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Dear Fake Geeks, Go Away?
February 10, 2014 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Who are these "fake geeks" and why are they invading our nerd turf? [slyt]
posted by desjardins (185 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH

that is all
posted by Sara C. at 5:43 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I dunno, the whole mess seems "fake" to me anymore, I remember the word meaning something different than conspicuous consumption of mass-produced culture.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:44 PM on February 10 [46 favorites]


Obviously not at all what I was expecting. Very well done!
posted by The Gooch at 5:50 PM on February 10


Yeah, hate to be a "hipster" "geek," but when I was younger, geeks were usually geeks of a particular skill: there were computer geeks, math geeks, electronics geeks, radio geeks. Even car geeks. The whole point was to be deeply into a particular skill—something that you learned, and that required practice and mastery. I feel that what "geek" means now is closer to what "nerd" was used for then, with different connotations. (You could be a computer geek and a Star Wars nerd, for example.)
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:51 PM on February 10 [23 favorites]


so do i and they're not pleasant memories - i guess if comix fans want to geek out, fine, but i was a geek/nerd before there was anything like a community and comix wasn't really part of it

i think i forfeited my geek card the day i blew up my amp speakers maxing out my kustom 100 and got all the neighbors complaining

but it sounded so awesome ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:52 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Someone watches a lot of Daily Show.
posted by efalk at 5:53 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


This feels like that awful "Ask First" video from a few months back.

People who agree with the underlying message will be all over it, even though it's a poorly done Daily Show ripoff.
posted by lattiboy at 5:56 PM on February 10


So this is a gender-reversing satire about the "fake geek girls" controversy (re: how dare sexist men question if women are really geeks and if geek pop culture identifying women are only engaging in geek pop culture and pretending to be geek pop culture fans to attract male attention; geek pop culture meaning basically superhero comics, video games, manga etc. ) .

But what has been lost and forgotten and is hardly ever spoken about is that the original original original debate about fake geek girls was started by geek-identifying women with highly skilled science and technology and engineering backgrounds who were worried and annoyed by women who identified as geeks only through the pop culture stuff, and not through the practical advanced techy skills stuff.
posted by Bwithh at 5:56 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


How adult people arguing about who "really" likes to dress up like cartoon characters somehow became a battlefield for feminism speaks to our time more than anything else I can think of.
posted by lattiboy at 5:58 PM on February 10 [55 favorites]


"But what has been lost and forgotten and is hardly ever spoken about is that the original original original debate about fake geek girls was started by geek-identifying women
citation needed

posted by klangklangston at 6:01 PM on February 10 [31 favorites]


how dare sexist men question if women are really geeks and if geek pop culture identifying women are only engaging in geek pop culture and pretending to be geek pop culture fans to attract male attention

Hint: it's just fucking comics/movies/TV/games. Everyone can like it however they want. Nobody is trying to take anything away from you.
posted by Sara C. at 6:04 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


"How adult people arguing about who "really" likes to dress up like cartoon characters somehow became a battlefield for feminism speaks to our time more than anything else I can think of."

Dude, you're making comments on a weblog on the internet. Maybe you can back the fuck off of the condescension about which nerd pursuits are unworthy of feminist critique?

(And I don't even cosplay.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:04 PM on February 10 [32 favorites]


This is so great!
posted by crossoverman at 6:06 PM on February 10



Yea that was good.

You could be a computer geek and a Star Wars nerd


I never get these distinctions right no matter how many Venn diagrams on the topic I look at.
posted by sweetkid at 6:11 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


If we had just kept the Geek Code updated we could have continued to properly categorize and qualify geeky behavior in an organized fashion. Now it's just anarchy!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:11 PM on February 10 [17 favorites]


I enjoyed that.
posted by jessamyn at 6:18 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


She loves "the Star Trek". Uh huh.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:20 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Dude, you're making comments on a weblog on the internet. Maybe you can back the fuck off of the condescension about which nerd pursuits are unworthy of feminist critique?

I don't like that large parts of my generation have become consumed with infantalized, commercial bullshit and are proud of it.

Not sure how commenting on a website would be comparable to spending large sums of time and/or money dressing up like a media property aimed mostly at children, but whatever.
posted by lattiboy at 6:25 PM on February 10 [47 favorites]


I don't like this at all. I think it has something to do with what lattiboy said:
I don't like that large parts of my generation have become consumed with infantalized, commercial bullshit and are proud of it.
Yeah. What does any of that stuff have to do with being a nerd or a geek? I don't get it and I don't like it.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 6:27 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I don't like that large parts of my generation have become consumed with infantalized, commercial bullshit and are proud of it.

Or it can be viewed as large parts of your generation owning aspects of mass culture and using it as a medium of self expression that can be done without directly giving money to commercial interests while also actively shifting or changing the conversation around properties. Or, fan culture could be what you said.

Heck, it might be one for some people and the other for other people. It might occasionally be both simultaneously. And, if you accept that this self expression can, in fact, impact the direction the conversation around these mass media properties and ideas take then, yes, this is a very valid battle for feminism to be taking part in.
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:33 PM on February 10 [18 favorites]


The whole point was to be deeply into a particular skill—something that you learned, and that required practice and mastery.

If so, cosplayers' skills with sewing machines make them the only true geeks at the conference.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:33 PM on February 10 [32 favorites]


I don't like that large parts of my generation have become consumed with infantalized, commercial bullshit and are proud of it.

Everyone should be more like you.

What harm are they doing?
posted by crossoverman at 6:33 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


OK, let me add; I do not dislike the message of the video, that we should accept and embrace people. In fact, I rather agree with that. The other grumpy parts stand.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 6:34 PM on February 10


I didn't really have a problem with the "fake geek" concept when it first appeared and suffered a huge backlash. It did seem to me (granted, from a distance) that there was such a phenomenon -- people (well, celebrities, at least) trying to capitalize on the newly popular image of the geek/nerd, without really having walked in those shoes. Still found this entertaining and well done, though.
posted by uosuaq at 6:34 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I have no idea why people always do the "[cause] isn't important enough for [movement] to look at" as if giving a shit about things was some kind of precious limited commodity that has to be rationed to every last drop.

Like, you get that people can care about sexism at comic conventions and reproductive rights at the same time, right? And that feminists aren't a consolidated borg bloc, such that it's really cool to see feminists apply theory to aspects of their life that impact them even if we don't share interest in these aspects, right? Like, it's not as someone yells "COMICS" and then every feminist has to automatically drop what they're doing and focus on comics, right?
posted by Conspire at 6:35 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


Back in my day we walked uphill both ways through snow to get insulted by Harlan Ellison and we liked it, damnit.
posted by kmz at 6:35 PM on February 10 [60 favorites]


It wouldn't have worked anyway (I don't really find men attractive) but I am still extremely frustrated by the period of time I spent when I was younger going out with a guy who was really nice and all, but had introduced himself to me as being a total geek because he knew I was, and it turned out that what that really meant was "he'd enjoyed watching TNG as a kid".

But the lesson there is that you have to be wary about expecting total honesty from someone who is trying to get you to like them. There's not anything particularly geek-specialized about this. People have managed to deal just fine for quite some time now with the fact that long walks on various beaches are not actually as popular as you would think from personal ads.
posted by Sequence at 6:36 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


For some reason I really liked the zing factor of having the clinical psychiatrist who also by the way cosplays as a Galactica fighter pilot. I'm not even sure why this should be especially notable (I guess because we expect all cosplayers to either be models or living in their parents' basement?) but that was a nice touch.
posted by chrominance at 6:39 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


Why is it wrong for someone to identify as a geek in their own way?

I dropped a random reference to transporters in a (non-geeky) bar last night and the person I was talking to looked at me like I had three heads.

Being a Trekkie is plenty nerdy enough.

Why fight for the scraps when there's plenty to go around?
posted by Sara C. at 6:40 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I don't like that large parts of my generation have become consumed with infantalized, commercial bullshit and are proud of it.

Well, my childhood taught me that a love of comic books and Star Wars should be fraught with shame so you can bask in that, I guess.

I'm actually envious of kids these days.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:40 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


This 'geek cred' fight is tiresome. If you are passionate about your hobby, show, game or whatever then please let us be friends. I've always thought of nerds as people that are really passionate about something and I like that. Still, all of us have one thing in common: are interests have probably made most of our Father's shake their heads with disappointment. Can't we all just find common ground based on parental disapproval?!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 6:42 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


What harm are they doing?

It's arguable. In a way, it's not so much that they are themselves doing harm but that they have been harmed and don't know it. Instead of having a real culture, built around artistry and self-expression, instead there is a culture built around products. This is deeply weird to me. I think the analogy can best be seen in the comparison of two people: JRR Tolkien and Chris Tolkien. JRR Tolkien was a geek. He loved languages. He wrote thousands of pages just to give his languages a world to play in. He did it, mostly, for fun. He published a tiny minority of his actual artistic output.

Chris Tolkien is making a product. His product is Tolkien. Legolas surfing down the trunk of an elephant on a shield—that's a product. Publishing books full of ephemera that JRR Tolkien never intended to be read—that's a product.

The appendices of The Lord of the Rings—that's art.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:42 PM on February 10 [29 favorites]


To be clear: I was implying that it was ridiculous that current culture had elevated (what I believe to be) ridiculous behavior as worthy of multiple videos and articles from a feminist perspective, not "here's what feminism should be doing instead!"

In that circumstance, I find it really cool that people tend to derive a sense of community over shared interests, and that people also value these communities enough that they seek to make positive change in them - even if I'm not part of these communities or don't see point in their interests.

I'm less indignantly outraged and more gently bemused, to be honest.
posted by Conspire at 6:44 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


[Few comments removed. Well this went from zero to flip-out sort of fast.... If you have issues with MeFi's overall culture you are welcome to come talk to us about it in MetaTalk, otherwise treat other people with respect and try to presume some good faith?]
posted by jessamyn at 6:44 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


are interests have probably made most of our Father's shake their heads with disappointment.

Well, my father taught me to do the Vulcan hand sign before I could tie my shoes, so I think he's probably proud of me.
posted by Sara C. at 6:47 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


More seriously this reminds me of my "friend" on Facebook who tried to argue that not all Super Bowl Coke ad critics were bigots. His argument was basically people had a right to be mad at recent immigrants because their grandparents had to endure discrimination when they were immigrants. Classic got mine fuck you. (There's a reason I wrote friend in quotes. )

Just because you may have suffered for being a geek or nerd, you don't get to be a gatekeeper. And that doesn't even get into you don't know shit about what others have gone through.
posted by kmz at 6:48 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


Hmm one of the "real" geeks claims to like "Star TrAk". Classic tell of a fake geek right there.

but more seriously, I've never been around these kinds of conventions but the sincerity and enthusiasm of the people who dress up is just so wonderful. I love it.
posted by beau jackson at 6:51 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Back in my day we walked uphill both ways through snow to get insulted by Harlan Ellison and we liked it, damnit.

