Archive for February, 2009

William Shatner
February 27, 2009

shatner

Here's your future, Nathan Fillion!

What is the saddest thing about geeks’ love for William Shatner?

1) Calling him “Bill” as though they hang out with him on a regular basis?
2) Thinking that nobody except them has discovered his singing career?
3) Not knowing if they like him genuinely or ironically, because they’re not quite sure what the correct answer is supposed to be?

He’ll always be the young Captain Kirk to them, though that isn’t saying much, because they all think of themselves as the young Captain Kirk as well, and geeks LOVE William Shatner.

Starfucking
February 24, 2009

In normal slang, a “starfucker” is, essentially a groupie, one who seeks attention (usually sexual) from famous people in the belief that such attention will validate their own existence. For geeks, everything is the same except that sex usually isn’t involved.

The line between professionals and fans in the geek world is very fine. Geek creators often hang out in the same spaces as the fans, leaving comments on the same message boards, replying on the same blogs, and being a part of Facebook and Twitter. Geeks are proud of this relationship, using it as evidence that these creators are really “down to earth” and “in tune with the fans”. It must be remembered, however, that any relationships with geeks in it cannot help but be parasitic, since geeks are incapable of giving anything in return. The creator may intend to foster a positive relationship with the fans, but the fans will gradually drain him completely dry and then complain that he’s no longer providing adequate sustenance.

ngfb2

It's just you, Neil, and those 32,000 lesser beings.

In the meantime, however, the geeks will eat up the fact that a Real Life Creator is actually hanging out with them! They will do whatever they can to curry favor with the creator, laughing maniacally at his jokes, shoehorning into any discussion he’s involved in, and shouting down those who are being insufficiently adoring. They’ll be sure to mention early and often about how they were talking to The Big-Name Creator just the other day, yet seldom mention that it was in the context of a message board post or blog comment that the creator may or may not have read.

For the geek, the fact that a big name professional such as comics writer Kurt Busiek accepts their “friend request” on Facebook cements the fact that Busiek truly is friends with him. And if Kurt actually comments on the geek’s Facebook page, then they just became blood brothers.

It doesn’t matter that the newsgroup, blog, message board, Twitter, or Facebook page is publicly available to anyone who wants to post to it, as far as the geek is concerned, it’s a private meeting place for him and his colleague, the geek icon. Though there may be others in orbit around the icon, the geek knows that really the icon is there to listen to him and him alone.

Of course, in the case of the rock and roll groupie, the rock star has no idea who she is and no memory of their encounter. The groupie, on the other hand, is certain that there was a deep and lasting connection made. This is the same in the case of the geek. He may be regaling others with tales of how he cracked Terry Pratchett up on the Discworld newsgroup, but it’s doubtful that Terry Pratchett will even recognize the geek’s name (or, more likely, online handle) when the inevitable harassment charges need to be filed because Pratchett slapped the fan in the face by having the character of Lu-Tze act in a manner the geek thinks he wouldn’t.

The next best thing to being a bright star is simply reflecting the light of one, so geeks LOVE Starfucking!

Ninjas
February 20, 2009

kidnikiMysterious. Deadly. Invisible. Badass. Japanese. These are the qualities the geek imagines himself to have, and therefore these are the qualities of the most tiresome mainstay of geek culture, the Ninja.

Ninjas were invented by Japan in the early 80s in an effort to capture some of the lucrative geek market. They were an unparalleled success, and soon ninjas were everywhere. Videogames were filled with ninjas who were either faceless, disposable cannon fodder if they were enemies or unstoppable killing machines if they were the player.

Never ones to avoid a barreling popularity train if they could hop on, the comic book companies eagerly introduced ninjas into their universes, with Marvel, in its usual method of running anything it does into the ground, going absolutely ninja insane. In no time at all perennial badass Wolverine became a ninja and had to deal with rival ninjas. Daredevil got a heavy infusion of ninjas as well. It’s difficult to determine if the absolute nadir of this trend was when non-ninja Kitty Pryde became a ninja in a single day, or when plucky British lass Betsy Braddock is not only turned into a ninja but transformed into an Asian as well.

