Il Guardian risponde a suo modo alle accuse fatte la scorsa settimana dall’attore Simon Pegg che, intervistato dal Radio Times, aveva denunciato l’infantilizzazione della società. Secondo l’attore «tutti noi fruiamo di cose molto infantili — libri comici, supereroi. Gli adulti guardano questo genere di cose e le prendono sul serio». Il riferimento, nemmeno troppo velato, è anche al proliferare di serie tv e romanzi seriali. Tutte cose che il Guardian rubrica — in modo forse troppo leggero — come «geek culture». Prendendone poi le difese:
Geek culture has spread and engulfed us all. In a subculture once (seemingly) reserved for sci-fi, it now encompasses shows as diverse as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and The Simpsons. Once a specialist event, Comic-Con now draws personalities from all walks of film, television and music. Last week, the internet was collectively obsessed with the finale of Mad Men – a show that regularly tackled such heavy adult themes as sexism, alcoholism and death. And yet, like some fans cling to Batman, many of us clung to Don Draper, effectively proving that pop culture obsessions have less to do with genre than they do with our own need to escape reality.
Because escapism, by definition, isn’t a bad thing. It’s bad when you bury your head in the sand and seek solace only in fictional words, but to escape for an hour a week (or a couple more, by talking about said TV show or movie with friends, co-workers, or family) isn’t just a way to decompress, it’s a way to create community.
As children, we discover ourselves through our imaginations. My schoolfriends and I would watch T eenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers and act them out, using them as a jumping off point to create new worlds or to articulate thoughts and feelings we may not have otherwise been able to. As adults, we approach series and movies in much the same way, using them to stimulate conversations.
We might begin to talk to someone by asking “Do you watch Game of Thrones?” or by quoting a few lines from a movie, to gauge the tastes of another person, and suss out whether or not they’d make good friends. It’s the same way we asked new pals about their favourite bands in high school, or how our parents would discuss the latest plot twist in Dallas.
Because that’s the thing: geek culture itself isn’t new. It has always existed in various forms before we saw fit to name and define it. For some of us, escapism through pop culture provides an outlet that we need to keep our brains healthy and functioning. For others, it creates a sense of community. For most, it stimulates the last remnants of imagination left over from our years convinced we too could live off pizza in a sewer, fighting a giant rat. (Even though that giant rat is now the folks at McCann-Erickson.)