Through Stan Lee’s sheer force of will, comics went from
casual childish past time to cornerstone of nerd culture. Designed to empower
the downtrodden with stories of ‘power
and responsibility’ comics aimed to instil morals in children when they
were at their most impressionable. Despite
this, there is an element of the
fandom that will somehow be diehard Spider-man fans whilst also being the complete
opposite of everything Spider-Man stands for. This is the altNERD. A nerd with all the same extremist views of your average woman hating bigot but who hides behind a 'passion' for geek/sci-fi culture.
And this is the perfect lens through which to understand Trump supporters (MAGA’s).
altNERDs and MAGA’s have a tonne in common:
(In many cases but not all) White
Victim of bullying
There’s nothing wrong with loving your country, in the same way that there’s nothing wrong with loving Spider-Man. But this is the thin veneer that these two groups tend to hide behind. Because dig deeper and you find that it isn’t their country that MAGA’s love but power.
There was an America where a white man could get away with murdering a black man simply because he was walking on the same side of the street and they yearn for those days their grandparents enjoyed. Similarly altNERDs don’t particularly care for the virtues that make Peter Parker, Spider-Man; but more that he’s a nerd with muscles.
To call either group a ‘vocal minority’ is dismissive and ignores the issue. And it’s clearly untrue; because the same ‘vocal minority’ ended up getting Trump elected as president.
A groups true motives will surface once they receive validation.
Black women are disrespected in almost every possible facet of society. So the
Beyhive are a space where as well as Beyoncé, black female excellence can be
celebrated. And for the most part that’s pretty much what you get. But when
Trump took office? Once comic book movies started casually grossing a billion dollars? Online rape threats, incidents of racism skyrocketed, comicsgate, endless videos of
emboldened racists, proof that acceptance was never the end goal of either
Both altNERD and MAGA's are framed as misunderstood. All it would take to eliminate the hate is some education and a little understanding. This is simply a lie we tell ourselves to ignore the problem. Once you become aware of the logical fallacies of the altNERD and the endless stream of own goals Trump supporters commit, you realise that nothing matters more than the feeling of being the ruling class. They vote for a president they know will leave them in a worse position simply because of how empowered it feels to see a person who looks and thinks like them in the highest position on the Earth. An encyclopaedic knowledge of Game Of Thrones wouldn’t be much use beyond a now abandoned forum. Now GOT is the biggest program on TV, that encyclopaedic knowledge can be wielded over the ‘mere mortals’ who’ve only read the books. That’s what this type of empowerment is about, it’s just an excuse to bully. Hate crimes rose the day after Trump was elected. Hate crimes are any far right groups M.O and the Proud Boy/MAGA groups are unsurprisingly full of altNERDs. Here they get to be among people who look like them with the express purpose of bullying. And the altNERD that is yet to find a racist organisation to roam around in large packs with will likely spend their time online waiting for someone (fingers crossed a ‘fake fan’ woman) to slip up in their geek knowledge, so they can pounce, eviscerate and belittle them right off the internet.Logical fallacies also link the two groups:
- altNERD claims to ‘love’ Spider-Man, a virtuous superhero,
but when faced with a storyline he doesn’t like will behave unheroically by
making death threats online to the comic’s writer.
- MAGA is aware on that the proposed boarder wall won’t actually stop many immigrants as most enter the country by air; but will of course still yell ‘BUILD THE WALL.’
- altNERD postures as the authority on Spider-Man. Lack of genuine knowledge of character is usually exposed in some hate filled diatribe.
- MAGA bleats about the ‘Mexican rapists’ that Trump says are making their way to the country. Conveniently ignoring the fact that Trump himself is an actual rapist.
The altNERD doesn’t deserve your sympathy. Whatever makes
men threaten to rape women on online understanding won’t resolve it. And it’s a
certain type of privilege that empathises with people who do this instead of
characterising them as monsters. There’s a reluctance to do this because that
would be to tar all comic book fans with the same brush. But once you realise
these people existed long before Twitter, comic books and even the idea of
‘nerd’ then you realise it’s a behaviour we’ve been allowing to exist.
We refuse to address it and instead feign ‘sympathy’ and ‘understanding’ until the next ‘loner, high school shooter’. Some people read comic books to feel empowered enough to stand up to bullies; but some people read comic books in the hopes of becoming them.