Cult cinema in the digital age

Authored by: Iain Robert Smith

The Routledge Companion to Cult Cinema

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138950276
eBook ISBN: 9781315668819
Adobe ISBN:


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In his 2010 article ‘Wake Up, Geek Culture: Time to Die’, stand-up comedian and author Patton Oswalt complains about the mainstreaming of geek culture within contemporary society, illustrating his argument with a series of provocative examples such as ‘Boba Fett’s helmet emblazoned on sleeveless T-shirts worn by gym douches’ and ‘The Glee kids performing the songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ (Oswalt 2010). With a semi-ironic tone mixing sarcasm with unabashed nostalgia, Oswalt reflects that he used to be a nerd ‘back 30 years ago when nerd meant something’ but that today the ‘hidden thought-palaces’ that defined fandom when he was a teenager have instead been replaced by ‘easily accessed websites, or Facebook pages with thousands of fans’ (2010). Central to his critique of contemporary fandom is the notion that the Internet has made geek culture too accessible to a mainstream audience and that it therefore ‘lets anyone become otaku 1 about anything instantly’ (2010). For critics such as Oswalt, the exclusivity of geek culture is under threat within a digital environment that makes previously inaccessible materials available to a wider audience through streaming services such as YouTube, and it is this broadening of access to the ‘mainstream’ that is seen to threaten the demise of geek culture.

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