Well Nerds and Nerdettes it is time to talk to you about the year 2000, the first year of the New Millennium…or for our sake…The New NERDllennium. The year 2000 brought us so many things from games to movies to television shows to a shift in what being a NERD was like. Here we began to see a shift in our population. Normal every day people were opening their eyes to Nerd Culture. Whether it was people being turned onto nerdy movies because attractive superstars were playing these roles like oh idk…Hugh Jackman as Wolverine for instance. Regardless of what it was, we are now celebrating the 20th anniversary of a lot of these impacts to Nerd Culture. 2020 not only marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the 21st century, but also that of many landmark moments in pop culture as well as our own nerd culture. So why don't we lace up our Jordans , turn off the Coldplay and celebrate the 20th anniversary of The New Millennium!
Let's talk about yours truly in the year 2000. I was not The Duke of Nerds that I am today. I was a Nerdling. I was 10 when the Millennium began and turned 11 in April of that year. I was a NERD. I knew I was a NERD. I loved heroes like Batman and Wolverine. I read comics and watched Dragon Ball Z and Toonami after school everyday. I had Pokemon Cards in a binder and played video games. I studied the lore of Bigfoot and Thor more than I wanted to play sports. Don't get me wrong, I loved playing Baseball and going to Tennessee Football games every Saturday, and yeah I thought that maybe I'd like to play 1st base for the Cincinnati Reds one day, but deep down, I knew I was a NERD!
One of the biggest problems I had though was fitting in. I had NERD friends that would still play as Goku or Cyclops to my Vegeta and Wolverine. However, I still felt like I had to hide. I felt like I had to tryout for the basketball teams and be on the ball field to keep up appearances of being normal. Because Nerd Culture was not a thing of celebration yet, it was picking up steam because of the turn 1999 had for us and what was to come during the new decade, but not enough to be Nerd and proud. I don't say these things to even compare to other ways of being different. I would never compare being a nerd to being a minority or a member of the LGBTQ. That's not my intention. This is no way a comparison. My intention is to say that in 2000, the wave of the Nerd Culture began to rise…the crest? Maybe it's now. The crash? Maybe its next year? Maybe it's another decade or hundred years from now. Enough of that, let's celebrate the 20th anniversary of The New NERDllennium.
20th Anniversary of X-Men :
X-Men: The X-Men franchise birthed many mainstream names that are still going strong in Nerd Culture and other media today. X-Men gave us the likes of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, Sir Ian McKellan as Magneto, Sir Patrick Stewart as Xavier. X-Men began the road to people falling for our culture. I don't want to downplay the females, but to be completely honest, I can't say I was in love with many of the translations of their live action from comic books. I enjoyed Halley Berry as Storm and Rebecca's performance as Mystique, but most were just not believable to me, and let's not even get into Anna Pacquin as Rogue. Shew….that was rough. Although we had seen live action superheroes before like Captain America in 1979 and 1990, as well as Batman in many live action movies, this movie showed us that we were ready for the franchise of live action comic book movies.
Without X-Men and, to be honest Blade in 1998, we don't have Avengers Endgame, we don't have Guardians of The Galaxy, we don't have Spiderman. X-Men paved the way for live action comic book movies. Again, I'm not giving it the full credit, because honestly Blade saved Marvel in a scary situation, but I'll get to that situation at a later date. The first X-Men movie gave us a heck of an origin for the franchise too. We got to see all the big names of both The X-Men and The Brotherhood due battle. We got to see names from the cartoon like Senator Kelly and Mr. Gyrich. It had a lot of great fan service like reference to the yellow spandex of Wolverine, the Blackbird, Magneto and Charles's friendship, Wolverine's heightened senses. The list goes on.
I don't want to make this an X-Men anniversary episode, but the year 2000 finally brought The X-Men to the big screen and got us on the way to the comic book franchise in the big screen. So cheers to ya X-Men and happy anniversary.
