Our conflicting identities, or, Star Wars, Boycotts, and Sportsballs

It’s Asexual Awareness Week–I remembered in time! But I’m not really here to talk about asexuality. You can check out this post for that.

No, today I’d like to talk about Star Wars. And football. And boycotts.

If you’re alive and conscious and have been on the internet in the past 24 hours, you know that the third and final trailer for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens dropped yesterday. I’ll admit: it looks pretty freakin’ spectacular.

But, true to form, there’s already been a significant amount of web weirdness over the trailer and even its airing–which happened during halftime of Monday Night Football.

No doubt some of the kvetching about this choice was entirely good natured, but there was some straight up bitching about the fact that the trailer would air during the game. Which is ridiculous for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which being that it immediately showed up on the internet as it was being aired, if not slightly beforehand.

Nerds, it seems, strenuously object to being manipulated by the NFL into watching even a little bit of football. (Although, really, it’s easy enough to figure out when halftime is happening–if you watched the whole first half, that is on you.) Because nerds never let multibillion industries manipulate or exploit them even a little bit. No indeed, we of the nerd community truck with no multibillion industries or questionably ethical corporations whatsoever. We have motherfucking principles.

But my bigger problem with this attitude is that we still have this persistent notion that nerdom somehow manifests in opposition to aspects of mainstream culture, when, whether members of the nerd community like it or not, this is patently not true. Nor, in some ways, has it ever really been true. Does anyone think Star Wars is the explosively successful franchise it is because a devoted cadre of counterculture pioneers have spent their time and energy extrapolating every bit of minutiae relating to the universe and story?

Indeed, fuck no. Star Wars is an explosively successful franchise because everyone, however they identify, went to see those movies, both the originals and the godawful spawn of the early 2000s. Star Wars is successful because of the mainstream.

Star Wars is mainstream.

And, whatever, I know the NFL doesn’t need me to defend it and Cthulhu knows Disney doesn’t either. But I’m defending myself. Because I’m a sports fan and a nerd–and that’s okay. It diminishes my nerdom not one fucking ounce.

(Aside: I went to several Orioles games this year with one of my friends from high school. At the last one, she wondered aloud: “Why didn’t we do this more when we were teenagers?” And the answer is, tragically, that I don’t think I would have gone. I think my adolescent self would have believed it undermined her identity as a member of sub- and countercultures. Which is to say, not only is that sad, but that all of this is high school bullshit.)

In the larger scheme of things, of course, this does not matter much, except we have another, bigger round of bullshit happening, which is the ridiculous #BoycottStarWarsVII that I refuse to link because fuck those people. In a nutshell: there are a bunch of wounded white assholes who are pissed off–as they always seem to be–that Star Wars VII appears to have a black man and a woman as its protagonists. Because it’s scary when stories aren’t about white guys, I guess.

This is so tired, isn’t it?

Anyway, their response is to take to social media and try to organize a boycott, because they labor under the delusion that they get to decide what nerd culture is, who gets to be a nerd, and whether projects which violate their precious principles  succeed or fail. But they don’t–and none of us do–because I reiterate: Star Wars is as main-fucking-stream as it gets. It’s more mainstream than bros or lite beer or even some sports, because let’s be honest, soccer and hockey are not that popular in the U.S.

Star Wars VII is going to make an actual fuck-ton of money.  And I’m going to contribute to that, because I’m pretty excited about that trailer. But I’m also going to keep watching football and going to baseball games and livetweeting the goddamn Olympics, because I’m also typically pretty excited about those things. And no one gets to tell me whether I’m a nerd or not based on my gender or body type or sexuality, so why I should let them do it based on my other interests. Because how we identify is how we identify. And it’s fucking stupid to try to take words or stories or big motherfucking mainstream franchises from people.

It never works.

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2 thoughts on “Our conflicting identities, or, Star Wars, Boycotts, and Sportsballs

  1. How much money is Star Wars VII going to make, you ask? Well, if you look up “fuck ton” in the dictionary (urban dictionary, I suppose), there’s a picture of the Star Wars VII movie poster, and that is all.

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