When did you become such a Geek?

geek culture 8 comments

I made my usual weekly post yesterday, but just had to write again about being asked that question. Twice in the last week I’ve been asked by different friends, “When did you become such a Geek?” Typically, people are identified with that term well before my age. I mean, you can’t help but spot a geek right? They look like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, despise social or athletic activities, never had a girlfriend (or boyfriend), are out of shape, and have rows of graphic novels and figurines of tights-wearing superheroes lined up in their parents’ basement, right? Nope.

My friends might be confused because they know that I’m married, haven’t lived in my parents’ house since I was 18, don’t collect ANYTHING, and like sports (ok, admittedly the sports I participate in are kind of non-traditional, like Surfing, Tennis and Fencing, but those are still sports.) I guess since I don’t fit the obvious stereotypes, it never occurred to some people that I could enjoy what is usually reserved for the subculture of nerddom. I can’t tell you what episode of Star Trek was the one where Spock showed emotion, or quote lines from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I have seen every episode of the original Star Trek, TNG, Battlestar Galactica (old and new), and read Frank Herbert’s whole Dune series multiple times. I know more than a non-fan about many Science Fiction topics, but would be laughed out of The Android’s Dungeon if I tried to go head to head with a true believer. I’d never presume to get into a trivia battle with a self-professed fan of any of those things, that’s not my style, but I do know that Greedo didn’t shoot first. So am I a Geek?

Just like any stereotype, there is some truth to the traits assigned to Sci Fi geeks, but they are highly exaggerated. There are “Comic Book Guy” guys who go to conventions and yell at writers for not knowing every inane detail of a show/movie/graphic novel that they created, and there are people whose only social interaction is in a chat room dedicated to Angel, but these people are the minority.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the “mainstreaming of nerd culture.” I don’t doubt that it is happening, but I also have another idea about the phenomena: with the easier accessibility of on-demand, online, streaming entertainment, a wider audience of people is seeing what only the nerds saw before: good Science Fiction (or as Glynis likes to say, Speculative Fiction) often highlights the very best of humanity: the intelligence, hope, and heroism of a group of people united to achieve a common goal. That’s pretty compelling, and if you look beyond special effects, the stories are human and can appeal to anyone.

And since more people are acknowledging that a good story is a good story no matter the genre, more like me are “coming out of the closet.” As long as you don’t go on and on about the minutiae, it’s ok to talk about shows that present alternate realities, advanced civilizations, or people with superpowers. The truth is, most of us are fascinated by some aspect of the unknown that is explored in science fiction. Therefore, more people might be called Geeks if you don’t use the extreme definition. “Heroes” and “Lost” wouldn’t have had multiple seasons on major TV networks if only people who lived in their parents’ basement were watching.

So I haven’t changed, but I guess my true nature is more noticeable now. I’ve been going on and on lately about science fiction, time travel, and webseries. I’ve talked more than usual about Sci Fi books, movies and tv shows that inspire me like Dune, Blade Runner, and Battlestar Galactica. I’ve also educated anyone who would listen about independent web shows I respect like Vampire Mob (http://www.vampiremob.com/) and Western X (http://westernxtheshow.com/). The creators of those shows are part of a movement of people who strive to tell quintessentially human stories in their own way. I respect the work they are doing to bring their visions to life, draw audiences to them, and introduce more people to high quality productions done without the support of major studios or networks. I’m trying to help make Causality something that does the same things.

What drew me to Causality in the first place was the humanity of the characters, not how they got to where they are in time. Of course, that will be part of the story, but as the director, I hope to guide the actors to bring the very real characters and situations that Glynis and Montoure have written to life. The story points out that no matter where you are from in time, emotions lead to action, and actions lead to consequences. Those truths are common to all genres, and are illustrated in everything from the works of Ulysses to Whedon.

Again, am I a Geek? Yes and no, like 99% of the population. That 99% is drawn (either consciously or unconsciously) to stories that highlight the best and worst of humanity and help us make a bit of sense of it all. The other 1% are extremists who want to quibble about who would win in a fight, a Goa’uld or a Balrog.

Posted by   @   February 5, 2011 8 comments
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Feb 5, 2011
8:58 am

“I can’t tell you what episode of Star Trek was the one where Spock showed emotion [...]”

I, on the other hand, immediately wondered — does he mean This Side of Paradise or All Our Yesterdays? :)

Nice post. It’s been very interesting to me to see the perspective of someone who is strongly drawn to science-fiction without being hardcore into the fandom, and to have that perspective brought to this project.

For my part, I try to save most of my conversations about the minor arcana of Doctor Who for people who are interested. :)

Feb 5, 2011
9:03 am
#2 Glynis Mitchell :

I love that you wrote this after my post and after Chef and I had a really interesting discussing about the meaning of “geek” and “gamer” yesterday. (He’s more hardcore than either of us!) Awesome post, Ralph!

Feb 5, 2011
9:12 am
#3 Glynis Mitchell :

@Montoure: You know I’m heavily-closeted about how much nerdity I can throw down with. :( You should have heard our conversation about gaming yesterday…

Feb 5, 2011
9:47 am
#4 Chef :

Great Post, but don’t try to hide it we all know the Balrog, as a ancient creature of shadow and flame, would totally wipe the floor with a simple slave race with a bad case of worms. :)

Feb 5, 2011
9:59 am
#5 Chef :

Also: Dreadnoughts rock, Dinobots kick ass!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBqqyIZhVQI

Feb 5, 2011
10:02 am
#6 Ralph Fontaine :

I know you guys both know a lot more detail than I do about nerdy stuff…but neither of you has ever exhibited that officious geek attitude trait of looking down on me that some might do. I appreciate it!

Feb 6, 2011
4:10 am
#7 Glynis Mitchell :

I’m not sure that I really do know more detail, really…

Feb 6, 2011
4:11 am
#8 Glynis Mitchell :

…really…let me stop using modifiers…

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