Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Where have all the geek girls gone?

I have been known to read a shitty magazine or two, now and again. I can't help it; I enjoy reading things like Allure and Glamour and Fitness and Self sometimes. So sue me. I do have my standards, though. I do NOT read Cosmo, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, tabloids, US Weekly, or (usually) People. However, recently I was waiting to see my therapist and picked up a People magazine. It was the Sexiest Man Alive issue and I wanted to do some babe-watching -- I didn't intend to read anything and let the silly words infest my brain. Unfortunately, just after the Sexiest Man Alive photos was an article on how 2007 was the year of the geek: this year, suddenly geeks have become desirable, cool, and sexy. My brain perked up at the mention of "geek." I have had an infatuation with all things from geekdom since I played my first video game, watched my first bit of sci-fi, read my first fantasy novel, participated in my first RPG. I'm a geek/nerd through-and-through, and quite unabashedly. So why am I bothered by articles about geeks and the current pop culture fetishization of geekdom?

I'm bothered for two reasons. First of all, although People magazine targets both men and women, all of the geeks featured in the article are MEN. The article was entitled "Sexy Geeks," but there are only MALES. Men! Of course, the geek girl is completely absent. If popular culture is to be believed, she is an endangered species. Even Beauty and the Geek, a show that mostly celebrates authentic geekness, has until recently had NO female geeks. This season features the very first female geek, and she has not received the same attention and celebration as the male geeks. I know for a fact that episodes have been re-edited and re-vamped to downplay her influence on the show.

Secondly, the men in the article, like many so-called "geeks" celebrated in popular culture, aren't even that geeky. These men are Adam Brody, Clay Aiken, Neil Patrick Harris, Chris Martin, Jon Stewart, Zach Braff, Jay Baruchel, Topher Grace, Beck, Jon Heder, and Elijah Wood. Why are they considered geeky? Apparently, because Elijah Wood collects action figures, Jon Heder starred as "Napoleon Dynamite," Beck has an album entitled "Loser" and wears polyester suits, Topher plays a lot of dice, Monopoly and poker, Jay is not a confident person, Zach is a self-avowed "film geek" and idolizes Woody Allen, Jon was called "Soupy" in high school and was called "awesome" by Alpha Geek, Chris is a vegetarian activist, Neil Patrick stars in Broadway musicals and has supposed geek cred for being Doogie Howser as a kid, Clay Aiken calls himself a "forever ... nerd," and Adam Brody is a "comic-book fanatic." Hhhhhhhhmmmmm. Now, I suppose there isn't a way of objectively defining a geek, but let's think. I'd say that I know enough geeks to be able to argue fairly convincingly that it is not a single geek interest that shows a person's inner geek: it's a conglomeration of interests and social awkwardness and intelligence and just general geekiness. You know when you're in the presence of a true geek. I know geeks, too: I've always found the sight of a guy in a lab coat to be very HOT. DarkWater.com defines the following as geeks: "gamers, ravers, science fiction fans, punks, perverts, programmers, nerds, subgenii, and trekkies. These are people who did not go to their high school proms, and many would be offended by the suggestion that they should have even wanted to." I would say that pretty much sums it up. Most geeks see themselves as disparate from the "norm." Sure, everyone feels like they don't fit in now and again, but not everyone grows up feeling separate from society, and views their entire life as growing apart from society and popular culture. This is the essence of the geek: to have a great interest in what is marginalized and misunderstood by society as a whole, and to see their life as parallel to society, but on a different plane from it.

Anyway.............. why aren't there more geeky girls in popular culture? I picked up a copy of Geek magazine to read on the train on my way to NYC on Saturday, and there was mention of a recent past issue with Tina Fey on the cover. AGAIN. What is so geeky about Tina Fey? I know, a geek girl, good, but seriously... is all that is necessary to define oneself as a geek a pair of plastic, dark-rimmed glasses?

That is all.

2 comments:

Hucbald said...

All of my life I've been a geek-nerd trying to pass for cool. Geekiness and nerdiness ought to be viewed as something other than a disability, first of all.

Sure, I ran home with a couple of friends in jr. high because the bus would have caused us to miss the first five minutes of Star Trek, but what that was is MOTIVATION. This is a positive attribute that can lead to success in life. Celebrate it.

Geek-nerds have a sixth sense. Even when we are trying to pass for cool, we can sense each other without blowing our respective covers. We ought to use this. We ought to take advantage of our objectively superior IQ's.

We should rule the world!

MuuuuAAAAAAhaaaahaaaahaaaahaaahaahaahaaaaa!

Sorry. This is a sensitive subject for me. ;^)

Sammee said...

I've noticed that it is only until relatively recently that people have started viewing nerdiness and geekiness positively. This is a new phenomena that people from earlier generations, like those of my professors, do not understand. They bristle when I call my fellow students geeks, when I actually mean it as a compliment. :) I admire geeks and aspire to be one. :)

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