This clip is a short excerpt from Public Broadcasting Atlanta’s Four Days at Dragon*Con, a one-hour documentary about Atlanta’s massive pop-culture convention (“Nerdi Gras” as one interviewee calls it).
As a fairly geeky individual myself, it occurred to me at the Con that the only real dividing line (and it is a wide and blurry one) between nerds and the mainstream any more is the level of enthusiasm for a given pop-culture property. What was once considered nerdy or geeky, let’s say fantasy or sci-fi, is now part of the mainstream. Comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy movies are hugely popular. Are you a geek for going to see the Dark Knight or the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Of course not. You and everyone else did. Are you a geek for getting really into the DC Comics source material or dressing up like a hobbit and doing some LARPing? You bet your stick-on pointy elf ears you are.
But so what? At Dragon*Con, 35,000 other people are doing it, too. As I’ve been wrapping up this flick, I’ve thought about how different it would have been to do it, say, 10 or 15 or 20 years ago: back when Cons really were a gathering place for outside-of-the-mainstream folks and LOTR was just a gateway drug to nerdier stuff like D&D.
So where does one actually cross over into geekdom today? This is something - level of enthusiasm as geekometer- that I wasn’t able to fully explore in the documentary. No one expressed it in those terms, and some people I interviewed disagreed with me when I postulated it; working without narration, I’m at the mercy of what my interview subjects say. This segment (or rather, segments, as this is two different parts of the documentary jammed together) is where Four Days at Dragon*Con briefly touches upon nerd self-identification and the sliding scale of geekiness.
Four Days at Dragon*Con will begin airing on PBS stations throughout the country in April of 2011.