We lied about liking it, mostly.
posted by immlass at 6:53 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


I think the issue is in the appropriation of the words “geek” or “nerd,” which used to be broadly derogatory, by people who have seen the terms become more desirable (due to association with tech zillionaires maybe.) Nobody is saying you can’t like Star Trek or Warhammer or whatever, but when you hear someone say “I’m such a nerd, I love Angry Birds!” the ensuing objection is not centered on doubt of their trufan love of Angry Birds, it’s that enjoyment of Angry Birds is orthogonal to the qualities that have traditionally (and negatively) been associated with nerdiness. There’s no such thing as a “chewing tobacco nerd” or a “high school cheerleader dork” except to people who are misusing all those words. It’s as if people started saying things like “I just got 5% cash back on my credit card statement, I’m such a Jew!” You’d understand why actual Jews might have a problem with that.
posted by El Mariachi at 6:54 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


You know what, that is fine. People would call me a nerd or a geek all the time when I was a kid but it was always to hurt me. Now that those words are cool I am fine with that.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 6:56 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Maybe us REAL NERDS can just call ourselves "enthusiasts" to separate us from them. No one thinks the word enthusiasts is cool. Except for REAL ENTHUSIASTS * high five *
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 6:58 PM on February 10 [15 favorites]


You know what, that is fine. People would call me a nerd or a geek all the time when I was a kid but it was always to hurt me. Now that those words are cool I am fine with that.

Me too. I like the the words aren't only used in a derogatory manner now. It's made it easier for me to brush off past comments meant to be hurtful. I was just ahead of the times is all.
posted by Jalliah at 7:01 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Sonic Meat Machine:

I totally disagree with your position, and think it's inconsistent, for the following reason.

What I'm getting from you is that you believe Tolkien was a geek because he loved languages, studied languages, and even invented languages.

From my experience with the cosplay community you have people who are deeply engrossed with costume. Not with video games, not with comic books, not with movies, but with costume. They interact with video games, comic books, and movies because that's where you find costume. Just like Tolkien got his raw materials from real places, because that's where you find languages.


Many cosplayers are people who study costume, and yes, make costumes of people in video games, comic books, and movies. But they also make original costumes. See the immense growth of steampunk style. See the Labyrinth of of Jareth. This is just scratching the surface and I don't know how deep it goes because I'm not a cosplay geek. I just dated one for a while and she could wax philosophically on the implications of costuming as well as any urban design geek can on the construction of social spaces for the reduction of crime.

I think seeing cosplayers only in the context of Comicon, like we normally do, is actually a disservice to the depth of the hobby (hobby in the best sense, not in a dismissive sense). Generally, outside mental illness, a good guide is that if you see people obsessed with something and your (the generic "you" not Sonic Meat Machine in particular) first glance makes you think "that's all there is", the next thought should be, "Well, I guess I'm missing a lot."
posted by bswinburn at 7:02 PM on February 10 [41 favorites]


Just because you may have suffered for being a geek or nerd, you don't get to be a gatekeeper.
I really just don't even get this impulse. I've never geeked out about the standard geeky stuff: I don't read comic books, and I'm not really much into sci-fi or computers. But I was an obsessive, overly-analytical little girl who always had her nose in a book and couldn't shut up about whatever my latest obsession was, and it really, really sucked to be that kid in the '80s. If it sucks less to be that kid now, that's nothing but awesome. If being that kid is now considered desirable enough that people want to pretend to be like that, that's also awesome. Anything that makes things better for the obsessive, overly-analytic, not-able-to-shut-up-about-archeology-even-though-nobody-else-cares kids is pretty much ok by me.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:03 PM on February 10 [32 favorites]


I like that they found a clinical psychologist who is either a model or living out of her parents' basement.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 7:04 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]



This video and some of the comments are pretty timely for me. I spent several hours last surfing female cosplay character pics because I'm determined to go to a con this summer and dress up as something.

I love dressing up and realized that I actually have already cosplayed without realizing it. Back when I worked as a snowboard instructor and a big ski hill a group of us would pick a theme for the year end staff party and costume ourselves appropriately. We did barbarians one year and I did Xena well enough to at one point being followed around the village with a group chanting "Xena. Xena". lol It was wicked fun.

Going through all sorts of options last night I had doubts creep into my mind about just how into whatever the character I chose is in I should be, in order to feel legit. I realize now it doesn't matter and that without realizing it I've been internalizing some of this 'fake geek girl' stuff that's been going around.

I still haven't decided what I'm going to do. It can't be to complicated or expensive. I'm leaning towards a BSG pilot (nice to see one in the video) or a gender bender Edward Kenny. "Yarrr"
posted by Jalliah at 7:14 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Man it's like everything is political nowadays. Like every community has its own hierarchies and norms and political struggles. It's like those community members perceive the world through various ideologies, identify injustices/deficiencies/disparities, and attempt to address those concerns with the larger community. The head spins. Damn it everything was simpler back then and we could just enjoy [comic, movie, book, whatever] for what it was. Back then, we used to just talk about how cool stuff was and who would beat whom in a fight.

Kids these days. Getting all their isms into my whatever.

Or maybe this isn't something new. Maybe we liked [comic, movie, book, whatever] on a simpler level and participated in the community in a more limited way because we were young and didn't really understand all that other stuff. Maybe these discourses have been going on all along. Or maybe back then the community used its hierarchies and norms to suppress that kind of dissent in a way that's impossible now.
posted by The White Hat at 7:19 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Can't we all just find common ground based on parental disapproval?!

I certainly share a spiritual bond with all my fellow Christian-raised geeks whose parents confiscated their "demonic" D&D manuals. I had to hide the giant fantasy novels I'd bring home from the library.

I suffered to be a nerd, dammit.
posted by emjaybee at 7:19 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


That said I really wish everyone would quit dicking around with pop culture and become scientist-philosopher-engineers so I could have my space utopia.
posted by The White Hat at 7:20 PM on February 10 [17 favorites]


"if [your] first glance makes you think "that's all there is", the next thought should be, "Well, I guess I'm missing a lot."

I'm writing this on my wall.

[Note that shouldn't be necessary but is: I mean MY REAL WALL, not F***book.]
posted by crazylegs at 7:23 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Back then, we used to just talk about how cool stuff was and who would beat whom in a fight.

That's not true. We also talked about how much stuff sucked.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:25 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Or it can be viewed as large parts of your generation owning aspects of mass culture and using it as a medium of self expression that can be done without directly giving money to commercial interests while also actively shifting or changing the conversation around properties.

Dressing up is fun and the costumes can be pretty great but what on earth do you think you own? The commercial interests you are talking about leave you alone because you are happily subordinate. That is all!
posted by furiousthought at 7:25 PM on February 10


It's arguable. In a way, it's not so much that they are themselves doing harm but that they have been harmed and don't know it. Instead of having a real culture, built around artistry and self-expression, instead there is a culture built around products.

I dunno, this very much seems like an argument built around the idea that books are real art and film/TV aren't. I call bullshit on that.
posted by crossoverman at 7:26 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


lattiboy: How adult people arguing about who "really" likes to dress up like cartoon characters somehow became a battlefield for feminism speaks to our time more than anything else I can think of.

It is interesting, to me, how this comment can be the subject of two almost directly opposed readings (as I realised when I saw your followup below).

I also agree that it speaks to our time, but it does so as an indictment of it - a period where even the simple pleasures of dressing up and socialising with other like minded people requires a pre-prepared defence of one's credentials and authenticity. (Unless you're a guy.)
posted by curious.jp at 7:32 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I am enormous, but no longer obese. So, Kingpin, E. Honda and the Blob (Fred J. Dukes variety) are out. On the other hand, I spend 1.5hrs in the gym 3x/week lifting heavy, and more on cardio, and will NEVER look like that Bane dude who does a day or two a week for an hour.

I'm thinking silver-age Hyde (Calvin Zabo variety). I just need to find a green cape and a green suit in extra long. Bluto and Solomon Grundy might work, too.

And, I hate to say it, that video did nothing to address the seething insecurity unsocialized men have over losing their refuge from a social pecking order which will always drive them right into the earth. "We have interviewed a series of men more interesting and attractive than you are, and also women who are nowhere near your league, and we have all decided that you suck."

On the gripping hand, SF/F/H/comics/VG fandom is so fucking gentrified and commoditized, San Diego ComiCon might as well be the Academy Awards at this point. All of the real nerds high-tailed it a long time back for hyperspecific fetish communities, knifemaking and tabletop miniatures wargaming.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:34 PM on February 10 [17 favorites]


Hmm one of the "real" geeks claims to like "Star TrAk". Classic tell of a fake geek right there.

Or the classic tell of someone from the Midwest or West Coast.
posted by Sara C. at 7:42 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I also agree that it speaks to our time, but it does so as an indictment of it - a period where even the simple pleasures of dressing up and socialising with other like minded people requires a pre-prepared defence of one's credentials and authenticity. (Unless you're a guy.)

Noelle Stevenson posted this comic today. It's worth a look.
posted by kagredon at 7:42 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


I like that they found a clinical psychologist who is either a model or living out of her parents' basement.

Er, to be clear, I didn't mean it that way at all. I was saying a common perception was that cosplayers are one of those two things, and so it was a pleasant surprise even for me (as someone who knows better) to see the clinical psychologist, who is very likely neither of those things.
posted by chrominance at 7:43 PM on February 10


I hate to say it, that video did nothing to address the seething insecurity unsocialized men have over losing their refuge from a social pecking order which will always drive them right into the earth

Why was the video supposed to address that?
posted by sweetkid at 7:46 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


From my experience with the cosplay community you have people who are deeply engrossed with costume. Not with video games, not with comic books, not with movies, but with costume. They interact with video games, comic books, and movies because that's where you find costume.

This is so incredibly true. To the extent that I'm working on a thing that touches on cosplay a little bit, and I am terrified of what the actual cosplay people are going to think. Because our little low budget thing can't afford to spend thousands to create the types of cosplay pieces that are considered de rigeur in that world, let alone actually impressive. They're going to see right through us, because we really ARE fake cosplay geeks in this particular context. And I'm much more afraid of that than being a fake sci fi geek or comic geek or not properly grokking the world of video games.
posted by Sara C. at 7:47 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm female, and I did have a time in my life when I was pissed off about people claiming to be nerdy/geeky who didn't meet my personal standard of nerdy/geeky, and it was basically all about whether they looked/talked/dressed/etc. like me or looked/talked/dressed/etc. like the girls who were mean to me in middle school, because I was scared that people like the people who had treated me poorly in the past were going to come in to my communities and take away my safe space.

But then I had to ask myself a couple of questions:

1. If I am making snap judgments about people based on the way they look/talk/dress, etc., and think that they should be excluded from activities, aren't I doing the exact same thing the mean girls from middle school did?

2. Am I seriously - as an adult human being - still stuck in the mindset of middle school?

I've been pondering those answers ever since.

Anyway I'm all for awesome cosplay, whoever is wearing the costume.
posted by capricorn at 7:51 PM on February 10 [37 favorites]


Nerdery and geekery used to be this lovely island with very few people that you could get to. Then this cruise ship crashed into it and while the additional company is sometimes nice the wreck is ugly and there's litter everywhere.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:54 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I hate to say it, that video did nothing to address the seething insecurity unsocialized men have over losing their refuge from a social pecking order which will always drive them right into the earth

Why was the video supposed to address that?


Because if you don't understand why they're angry, and you just mock their anger, you're being a dick. And since this whole argument is from the side of the more powerful against the less so, the dickishness becomes greater. Who the fuck ever learns from being yelled at "STOP BEING AN ASSHOLE!" All that does is alienate and anger more. The anger doesn't come from nowhere.

Geek rage over "gentrification" of nerd-town is fucking irritating. It makes me want to hit those geeks with shovels. It's fucking swinish behavior. But I don't yell at them over it. Because it works better when you don't. I know it can be hard to show compassion to white guys with low social skills. But there are a lot of ways lives can be terrible and this kind of anger can be born. Stop their bullshit, absolutely. Call them on it. That bad behavior has got to stop. But don't just shit on them, feel superior, and call it a day. That doesn't help anything and makes the nerd anger burn hotter.

