I am a 22 year old white male who enjoys reading comics. I am pretty sure almost all of you think that I am a geek just for saying I read comics (and running the site and writing comics but ignore that for now). There are some people who would see me reading the great Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors comics and say that reading those and enjoying them makes me lose my geek status, especially since I like them more than most Marvel and DC titles.
At the same time there are guys who say they love video games. Maybe half of the people would say that makes you a geek right there. The other half care about the games. If it is Madden – there goes the geek status! If it is Halo 4 – there goes the geek status.
There are girls who like to cosplay and they make or buy their costumes and wear them at conventions. There are some people who say they are doing it for attention so they aren’t real geeks. They are “fake geek girls.”
Being a geek is such a divisive topic for really stupid reasons and the people who define geeks under the criteria of what you watch, do or say are incredibly wrong because that isn’t what geeking out is about.
The Fake Geek Girl
The Variants is an online TV show that is very alternative friendly – two of the main characters are gay and the other actual employee of the comic shop where they work (in real life) is female. Take that Neckbeard Consortium On AMC! (Also there is Ken Lowry.)
While the show is very progressive, they faltered when it came to the fake geek girl and cowriter for Nerdcenaries, Ari reminded me of that fact (and helped me with the article – Thanks Ari).
In the episode (if you don’t want to watch it) – Keli is sent to work at a comic convention where the new owners of Zeus Comics have hired a booth babe named Kelly. The point of contention comes from the fact that Keli, who works in the comic shop and is a standard nerd, doesn’t believe that Kelly is an actual nerd just because she likes Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and The Big Bang Theory. Those aren’t geek exclusive interests – they are part of the greater pop culture and so liking them doesn’t make you a nerd. Also constantly calling yourself “such a nerd” doesn’t help. While booth babes are an entirely different topic – there are no actual requirements to be a nerd or geek as far as what you consume. I believe the only important requirement is how you consume it – what it makes you do – but that is a topic for another time.
We never get to see if Kelly geeks out! She is shunned based on how she looks, how she dresses and what she enjoys. Also the endorsement of the new evil owners of Zeus Comics (Worldwide Baby!) doesn’t offer her any support. For all that Keli knows, Kelly could have a major in speaking Tolkein Orcish or could run a blog talking about fashion in Star Wars. Keli just hates based on first impressions because truthfully, this episode of The Variants offers a very one sided view. I will be clear here though, I don’t think they meant to offend anyone with their portrayal of Kelly. They just used a hot button issue but ultimately brought nothing new to it which happens with a lot of tv. For a one shot it is tough to get a discussion going.
Still! Richard and Ken, if you read this, bring back Kelly and flesh her out! Make her a more confident pop culture geek that isn’t just a strawman fake geek girl. Maybe show her as a person who gets into the more “classic” geeky culture though Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and learns to love more of the media. Show that she knows more than Keli about Lord of the Rings – basically give her positive characteristics if she is going to be an antagonist – and I think offering a female rival to Keli could be interesting!
The fake geek girl comes from a dark place where desiring attention or at the very least respect for your opinion is a bad thing. Instead of being free to enjoy what they like, they become “attention whores”. While there are people who may speak too loudly about what they enjoy, that doesn’t make them fake geeks.
I’ll put it this way – there is not a normal person in the world who would take the time to learn about a show or a game just to get attention without caring for it earnestly to some degree. There are not girls who pretend to read comics if they absolutely loathe them just to get attention. That is paranoid thinking. The only people who might do this are incredibly rare people that act sitcomically and lets avoid that when we are talking about hate. Using a small less than one percent of people to hate and stereotype the majority of women isn’t cool and frankly if you are the person who believes in the fake geek girl and believes that all women are just pretending to like geeky stuff just to get attention, don’t worry because they are going to be smart enough to not give a crap about what you think, true or not.
So What Makes A Geek
Now if someone watches a show religiously and gets into arguments over the facts about that show – I’d consider that geeking out – even if they argue about sports! If someone has a 4 hours discussion about the merits of a tv show- I’d consider that geeking out – even if it is Project Runway or The Big Bang Theory. (Guess which of those shows I prefer!)
Geeking out is all about enthusiasm and enjoyment of what you do say or watch! That enjoyment comes from all media – positive or negative but geeking out and getting enthusiasm – that comes from just positive media! And the process of geeking out makes you a geek (or a nerd)!
Positive media should make you geek out! It should make you think and talk and discuss and create. Doctor Who is positive – look how many people can look at it and find something new or a different view! Hell, discussing the misogyny of Moffat has lead to a few blogs! Starting discussions makes it is positive geek media! Football – look how many people devote their lives and free time to studying numbers and discussing strategy! That is positive geek media! Dungeons and Dragons – I’ve personally spent hours building campaigns and telling stories that becomes stories that other people share! There are so many things people can and do geek out to that the term geek or nerd becomes pointless – which is good.
We don’t want to divide positive media from the public where it dies slowly (comics industry I am looking at you)! We need to get it out there and share the positive stuff and share positivity! Creating the fake geek girl idea hurts that and speaking honestly, I don’t think fake geek girls exist. I think there are people who feel threatened by women or minorities or majorities taking part in what they enjoy. I think there are underlying issues of misogyny, racism at the heart of a lot of the hate and that stuff is not cool.
Everyone is invited to the geeky table under the geek and nerd banner to talk and share what they love and by redefining the term to fit more people – the old geeky hobbies can reach a larger audience.