Let's talk about gaming in the year 2000. 2000 saw the beginning of a few game franchises like Bejeweled, Hitman, The Sims, and a few more like Jet Set Radio for the short lived Sega Dreamcast. Two games, however, that arrived in 2000 and took the world by storm that were part of the a franchise, but not its origin game, were that of Diablo 2 and Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. These games absorbed more of my time than most things in the year 2000 aside from Dragon Ball Z.
Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask was the follow up game to the popular 90's game, and my favorite video game, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Majora's Mask is the 6th major installment of The Legend of Zelda game franchise. We all know the story, Link is a child again and finds himself in a different land called Termina. Skull Kid, the antagonist of the game, steals an ancient artifact called Majora's Mask. Termina is destined to be destroyed in 3 days by an evil moon making its way toward collision. The cool thing about this game was the fact that you got to play with time, masks transforming you physically, and the stress of getting everything done that is needed before you take yourself back to Day 1. Like it's predecessor Ocarina of Time, this game was hailed as one of the greatest games of all time and sold over 3 million copies worldwide. It was also one of the first games that required the "expansion pack" for the Nintendo 64. I challenge any of you younger gamers to find a way to play it, especially on the original N64 if you can.
The other game I want to talk in detail about is Diablo 2. The Year 2000 began a rebirth of computer gaming and led us from the days of Oregon Trail to games like Warcraft, Command and Conquer, and many titles that are PC exclusive. Diablo 2 was one of the biggest fights I have ever gotten into with my old friend Matt, and caused most of the sleepless nights I have ever had. The fight was caused mainly because of a girl, but tension rose high enough to cause us to do the most slanderous thing a gamer could do to another gamer… delete a character. Now mind you, it's not like Skyrim, where if you accidently deleted your level 88 Imperial with the coolest weapons and killer Daedric armor. In that game, there is such a thing as autosave that you could revert to and save yourself from a heartache like no other. This was a darker time people. When we deleted each others game and character, it was gone for good. Crazy how silly it is now, but then you might as well have bit your thumb at one another and squared off in a duel.
Without the games of 2000, we wouldn't have games today like World of Warcraft or Breathe of the Wild or heck even Halo. After Hitman and its type of game hit it big, we were then given titles like Splinter Cell. I'm glad I grew up during this time. If you are a gamer and you have a chance, go back and play some of these titles.
Being a nerd in 2000, it didn't take much to entertain us. Give me a stick, I'm a warrior. Give me a nerf gun, I'm Neo. Put me in a pool, I'm Vegeta flying around, punching fast and shooting a Ki energy blast at my friend Caleb who was always either Trunks or Piccolo. We didn't have smart phones and social media. Being a nerd in 2000 took way more imagination than it does today. We had to build with our imaginations when we played outside instead of having it all brought to us on an app or a VR experience. We were the characters more than watching them in a theatre or a streaming service.
However, entertaining ourselves would never be the same moving forward. I'll even go as far as to say being a nerd then, 99…2000…the first few years of the decade; it was harder. It took more work, it took imagination, but it was all in secrecy. You couldn't be nerd and proud in many ways. Maybe you wear a Batman shirt, sure, but if the "cool" kids knew you were playing as imaginary characters in your back yard or staying up all night playing Diablo 2 and trading Pokemon cards; you were screwed. Your reputation was shot! But now…now its easy. Now its cool. Now everyone is wearing a Batman shirt. Now everyone is seeing Avengers in theaers. Now "normal" people cosplay for ComiCon and host The Walking Dead parties and quote Game of Thrones. I hope this doesn't come off as jealousy. It's not. I was the oldest in my house. I know what a Guinea Pig's job is. I'm glad it was the way it was. If it wasn't the pride of being a Nerd would not be where it is today. Evolution is how we keep from dying. As for where the evolution led…well that's where we are today. Now we are in the revolution. More on that…at a later date.