All that said, goddamn do I hate the "you people don't deserve [property X] because you don't love it like we do!" crowd. Haaaaate. I get where they're coming from, I do, but oh man do I hate it.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 7:55 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


And since this whole argument is from the side of the more powerful against the less so

What?
posted by kagredon at 7:56 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


"Geek gentrification rage is fucking irritating."

fucking geek hipsters
posted by klangklangston at 7:58 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Man Slap*Happy, you hit the nail on the head there.
posted by zscore at 7:58 PM on February 10


Eh, every underground scene, once it begins to gain some kind of left-handed popularity, attracts fakes. Geekdom is no different. Goths refer to them as "posers," and if feeling especially arch, a "u" could be inserted into the pronunciation. Pick any once-niche, now-trending scene you like, it can happen. Fakes always want the same thing: to suck up the status and attention in any manner which allows them to skip the hard work and sacrifices made by those who came in on the ground floor. I know it grinds against the egalitarian grain but, no, not all fans and hobbyists are equal. They don't all bring the same effort and mastery and time to the table. Some bust their asses and go without dinner a couple of nights a week to keep a zine in circulation or to pay hosting fees for a fansite; some people skim a Wikipedia page and crown themselves experts.

Fakes are resented because the rest of us know that when the spotlight moves off, the fakes run off with it, leaving their trash behind, mostly in the droppings of digested drama. That's how gatekeepers come into existence. And I'll disagree with kmz here: serious fans, the gatekeepers, are not fair-weather fans who are only in it when something is hip, they were around when that something was deeply uncool and they'll be around when the pendulum swings back to their interest being "dorky" or "creepy" or "boring." That's the turf being defended, and it's being defended against folks who got real excited about two months ago and have all kinds of ideas about what you and everyone else who has been around for years ought to do things.

It's not a flat little democracy where everyone is the same. Nor should it be. If people have taken the time to form a smaller community based around the shared interests which prompted enthusiasm which often put those same people on the fringes of the larger community, asking for a little respect from the newbies is not beyond the pale, even the ones who are not cultural carpetbaggers vying for superstar status.

Sometimes I think the future of fake-proof fandom is going to be deepweb, unindexed sites, and moles in the Wikimedia Foundation carefully nuking emergent articles about the topic as being unworthy of note. No cons anywhere too comfortable. Just people enjoying something without having to deal with their interests being monetized or pandered to by facile network television programs. Somewhen the calendar is always turned to August, so that you can never have a September that never ended.
posted by adipocere at 8:00 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


Goths refer to them as "posers,"

Yeah, I hated that shit, too.
posted by Sara C. at 8:02 PM on February 10 [14 favorites]


My girlfriend runs a six-person game of Dungeon World in our living room. I have either gamed in the past with every member of the group or currently play with them in another game.

I am not allowed to play in my gf's game, however, because it is a strictly women-only game. And I should note that my gf had plenty of eligible friends who wanted to play. She had to make hard decisions about who to include.

Literally everyone who complains about fake geek girls could die in a fire tomorrow and I would not be the least bit sad for it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:12 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Everyone should enjoy the same things as me in the same way that I enjoy them.
posted by potch at 8:15 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Anyone who has any kind of social network or is part of a group, is not a real nerd.
posted by Decani at 8:17 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


Of course, the flipside of the whole poseur thing is that the second a band has enough fans so that they can quit their day jobs and go on tour and make an album and maybe get health insurance, they've sold out, and they're not pure and cool anymore. Then the gatekeepers have to move on to something more obscure so they can convince themselves that they're better than the shitty poseurs. You've sort of got to wonder if they were ever fans of the band in the first place, or if they were just fans of the feeling of superiority they got from being in the know about something pure and cool and obscure.

Personally, if something is awesome, then I want to introduce it to as many people as possible. Nothing could be more delightful to me than something I love getting really popular or someone I love being able to make a real living off of his or her art.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:18 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


> "That's the turf being defended ..."

Somehow, the idea that the self-appointed arbiters of the proper way for people to have fun have also judged themselves able to keenly discern which people are permanently enthusiastic about a given form of entertainment and which people are temporarily enthusiastic about a given form of entertainment, and have also convinced themselves that this distinction matters deeply, fails to fill me with deep respect for their wisdom.
posted by kyrademon at 8:20 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


> "She loves 'the Star Trek'. Uh huh."

Wow. A genuine shibboleth. I don't think I've never spotted one in the wild before.
posted by kyrademon at 8:25 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Anyone who has any kind of social network or is part of a group, is not a real nerd.

Fakes.
posted by kagredon at 8:30 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


"here’s no such thing as a “chewing tobacco nerd” or a “high school cheerleader dork” except to people who are misusing all those words."

I guarantee you that anyone who would join "dip-nation is a nerd about chewing tobacco. Most male high school cheerleaders are dorks — just like most people on show choir are dorks. In fact, most high schoolers are pretty dorky.

"They don't all bring the same effort and mastery and time to the table. Some bust their asses and go without dinner a couple of nights a week to keep a zine in circulation or to pay hosting fees for a fansite; some people skim a Wikipedia page and crown themselves experts.

Sure, but that's something that usually comes out in the wash — people who are wikipedia experts either learn more and stick around, or they don't and they leave.

And geekdom was never an underground scene — it was a bunch of scenes, some underground and some not, all tossed together on the vague premise that they were things that uncool people did. Except that some parts kept getting more and more popular, in part by random chance and in part because some parts are really fun and have a broad appeal.

I'm with you on some of the things you mention — I do think it's good for people to learn from more experienced members of any given community about what the norms are, but where you say it's not a flat little democracy, I'd say that it's still a democracy. It's neither flat nor little, and at some point you have to accept that maybe some people like the same things because those things are actually good, even if they don't know a lot about them.

The other thing that bugs me about a lot of this stuff is that the rules of gate-keeping and authenticity exclude a lot of people who are doing creative stuff that takes a lot of skill — especially along arbitrary sexist, classist, racist and homophobic lines. (No doubt some others too.) I avoided a lot of really interesting, fun art when I was growing up because it was "gay." I'm glad that the answer now is, "so what?" in a way similar to how saying something is a nerdy pursuit is now much more of a, "so what?"

posted by klangklangston at 8:30 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


I am an actual Trekkie from way back, heard the Wonder Woman cosplayer say those words in the context of everything else she was saying, and didn't have a problem with it.

My guess is that she's from the West Coast? They do weird things with vowels here, especially with A and E sounds.

Also, she added "the" because she was listing off a series of things and adding "the" to all of them. She likes the costumes, the science, the community, the comics, the Star Wars, the Star Treks, etc. Sort of an odd way to phrase it, but sure, Wonder Woman. You do you.

(My doubletake with her was that she seemed to be framing every aspect of fandom around stuff to buy, but she's hardly alone there, it hardly makes her a "fake" geek, and it's something a lot of people in all walks of life do, constantly, in our capitalist society. It's actually difficult to participate meaningfully in most pastimes without spending money.)
posted by Sara C. at 8:30 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


My irony meter is broken because I have no idea if adipocere's comment is satire or if they actually think fake geeks exist.
posted by crossoverman at 8:36 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


'Look Toby, the guys in that movie are not 28 year-old file clerks who live with their grandmothers in an ethnic ghetto...They didn't get their computers like you did, by trading in a bunch of box tops and $49.50 at the supermarket...Sure, go to the movies and daydream, but Revenge of the Nerds ain't reality. It's just Hollywood bullshit.'
posted by Smedleyman at 8:38 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


The cosplaying community at Comic Con is so welcoming that it shocked me, I cosplayed Hannibal at Comic Con last year for the first time and was a nervous wreak about how people were going to judge my costume. But unlike other geeky experiences I've had were I feel I need to defend myself against other fans to prove I belong I was happily embraced, every women who recognized me shrieked and told me how great I looked. I don't know what would have happened if I was dressed as a sexy lady character, or from something with a more male fanbase, but the kindness of other fans was overwhelming.
posted by lepus at 8:46 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I mean I think it is a fine form of conspicuous consumption, rather democratic and somewhat open to those who because of their excess wealth of free time have little wealth of money. I think these characters serve as the demigods and legends of our time and am not particularly concerned about "authenticity" regarding the social arrangements behind their production. But there are two problems - the first is that if I say I am a "computer geek" I have to make very clear that I mean I have mastered computer skills such that I interact with them in a very different way with much-expanded capabilities, not that I know all about nonsense like the latest CPU and GPU models. And memorizing a bunch of trivial facts is about as much mastery as the pop-culture field can demonstrate.

The second, originally it often meant liking something despite its unpopularity and disrepute - now there's an air of trying to maintain that outsider cred, but it's like, "Oh, you like Batman and Breaking Bad? 3edgy5me." I think this relates to the narrative where gamer / internet misbehavior is supposed to come from socially maladjusted rejects - except not really, games / internet are just normal & regular now, it's not the social rejects, the call is coming from inside the house - this is socially well-adjusted America.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:48 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Why is the fact that this is addressing a common sexist argument against female inclusion being elided here?

Like this:

And since this whole argument is from the side of the more powerful against the less so

What? This video was a satirical take on a type of sexism male geeks display towards women. How are the women the more powerful in this scenario?

Fakes are resented because the rest of us know that when the spotlight moves off, the fakes run off with it, leaving their trash behind, mostly in the droppings of digested drama. That's how gatekeepers come into existence.

And why is it so explicitly gendered?

As a young black girl I didn't think I could be a "geek". There was no internal conflict, no dispute, whatever it was it couldn't be me because, well because black girls can't be geeks. That's the message I got at the majority-white school I attended. Of course, my geeky interests got me called an oreo but that was all it did for me. As I got older I saw black boys allowed into the geek club somewhat, but not black girls. It was very unpleasant and alienating. I think things have changed somewhat, though not enough, but I resent the implication that sexism aimed at personal endeavors is somehow unimportant and I hate this whole derail on how being a "geek" is worthless anyway. Not to me.
posted by Danila at 8:54 PM on February 10 [35 favorites]


This is why, when pressed*, I claim that I'm a dork.

*Which has happened maybe twice IRL so it's not really a thing
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:57 PM on February 10


And memorizing a bunch of trivial facts is about as much mastery as the pop-culture field can demonstrate.

Not really?

One of the things I love about geek culture is all the different ways there are of interacting with it. You can write fanfic, do cosplay, have imaginative daydreams/analyses about the various characters and themes, make your own stuff, or shit, just get lost in the stories and enjoy it for what it is. There's no instruction manual. It's a hobby about the democratization of creativity, and I think that's just brilliant.
posted by Sara C. at 8:57 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Why is the fact that this is addressing a common sexist argument against female inclusion being elided here?

Because that always happens in threads about sexism, there's always a vocal minority, "What about the menz?"
posted by crossoverman at 9:06 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


One of the things I love about geek culture is all the different ways there are of interacting with it.

Yes, there's no wrong way to be a fan of something.

There is a wrong way to be critical of how other people are fans of something.
posted by crossoverman at 9:07 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Fakes always want the same thing: to suck up the status and attention in any manner which allows them to skip the hard work and sacrifices made by those who came in on the ground floor. I know it grinds against the egalitarian grain but, no, not all fans and hobbyists are equal.

