Unless you’re a particular type of fan of a particular kind of cartoon, you were probably bewildered by the explosion of online anger over McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce.
This wasn’t a justified burst of fury like the one inspired by Dove’s series of photos where it appears a black woman becomes a white woman after using their skin-purifying products.
No. This is because McDonald’s responded to a joke on Rick and Morty about how you can’t get the Mulan-promoting nugget sauce from 1998 – by bringing back the sauce in a limited promotion. And the fans (who in some cases drove for five hours to sample the stuff) furied out because there wasn’t enough for every store and every person. In at least one case, the police were called.
— Ian 👻💀👽 Sikes (@ianjsikes) October 7, 2017
(Of course, now McDonald’s is bringing it back in a more permanent way, leading to these same nerd ragers complaining it was a conspiracy all along.)
But you don’t have to stop at problematic condiments to see the impact of nerd rage. Imagine being an otherwise normal person who happens to enjoy science fiction. Who has the skill and determination to bring the world a whole new series of a beloved cultural property, and tell exciting stories of exploration, diplomacy and war in a creative universe that has inspired generations.
Imagine possessing that talent, that drive – and having to listen to the whingeing of Never-Done Jacks over how the Klingons look different than they did in 1967, and the technology doesn’t align with what we know about pre-TOS Starfleet – as though it would be a good idea, in a 2017 show, to have the same flashing lights that Uhura sat in front of ‘for continuity’, as though Star Trek is a documentary being beamed back to us from the future.
Imagine, on the other hand, feeling so uniquely possessive of Philip K Dick’s legacy that you feel entitled to pass judgement on the purity of Blade Runner 2049’s devotion to the man’s ethos.
Sure, every nerdy fan has their own opinions on changes to the things they love – that’s why they’re fans. I don’t scream down the walls over it, but I didn’t much care for Matt Smith’s tenure as The Doctor. I quietly stopped reading Spider-Man comics when they revealed Ben Reilly wasn’t the clone. I thought D&D 4E focused too much on combat options and not enough on role-playing. I prefer the original design of Settlers of Catan. I think Obi-Wan Kenobi should’ve been revealed as a clone called OB-1. I think chess should have dice.
People often ask me if I’ve ever considered designing a game, writing an epic fantasy novel or something along those lines. Not a chance.