As soon as upon a time, in a galaxy not so far-off, the hallowed establishment of nerdom turned mainstream. Not are the area of interest predilections of geeks sequestered to the outskirts of popular culture; these die-hard followers have cultivated a acknowledged motion that may shift the cultural discourse. However for followers like New York Instances critic-at-large and poet Maya Phillips (Erou), fandom is greater than cosplay, heated debates on social media or narrow-minded stereotypes centered on social awkwardness. In her debut essay assortment, Nerd: Adventures in Fandom From This Universe to the Multiverse, fandom is an expansive, transformative supply of self-enlightenment.
Like many popular culture aficionados, Phillips’ first brush with fandom concerned the unique Star Wars trilogy. This early appreciation of George Lucas’ basic house opera opened the door to a lifelong love of different nerdy pursuits, corresponding to comedian books, anime, sci-fi and fantasy. Nevertheless, the tales she cherished in childhood took on completely different types as she grew older. Within the chapter “Espers and Nervousness, Mutants, Magic, and Thoughts Video games,” Phillips reveals how the anime collection Paranoia Agent reveals the character of energy and society’s remedy of psychological sickness, and the way it has led Phillips to higher perceive herself and her psychological well being. Equally, “Do You Know Shinigami Love Apples?” explores Phillips’ relationship to Catholicism and fandom’s hierarchy of perception programs.
As a Black lady, Phillips acknowledges that a few of her most beloved reveals, movies and books lack well-rounded illustration by way of race, gender, capacity and sexual orientation. In recent times, creators like J.Okay. Rowling have confronted backlash for betraying the seemingly progressive values of their artwork. Is it potential to divorce an artist from their work? For many individuals, the reply is emphatically no, however Phillips rejects binary pondering. This isn’t to say that she endorses the extra problematic features of those creators and their fictional narratives. However as a fan and knowledgeable critic, Phillips sees the worth in popular culture’s capacity to talk deeper truths, nevertheless uncomfortable, about society. Navigating popular culture as a Black fan could be a irritating train in otherness, she writes, however fandom may also be a acutely aware act of reclamation.
Nerd spans many years of popular culture, easily weaving a number of interconnected webs. Phillips indulges in her obsessions, however she’s by no means afraid to critique and deconstruct. On this participating compendium of cultural criticism, Phillips efficiently proves that the advanced self-discipline of fandom is a invaluable piece of humanity’s flawed however hopeful historical past.