It's one of those places that are supposed to be very sophisticated and all, and the phonies are coming in the window.
Respectfully yours, HOLDEN CAULFIELD.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:11 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


This was very well done. Just curious, is the title of one of the interviewees, "Member of the Black Nerd Community" (or something like that) intended to be for real? I was thinking that it was a playful poke at the idea that nerds could be anything but nerds (and so thought it was quite droll).
posted by KokuRyu at 9:16 PM on February 10


Maybe we should just focus on the things we are passionate about, instead of trying to decide who really counts as a "fan", "geek", "poser" or "fake". Maybe things would be better if we focused on what we loved to do and spending time with other people who enjoyed it too, instead of checking their credentials. Maybe we could all remember that sometimes, there were things we were passionate about for a time, and then we found other things and moved on; that fact doesn't make the time we spent on the first passion false.

Maybe we could remember that this passion we bring to something might look and feel different than someone else's, and that how they choose to interact with it is up to them. And maybe we could just celebrate the common joy that thing has brought into our lives, because life is what it is, and you should celebrate joy and passion when you have it.
posted by nubs at 9:18 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


So yeah.

I don't give a shit about any superheroes.

My TV and movie watching is about four films on the big screen a year, and my boyfriend bringing over Adventure Time or some crazy Brit sketch comedy to watch while we snuggle.

I play some video games now and then but I refuse to define my life around them. I climbed out of that particular hole and don't want to go back.

I used to passionately follow animation news; then I got into that industry and quit keeping up. Left that industry, still don't keep up. Neither do most of my friends who're still in it, beyond keeping an ear to the grapevine for heir next gig.

If you ask me "Star Wars or Star Trek", I'll think for a bit and respond "Culture".

I don't think I'm really a part of the fandom of any particular work. There's nothing I'm anxiously waiting for the next installment of. Nothing I'd name any theoretical kid after.

By everything people seem to define the term "geek girl" with nowadays, I'm a fake geek girl.

I'm also a transwoman. I have oodles of passing privelege nowadays, but my femininity is meticulously constructed. Hair lasers, artificial hormones, voice practice. No implants, I got lucky in my genes. But ask any radical separatist lesbian: I'm another level of fake entirely.

And yet when I finish this comment, I'm gonna go upload the next page of my web comic about a bi robot lady with PKD problems to a website I built and maintain myself. I wrote it, and drew it in an art program most people think is incredibly arcane. The site's got hand-written bits of php and tons of custom CSS sitting on top of Wordpress, because I got sick of maintaining and extending my personal fork of an obscure gallery package I'd hacked to do web comics as well.

Fuck the gatekeepers. I can't pass any of the "tests" folks will apply but I am pretty sure I am a hard core nerd/geek whatever. If all these things make me fake then you know what? I'm gonna take back "fake" and wear it as a badge of pride. I'm PROUD to be a fake geek girl.
posted by egypturnash at 9:29 PM on February 10 [36 favorites]



Hmm one of the "real" geeks claims to like "Star TrAk". Classic tell of a fake geek right there.

Or the classic tell of someone from the Midwest or West Coast.


Really? ah! I think you got me. It's the classic tell where I'm from but I grew up as far away as you can get from the American West coast on this continent.
posted by beau jackson at 9:53 PM on February 10


Northern Cities Vowel Shift

Though TBH the speaker sounds more West Coast to me.

Either way, it's shitty to assume based on how someone pronounces a vowel that they must not really like a particular pop culture franchise they have just claimed to like.
posted by Sara C. at 10:05 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


she seemed to be framing every aspect of fandom around stuff to buy, but she's hardly alone there

That's my real problem with the whole influx of "nouveau geeks", if you will. So much of how they express their geekdom is by buying and consuming (i.e. watching, reading) as much "genre" content as possible, as opposed to...I dunno what, really. It just feels..."off." Insincere, maybe?

The bottom line is that geek has gone mainstream, and not everybody is overjoyed with that fact.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:10 PM on February 10


Re: conspicuous consumption, I can only guess that back in the golden age, science fiction books fell from heaven and computing equipment grew on trees. Or something.

It is remarkable that "tru-geek" subjects like maths, computing or science fiction are male-coded while the reviled, "fake-geek" subjects like cosplay, geeky crafts or media fandom are female-coded (and geeky media fandom has had a sizeable or majority fan base since the Star Trek TOS days-- let's not forget who was writing Mary Sue and slash fics in the 70s). Of course, these details may be totally unimportant and unrelated to the geek misogyny we all know and love.

/geek girl level "was in the pen and paper RPG club in the computer engineering college"
posted by sukeban at 10:17 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


Northern Cities Vowel Shift

She doesn't sound like someone using NCVS to me -- think Jenna Marbles. People vary, duh, but I think the really stereotypical NCVS for Star Trek would be closer to Styar Trak.

Saying "I like the Star Wars" doesn't seem any weirder than saying "I likes me some Star Wars."

The important thing is that none of us should try to exclude Mr. Torgue.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:27 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Are there geeks who geek out about drought-friendly landscaping? I'm getting sick of digging up my front lawn, and I don't care if you're fake or real or dressed as Master Gardener, I'll order pizza. All this energy really would be much better spent turning my yard into a native plant wonderland.
posted by davejay at 10:38 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


That said I really wish everyone would quit dicking around with pop culture and become scientist-philosopher-engineers so I could have my space utopia.

So are you sitting on some awesome funding sources or what? Cuz I feel like I know a half-dozen or so of underemployed scientist-philosopher-engineers who'd love to get right on that. In the meantime, I know shit about cosplay, but I'm guessing 12 yards of red spandex is way the fuck cheaper than a tube of proofreading polymerase and primers.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:55 PM on February 10


Yeah, sorry, it is just so fucking bizarre to me to cast all nerdery that came before (before what?) as pure and anti-capitalist, not based around consumerism at all, whereas those icky Fake Geek Girls ruined everything with their passive consumption of products.

I mean, we're not talking about origami or yodeling or something. Fandom and geek culture have always been about consumption on a certain level. As sukeban said, so, they just gave away comic books and movie tickets for free back in the day? Everybody sat around at home and forged computer processors out of leftover tinfoil?

If anything, being a geek is less about consumer culture now than ever, because with the power of the internet, it's basically free. You pay a premium to see the big summer tentpole movies, to attend cons, and you need cable if you want to be up to the minute on Doctor Who or Agents Of SHIELD or whatever. There are all kinds of products that you can buy if you want. But it's pretty amazing how much media you can see for free and how much shared culture you can participate in for free. There are whole subcultures of geeky hobbies that don't cost anything to participate in, and which are creative rather than passive/consumerist.

Also, because geek culture is so much more widespread, the types of experiences you can have, even for pay, are much more diverse and easier to manage. When I lived in Brooklyn there was a nerdy/steampunk/SFF bar called The Way Station which screened old Doctor Who serials on Sunday afternoons. For the price of a $4 beer you could sit in there all afternoon and watch stuff with your fellow geeks. Here in Los Angeles, a board game cafe just opened up. You pay a $5 cover and get access to their library of tabletop games all day. Those types of experiences are, in a lot of ways, much more accessible than a $50 convention ticket or a $200 video game console.

So, yeah, there'll always be ways to spend money as a geek. Just like any other subculture or interest. But the bigger it gets, the more it's liberated from just being an excuse to sell toys.
posted by Sara C. at 11:03 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


conspicuous consumption, I can only guess that back in the golden age, science fiction books fell from heaven and computing equipment grew on trees. Or something.

Eh, I wouldn't be so readily dismissive of this line of thought. The whole geek identity expressed through consumption thing was discussed in another geek post here on the Blue. But, I don't think this only affects geek/nerd culture. After the geek post, there was a post about hipsters, and it kinda struck me, in an idiotically obvious way, that a lot of the labels and lifestyles and self-descriptors are expressed just through buying and owning stuff.

In other words, I don't think anyone is denying that geeks/nerds bought stuff back in the day. But on the way to increased popularity and mainstream adoption, these sub-cultures were implanted by marketers with the idea that buying is the optimal way for identity expression.
posted by FJT at 11:07 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


But on the way to increased popularity and mainstream adoption, these sub-cultures were implanted by marketers with the idea that buying is the optimal way for identity expression.

Which is funny, because the ones who are writing Silmarillion fanfic and drawing Cecilos fanart and involved in transformative works are... media fandom geek girls.
posted by sukeban at 11:19 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Comic-con looks like a very weak, straight Burning Man.
posted by telstar at 11:19 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


So not being a con-guy, I found this video a bit hard to read. Is it simply a "what if the genders were reversed" thing? Or is there some feeling that cosplayers who are just "there for the attention" are kind of ruining things and aren't true geeks that this video is trying to address and the male focus is a bonus?
posted by ODiV at 11:21 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Which is funny, because the ones who are writing Silmarillion fanfic and drawing Cecilos fanart and involved in transformative works are... media fandom geek girls.

But, I don't see how one disproves the other. It can be an age where geeks and nerds make a lot of fanfic and fanart, and also be an age where geeks and nerds spend more money trying to be geeks and nerds than ever before.
posted by FJT at 11:31 PM on February 10


Comic-con looks like a very weak, straight Burning Man.

That's funny; my BFF describes Burning Man as an SF con for people who don't read.
posted by KathrynT at 11:47 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


Kids these days...
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:02 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


"Just because you may have suffered for being a geek or nerd, you don't get to be a gatekeeper."

"I really just don't even get this impulse."
As Gore Vidal once said of the Puritans, that they didn't leave England to escape persecution but to find a country in which they could freely persecute others, geek culture seems to so often focus on finding ways to exclude others and wrapping them in its own persecution complex.

I too have been turned off by the rampant capitalistic materialism that seems to pervade what used to be spaces for enthusiasts and are now mostly spaces for consumers, but taking that angst out on women not only doesn't even begin to address the problem it drives away the women who, for the most part, built those spaces to begin with and were there long before guys. This clip fails to address our corporate identity problems in all the ways that the vile misogyny that it skewers does.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:11 AM on February 11 [19 favorites]


I don't care what anyone says - if you can't name all the Kings and Queens of England since William the conqueror, you're not a real geek!

Oh, wait - sorry, that's my British history nerd shibboleth.

Something something Star Trek fnord.
posted by jb at 2:07 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


But what has been lost and forgotten and is hardly ever spoken about is that the original original original debate about fake geek girls was started by geek-identifying women with highly skilled science and technology and engineering backgrounds who were worried and annoyed by women who identified as geeks only through the pop culture stuff, and not through the practical advanced techy skills stuff.

except that geek guys were never held to the same standard. I went to SF cons, ran SF cons - plenty of geek guys who were into SF & music or SF & art or SF & costuming - and not into science or computers. For every astronomer I met at a con, I met 100 bank tellers or actors or social workers.
posted by jb at 2:13 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Comic-con looks like a very weak, straight Burning Man.

Why straight? There is so much queer subtext to geekdom these days.

The bottom line is that geek has gone mainstream, and not everybody is overjoyed with that fact.

This seems utterly insane to me. How is a subculture that was routinely used to persecute kids in high school now becoming more accepted in the mainstream a bad thing?

I mean, this purity BS about geekdom now being blighted by consumerism misses the fact that modern day geekdom was basically borne out of consumerism. What, if not the bedrock of modern day marketing, was Star Wars? What were the Star Trek novels that sprung up in the 70s and 80s and beyond?

You can say you were a geek without all the toys, but how does owning the toys make you less of a geek? How does having a lightsaber make you more disingenuous? I'm asking because I don't know.

