Being a geek these days is a wonderful thing. In a strange turn of events, which really has still got me a bit twisted up, being a geek has become the “in” thing. It’s a bit of a weird feeling being able to talk about comic books and video games out in the open, without social repercussions. Seems that doesn’t extend to tabletop RPGs quite yet, though, but that’s ok. It’s only a matter of time.
The odd side effect of geek culture becoming mainstream is the commodification of said culture. All of sudden, content producers and product manufacturers realized there was a huge market they could tap into, and that they did. It’s not necessarily a problem, because that means more amazing content and merch for the geek masses, but because of the sheer amount of it, it’s just become really expensive to be a geek.
Yup, it’s expensive to be a geek these days.
I’ll admit, in the pre-geek revolution era, I wasn’t quite old enough to earn a real paycheck, so I may not have been aware of everything out there geek related… that, and the internet as we know it was still in its pubescence. These were the days of chat rooms, BBCs, AOL, IRC and Juno. For example’s sake, let’s take my favorite X-Man, Wolverine.
In the late 1980s to mid-1990s, I was all about Wolverine. Back then, there was definitely enough for to satiate the the needs of a Wolverine fanboy. There were, of course, the Wolverine comics, some X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-men Unlimited, the Weapon X graphic novel, etc. There’s a Wolverine card series I have lying around somewhere. There were maybe a couple of action figures out. And if you were fancy, you headed to Frank & Sons or the Sci-Fi and Comic Conventions at the Shrine to pick up a vinyl or cold cast Wolverine statue. You would probably go to Comic-Con as well. There’s the X-Men cartoon. Oh, and the video games. Wolverine: Adamantium Rage. X-Men the Arcade game. X-Men: Children of the Atom. Arcade’s Revenge. Others. Lots of them.
Nowadays, there’s even more stuff to buy/look at/play/read. And I’m not talking just cumulatively. There’s new content, new merch, all the time. I can’t even keep track of all the different comic books that Wolverine shows up in these days. The new Wolverine series, whichever X-men iteration they’re on now, Ultimates, Essential X-Men, there was a Wolverine Origins series, amongst others. That reminds me, there are all the movies now. And you know they’re just going to keep coming. I was looking at an infographic somewhere, and Hugh Jackman has now portrayed Wolverine in seven different films. So there’s all those, plus the accompanying video games that usually suck. All those movies are going to come out on Bluray, too, so you’ve gotta get those. Special editions, too. There are a plethora of action figures, statuettes, CCGs, RPGs, board games, t-shirts, cartoons, keychains, beer bottle openers, backpacks, everything. If you like Wolverine, you can probably find any household object with an image of that character on it. Heroclix. There’s that too! I was at Wizard World a few years ago and I almost talked a friend into buying a $300 resin replica of Wolverine’s adamantium hand/claws, for Zeus’-sake. And now, there isn’t just SDCC, there are multiple cons, and a lot of cons are starting to have crossover appeal with other cons. Concest. That’s a lot of hotel room reservations.
I’m sure you could examine every popular franchise/character in this way, and the outcomes would be similar. There is a metric fuckton more merch and content out there for the geeky masses. I’m sure the difference would be even more marked if we looked at a franchise that was relatively obscure before geek became chic. Additionally, this rundown only takes into account one franchise, in one area of a person’s geek habits. Most people I know geek in more than just one area. Think of all the stuff I mentioned in the previous paragraph, fivefold.
Then, there’s just the general geek-appeal stuff like all of ThinkGeek and This is Why I’m Broke. There’s also the geek t-shirt lines now, like the stuff at Qwertee, Teefury, Geeky Tees, W00t, Snorg, and some Threadless stuff.
Of course, no one is ever really forced to buy all this stuff. That would just be insane. But, holy crap, it’s a world full of geek temptation. And while you, as a geek, might not be attracted to all of the merch all of the time, there’s going to be that one thing that you’ve absolutely got to have. Or, you’re going to think of something cool, like, “You know what would be badass? They should totally release the Avengers/Marvel Phase 1 blurays in a tesseract case like the one in the movie. I would throw my entire wallet at that,” and all of a sudden, it will exist.
They’re in our heads. It’s probably because a lot of them are us. I don’t know if that made sense.
Watch that wallet. Pocket damage occurs in bursts, critical hits.
Dammit Pacific Rim, I want an action figure. Oooh Gipsy Danger Master Grade kit. That would be amazing.