The term “nerd” is something of a misnomer, as Patton Oswalt pointed out in his excellent 2010 Wired magazine essay, “Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time To Die.” He argued that the Japanese term “otaku” better suits what we generally mean when we say nerd: Someone with “obsessive, minute interests” like videogames or comics or movies.
Still, “nerd” is useful as a word, because most Americans aren’t likely to be familiar with otaku. Owalt went on to say that nerd culture has become mainstream culture, pinning the shift right around 1987 after the last issue of Watchmen came out. “I wasn’t seeing the hard line between “nerds” and “normals” anymore,” he wrote. “Fast-forward to now: Boba Fett’s helmet emblazoned on sleeveless T-shirts worn by gym douches hefting dumbbells.”
So really, describing Miscon, Montana’s largest and longest running sci-fi convention, as being a pretty nerdy event isn’t an insult. It means they are enthusiasts, just as we are all enthusiasts about something. The array of things to be enthusiastic about at Miscon is breathtaking: from panel discussions like “Is ‘Big Bang Theory’ geek-friendly or geek-bashing?” to special guests like movie weapon specialist Dragon Dronet. You might want to check out the Friday evening tin-foil hat making session, if you’re concerned about mind control. Or go argue a pivotal question of our time at the panel “‘Walking Dead’: Is It Actually Any Good?”. (I feel strongly that it is not, and I am prepared to defend this.)
And there’s more, enough to tickle anyone’s fancy, from origami folding for kids to a drag show to the horror film festival to Saturday morning cartoons. Plus afterparties, which no doubt lead to some hot and heavy nerd make-out sessions.
Go on, head to Miscon and get your nerd on.
- Kate Whittle