What does geekdom gain by being non-mainstream? Apart from it being more "exclusive" which really means "exclusionary". How, for instance, does the ethos of Star Trek work if you want to exclude people because you don't like how they engage with your fandom? If you don't appreciate Infinite Diversities in Infinite Combinations, Spock is gonna Vulcan nerve pinch a bitch.

For me, the joy of fandom is it can be so inclusive. It encompasses so much that it doesn't need rules to define it. And people are generally respectful of each other at cons - but you still hear the derogatory "somebody's got too much time on their hands" from someone who wrote a 50,000 word slash fic about the Eighth and Ninth Doctor while peering down the nose at someone else who spent half a year's salary on an Iron Man costume for Comic Con.

I don't expect geeks to be perfect, but boy this idea that some are more equal than others - fuck that noise.
posted by crossoverman at 2:37 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


> "I don't care what anyone says - if you can't name all the Kings and Queens of England since William the conqueror, you're not a real geek!"

William I, William II, Williamanmary the Orange, William IV;
Broody Mary, Elizabeth, Anne, Victoria;
Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Edward IV, Edward V, Edward VI, Edward VII;
Henry I, Henry II, Henry III, Henry IV (Part I), Henry IV (Part II), Henry V, Henry VI, Henry VII, Henry VIII;
James I, James II, Charles I, Charles II, George I, George II, George III, George IV;
Richard I, Richard II, Richard III;
History ends.
posted by kyrademon at 2:37 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


I get a certain grim feeling of recognition whenever these "who's a real geek?" conversations happen, because I am, or was, most certainly some variety of fake geek. I mean, I am a geek, in some manner, in that I am finicky obsessive over atypical things, and I'm technical in a variety of ways, but back in '83, in the context of my Explorer Post at Goddard Space Flight Center, I was more geek-adjacent than actual geek.

I loved computers, but was terrible at them. I loved the idea of math, but was terrible at it. I was on the math team at my high school, but I cheated to score well enough to stay on the team, just because I loved being in the company of mathenauts, and when caught, my defense was that I had discovered in myself a telepathic ability to pull the answers out of the miasma of interdimensional space by closing my eyes and looking into those fireworks of misfiring retinal impulses.

"Joe, do you think it's a bit odd that you're failing remedial math and still you manage to score in the middle of our team's averages?" asked the kind math teacher who sponsored the team.

"Such is the terrible nature of my gift," I said, with science-fictional devotion to the lie. If I repeat it enough, it will become true. "I think it's possible I'm a sort of idiot savant."

"An idiot savant."

"Yes."

I was invited to remain on the team as cheerleader, but it was a defeat.

When I had spending money from my opera work and my part time jobs, I took up comic collecting, but most most comics bored me to death with their Freudian machismo histrionics. With money saved from making pizzas four nights a week, I bought a copy of the very first issue of Cerebus for over a hundred dollars, but while this would later have immense cachet, I had no idea what the hell the thing was about. I loved one comic publisher, Eclipse, and collected the entire run of the only comic I ever cared much about—Cap'n Quick and a Foozle—though it was easy to be a completeist, because the series ran for three issues plus their earlier appearances in Eclipse Monthly.

I watched Return of the Jedi in the theater almost thirty times with my best friend, and knitted a Doctor Who scarf with the same friend, though we let it get out of hand and the scarf ended up more than thirty feet long.

Most of my former associates from my days of geek adjacency went on to high paying careers in IT and have furnished their homes with the increasing ephemera of fandom. An obnoxious number of them are now retired Microsoft millionaires. One has a restored seaplane docked behind his modernist home on the water in Washington. He's lovely and kind and his contentment irritates me to no end. I wonder, sometimes, if he still has his TRS-80 Model IV somewhere, as a shrine to where it all started. My computers haunt me from the basement, and I cannot bring myself to let them go, even though all I ever did with them was play games, have flame wars over dial-up on acoustic-coupled 300 baud modems, and write terrible failed novels now locked safely away on disks in dead formats.

I am currently an unemployed janitor to the arts. No early retirement is pending.

Still—I have the one thing that I think did make it okay for me to rub shoulders back in the long-gone days. I have boxes and boxes of old paperbacks, bought for a dime a piece at yard sales, mainly from the so-called "golden age" of science fiction, and they are still stories I treasure. I'd bicycle the neighborhoods on warm Saturday mornings, propping my Varsity on the kickstand to rifle through the boxed books, and I'd come away with a buck's worth of amazing old stuff, crack into stories like Cities In Flight on cheap acidic paper as faded brown and fragile as autumn leaves, and take to the stars.

I wore my copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy down till the covers were as soft as cloth, carrying it everywhere like the Bible, reading it as the space between places, when you're just bored and too tired to daydream. I relished The City And The Stars and The Stars My Destination and the book that introduced me to the ecstatic exaltation of adjectives, The Martian Chronicles, but with few adaptations to inspire costumes and limited edition collectibles, I don't know where that places me.

There is no merch, no tie-ins, no treasured talismans beyond my one amazing find, the actual copy of Life, The Universe, and Everything that Adams used on a promotional tour the year it came out, with his notes in the margins and his various credit card receipts of the old swipe-box variety tucked throughout, unsubmitted to his publisher. It's all such a strange thing, these cons and cosplays and such—what if you were a geek, but all you wanted to do was talk about Dragon's Egg in the basement with your friend? Can you cosplay high gravity aliens the size of a sesame seed?

I think geek used to be positioned as an outsider status, and now that everything is permitted, it brings in the old puritan aesthetics and all those true Scotsmen, and maybe it's all right, fake and not fake, geek by calling and geek by acquisition, and maybe it's all just nonsense and the whirl of trying to see ourselves as special by exclusion and the constant manipulation of authenticity.

Maybe, though, we've all just been through Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Star-On and Star-Off machines so many times that no one can truly be sure whether she was one with a star upon thars or he was one who was truly without.

Strange place, this world of the future.
posted by sonascope at 4:14 AM on February 11 [26 favorites]


See, here's the deal. For most of the 90s (my teens), my main social outlet was a small online community. We were geeky. There were elements of fandom—most of us loved science fiction, and the group itself originated as a "fan club" for a video game—but we also shared certain other traits. There were people who were music geeks (now one has a Ph.D. and makes electronic music, one plays the harpsichord professionally). There were lots of computer geeks, naturally. Electronics geeks. There was a broad range of interests, and people; for a group of about thirty people at its height, it had an incredible range of people. Women, men, transwomen, gay men and women. People of every race from across the world. (Yes, seriously.)

The community has dissipated now, for the most part, although some of us keep in touch, but the key point was that we belonged to fandoms but they weren't our identity. I don't think any of us habitually went to "cons." (Maybe one person?) We talked about (argued about...) science fiction, and movies, and so on, but those were never the core of our identity or our friendships. Our social circle worked, in essence, because most of us were different, knew we were different, and embraced each others' difference because to do otherwise was unimaginable.

Now, there are massive dramas over who gets to speak at cons, and somehow "geek" has just become another marketing label, and there are people in my Facebook feed who were utterly, 100% normal in my small-town, conservative, rural high school who proudly call themselves "geeks" because they watch the #1 rated cable TV show and who would most likely reject many of the people who were my friends in that small community.

It's worth remembering that "geek," in general, was not a word that a lot of people chose to be. It was something that you were called, in addition, usually, to a great deal of other bullying. It was imposed. To reclaim the idea and identify as a geek, positively, was a lot of work, at least for me. It was part of my growing up. When I hear these people who watch The Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory calling themselves "geeks," it comes across in the same way that a white person saying "I'm basically black!" probably does, to black people.

I guess I'm being exclusionary.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:37 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Noelle Stevenson: Oh, I know I have it better than a lot of would-be comics buyers, and that’s what worries me. I’ve had it with the self-appointed gatekeepers in comics.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:38 AM on February 11


["What about teh menz" derail removed.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:16 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


When I hear these people who watch The Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory calling themselves "geeks," it comes across in the same way that a white person saying "I'm basically black!" probably does, to black people.
I think that maybe geeks comparing themselves to black people might come across like white people saying "I'm basically black"? Especially since we've actually had a black person on this thread say that she was excluded from the geeks because she was a black woman?

Seriously: get a grip. I was about as much of an outcast as it's possible to be in middle school, and I bear a lot of scars from that, not all of which are metaphorical. But I will never believe that being a social outcast is the same as structural oppression. Also, it seems completely to elude male geeks that some women were also outcasts. Every woman is assumed to be the girl who tormented the outcasts, not someone who might have been an outcast herself. It's like you didn't even notice that we existed until the exact moment when you decided you wanted to fuck us.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:21 AM on February 11 [40 favorites]


Did you even read my post, or are you just latching on to one analogy like a lamprey?

Part of my complaint is that this focus on mass media consumption as "geekdom" is that it's more likely to be exclusionary toward people who are superficially different. As I said, the geek subgroup that I was a part of had members of every race. And women. And queer men and women. And transwomen.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:24 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I would like to add that there have been obsessive consumers of mass culture since at least the Pickwick Papers, and the attendent argument about who is consuming it right. When you behave as though there was somehow a purer time before now, when people were doing it right, you're not discussing real history, but instead pushing a reactionary agenda that imagines a better past. And the frustrating thing about the fake geek girl dialogue is that imagines that past without women, or with a preferred sort of woman.

I have been involved in fandom since the 70s, and have looked into fandom dating back further (when it was a mostly female phenomenon; they were the first major consumers of the novel, and the first organized fan of the gothic novel) and there was no time when the only women involved were ones who were vetted and found satisfactory by men.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:27 AM on February 11 [18 favorites]


Part of my complaint is that this focus on mass media consumption as "geekdom" is that it's more likely to be exclusionary toward people who are superficially different.

How so? Just because the people that made fun of you in your youth watch The Walking Dead doesn't mean that everybody who watches it are like that. Hell, it's pretty popular amongst the people who've read the comic books.

As I said, the geek subgroup that I was a part of had members of every race. And women. And queer men and women. And transwomen.

The plural of anecdote is not data. It's fantastic that you had such an open and welcoming geek group. And it's likely that geeks were (and are) more welcome than the population at large. But that doesn't mean they were good at it by any stretch of the imagination. There are millions of POC, women, genderqueer, and trans people that can tell you how they were excluded or marginalized or harassed from within the various geek communities of Ago, and millions more who can tell you how it's still prevalent, still institutionalized, and still ingrained in the minds of a lot of old-timers as much as it is with the n00bs. I doubt very many of them would blame it on the commercialization of geek culture, but I would bet good money that they would tell you how being accused of commercialized bandwagoning is just another excuse to be excluded.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:11 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


I think that the early adopters ("real geeks") are right in complaining that their "distinction" is being undermined by widespread participation by the mainstream, (ie "fake geeks"). Its exactly what happens to all middle class / petit bourgeois subcultures as the hit the mainstream: deflation of cultural capital.

For example take Grunge/ Alternative Culture in the 1990s you could say that mainstream participation of Pearl Jam is the defining moment when grunge / alternative culture was totally devalued to a meaningless marker. Unable to confer upon the afficionadios any semblance of cultural capital. The deflation has set in as soon as the working classes join in the activity and the petit bourgeois must seek newer more exclusive methods of pushing out the mainstreamers.

The current debate over real geeks / fake geeks seems like a last gasp attempt to fight the devaluation of Cosplay culture before it fades into a mindless orgy of pre-bought walmart costumes like a drunken halloween party.

