The Year of the Nerd

By RYAN STEWART  |  December 24, 2008

But then, some people (read: nerds) choose to use it for different, less weighty purposes. Some fans of AMC's Mad Men, for example, started tweeting in the styles of various characters on the show, using Twitter to create a bizarre new twist on the always-geeky practice of fan fiction. Through this unauthorized micro-blogging, Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Pete Campbell, and the Sterling-Cooper Xerox machine were able to have further adventures beyond the television program — even if they didn't necessarily fit in with series creator Matthew Weiner's larger plan for the show's storyline. It got to be such a popular series of Twitter feeds that, according to a recent Fake Don Draper's Twitter post, AMC finally co-opted them and will now be updating them, thus making them the official Twitter feeds of a cast of fictional characters.

Fanboy fiesta
You probably don't need me to tell you that Batman fanboys were frothing at the mouth over The Dark Knight, breathlessly gushing over the film both before and after its release. But it was unexpected, and maybe a little ridiculous, to see scads and scads of fans invade the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) in order to stuff the online ballot box and ensure it earned the title of "Best Movie of All Time" (as voted on by IMDB users), displacing The Godfather. Fans are now hoping for some high-profile Oscar nominations — if Heath Ledger gets posthumously passed over for a Best Supporting Actor statuette, there might be actual riots.

Or maybe not: perhaps comic-book fans will be too busy psyching themselves up for Watchmen, the next Most Anticipated Comic Book Movie Ever. Watchmen — based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's 1986 tour-de-force of a graphic novel — won't even be released until March 2009 (and that's assuming the legal kerfuffle between Fox and Warner Bros. gets resolved in time). But I could swear I've read more about that movie in 2008 than I did about two other successful comic-book adaptations from this year, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, combined! Fans have already dissected every frame of the trailer and debated whether or not the rumors of an altered ending will actually improve the story. And even though none of the trailers released so far gives Watchmen neophytes much indication of what the story is all about, it's still safe to bet that this will make a kajillion dollars. And then everyone can start drooling over casting rumors for Captain America.

We are the world
This is the year that all those world-music nerds, with their mix-tape collections of Uruguayan throat singers overdubbed with Singapore back-alley street raves, had the last laugh.

Of the many unexpected success stories in music this past year, the one we were least expecting was for a year-old track featuring a female Sri Lankan rapper dropping rhymes over a Clash sample. Yet somehow M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. (For some perspective, No. 4 was also where "Sweet Caroline" peaked.) Yes, we have loved M.I.A. since we first heard her in 2004 — we just never expected her to quite catch on with the mainstream. (She was helped, no doubt, thanks to "Paper Planes" placement in the trailer for the comedy hit Pineapple Express.)

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