A recent encounter of the third kind made me think about how people define themselves. The third kind being, of course, Facebook (sorry…). I don’t exactly know what it is that made me accept, that I am, in fact, a geek, but it won’t come as any surprise to long term readers of this blog. Being a geek pretty much means that you’re not embarrassed to truly love something and share that love with other people. Apparently, ‘cool’ people don’t do this. John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars (which I need to read) and Looking for Alaska, has the best quote about this:
…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.
A nerd and a geek are essentially the same kind of thing, except that geeks are also pretty much heavily into things like Sci-Fi, Fantasy and stuff. Yet I think that at the same time, that doesn’t matter. I’m at that point in my life where I’d rather be the person saying ‘I love Star Wars’ or ‘Isn’t Anime cool?’ and not feel as though I’m a huge weirdo for it. A lot of the time now, people actually appreciate this stuff. I’ve always had a part of me that gets heavily into something – like Urban Fantasy – and will read or watch as much of that genre as I possibly can. It just makes life more interesting. I’ve always been a literary geek too, but it has always been on my own terms. I read the things that interest me, that capture my attention. I still get suspicious of the things that ‘everyone’ is reading – even though long after the interest has died down, I might actually read whatever the excitement was all about. I like to form my own opinions, and not be swayed by other people – this is true for films too. If I like Underworld, I like Underworld, even though other people might think it’s rubbish.
I grew up with repetitive watching of The Goonies, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future – as well as The Neverending Story and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (the BBC version). They became as familiar to me as my own face. Then when I was a little older, I used to stay up late watching late-night action movies like Die Hard and the Terminator. I still think, a lot of the time, that the 80s and 90s were the best decades for fantasy and sci fi movies. Some of the things I see now just don’t move me as much, but then maybe its just because of childhood nostalgia. I’ve still seen a lot of films since, though, that have grabbed me. The same goes for series such as Buffy, Roswell, Charmed, Star Trek (Voyager and The Next Generation) and The X-Files. To me, they are the TV equivalent of curling up with a blanket and eating apple pie in front of a roaring fire. They are so comforting, because they follow a format and they also spark your imagination (in the case of The X-Files, might also seriously creep you out). Recent additions include NCIS, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly and Game of Thrones. If you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m going on about – please check them out. You might thank me for it!
I have encountered funny looks from people for discussing this. It also makes me wonder if its hard for people to understand a woman or girl talking about sci-fi and fantasy. They are unfortunately tarred with a ‘masculine’ brush. Supposedly, women are meant to just like romance films and fluffy pink things. Nothing wrong with that either (I am partial to the odd romance film). Is it because a lot of these films have a ‘male gaze’ in which the main character is male and the ‘love interest’ female? I would argue that that is also up for debate because in some sci fi and fantasy films, there are some really compelling women. For example, yes, Leia does get rescued a few times, but she’s also a very active and driven character. The same with Ripley in Alien – she is the ultimate sci-fi heroine. It is still moving at a snail’s pace though, and there are just a handful of amazing women in sci fi and fantasy film and TV. Women’s power is often diluted, even when they are the main character. There is a recent spate of Urban Fantasy where the main characters are women – such as Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld and Cherie Priest’s Eden Moore novels. Maybe as women, there is a need to bridge that gap, and create complex and powerful characters that happen to be women.
I would argue that there is no better time to be a geek. Maybe back in the 80s, when we had The Goonies. But communities like Tumblr, authors like John Green – they are all about fans, all about nerds. If you love something, be proud of it, enjoy it. Don’t hide it away, because life is too short. If you want to share your love of Steampunk or Gothic, books or indie games – go ahead. Create Memes, reblog movie stills, wax lyrical on the merits of superheroes/superheroines. Be yourself.