(yes i've been reading a bit of Pierre Bourdieu)
posted by mary8nne at 6:15 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


No matter what the subculture, I tend to find that the complaints about "true" vs "poseur" tends to come from people who aren't so much angry that what they're into is popular/mainstream, but that when it happened, they weren't given a prize for being into it already.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:33 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations was a Roddenbery marketing ploy; Nimoy was none too pleased with it. I think that nerve pinch may be waiting for you.

This is a good example of why "geekdom has always been an ally to consumerism" rings a little false. Trading not just information, but information in a deeper context, rather than the shallow recitation of facts, has been a core part of fandom long before people were selling mint Boba Fetts still in the box.

It isn't as if someone invented the phrase "Johnny-come-lately" a year ago as a calculated move just to oppress whomever. The term has been around for a while and it refers to an observable, repeated pattern of behavior.
posted by adipocere at 7:11 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Wow, I'm surprised that no one has directly commented on the hypocrisy of men being able to show their bodies without being judged, but women who show lots of skin are attention whores. There's a reason the interviewer picked the shirtless, conventionally attractive Bane. That's less about whether people are "real geeks" or not and more about an extension of the objectification and body-policing of women. (However, I'd be interested to know how the reactions to the guy playing Leia differed from the guy playing Bane; the crossdressing and the relative attractiveness surely play in.)

The previous thread about the gender-reversing short French film motivated me to post this, as I saw body policing as a theme in both.
posted by desjardins at 7:19 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Also, it seems completely to elude male geeks that some women were also outcasts. Every woman is assumed to be the girl who tormented the outcasts, not someone who might have been an outcast herself. It's like you didn't even notice that we existed until the exact moment when you decided you wanted to fuck us.

Yep.
posted by sweetkid at 7:22 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


This is so incredibly true. To the extent that I'm working on a thing that touches on cosplay a little bit, and I am terrified of what the actual cosplay people are going to think.

Try contacting a local group; they can be a helpful bunch. Maybe a cameo would help.
posted by ersatz at 7:39 AM on February 11


Hmm one of the "real" geeks claims to like "Star TrAk". Classic tell of a fake geek right there.

Or the classic tell of someone from the Midwest or West Coast.


I was born and raised on the West Coast in a town full of Midwestern ex-pats and the only people who pronounced it Star Trak were people who didn't watch it. *shrugs*

I was a geek back before it was cool (I can't believe I just typed that) and I think cultural carpetbagging is gross, but lately I've found geekdom pretty gross, so I don't care too much. Now I just like the things I like and don't let a TV show or movie define me as as person.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:24 AM on February 11


Total Nerd Actually Owns His Own Computer
posted by Flashman at 8:29 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


So, there's a little bit of disconnect happening here. People keep talking about Johnny-come-latelies and poseurs as if those are the people being accused of fake geekdom, but that's not actually what's happening.

The people being accused of fake geekdom are real geeks who don't fit stereotypes about geekdom. People who are, by any objective measure, HELLA GEEKY, are being told they're not welcome because they are women, or people of color, or queer, or otherwise not struck from a very specific mold.

When Noelle Stevenson, who is a comics artist, is treated with hostility in a comic book store because she is young and female, that is a sign that something is seriously wrong. When people spend hundreds of hours building insanely detailed cosplay costumes and are told they're just doing it for male attention, or that they're the wrong race to portray that character, something is seriously wrong.

I give negative fucks about the purely theoretical 'fake geek' who just started liking Doctor Who last week because it's cool now. That person does me no harm. The guy who, upon hearing that I like comic books, starts in with the scornful pop-quizzing? That guy is a way bigger problem.

I am a geek. I have self-identified as a geek since I was twelve. I am obsessive and overenthusiastic about the things I love. I participate in the larger geek community. I make fanzines, for fuck's sake. And I, and people like me, have been told we're fake, that we don't belong, that this is not our community. I, and people like me, are being made unwelcome because we don't fit a very narrow mold.

So who gives a shit about fake geeks? It's the asshole real geeks that are the actual problem in geekdom.
posted by nonasuch at 8:36 AM on February 11 [37 favorites]


I think that the early adopters ("real geeks") are right in complaining that their "distinction" is being undermined by widespread participation by the mainstream, (ie "fake geeks"). Its exactly what happens to all middle class / petit bourgeois subcultures as the hit the mainstream: deflation of cultural capital.

This is true. And there is some reason for people to be protective of small group cultural creations and events when it starts being absorbed by the mainstream.

Of course, it's probably worth remembering that a lot of these things are being targeting squarely at the mainstream. You used grunge as an example, and it's worth noting that Kurt Cobain made a series of decisions designed for his band to reach as large an audience as possible. There's always been some so-called geek culture that's been targeted at a general audience, and these conventions are geared toward attracting a huge audience.

There is plenty of stuff that is intended for a niche audience, and if it attracts mass popularity, that tends to be an aberration, instead of deliberate, and usually isn't long-lasting. I mean, I listened to Chumbawamba years before "Tubthumping," and it's not like the result of the popularity of that song was mass interest in collectively organized, anarchistic, politically active British folk rock. Nobody is cosplaying as Billy Bragg, as far as I can tell.

I think this actually intersects with the question of cultural appropriation. Supposed real nerds or geeks are acting as though certain elements of fan culture are private and not intended for mass consumption -- and that's undeniably true. Fan culture has been around long enough that a lot of small group, exclusive, insider code has developed. And I think a lot of this should be respected, presuming it's not simply defensive sexism or otherwise toxic (and most of it isn't).

The trouble is, this stuff intersects with a larger fandom that doesn't have any interest in these small group rituals. And that's the real risk that comes from building cultural activities around something intended for a larger audience. And the solution to that is to recognize the difference between private events and public events, and that different rules are at play. People who show up at sci fi conventions aren't interlopers, carpetbagging your culture without respect for the private world you have created. They are fans of a different stripe, likely with their own culture of fandom. Or they may be people who just discovered the stuff a few weeks ago, and are new to the whole scene. There's a place for them too in public events. If you don't want them to come back to your hotel room for the afterparty, you don't have to invite them, but it's a bit much to behave as though people are unwelcome at a public event because they're not your kind of geek.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:39 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Wow, I'm surprised that no one has directly commented on the hypocrisy of men being able to show their bodies without being judged, but women who show lots of skin are attention whores.

I guess that answers my question, thanks. A lot of the comments here weren't gender specific, so I wasn't sure if the men at these cons were also being seen as interlopers and the video was addressing that as well.

So, there's a little bit of disconnect happening here. People keep talking about Johnny-come-latelies and poseurs as if those are the people being accused of fake geekdom, but that's not actually what's happening.

Yeah, okay, thanks for the comment. That's what made me question the message of the video.
posted by ODiV at 8:43 AM on February 11


You know what? The zine I'm working on is going to include a multiple-choice quiz about the women who invented Star Trek fandom (and by extension, much of media fandom as it exists today.)

"Some asshole questioning your nerd cred? Tear this page out and hand him a #2 pencil."
posted by nonasuch at 9:21 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations was a Roddenbery marketing ploy; Nimoy was none too pleased with it.

How completely bizarre. How can a fucking phrase, a phrase that describes how everybody is welcome in the Star Trek universe (and by extension its fandom) be "a marketing ploy", but, like, "buy this kit out of a catalogue to build your own PC" is not "a marketing ploy"?

I mean, I get that it's warm and fuzzy and encourages a wider demographic to tune in, so, OK, sure.

But this completely ignores the fact that said warm fuzzy "please watch our show!" platitude is being delivered in the midst of a subculture where everything is already based around consumer culture and stuff you can buy.

You can decide that some branches of geek culture are "just about marketing products" when you provide photographic evidence of computer geeks mining silicon to create their own microchips.
posted by Sara C. at 9:27 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I'd be interested to know how the reactions to the guy playing Leia differed from the guy playing Bane; the crossdressing and the relative attractiveness surely play in.

I'd contrast it with how a woman who is not conventionally attractive (or doesn't have the right "look" such as the right skin tone) is treated.

ODiV, the "fake consumerist geek vs real geek" derail is so massively offpoint that it might lead someone to believe the video isn't satire, but is actually about a woman straightforwardly questioning the bona fides of these guys. She's questioning them on terms women routinely get quizzed about.

I was about to put some links and previouslies, but I just noticed that the info under the video contains the links I was going to post (while making it clear this is satire):

"Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away":
"Booth Babes Need Not Apply"


Reading those makes it obvious what the video is responding to, stuff like this:
Pretentious females who have labeled themselves as a “geek girl” figured out that guys will pay a lot of attention to them if they proclaim they are reading comics or playing video games.
Or this, from the second link:
They decide to put on a "hot" costume, parade around a group of boys notorious for being outcasts that don't get attention from girls, and feel like a celebrity. They're a "6" in the "real world", but when they put on a Batman shirt and head to the local fandom convention du jour, they instantly become a "9".

They're poachers. They're a pox on our culture. As a guy, I find it repugnant that, due to my interests in comic books, sci-fi, fantasy and role playing games, video games and toys, I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence. It's insulting.
There's also a facebook rant by a comic book artist Tony Harris in which he said in part:
I appreciate a pretty Gal as much as the next Hetero Male. Sometimes I even go in for some racy type stuff ( keeping the comments PG for my Ladies sake) but dammit, dammit, dammit I am so sick and tired of the whole COSPLAY-Chiks. I know a few who are actually pretty cool-and BIG Shocker, love and read Comics.So as in all things, they are the exception to the rule. Heres the statement I wanna make, based on THE RULE: “Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you. Some of us are aware that you are ever so average on an everyday basis. But you have a couple of things going your way. You are willing to become almost completely Naked in public, and yer either skinny( Well, some or most of you, THINK you are ) or you have Big Boobies. Notice I didnt say GREAT Boobies? You are what I refer to as “CON-HOT”.
posted by Danila at 9:32 AM on February 11 [11 favorites]


Shaenon Garrity (of Narbonic fame): Perils of the Lady Gamer
posted by zombieflanders at 9:34 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Well, you could search for that phrase and maybe append "Nimoy" to it in the phrase in Google and find out how it came to pass. It's on Memory Alpha, fanlore, etc. It was a setup to push baubles. Triangularly-shaped baubles.
posted by adipocere at 9:34 AM on February 11


Thanks Danila, yeah my wording was a bit off as I knew it was a response to the "fake geek girl", just wasn't sure if it was also trying to address the "fake consumerist geek vs real geek" stuff too. I shouldn't have said the male focus was a "bonus" as it was obviously the thrust, but by the end the message of inclusiveness felt a little farther reaching than just gender, so maybe it was attempting to address other marginalized geek groups as well, just not directly.
posted by ODiV at 9:43 AM on February 11


ugh, fake gatekeepers

i bet you weren't even a gatekeeper when geek identity/geek cred wasn't even imperiled and was in fact a personal detriment
posted by Eideteker at 9:44 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I imagine it's similar to sports fans actually. Some fans follow every game and can name the pitcher's career rushing yards in double overtime shootouts. Some fans only show up when their team is in the Big Game. Some fans just really like the hats.
posted by Skorgu at 9:48 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


You know, at Dragoncon last year I was looking through tagged pictures on Instagram, the last day of the con, and found a dude who'd covertly taken a picture of a leotard-clad female cosplayer's ass.

I left a comment saying "Ugh, fake geek guys. Only going to cons to take creepshots."

