I hate gatekeeping.
I mean, I get it. I’m a straight white quiet nerdy guy born in the late 70s. I devoured Star Wars extended universe stuff, I played all the cool NES games when they were new, and I knew about Groot since before all he could say was “I am Groot.”
The culture that defined my identity used to be not just unpopular, but actually reviled. I took solace in finding weird stuff that resonated with me and owned my encyclopedic knowledge of it as a point of pride.
But now, everyone likes that same stuff. Superheroes and Star Wars dominate popular culture, and some people find that threatening. Because for them, the stuff they loved is less special if everyone else loves it, and their once unique knowledge isn’t really unique.
Again, I get it. I’ve felt the same thing myself.
But you know what? I’ve also felt the joy of seeing lots of people learn to love something that I love. And sharing rad things is much better than knowing rad things that don’t matter.
On the 30th anniversary of Tim Burton’s Batman, as grouchy nerds are launching a petition to get Robert Pattinson removed from the next Batman movie, I wrote about my love of sharing geek culture:
Granted, sometimes sharing isn’t so fun, especially if I don’t like what other people do with characters I love. To me, Batman’s refusal to kill is just as central to the character as his pointy ears, but neither Tim Burton nor Zack Snyder shared that conviction when they made blockbuster movies about him. I strongly prefer the haunted, noble Mon-El from the Legion of Super-Heroes comics to the self-centered bro who showed up in the CW Supergirl show. And I find Thanos’s comic book infatuation with the personification of death a far more plausible motivation for wiping out half the universe than I do the movie version’s concern for sustainable resources.
But when I read Infinity Gauntlet #1 in 1991 and watched Thanos snap away half of all the galaxy’s life, I sat alone in my room and despaired. I tried to tell my sports-loving brother and my long-suffering parents about what I had just read, but they didn’t care. I was a homeschooled kid in the days before the internet, and so I experienced this amazing, soul-shattering moment all by myself. Sure, no one contradicted my favorite version of the story—but nobody enjoyed it with me, either.
You can read the whole thing here. Check it out and let me know your favorite version of a character — just be prepared for someone to have their own favorite version!