Nine Nominees For The Supreme Court of Nerds
A friend and I were recently discussing the plethora of fan fiction that’s out there. The impetus for this discussion came from this nerdtastic revelation:
That’s right. Andy freakin’ Weir wrote Ready Player One fan fic and Ernie Cline made it canon. Granted the story isn’t great and I don’t particularly care for what was done by Weir as I think it runs counter to the character, but regardless it’s a big deal.
Most fan fiction is crap (50 Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan fiction which answers the age old question: Can shit reproduce?) but there is some solid stuff out there. At one point my friend said something along the lines of, “Hey wouldn’t it be great if there was a Supreme Court of Nerds that decided various geek issues like what’s canon and what’s not, etc?” Yes these are the things that occupy my spare time. I’ve never claimed to be inventing the perpetual motion machine in my off hours.
Ultra nerd discussions aside, it’s a brilliant idea. Imagine a Supreme Court of Nerds, or SCON if you will, that debate different topics and render decisions. The situations brought before the court could be Legion. Think about it. Imagine a group of people who hear cases regarding the canon of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, who’s to blame for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, if all the credit for Deadpool’s creation should go to Rob Liefeld, or if David Lynch is a genius auteur filmmaker or a gloriously overrated hack. The prospect is intriguing to say the least.
It got me thinking, if there was a SCON, who would be on it? There’s a ton of prominent nerds out there, but what constitutes the criteria for being on the Supreme Court of Nerds is something altogether. As such I decided on a few parameters for candidacy. First, the number of Nerd Justices had to be exactly nine to mimic the number of Supreme Court Justices in the United States. Secondly, the candidate must be living. Thirdly and most importantly, the candidate must have made a significant contribution to nerd culture and be well versed in nerd topics. The latter doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be knowledgeable in EVERY geek related topic. One will suffice.
Initially I came up with about 20+ names and it was difficult to narrow down the list. Some of the ones who didn’t make the cut: Kevin Smith, George R.R. Martin, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Andy Weir, Neil deGrasse-Tyson, Bill Nye, Quentin Tarantino, Carlos Valdes, and Joss Whedon. I’ll probably get flamed for that last one but damn it you weren’t there! You can’t know! I ALREADY NERD AROUND THE CLOCK!
Sorry didn’t mean to go all Harrison Ford in Extraordinary Measures. (Yes I reference six-year-old little known movies co-starring Brendan Fraser.)
Anyway, after careful deliberation here are the names I came up with:
MARY LOU JEPSEN
Mary Lou Jepsen may be one of the coolest nerds living today. Her intelligence and innovation are second to none. Jepsen’s resume speaks for itself. She’s an executive at Facebook/Oculus VR. In fact Jepsen’s current focus is advancing virtual reality as far as possible. Before teaming up with Mark Zuckerberg she worked in the Google X Display Division. Mary Lou Jepsen is also the founder and CEO of Pixel Qi whose long-term goal is to create devices that never need recharging and use alternative energy sources. And for those who care she also went to Brown. So computer whiz? Check. Innovative? Check. Virtual reality-centric? Check. Environmentalist? Check. Ivy League School Educated? Check.
Jepsen is the Ruth Bader-Ginsberg of the SCON.
If justices were elected through popular vote, Rowling* would be a unanimous selection. The woman went from being on food stamps to the first writer ever to become a billionaire. The woman single handedly built an empire around Harry Potter, one of the most beloved and important fantasy characters of all time. Harry Potter isn’t just a work of fiction, he’s a brand. The character and the novels/movies have transformed and inspired millions of people across the globe. Furthermore, she’s socially active against poverty and promotes child welfare.
How can you not love Felicia Day? She’s just awesome. Day is not only an accomplished actress, writer, and comedian, she’s a prominent gamer and feminist in geek culture. In an era where we have the MRA and GameGate, Day is a bright beacon of sanity. Besides winning acclaim on the geek cult classic television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where she played Vi, Day’s also had roles in Eureka and Supernatural. Felicia Day also promotes table top gaming. However, her most prominent geek act may be her creation of the premium YouTube channel “Geek and Sundry” which focuses on everything from comics to gaming. It was recently bought by Legendary, a company that’s brought you such Indie films like Inception and Man of Steel. It’s Felicia Day’s world and we’re just living in it. Just so happens to be that the world is Azeroth.