He took the photo down.
posted by nonasuch at 9:50 AM on February 11 [12 favorites]


I imagine it's similar to sports fans actually. Some fans follow every game and can name the pitcher's career rushing yards in double overtime shootouts. Some fans only show up when their team is in the Big Game. Some fans just really like the hats.

The hardcore Cubs fans I know hate the people who come to Wrigley to hang out in the bleachers and drink.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:52 AM on February 11


I am just laughing so hard at arguing that a phrase is somehow inauthentic on the grounds that fucking Gene Roddenberry was the one who decided to put it in Star Trek.
posted by kagredon at 9:57 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Well, you could search for that phrase and maybe append "Nimoy" to it in the phrase in Google and...

I did, and WHO THE FUCK CARES REALLY I MEAN SERIOUSLY.

Let people like their stories how they want.
posted by Sara C. at 9:58 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


zombieflanders: Shaenon Garrity (of Narbonic fame): Perils of the Lady Gamer

And a footnote to the ending.
posted by sukeban at 10:03 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I'll also say that there is something very like an actor in Nimoy's thoughts about the IDIC thing. It's easy for him to hurl "hurf durf trinketseller" at Roddenberry. Nimoy, as an actor, was able to basically see Star Trek as a source of passive income. And if he ever needed to return to the well, he could do that by making a guest appearance in another Trek thing, or writing a book, or cutting an album.

Meanwhile, producers gonna produce, you know?

I think lots of things about Roddenberry are sort of money grubbing, but, you know, let the guy sell a fucking pendant at a convention if he wants to, whatever. How does that hurt me?
posted by Sara C. at 10:18 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


In a living language, words change their meaning all the time. I'm betting "geek" will mean "enthusiast" or "expert" in 20 years.
posted by Triplanetary at 10:19 AM on February 11


In a living language, words change their meaning all the time. I'm betting "geek" will mean "enthusiast" or "expert" in 20 years.

Hunter S. Thompson was using it like that 40 years ago.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:26 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Tony Harris, quoted in Danila's comment:
Heres the statement I wanna make, based on THE RULE: “Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you. Some of us are aware that you are ever so average on an everyday basis. But you have a couple of things going your way. You are willing to become almost completely Naked in public, and yer either skinny( Well, some or most of you, THINK you are ) or you have Big Boobies. Notice I didnt say GREAT Boobies? You are what I refer to as “CON-HOT”.
tl;dr: Don't judge us, we'll judge you.
posted by desjardins at 10:28 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


People getting excited about something they've just discovered, that you've loved for years, is a wonderful opportunity. So engage them. Engaging new and excited people, introducing them to more nuance and depth in something you know intimately, is a pretty awesome thing that can keep a culture fresh, creative, interesting and meaningful across generations. I want younger, more enthusiastic people getting into the things I love. They're not always going to appreciate them to the same degree as I do, and may walk in with totally wrong understandings gleaned from pop culture (see Lovecraftiana), and that does irk the art snob part of my brain, but it's exactly what I did, too, so that's all right. They may need to learn how to engage with art; but that's also something I had to go through, so that's all right, too.

What worries me about "geek culture" (or whatever you'd call it) is an increasing willingness to allow corporations to define stories and works while ignoring creators (see videogames) and an emphasis on buying and collecting products rather than engaging with meaningful works (see marketing, merchandising and sequelization across mediums). What has always bothered me about "geek culture" (see videogames, animation and perhaps especially Western comics) is that the people least prepared to represent the mediums they love a tiny, tiny slice of always do. If you want to find interesting, artistic, worthwhile games, animation and comics, don't talk to gamers, anime geeks or comics nerds. Only a small minority will be able to recommend anything beyond the mainstream, and the cultures will get all defensive if you, as a girl/young person/whatever want to find things that really speak to you.

And that's the goal: exposing yourself to and doing things that speak to you, that let you speak to others.
posted by byanyothername at 10:34 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


After reading Danila's comment, I was having trouble putting my reaction to Tony Harris' repugnant facebook rant into words, and I stumbled across this wonderful point-by-point takedown by Donna Dickens. She nailed everything I was thinking and then some.
posted by gimli at 10:36 AM on February 11


People getting excited about something they've just discovered, that you've loved for years, is a wonderful opportunity.

byanyothername, that is a totally lovely and true thing to say, but it is orthogonal to this conversation. Because, again, the people being called fakes are NOT NEW. We've been here for years. We're already geeks; we've already BEEN geeks for a long time. We're being called fake geeks because we happen to be women or minorities, regardless of our actual level of knowledge and commitment.
posted by nonasuch at 10:40 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


I remember when that Tony Harris thing happened, and that I was surprised how much it really got under my skin. It's a lot harder to brush someone off as a random asshole when it's a person whose work you've taken note of and liked, and something about how crass and petty and ordinary it was made it worse, in a way? Like, when Dave Sim launches into his weird version of the "precious bodily fluids" speech, at least I can take some comfort in knowing (or believing?) he's pretty well left behind the realm of normal everyday misogyny and has gone to the point where most people will say "yeah, there's something wrong there."

I still haven't had the heart to finish Ex Machina, in spite of really liking the first three arcs.
posted by kagredon at 10:53 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Ugh, the Tony Harris thing was SUCH a bummer. If I ever see him at a con, it's going to be hard to resist the urge to tell him that he ruined Starman for me.
posted by nonasuch at 10:54 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


It's a lot harder to brush someone off as a random asshole when it's a person whose work you've taken note of and liked...

Sigh, Asimov.
posted by ODiV at 11:00 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


"Well, you could search for that phrase and maybe append "Nimoy" to it in the phrase in Google and find out how it came to pass. It's on Memory Alpha, fanlore, etc. It was a setup to push baubles. Triangularly-shaped baubles.

"Star Trek fandom quickly co-opted the IDIC philosophy and internalized it to the point where it has become a cornerstone of real world fannish interactions. [3]"

Yes, and if you read your own links, you'll see that despite it being initially something to sell merch — which itself isn't a terrible thing; I own plenty of band shirts — it was adopted by fandom pretty much from the giddyup, so complaining about it now is revisionist bullshit.

Thanks for pointing out why people often disregard the edicts of neckbeards on how to properly engage with fandom, though.
posted by klangklangston at 11:44 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


What worries me about "geek culture" is an increasing willingness to allow corporations to define stories and works while ignoring creators and an emphasis on buying and collecting products rather than engaging with meaningful works.

I realize this is tangential to the original video's point, but I think you could replace "geek culture" with just plain "culture" in this sentence. Modern culture in general is about buying things that corporations tell you will assert your chosen self-identity. I don't like it, but I don't think it's just a geek thing.
posted by jess at 12:01 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


The hardcore Cubs fans I know hate the people who come to Wrigley to hang out in the bleachers and drink.


Why? It's not like you're going to see a ballgame.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:18 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


Well, you could search for that phrase and maybe append "Nimoy" to it in the phrase in Google and find out how it came to pass. It's on Memory Alpha, fanlore, etc. It was a setup to push baubles. Triangularly-shaped baubles.

Oh, you're talking about the pin! I was talking about the philosophy. I was talking about how that philosophy informed the making of the show - not whether or not Roddenberry designed a pin he could sell to fans.

Of course, Nimoy could be just wrong about it. OR, we could just accept that merchandising doesn't really affect what Trek was about. At least, classic Trek, which was a radical show in its time.
posted by crossoverman at 1:27 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I personally don't get what Nimoy's big deal was, considering the existence of this.

Then again, from what I've figured out by googling and reading the links here, Nimoy's main outrage was not wanting to wear it on the show. I'm not sure if this is because the mid 60s is really before everybody just expected tie-in marketing as a matter of course, or if it's because he seriously does not get how the sausage is made.

What would have happened if Nimoy had been cast in Star Wars, I wonder?

Personally, I love the episode of TOS the symbol is featured in, and I particularly like the scene where the concept of IDIC is introduced. From the anecdote I read, it's really hard to translate that into what the baseline issue was. Like a lot of Star Trek anecdotes, actually.
posted by Sara C. at 2:35 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Man it's like everything is political nowadays. Like every community has its own hierarchies and norms and political struggles.

Yeah, but you see--just because the hierarchies and norms and "political" struggles weren't being talked about doesn't mean they weren't there. Or, to use a concrete example, not talking about why we have booth babes and why the booth babes we have are treated like crap by a lot of con goers doesn't mean that we don't have booth babes being treated like crap.

I understand just wanting a space in which to relax and not worry, but the status quo wasn't apolitical.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:14 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]


I was born and raised on the West Coast in a town full of Midwestern ex-pats and the only people who pronounced it Star Trak were people who didn't watch it. *shrugs*

I love Star Trek. I mean, not as much as a lot of people, and I'm not a convention goer or cosplayer (okay, so maybe I'm pretty far down the ladder), but I drive to work thinking about Data speeches and protecting the ExoComps.

I still say Star Track, no matter how hard I try not to. I spent a lot of time growing up in both the West or Midwest, but I just can't help it. Maybe I grew up mispronouncing it and it's too late. But don't imply because I pronounce it abnormally that I didn't watch my Star Track.

As for the bigger issues of gate-keepers, I just don't see the reason. I grew up playing D&D, but it wasn't like Gary Gygax died a poor man. It wasn't like they just decided to make those products out of yarn and grit. I also play miniature games and am moderately proud of my Warmachine™ gallery. But I know that the IP is owned by a company, and that what I'm buying is a product. I grew up on old school Doctor Who, but I know it's just a show to watch, and a way for BBC to get viewers.

I'm okay with that. Pure art doesn't exist, and everything is a product. A hobby, a friend who got me into miniature painting once said, is an excuse to spend time and money. That's fine, because if it's something that you love, it might be worth it. To bring it to my job, I'm a teacher, and I care about education enough to center my life around it, but I still charge money for it. That doesn't make me less of a teacher because I get paid.

When someone talks about any of my hobbies, I try to show them off and get them in, because as far as I say, it is a democracy, and I'm pretty damn happy if someone wants to learn how to do calligraphy, and I'll even teach them what I know and what supplies to get. Life is too short to protect any hobby. If you don't like the crowd, leave, but don't insist others leave because you got there first. They just want to enjoy something. They don't owe dues to you or anyone else to do that.

So, am I a geek or not? I'm really fine with your answers either way.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:31 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I like how, in all the criticism of the Wonder Woman cosplayer who says words in a way that y'all don't like, that no one noticed who she is. Seems like she's pretty devoted to her life in fandom. Too bad she said something "incorrectly" (p.s. that's bullshit) and ruined all her own geek cred.

Give me a friggin' break.
posted by palomar at 6:14 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I have no idea who she is (before I saw your links) but she did seem to make a good Wonder Woman. Plus I also like the Star Treks and the Star Wars.
posted by Justinian at 2:30 AM on February 12


Oh, just because one of the cosplayers in the video mentioned Mass Effect: Mark Meer and Rana McAnear cosplaying as Shepherd and Samara. But they're probably just fake fans who know nothing about the characters.
posted by Justinian at 2:36 AM on February 12


byanyothername said: People getting excited about something they've just discovered, that you've loved for years, is a wonderful opportunity. So engage them.

Well no... I would totally disagree.

This sort of idea totally ignores the actual way cultural capital functions in society. Mass involvement devalues any cultural distinctions. "real geeks" should shun all "fake" mainstreamers if they wish their cultural affections to maintain any kind of cultural capital.

