Friday, 19 October 2012

Show me your funny papers

Or the ridiculous idea of geek cred.

I've come to the conclusion that the whole idea of geek cred is deeply flawed. (Yes, I'm still banging on the sexist and counterproductive ad on the back of a Batman comic.)

As far as I can tell the only formative norms of being a geek are enthusiasm for and consumption of certain types of media and products. And yet, we act like geek culture is somehow stratified in some sort of formal hierarchy where some are geekier than others and some are casual or even false geeks. Worse, we act like this matters.

But how do we judge this? How do we measure a person's degree of geekyness? How do we judge the sincerity of their geekyness?

Come to think of it, am I geeky enough? Do I pass judgement? It's hard to know. It's not as if there are degrees in geek offered from the institute of geek technology.

I think I'm a fairly geeky person. I read and consume a wide variety of comic books and am enthusiastic enough to blog about them on a regular basis. Hell, I made comics (that weren't very good) for a few years. I read science fiction and fantasy novels, love Star Trek, and enjoy a subset of Star Wars culture. My favourite movies include The Fifth Element, Monty Python's Holy Grail, and Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back. Firefly was absolutely fucking brilliant. I'm a professional scientist with published research. I wear novelty t-shirts with Science, Sci-fi, or webcomic references. I enjoy single-player, story-intensive video games when I can find the time. 

Does this make me nerdy enough? Am I a level five geek? Can I use the Morningstar of geek imposter smiting? Have I reached the inner circle?

What about all of the not-so-geeky things about me? I play soccer twice a week and am a fanatical fan of ice hockey (go Canucks!). I love to cook and am obsessed with making artisanal bread. I seldom play video games anymore and don't buy toys/collectables/action figures. I find Battlestar Galactica gratingly tense and sexually problematic and immature. I lack the free time or interest to get into Dr Who. I don't understand what the deal with Adventure Time is and find the Venture Brothers not especially funny. I think Star Wars fandom is kind of out of control and I think that while indulging our inner children is great, some geeks would be served by growing up a bit. I don't understand how being a "Gamer" has become a cultural identity.

So am I geek enough for you now? Does not checking every single nerd box on the check list make me a not-very-authentic geek? A poser?

Or does it matter?

I think the whole idea of judging a persons geekyness is ultimately doomed to failure. There is no accepted canon for necessary geek media or any universal metric by which to judge how nerdy a person is and until we invent brain scanning devices there is no way to measure someones sincerity. Moreover, there is just too much damn geek content out there for everyone to stay abreast of all of it. Not only is there too much geek media, it's far too varied to be universally appealing to every person (I'd argue this is a stength). Expecting people to try the whole menu of geek culture and rigorously study it is clearly insane. 

So yeah, we should just accept geeks, even "casual" ones, for who they are and not worry about their status in the hierarchy. 

Or you know, start a geek religion and formalise some rules.

No comments:

Post a Comment