For Levar Burton all I should have to say is Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but his background deserves more elucidation. Not only was he the driving force behind one of the single most influential children’s shows of all time (Reading Rainbow ran for 21 seasons and garnered 26 Emmy Awards), he also played one of the most iconic characters in the history of Star Trek–Geordi La Forge. And La Forge was an engineer on the show, so double nerd points for Hufflepuff. Burton has also contributed his voice talents to television as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning in the 2009 animated feature Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. He’d be the ultimate justice to decide all things Star Trek.
For lack of a better term, Cline is almost a self-made nerd. He began his career doing something your stereotypical geek might do–writing a fan-fic screenplay sequel for an iconic 80s fantasy film. Said screenplay was for the classic Peter Weller movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension. Cline subsequently published the script on the Internet. His screenplay for the severely underrated Fanboys, starring Jay Baruchel and Kristen Bell, kickstarted his climb to success. Success culminated with his critically acclaimed 2011 debut novel Ready Player One, which is currently being adapted into a film by none other than Steven Spielberg. Cline’s geek knowledge is vast and varied, to the point of android like levels. Ernest Cline is unquestionably the People’s Geek.
Abrams’s pedigree speaks for itself. He’s been involved in everything from LOST, to Mission Impossible, to the recently rebooted Star Trek. In addition he’s created or contributed to Alias, Fringe, and Cloverfield. J.J. has also composed several themes for various television shows. Nerd achievement unlocked! Oh and there was a little film called The Force Awakens that recently earned him some minor acclaim. Abrams gets geek culture and understands how important nerd passions are for the fans, something that unfortunately George Lucas has clearly forgotten about.
How could I not include Chris Hardwick? For God’s sake the guy created a premium show called The Nerdist. It has the word “nerd” in it! The man is a pioneer for post drama talk shows with Talking Bad, Talking Dead, and now Talking Saul. What a novel idea. An immediate fan reaction show with some wide-ranging and damn interesting guests. He’s also provided his voice for the video game Tales from the Borderlands, and as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow for the animated show The Batman. Hardwick also dabbles in stand-up comedy and is a regular attendant at Comic-Con panels. Well respected by fellow nerds is an understatement. Plus he’s engaged to this person (Hearst) so kudos to him.
I’m a little biased on this one because I flat-out love Patton Oswalt. If you’re not following him on Twitter you need to because he’s freakin’ hilarious. Oswalt’s also very passionate about his geek proclivities. From gaming to Green Lantern, this guy is so hardcore he makes Jenna Jameson look like a freakin’ nun. And if you do not love his turn as Remy the rat in Ratatouille, you don’t have a soul. Oswalt earns a spot on the bench just for this:
WIL WHEATON (CHIEF JUSTICE)
This one’s a no-brainer, for me at least. Wil Wheaton’s the undisputed king of the nerds and blazed a trail for Twitter users everywhere. His hit Internet show Tabletop is not only entertaining but fundamentally important. It’s a great way to get exposure for up and coming game designers and promotes social interaction rather than just watching a screen for endless hours. Wheaton’s a nerd that has the courage of his convictions, in that he staunchly supports geek culture and self-esteem, especially in children. He’s a man who grew up in the industry beginning with 1982’s The Secret of NIMH, continuing with his stellar turn as Gordie Lachance in 1986’s Stand By Me, and of course his well known role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, I think it’s what he’s done post Star Trek with comics, audiobooks, Cons, and his writing, which defines him. I also respect the fact that while Wheaton is passionate about various aspects of geek culture, he also doesn’t take them as life and death situations. From that perspective I think he could bring a certain amount of dispassion to the role of Chief Justice of SCON.
Obviously, there are many worthy candidates for this fake judiciary I’ve concocted. I’m sure this fair and balanced group of nerds would listen to any cases you may have for people to replace them.
But if their ruling results in lightsaber decapitation, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
*Incidentally Rowling isn’t just all about fantasy. She has also written some FANTASTIC hard boiled crime fiction novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. I highly recommend them.
You can follow me on Twitter as @DarthGandalf1
Wil Wheaton (Chief Justice)