(Part 2 on Nerds Rule)
By Bob Morshidi
Times were hard. You could not loudly declare your allegiance to any particular fandom, only liking them if they got famous and made a trillion bucks. You had to hide who you actually are, in the meantime publicly making it seem like you were normal by supporting a football team or only enjoying classy movies.
And then, the fandom arrived.
The Fandom Awakens
The rise of the internet connected more people in ways unimaginable. News that would usually take days to be delivered now took only minutes. Used to be, the main source of news was television, and some people wouldn’t even know who won the World Cup till two days later because of differing time zones. The internet negated all that. Information was just a click away.
After the success of The Lord of the Rings, people were yearning for fantasy, and Harry Potter was rising in popularity. A mixture of great writing and wonderful worldbuilding meant that this story about an orphaned boy who would grow up to fight a great evil was everyones obsession, and the great thing was that unlike Lord of the Rings, HP was still being written in the early 2000’s. As the author, J.K. Rowling, was busy typing out books 5, 6 & 7, fans had to make do with online forums, which eventually made way for fanfiction (Stories written by fans of a medium, set in that mediums universe). Soon, fanfics of different popular culture entities were being written, fan movies were being made and slowly but surely, the social consciousness was starting to accept that it was okay if you wanted to be obsessed with something that was more than just sports.
Nerdery has existed for a century, but was now being accepted as the norm and not just the stereotyped as bespectacled boys in a basement playing Dungeons & Dragons. Everybody and their mom waited in line for the next Harry Potter book to be released. Literally in my case my mom brought me out at 5.00am for the release of Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince.
However, even though arguably Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter gave rise to the social acceptance of nerd life (as I like to call it), what truly made it the big deal was the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Whatever It Takes
The first movie of what’s now known as the MCU was Iron Man, and took everyone by surprise. First, it had an A-list Hollywood superstar at its helm, Robert Downey Jr. (who admittedly, at that time, was just getting out of his addiction issues and was already considered a has-been A-lister). Previously, comic book movies were known to make stars, not have them already be in the movie.
Secondly, it had production values so high that comic book movies before it paled in comparison. Do me a favour and compare Iron Man 1 to an early 2000’s Spider-man or X-Men, and you can see a general increase in quality in graphics, storytelling and direction. Not to say, god forbid, that the X-Men and Spiderman movies had bad production value of course. However, the polish in Iron Man 1 was undeniable.
Thirdly, it broke the number one rule of superheroes; never reveal your real identiy. At the end of the movie, in the middle of a press conference Tony Stark actually admits that “I am Iron Man”. I remember being in the cinema with my friend, Firdaus, and was absolutely gobsmacked that it happened, because it was just an accepted fact that alter egos are meant to be alter egos. This built so much intrigue that fans and non-fans alike were looking forward to what came next. In the end, 23 movies later, the MCU has now become part of cinematic history.
Now, Everyone’s A Nerd
Yup. Everyone is a nerd now, in one way or another. People finally understand that nerdery is loving something so much you know it by the back of your hand.
Your mom watches Crash Landing On You and knows who the actor who plays Ri Jung Hyuk is married to in real life. Your mom is a nerd because she took time out of her day to Wikipedia that. Your uncle now obsessively reads all of Ernest Eng’s comics after he delighted us with his wonderful “If Covid-19 was an anime” series, then your uncle is part of the Ernest Eng fandom (I’ll be talking about Ernest more in the final part of this series).
Now, everyone’s a nerd. I’m sure some of you will say, “So what? Being nerd can make money meh?”
Well sir and madam, stay tuned for the final part of this series and we can discuss and discover Malaysian nerds who have made a mark in this world, and the list is more extensive than you can expect.