For this haul, I decided to focus on a strange sort of ‘brand community’ that focuses a little outside of a singular named brand. Among fans of ‘nerdy’ tv shows, video games, or movies, the biggest way to identify yourself as a fan is by using merchandise. This sort of geek ‘brand community’ lead me to study a website called ThinkGeek for this haul.

ThinkGeek is a unique company because it combines geek culture and the geek brand community into a superstore of purchasing.  Nerd culture and geekery is often considered childish. ThinkGeek offers a range of products that are not only geared towards adults, but show a great variation within this brand community for high cultural capital and low cultural capital objects. Because geekery is considered invalid as a community (and often isn’t marketed to or branded correctly), displaying geek-related objects is a form of counterculture and it’s own community of defying societal norms.  Holt said “Our lifestyles are not just about what we consume, but how we consume it”, and the display of this sort of merchandise as a way into this sort of ‘brand community’ is just that description.

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This is a bathrobe modeled after the Star Trek uniforms, which comes in every color from command yellow to science blue. Detail has been paid to even display rank and insignia correctly.  While this product is functional, it is a great example of a HCC ideal; it’s expensive and personalized for an object that could be functional without all the bells and whistles.  By using money to make this sort of product ‘exclusive’, it creates a hierarchy within the community and gives you a heightened cultural capital.

On the other hand, some products are extremely functional and contain more hidden nerdery, such as…

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This lamp is USB powered, but also glows in the dark to provide light wherever you need it. This item is extremely functional, especially for smaller spaces (many small apartments and homes have inconveniently placed outlets, or very few of them, making a USB or battery lamp ideal).

Some products, however, show an upper-class swing just in terms of laziness, such as…

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Titled the “Anti-Laundering Kit”, this expensive pack of geeky t-shirts implies that it’s easier to buy new objects than it is to reuse old ones, giving a large HCC presence to laziness. This company wants to make a lifestyle out of their product, and this promotes the idea of always needing to buy more of their product, instead of going anywhere else. Other brands may have t-shirts, but this one promotes the geek stereotypical style; the idea of geek laziness, and better things to do (like video games or comics) than taking care of yourself. The company wants to present itself as a figure to take care of others, and make them feel at home with the products and brand as a whole.

My favorite example of needless items just for the HCC ideal, however, is this replica toy they offer:

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This toy is modeled after a machine from a popular video game series, Portal.  This is simply a toy version, and only lights up and can be decorated. For over $100, it isn’t at all functional but only shows off a level in the community that can be achieved through money. By being of a high class, the cultural capital gained can be displayed through money, and status can quite literally be bought.