We’re All Geeks Here
The geek reputation is now changing. The attributes of that skinny guy with glasses, face buried in a comic book during recess, is now in every one of us. The subgroup that was once “elite” (but also marginalized) now permeates the status quo. Nearly everyone has seen Stranger Things, Pokemon isn’t just for “gamers.” A guy on the gym, doing bench presses, is wearing a Darth Vader shirt. That macho guy is supposed to be bullying the nerds, but now he is the nerd.
Comic book movie adaptations and fantasy dragon fiction like Game of Thrones are now everyone’s obsessions. Everyone knows how to take a screenshot, what USBs are, how to upload videos — you don’t need “that techie guy” to help you anymore. There used to be that smart guy who knew formulas, who helped us with math homework, now we have converter apps and calculators right on our fingertips. Oh, and glasses are also cool now.
If Stranger Things were set in 2016, Lucas, Dustin, and Mike probably wouldn’t be bullied for liking Dungeons and Dragons, or for simply being nerds. Mr Robot actor Rami Malek described this outcast phenomenon in his Emmy award acceptance speech:
“I play a young man who is, I think, like so many of us, profoundly alienated. And the unfortunate thing is, I’m not sure how many of us would want to hang out with a guy like Elliot. But I want to honor the Elliots, right? Because there’s a little bit of Elliot in all of us. Isn’t there?”
Remember Seth Cohen? Here’s his profile in The O.C.’s Wiki:
Seth is a big fan of comic books, indie music, anime, and science fiction, particularly Star Wars. The “Seth Cohen Starter Pack”, which contains The Goonies DVD, a copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and albums by Death Cab For Cutie, Bright Eyes, and The Shins.
What set his character apart were his “geek attributes.” The line that used to separate geekery and mainstream culture is blurred, and now there’s a Seth in everyone of us. We can all geek out about something — whether it’s film, TV series, comics, video games, sports, or craft beer.
Why? I reckon it’s easier to be a geek now than 20 years ago.
You don’t have to wait and keep checking the local bookstore for new issues of your favorite comics. You can be a geek instantly: just read a couple of Wikis, download some torrents, watch some videos, and you’ll feel smarter instantly. As a self-professed comics nerd, I’ve learned about a lot of cartoonists just from browsing Amazon suggestions. I discovered downtempo artists by going to Spotify’s similar artists page. Exploring underground things…doesn’t mean going to secret bars or getting bullied, it means going to a Reddit forum, or a Wiki page.
A big part of this changing geek culture climate is the pleasure of enjoying things with other people. It means getting excited to read a book and being able to “geek out” about it. The internet allows fans to easily build a community around an interest. Watching Harry Potter is one thing, writing fan fiction is another. We don’t need to be bullied or outcasts to like fictional worlds anymore.
So, dear reader, what kind of geek are you?