curtis Hart

    Love, love, LOVED this episode and hit WAY too many nerves as you discussed. As a fellow crotchety old man who wants these kids to get off his fandom lawn, I totally have my own “Cool before it was cool” story. Although, this may need some explaining:

    Star Wars

    Now, I know what you’re thinking, this was HUGE when it first hit the silver screen back in 1977. But when I saw it, something inside me changed. This wasn’t entertainment. This wasn’t a movie. This was something specifically created for ME. And as the months and years passed, my level of enthusiasm only got bigger and bigger, while everyone around me, while liked it, treated as sort of a side-note.

    I had friends where we all got together with our action figures and played together. But then as time passed, the ‘newness’ wore off and while I still wanted to recreate the fight on the Death Star and lift plots from Battlestar Galactica to make it a Star Wars scenario, suddenly when I arrived with my shoebox full-o-figures, they wanted to go outside and play baseball, or a boardgame. So, for me, while it was popular – only *I* kept it ‘fandom popular’

    I had the posters, I had my action figures and vehicles prominently displayed on my bookshelf when not being played. I built the models and hung them from my ceiling, coordinated into a dogfight between each other – and even hung colored straws from there to simulate the lasers.

    Then my first sense of ‘elitist’ came about around 1984. Kenner was running out of vehicles to capitalize on the franchaise, so they started developing and selling these sort of ‘mini’ vehicles.
    http://www.battlegrip.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/minirigs-001.jpg

    This was NOT my Star Wars! And I became infuriated! How can there NOT be continued admiration for the trilogy as it is? There’s no need to introduce these knock-offs!

    Then the Thrawn books came out. Fantastic! Renewed interest in the Star Wars lore for the masses. I bought each hardback as they released and gobbled them up. At the conclusion of each book, I set it down, grabbed my bullhorn, climbed the highest hilltop and announced “I have just read ‘Heir to the Empire’ and ready to discuss!”

    Silence.

    Then the prequels came out. Again, excitement. I had a kid about my age when I saw Star Wars in ’77 (Yes, I don’t call it ‘A New Hope’ I’m THAT guy) so I was excited I got to continue my love of Star Wars through him.

    We saw The Phantom Menace when it came out, opening night. And something felt ‘off’ watching it. I mean, it was Star Wars, but wasn’t. Partially, for me, because I was never a fan of the Jedis. Blaster over lightsabres as Han Solo was my familiar. But my son loved it, so that was fine.

    But again, my fandom vs everyone else was the minority. Sure, again, everyone loved the new swell of merchandise and saturation of everything Star Wars (Mountain Dew? Really?) but again, not to MY level.

    And as conversations went from Original Trilogy to the Prequels, my nose turn up higher and higher with each passing of casual conversations. Halloween passes each year with more and more Anakin, Qui Gon Jin and (young) Obi-Wan, as well as the Clone Troopers. No Vader, no Luke, no Leia and especially no Han?!?! Sacrilege!!!

    I’m done. That’s it. NO ONE has the respect of Star Wars like I do. I’m going to take my ball and go home. Harumph!

    Then the prequel backlash started getting steam. Hey! You can’t do that! Bashing the prequels for not being the OT was MY thing! I can’t even dislike something as my own now! What the hell?!?!

    And now The Force Awakens comes out. My fandom has been rekindled. I’m excited again. I’m 7 years old again. And with that feeling of being 7 years old again, comes the level of fandom I have vs. the populous. Sure, everyone has a TFA t-shirt from Target for $12.99. Sure with that, there’s a new resurgence of OT merchandise. But I’m the elite fan. Funko Pop is too mainstream. Now I’m challenged that I’m MORE a fan of Star Wars than the casual collector. I have to look for unique items now to stand out as if to say, “You like Star Wars? That’s great! Me too! I just, uh…like it MORE than you. That’s all.” Snooty McSnootypants is back and in full swing.

    So let the Star Wars pissing match begin! Star Wars embroidered polos for work? Check. Star Wars VANs shoes? Check. Toiletry kit with Imperial logo embossed for my business strips? Check. Sandtrooper authentic costume I’m building? BIG ol’check! I’m doing it! My equivalence of the Ford pick-up with mag wheels to compensate my insecurities are well in motion.

    But like you, I noticed ‘What’s wrong if they don’t like something to the level I do?’ At least they’re enthusiastic to some level. And when enough people like something together, the market responds. Sure we get kitschy crap collectibles with the Star Wars logo haphazardly slapped on the side. But for every dozen or so crap collectibles, there’s that one gem that surfaces that would’ve NEVER been available if the audience was solely people with my level of fandom for it.

    So I’ve being at peace with not only MY level of fandom, but others as well. Like Revenge of the Sith over Empire? That’s fine. Those Funko figures? If that’s your thing, go for it.Jar Jar? That’s a hard swallow, but if that floats your boat, embrace it. We have a common thread between us for an intelligent discussion, and now I understand it’s more important to understand *why* they like whatever aspect of something over mine, rather than brow-beating them why my view is right and they’re not.

    I’ve made my peace. I’m back at my level of fandom. I’ll embrace anyone (Star Wars or other) that has any level of passion for a particular subject, because for whatever reason – that’s what’s important to them. And who am I to say they’re wrong?

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