Or you raise the prices / increase the required level of investment to outprice the mainstreamers. - high costs of higher education ~ judging costumes and excluding those without sufficent investment in geek culture.
posted by mary8nne at 3:18 AM on February 12


That kind of raises the question of why I would particularly *want* my cultural affections to maintain any kind of cultural capital, though.

In fact, that dynamic would suggest that those who insist on distinctions between "real" and "fake" geeks are actually the ones who like things primarily because of the status it affords them, and are desperate to keep that status.

(That's actually kind of amusing when you think about it, since liking something primarily for status reasons has been one of the main accusations brought up in the "fake geek" debate, such as it is. Which would mean that someone who accuses someone else of being a "fake geek" has just de facto outed themselves as being a "fake geek" by their own definition.)
posted by kyrademon at 4:50 AM on February 12 [7 favorites]


Oh, just because one of the cosplayers in the video mentioned Mass Effect: Mark Meer and Rana McAnear cosplaying as Shepherd and Samara.


That Commander Shepard is great- I love it when people do cross-gender cosplay!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:43 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


"Well no... I would totally disagree.

That's fine, you'd still be wrong.

This sort of idea totally ignores the actual way cultural capital functions in society. Mass involvement devalues any cultural distinctions. "real geeks" should shun all "fake" mainstreamers if they wish their cultural affections to maintain any kind of cultural capital.

Nope. You've got a simplistic understanding of economics that leads your analogy to be wrongly reductive.

Mass involvement doesn't have to devalue any cultural distinctions. You're thinking of some bizarro-world cultural mercantilism. This is most easily seen in musical popularity, e.g. rap. J Dilla scoring hits with Pharcyde and Janet Jackson didn't diminish the appreciation from backpackers and heads. The White Stripes getting huge didn't diminish the cultural cachet of the Soledad Brothers.

Because the putative nerd has the advantage of being a first actor, their cultural capital can increase through the mainstreaming of their interest — they just have to be able to grow with whatever is becoming popular without pandering.

"Or you raise the prices / increase the required level of investment to outprice the mainstreamers. - high costs of higher education ~ judging costumes and excluding those without sufficent investment in geek culture.

Sure, if you want to still be a big fish in a little pond, instead of being a bigger fish in a big pond. That's laziness and insecurity — if you really are an expert in whatever (Trek|Board games|C++), your expertise will be appreciated by more people, giving you more capital, not less. I mean, think about it — who gets remembered? "Oh, man, that guy really kept me out of X, he's so cool," or "Oh, man, that guy was a real mentor to me. I want to make sure that I live up to that."

You're acting like there hasn't been a radical democratization of culture over the last 20 years (arguably the last 100 or so), brought on in large part by the internet. Instead of lords in fiefdoms, the barriers to entry have been drastically reduced in so many areas, and that's been a great thing because having more people involved in culture brings a broader set of experiences and identities, which mean that those cultures grow more and produce better work. That gets us closer to cultural capital reflecting actual merit rather than weird, monopolistic barriers set by selfish gatekeepers.

To use an example closer to home: While MeFi has had some rough spots with newcomers crashing against established norms, opening membership has on the whole been a great thing that brought in tons of fantastic posters that wouldn't have been here otherwise. Yes, that devalued the cultural capital of having a low user number, but those who got in first had an opportunity to set the tone and many of them ended up being more acclaimed even as new people came in. Most of them didn't, and that's OK. Likewise, opening MeFi up to be more accepting of women and queer people has been great for the overall discourse here.

Gatekeepers are valuable when they have genuine expertise and use their higher level of involvement to see many more examples of whatever and recommend the best out of them. Gatekeepers are worse than useless when they're trying to dictate the terms of someone else's involvement or hold on to their position of power. That's when they're lampreys, not remora.
posted by klangklangston at 8:20 AM on February 12 [11 favorites]


"real geeks" should shun all "fake" mainstreamers if they wish their cultural affections to maintain any kind of cultural capital.

What an utterly depressing view of things that I love. I think it's an entirely immature mindset to believe that my love of Star Trek only holds value if people only raise to or exceed my love of Star Trek. We're all different. We all engage in things differently. I'm not expecting anyone to watch every episode of every Trek series - heck, even I haven't done that. But I do love it when people start watching one or other Trek series for the first time.

Do you know how amazing it was to take multiple non-Trek friends to see JJ Abrams new films? Do you know how exciting that was to me? And even though I don't love Abrams films like I love Next Gen or Deep Space Nine, I feel like Abrams films are a good introduction to the world. They are easy to get into - and easy to appreciate. I don't want people to find it difficult to engage in something I love. I want them to be able to sample it without feeling like outsiders.

Before Abrams films, I'm not sure where I would have even begun to introduce people to Trek. All those other series became very continuity heavy. Hell, the only good parts of Enterprise are the bits that reference Classic Trek continuity, characters, stories.

And while I think Abrams Trek isn't quite the Trek I love, I know it got people to start watching Classic Trek. And then Next Gen. And etc, etc. I love opening doors, I love introducing people into the worlds that I have affection for.

I don't like the idea that people treat their passions like "cultural capital". I do appreciate there are experts in fandom, just like there are experts in any field. I respect people who know everything there is to know about Classic Who, for example - even though I have no interest in actually watching all that stuff. I recognise in myself that I'm a New Who viewer and don't pretend that being a New Who fan means I know anything about the original version of the series.

I'm a fan of things because I like those things. The very best part of liking things is introducing them to others - not just sitting around preaching to the converted.
posted by crossoverman at 2:05 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Instead of lords in fiefdoms, the barriers to entry have been drastically reduced in so many areas, and that's been a great thing because having more people involved in culture brings a broader set of experiences and identities, which mean that those cultures grow more and produce better work.

I find this statement pure nonsense.

Why is a broader set of experiences and identities even a good thing? Perhaps it just waters down culture to a grey sort of gruel that everyone can "enjoy". And I think many people would argue that broad participation in music / arts etc has just produced a lot of crap boring work.

And to claim that culture is not devalued by its easy accessibility seems to be ignoring the fact that most people are feel fine about pirating music films etc. Pop-Culture at least has certainly lost most of its "market value" through wider dissemination.
posted by mary8nne at 2:36 PM on February 12


...you know that it's called "pop culture" because it's popular, right?
posted by kagredon at 2:40 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


Why is a broader set of experiences and identities even a good thing?

Because multicultural is better than monocultural. Because learning other people's worldviews leads to empathy and understanding.
posted by crossoverman at 2:42 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


Why is a broader set of experiences and identities even a good thing? Perhaps it just waters down culture to a grey sort of gruel that everyone can "enjoy".

I don't even this, either. Are you saying that things are more homogenous now that a greater variety of people with a greater variety of perspectives and experiences feel empowered to participate in science-fiction/comic book/etc. culture than back when it was by, about, and for white straight dudes all the time?

I just...is this some odd attempt at satire/trolling?

(Or on preview: what crossoverman said)
posted by kagredon at 2:49 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I don't even this, either. Are you saying that things are more homogenous now that a greater variety of people with a greater variety of perspectives and experiences feel empowered to participate in science-fiction/comic book/etc. culture

Not the same lines as mary8nne was getting at, but in my experience "diversity" as advocated and implemented seeks a homogeneity - Blacks, gays, women, disabled, trans*, all are welcome, as long as they have the right politics and conform in all non-superficial ways to middle-class aspirational "progressive" SWPL quasi-religious cultural and moral norms. You can be a Catholic, sure, as long as you forget the first commandment bit about "other gods before me" when it comes to gays & abortion, for example.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 3:12 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


"As advocated and implemented"? We're not talking about a fucking hiring committee for country-club supervisor, save alive nothing that breatheth. We're talking about, you know, actual people who are creating art (both original and fanwork), going to events, dressing up, participating in discussion/criticism/etc., and being told that their very presence is false or "diluting", or being purity-tested in ways that never happen to people who happen to belong to the dominant social majority.
posted by kagredon at 3:23 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


What kagredon said. Other than that, I'm not even sure what we're talking about anymore.
posted by crossoverman at 3:45 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


"I find this statement pure nonsense. "

That's fine. You can try to make an argument against it.

"Why is a broader set of experiences and identities even a good thing? Perhaps it just waters down culture to a grey sort of gruel that everyone can "enjoy".

Oh, come on. Because Kindred is one of the best sci-fi books of the last century.

But this "perhaps" is snuffy elitist bullshit dressed up to look like an argument without actually being one.

And I think many people would argue that broad participation in music / arts etc has just produced a lot of crap boring work."

They could argue that, but they'd be morons for eliding the great work that broader participation has given us, e.g. the explicit outsider origins of punk and hip hop. Would you like to argue that, or would you like to put that in the affected third person?

"And to claim that culture is not devalued by its easy accessibility seems to be ignoring the fact that most people are feel fine about pirating music films etc. Pop-Culture at least has certainly lost most of its "market value" through wider dissemination."

God, this is a mess. First off, you're conflating dollar value with cultural capital. Secondly, pop culture has not actually lost value in aggregate — it's worth more than any time in history. So, you're confused about what you're arguing and wrong when you're arguing it.
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


"You are more than the sum
Of what you consume;
Desire is not an occupation."
-KMFDM, "Dogma"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:08 PM on February 12


"We won't sell to a major
For a couple of bucks
No doubt about it
KMFDM sucks!"
—KMFDM, "Sucks"
posted by klangklangston at 8:04 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Yo are there any more industrial acts that basically just talk shit all the time like rappers, 'cause I like that about KMFDM. Also KOMPRESSOR.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:07 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Why is a broader set of experiences and identities even a good thing? Perhaps it just waters down culture to a grey sort of gruel that everyone can "enjoy".

The discussion appears to have ignored again that the diversity was always here - it's just now there's a minority of people excluding the original movers and shakers. A lot of media fandom was created by women - fanfic for example - and yet it is women who most often have their geek cred questions. I recently head of a Science Fiction Author whose right to be a My Little Pony fan was questioned because she was female and there are a significant number of men who joined the fandom (at least twenty years after many of us women) and so they're beginning to try to exclude women.

This isn't about driving away new people. This is about claiming the people who built something didn't and should leave because they're fake.
posted by Deoridhe at 9:48 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


I recently head of a Science Fiction Author whose right to be a My Little Pony fan was questioned because she was female and there are a significant number of men who joined the fandom (at least twenty years after many of us women) and so they're beginning to try to exclude women.

Friendship is awesome meets no girls allowed.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:44 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Ponies for Everyone: Scrubbing Women from My Little Pony Fandom
posted by the_artificer at 11:16 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


What gives me the chills is the fear of being kicked out of something I loved because dudes will eventually own it. The historical precedent is so long, and so sharp, that all I can do is hope we’re going to have a tidal shift in how we deal with sexism in fandom. Because if we don’t come to grips with sexism, if we don’t say, “Hey, X fandom is cool no matter who’s in it and we should cover it and speak about in a way that actually respects and represents the fans” then we’re just going to keep perpetuating the “this is cool so we better keep out the girls” bullshit.

If we don’t, how long will it be until I’m on an MLP board and get called a “Fake geek girl” for liking My Little Pony?

You’re laughing, I know.

But I’m a historian, so I’m not.
And that's what happened to programming in the 70s, in a nutshell.
posted by sukeban at 11:33 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


That was sobering.
posted by Danila at 10:21 AM on February 13


Depressing.
posted by crossoverman at 3:57 PM on February 13


“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”
posted by Smedleyman at 3:32 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


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