Debunking The Big “Geek” Theory
Once again inundated with articles about “fake geek girls” and “geek goes mainstream” blabbity blah blah, I guess it’s time for me to address and move on.
If you look up “geek” in Wikipedia, here’s what you’d see:
The word geek is a slang term for odd or non-mainstream people, with different connotations ranging from “a computer expert or enthusiast” to “a person heavily interested in a hobby”, with a general pejorative meaning of “a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to be overly intellectual”.
Translation: YOU ARE ALL GEEKS.
That’s right, it doesn’t matter WHO you are because, like it or not, WE ARE ALL GEEKS.
Collector, enthusiast, athlete, educator, mechanic, hobbyist, fantasy sports league player, curator, fan, foodie…they all mean the same thing – geek. And yet, it’s the ones who don’t dress like Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, the ones who refuse to “suit up”; the ones who’re tubby pandas (like me); the ones who like to go out in public wearing costumes or comic book/gaming t-shirts who’re labeled “true geeks”.
Mary McNamara of the L.A. Times said in her article ‘Hobbit,’ ‘Doctor Who,’ ‘Big Bang Theory’: Geek goes mainstream that the revolution “began with The Big Bang” (aka The Big Bang Theory on CBS) and to that I say “bullsh*t”.
It started in 1984 with a little film called Revenge Of The Nerds.
ROTN hit theatres when I was 13 and HORRIBLY bullied for being different, I was a Sixteen Candles/Pretty In Pink kind of girl (and dressed like Molly Ringwald) in a Footloose kind of farm town where being different made you a target. The last six minutes of ROTN are not only the BEST usage of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” but also uplifting and meaningful without beating you over the head with it. The message of ROTN is that although we may look different, we are all really THE SAME; I shed a tear every time.
I, too, have a lot of problems with TBBT but anything I say won’t be as eloquent as what I read in The Problem With The Big Bang Theory from the blog “Shouting Into The Void”.
“Here was a show with nerd protagonists aimed at the mainstream. We were finally getting some representation.
Except that we’re not. At least not any more.
And here’s my issue, here’s why The Big Bang Theory makes me feel uncomfortable. We aren’t laughing with Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Howard. We’re laughing at them. Chuck Lorre has given us four exceptionally intelligent, nerdy main characters and he’s positioned us as an audience against them. When I watch Big Bang it becomes more and more obvious that I’m not supposed to relate to the guys (or more recently Amy Farrah-Fowler). I’m expected to relate to Penny. You only need to pay attention to the audience laughter to realise that TBBT relies on positioning us as an outsider to the nerds, as someone like Penny who doesn’t understand their references, their science, their vocabulary even, and who doesn’t care to learn.”
This is also where my major problem lies. All we see are basically two archetypes (White Urkel and Undersexed Nerd) split into four characters with a hot neighbour who hangs out with them for her amusement and that’s ALL we get. TBBT went from being in on the joke to BEING the joke…not something I really want to invest 30 minutes in watching. Also, I didn’t really care for Urkel’s voice the first time around in Family Matters, I really don’t care to hear the louder, white version.
What bothers me about the “mainstreaming” is that the ones who hurled the words “nerd” and “geek” at countless kids (myself included) as some kind of hateful epithet whilst tripping them in the halls, knocking lunch/books/projects out of their hands are the ones who try to make a profit by proudly proclaiming that they themselves are geeks and nerds, too (now).
Pro Tip: ANYone (but mostly “hot chicks”) can put on a whatever-comic-book-video game-is-popular-at-the-moment shirt with thick-rimmed (usually FAKE) glasses and walk into an audition or interview CLAIMING to be a massive geek in order to get work (and usually do) but should we be angry about it? Why bother? Sooner or later, they end up exposing themselves for the spoon-fed frauds they are because “fake it till you make it” DOESN’T work here; just ask a certain former G4 host who lost a quite a bit of her fanbase once exposed.
I could NEVER claim to be a comic book geek because while comfortable in the genre, I’m not comfortable enough to take a gig where I talk about them 24-7. I love comic books and know the origin stories/powers of nearly all the supes out there but if you asked me what happens in Batman issue #25, I would readily admit I have NO idea. If it’s not Archie or MAD Magazine related, I’m really at a loss…but that’s why it’s never too late to start a new reading hobby and look to shows like Kevin Smith’s reality show Comic Book Men (AMC) for advice and a good laugh.
Comic Book Men (based on the podcast) is popular with self-professed geeks and even those who don’t like comic books because it’s REAL; real guys who work in a REAL comic book store having the very same conversations and debates even if the cameras WEREN’T on. These guys are the real deal and real serious about what they do but aren’t afraid to help anyone see and love the world of comic books like they do.
What I also love about these guys is that I’ve either been involved in or have sat in on quite a few conversations that went like this:
I don’t see this as four fanboys talking comic books, I see this as me at the bar or a table with MY friends talking story and laughing all the while.
In the end, it’s important to tell the truth and be true to yourself. Admittedly, we’ve come a long way, darlings.
Let’s just enjoy it.