2021 is drawing to a close, and COVID-19 continues to bring frustration to our lives, especially the new Omicron strain that was recently identified. Recently an anime convention in New York found itself at the center of widespread news reporting when an attendee tested positive for the new strain, despite not having traveled abroad. Then talk show host and famous J.R.R. Tolkien geek Stephen Colbert took a shot at anime fans for actually “having friends”:
Stephen Colbert is calling us out, guys. Are we going take it?
— Peter Payne (@JListPeter) December 7, 2021
All organizations work hard to promote themselves into the wider world, and I’m sure Anime NYC would be thrilled with receiving worldwide coverage about their fan event under any other circumstances. But having every TV channel around the world suddenly be reporting on your event — and Stephen Colbert cracking jokes — because of a COVID cluster is probably not the kind of attention they wanted.
The outbreak was covered widely on Japanese TV, with lots of visuals of the 54,000 attendees, many of whom were cosplaying characters from Demon Slayer. The event required proof of vaccination and masks to be worn, but Americans aren’t as diligent about masks as Japanese fans would likely have been in the same situation.
Japanese Twitter had a lot to say about the situation, from expressing joy at the passion of American fans embracing their popular culture to anxiety that the outbreak could affect the upcoming Comiket 99 doujinshi event, which begins on December 30. Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly!
Stephen Colbert is the Biggest Geek Ever
Depending on your sense of humor, you might have chuckled at the comedian’s joke — “People who go to anime conventions have friends? I thought they just had Sailor Moon body pillows!” — or you might have hopped onto the nearest keyboard to post an angry reaction. I personally can’t fault the guy for taking his shot, since it’s his literal job, just like mine is to watch anime and sell naughty products from Japan.
While we can’t know what his tastes in anime are, Stephen Colbert is “one of our people” since he’s a famous Lord of the Rings geek, and he could probably write an essay explaining the Ainulindalë using Elvish runes. And he knows who Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z is.
It’s funny to look at how our attitudes the words geek and nerd have changed over time. A geek originally referred to an unskilled carnival worker, and the term nerd was coined by none other than Dr. Seuss. While both words referred to people with strange hobbies and non-standard social skills, like most negative words they were embraced by groups and turned into a positive thing.
I once saw a university student with GREEK WEEK on his T-shirt at the San Diego Comic-con and told him that I’d misread his shirts as GEEK WEEK. He got upset with me and I couldn’t understand why… then I realized that in his world, being a “geek” was a bad thing. This was kind of sad because he’d probably have more fun if he learned to relax and “geek out” about fun subjects once in a while.
Thanks for reading this post about Stephen Colbert having fun at our expense. What did you think of his jab at anime fans? Post it below, or reply to us on Twitter!
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