Speak of the Geek

I think my good friend Evanier is missing the evolution of language when he complains about the depiction of the San Diego Comic-Con as an event loaded with geeks:

I’m not even sure what the word “geek” means in this day and age but it has something to do with being outta-sync with the tastes and interests of the majority.

No, not really. As best as I can judge as a participant in this culture, “geek” has less to do with ones tastes and interests, and more to do with the intensity of one’s involvement, the focus that one has, and the intelligence one brings to it. The term is now less “nerd” and more “wonk”. It may be easier to point to the geekdom in traditionally nerd categories – continuity-centric sci-fi and fantasy material like Battlestar and Buffy seem designed to capture those with geek tendencies. But there are geekdoms built around mainstream fair that is far from being for geeks alone; there are geekdoms for How I Met Your Mother, and CSI, and I’m willing to bet that there’s not only a House geekdom, but that it extends not only into the nerddom of fanfic but all the way into Mary Suism, with House and the other doctors all having fallen so hard for some enchanting young lass that they miss that the way her eyes change color is an important symptom.

And so the Comic-Con is legitimately a geek event, because while it does attract some local onlookers for the day, most of the attendants at any given moment are people who traveled significant distances to spend several days in a row immersing themselves in their pop culture. That is an intensity that takes us beyond the default experience. It makes us (generally proudly) geeks.

(As a not-Evanier-related footnote: folks used to argue that superhero comics should not be considered “mainstream”, because superheroes aren’t mainstream material in the real world. Some folks still try to make that claim. They’re clearly not paying attention to the real world. Of the top 10 grossing films of 2008 to date, numbers 1, 2, 4, and 10 are superhero movies. Superheroes make up about 1/3 of this year’s box office total.)

Published in: on August 11, 2008 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

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