Thursday, September 6, 2012

So, what's the Nerdstream? And who are you, anyway?

Serious and silly can be told apart by breasts-per-minute, surely?

In the beginning, there is a name. So what is the Nerdstream, and why is it an era? Everyone knows what a nerd is. A fat boy, sitting in his parent's basement, with thick horn glasses and pimples. Certainly virgin. His walls covered with posters from a lot of nerdy stuff, from animé to video games. Something like this. The clichee has become a dominant narrative structure, so dominant in the public sphere that another transformation has not yet really been acknowledged: that nerdy themes and topics have seeped into the mainstream and transformed it into something we haven't seen for a while. I call the phenomenon Nerdstream, a mixture of Nerd and Mainstream. 

But what exactly am I getting at here? How can something be nerdy and mainstream-y at the same time? Yeah, well, that's just it - it really can't. Look at one example we will certainly stumble over many more times as this blog progresses, George R. R. Martin's famous Fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire". When the thing started, it was part of a rather obscure genre that consisted mostly of Swords&Sorcery stuff for exactly the target audience I described above. But since 1996, when "A Game of Thrones" hit the shelves, a dramatical shift has taken place. The HBO series, starting in 2011, is one of the most succesful series' ever and acclaimed by critics. People who never had anything to do with Fantasy before got into it, totally hooked up. 

Let's not lose our heads over definitions, however.
They enjoy the saga on a level that formerly was reserved for nerdism. Reading stuff, multiple times over, discussing the storylines, the what-ifs, and talking about it with friends over beer. Before Nerdstream happened, things like this were strictly confined to Nerds. Mainstream entertaintment simply didn't hold such things, because losing oneself in an imaginary world was considered, you got it, nerdy.

Well, it isn't anymore. Since the millenium, nerdy topics have conquered more and more of the "serious" spaces of society, blurring the lines between the supposedly "silly" Fantasy or Sci-Fi and the "normal" stuff. After "The Lord of the Rings" hit the cinemas, nothing was as it was before, and "Game of Thrones" did something similar to the TV stage - building on the foundations tha formats such as the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica" had laid out. 

So now, we're living in the era of Nerdstream. You cannot differentiate the "serious" entertaintment from the "silly" stuff by topic anymore. All that sets things apart is quality. Don't get me wrong, Nerdstream hasn't led to an increase of high-quality Fantasy and Sci-Fi stuff all over the board, much as we would like it. Most of it is still rubbish, but that's true for crime series like CSI or 24 as well. What's important is that one doesn't need to be ashamed to talk about his hobby anymore at the workplace or at a family dinner. That's the Nerdstream era, and it has only begun. 

C'est moi.
So, who am I, anyway? My name is Stefan Sasse. Chances are that you stumbled upon this humble blog by an endoresement from the "A Song of Ice and Fire" community, whose members I most likely pressured and begged to link the blog. Chances are, too, that you already know me from my essays at the "Tower of the Hand", my reread-blog for "A Dance with Dragons" or the podcast "Boiled Leather Audio Hour" with Sean T. Collins.

In these cases you might also know that I'm not a native speaker. I'm German, and I still live in Germany, having taken on the task of doing all this just because I can, and because it's fun to me. I live in the town of Fellbach, near Stuttgart, capital of the south-western German state Baden-Württemberg (seriously, you can look this all up on Wikipedia, amazing). I'm 28 years old and currently teaching at what compares to a combination of Highschool and Middleschool for the more gifted children (can also be looked up). My subjects are German literature, Political Science and History. I'm married and have a little son. 


  1. after reading this, i find greater interest in understanding the german school system structure etc

  2. Hehe, perhaps I'll do an article about it. Since it's subject to the individual states, however, I can only talk about how it's done in my state.

  3. Dear Stefan,
    just stumbled about your blog. It's just great. I am, I have to confess a true Nerdstreamer. I am maybe more close to Nerdism than Mainstream. However, I do have to say, that I've got no clue who appeared in Issue 325 of Spiderman and also I truely don't give a shit. Since quite some time I realized that the blogosphere has little to offer in that respect. If I find an interesting blog about nerdy topics it most often goes to far. Yours however just hit my nerve. I'll definitely step by again.

  4. Thanks for the praise, I hope you'll enjoy it.