The Status Quo

The more things change, the saying goes, the more they stay the same. And the more they stay the same, the more geeks like it. They have a very difficult time with change, and will scream and fight against it, even as they pretend to embrace it.

This photo is annoying geeks in multiple ways.

This photo is annoying geeks in multiple ways.

There is a Star Trek movie coming out later this year and already geeks are having a hard time with it because it revisits the familiar characters of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, but with different actors, different stories, and different sets. In seeing some of the reactions to the trailer, it’s very clear that these fans would not be happy unless their local cinema were simply projecting the original episodes onto the screen. Despite the property being forty years old, there is strong resistance from the geek community towards having it exist in any format other than the original, untouchable series.

As a bonus, there is a lot of wailing and rending of garments over the fact that Zachary Quinto is playing Spock. This upsets the Way Things Are in two ways: not only does it mean someone other than Leonard Nimoy portraying the character, but Zachary Quinto already plays the character of Sylar on Heroes, so how can he possibly be cast in any other role?

The fairly recent trend of Hollywood movies dusting off old television properties and making films about them usually engenders a response of “why bother?” from most people when the property in question is something mainstream. But if it’s an old geek show, look out! First the geeks will be thrilled that someone has finally recognized the absolute brilliance and stature of this beloved piece of the geek’s childhood, no matter how awful the thing is. If they announced a Jason of Star Command movie, geeks would suddenly appear from nowhere to cheer that at last this forgotten gem was getting the recognition it deserved. However, the same energy expended in singing the praises of the geniuses behind the idea would be converted into venomous hatred as soon as a single element from the original show is altered. Change the uniforms, update the backstory, or ignore a critical line of dialogue from episode 11 and you will have said “fuck you” to the fans and stabbed them in the back. And god help you if you do something “PC” like make a minor character non-caucasian if they weren’t before.

The need for geeks to have things be the way they always have been permeates their existence. It is not simply a desire to never see anything change, it’s a point of view that simply refuses to acknowledge the existence of time altogether. A side effect of this is the way that geeks can take anything that’s marginally amusing and run it into the ground until it’s beyond unbearable. If something was ever funny to them, then it’s always funny, and it always will be. It will never get dulled by time because everything exists in a perfect static bubble.

New beginnings are problematic for geeks, but so are endings. The concept of a story ending, an arc completed, a tale told, is disturbing, because it involves there being a telling at some point and then not a telling at another point, and how can this be? So for geeks, the show must always go on, ad nauseam. There must always be a sequel or prequel or spin-off or something that ensures that this universe and these characters never “die” simply by having their story come to a conclusion. Is it better to burn out or fade away? For a geek, it’s best to have your near-lifeless corpse made into a marionette so you can continue shambling your way through yet another story for them.

It has been said that geeks are fueled by nostalgia, but that isn’t completely true, because that term denotes a desire to reflect back upon the past. Geeks simply can’t conceive of the past at all. For them, the way things were when they were twelve years old isn’t just preferable, it’s all there is. Having anything contradict that reality is painful to them.

Give them fantasy and give them the future, but don’t change anything they already know because geeks LOVE the status quo.

6 Responses

  1. Western geeks should put up with change as much as Gundam and Kamen Rider fans do. Retellings, alternate universes, etc.

  2. Yeah, the concept of alternate universes and reimaginings is completely foreign to “Western” geek storytelling.

    Alternately, geeks could just go enjoy new stories instead of pursuing increasingly more desperate tactics to enjoy the same damn things over and over.

  3. It’s not completely unheard of, actually. Both Marvel and DC Comics regularly put out alternate universe versions of their characters. Heck, Marvel used to have a series called “What If?” which was month after month of alternate universes.

  4. Maybe this is why I feel sorry for Michael Bay after he directed the Transfomers movies.

  5. Actually, the Transformers movies were just flat out bad, period. (The first was enjoyable, I s’pose, but the second was just absymal.) And this is coming from someone who isn’t a Transformers enthusiast.

  6. I’ve only heard of this when classic cartoons (i.e., Looney Tunes, Disney, Tom and Jerry) get revived.

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