[Fandom Friday] Ben Affleck and Nerd Rage

"OMG Casting Ben Affleck as Batman just set us back another 10 years in our efforts to cure cancer, end poverty and bring peace to the Middle East. OH WAIT IT'S ONLY A MOVIE" - Berin Kinsman, from his Facebook Page (used with permission)

Why do we in the geek/nerd community get so bent out of shape abut things like the recent announcement that Ben Affleck has been cast as the new Batman in Zack Snyder's upcoming Batman/Superman film?  People have been bringing up disastrous Affleck films like Gigli, Daredevil and Armageddon. Others have defended the choice citing his recent directorial triumphs like last year's Argo, which won him an Oscar for Best Director.

Me? I'm willing to give Ben a chance, although I must admit he was not my first choice.

But the question remains: why the vitriol here, when other things are so terribly wrong with the world?

To begin, I'm not sure that individuals in the geek/nerd community were not outraged by the recent charges of Syrian gassing women and children, or any of the other ills we deal with. I have a feeling their voices were mingled with many others. It is only in announcements like this that we can tell who the geeks/nerds are.

But I think there may be a more subconscious idea at work here. Many people have a sense of powerlessness when facing the evils of the word around us. That often translates into silence and inaction.  However, in the geek/nerd community, we remember that a letter writing campaign by fans of the original Star Trek series managed to save it not once but twice, and got the first space shuttle prototype named Enterprise. Also, fan loyalty to the cancelled TV series Firefly led to the feature film Serenity. Finally, a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to greenlight a Veronica Mars movie.  So, there is a sense in the geek/nerd community that even though I may not be able to affect the rest of the world, I can affect the entertainment properties that appeal to me if I make enough noise.

But my friend Berin is right. What could happen if the amount of energy poured into railing against Ben Affleck as the new Batman were directed locally to issues of social justice, for example? If members of the geek/nerd community can save Star Trek, maybe they can make a dent in homelessness.

(Update: Apparently there is a now an online petition at change.org calling on WB to recast the role, dropping Affleck.  What's really disturbing is that there are, as of this writing, over 13,000 signatures.)

(Update #2, 8/26/13: Some folks have been so upset by the news that they made death threats, though apparently not against Affleck himself)

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