2010: The year when geek culture went mainstream


The China Post news staff

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the 500-million-member-strong social networking site Facebook, was chosen as the Person of the Year by Time Magazine “for connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them, for creating a new system of exchanging information and for changing how we live our lives.” Many who voted online, however, regarded the founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks Julian Assange as more worthy for the honor. Time’s choice may be debatable, but its pick of a computer strong-person as the shaper of the way of the world in 2010 over politicians, religious leaders, moguls and Hollywood stars accurately captures the nature of the year. The Financial Times, on the other hand, picked Steve Jobs, the first-generation geek genius and founder of Apple, thanks to whom the world is showered with magic-like devices, as it’s person of the year. “The geeks shall inherit the earth,” said the headline of a Financial Times Op-ed article by Emma Jacobs. The influence of geek culture, which has long been a sub-culture, is becoming mainstream not only in the virtual realm of social networking and ubiquitous touch-screens. Cult archetypes such as hot spy girl from Russia, aliens from outer space and zombies from everywhere now populate the mainstream media. Anna Chapman was picked by Vladimir Putin as a senior Young Guard member while the United Nations earlier appointed Mazlan Othman as “extraterrestrial ambassador.” In recent years, zombies, the slow-moving life-after-life driven by nothing but a thirst for human flesh, have been one of the most popular characters to grace Hollywood 3D movies and TV series. They have even found success in the literary world. The 2009 novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” “co-authored” by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen, was a smash hit.

If these examples are not enough, the Wall Street Journal devoted an entire page to a hugely popular iPhone game called Angry Birds. In the article, British Prime Minister David Cameron and renowned novelist Salman Rushdie, among others, were described as avid fans. On Broadway, one of the most talked about new musicals is “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” based on Marvel comic superhero.