For geeks, this is important, because it shows that not only can anyone — including them — become a ninja, they cal also possibly become Japanese at some point. The thought of waking up as a Japanese person has stained the sheet of many a geek bed. However, even if they don’t do a complete racial makeover, becoming a ninja would at least make them an honorary Japanese person, as ninjas are about as Japanese as you can get.

This type of Aryan ninja also shows up in the example of Snake Eyes, a third-string G.I. Joe character who was just an ordinary commando when orders came down declaring that this didn’t make him tough enough anymore. He was accordingly given “mystic martial arts” training and became not only a ninja, but one of the most popular characters in the franchise.

“Mystic” is a key word there. To continually escalate the prowess and abilities of ninjas, they had to eventually take on superhuman abilities and equipment. Thus, in any videogame or role-playing game in which one can play a ninja (also known as a monk because otherwise they’d be out of place in a fantasy game) the character will have some sort of “danger sense”, possibly limited flight or water-walking abilities, and access to things like fax machines and tasers, no matter what the chronological setting of the game, because ninjas totally invented all those things. (If you want ninjas in space, just call them “Jedi”.)

As with everything else, geeks have taken the concept of the ninja and put it through the wringer, to the point where it’s impossible to say whether the dark and serious ninjas are more tiresome than the funny and silly ninjas. The latter are parodies of the former, but neither one of them is overly fresh or original. It’s gotten to the point where even some geeks roll their eyes at the mention of ninjas, but the vast majority will still eagerly devour anything about them.

Ninjas represent the perfect ideal for geeks to strive for, assuming they don’t already think they’ve reached it, and that’s why geeks LOVE ninjas!

“Offensive” Humor
February 17, 2009

Although at their hearts geeks are jealous of mainstream folks and long for their approval, geeks continually attempt to define themselves by their opposition to the mundanes. Nothing brings a geek more joy than the thought that someone out there is horrified at the unorthodox thing he’s doing.

As a result, the only thing geeks find funnier than a pointless pop culture reference is “offensive” humor. Since their enjoyment of it depends primarily on the reactions of imaginary strangers, it’s a bit like masturbation, only they can do it in public.

Hilarious.

Hilarious.

As far as a geek is concerned, any joke or cartoon or comedy sketch is automatically hilarious if it contains one or more of the following: Hitler, abortion, necrophilia, cannibalism, Jesus, pedophilia, or rape. It’s also good if the joke is misogynistic, homophobic, racist, or antisemitic, though the person making the joke and the people laughing at it will be sure to argue that it is funny because they aren’t really any of those things.

Webcomics in particular adore this humor, since it spares them the difficulty of actually being funny, having characters anyone cares about, or even being able to draw. Why bother putting any kind of effort into your work if instead you can just have a character threaten to murder another and rape the corpse? It’s so wrong!

And of course, as with anything else, for a geek it doesn’t count as them liking it unless they can slap it on a t-shirt, so many of these uproariously offensive “gags” make it into the hallowed medium of white writing on a black shirt, the khaki pants or polo shirt of the geek world. Although the geek will happily wear this shirt to the mall or movie theater in the hopes of really freaking out or annoying the mundanes, he’ll also proudly wear it to the comic book store, where everyone seeing it is already in a similar mindset as himself. It’s actually better in this environment because then maybe someone will point out how awesome and hilarious the geek’s shirt is and he can regale them with stories of the people who freaked out because of it, none of which are true.

You’ll see the same behavior on Internet forums such as those on 4chan or Something Awful, where the participants are all looking to impress each other with jokes that they imagine are violating the sensitivities of nobody who is actually reading them or cares what is being said. Having then completely disgusted their imaginary audience, they can then high-five and continue with stories of the outlandish things they did or said to Jehovah’s Witnesses or telemarketers, none of which are true.

The reality is, nobody reads these stupid shirts, and nobody cares about them except the geeks themselves. They ultimately have the same effect as those Christian shirts that replace popular slogans and logos with religious ones. They’re just another sad facet of the geeks’ imaginary war against the mainstream. There’s nobody out there who, upon reading the geek’s webcomic or manga of choice, becomes horrified and outraged and has their entire worldview shattered by this irreverent lampooning. But geeks are not ones to let the indifference of the machine spoil their raging.

Geeks LOVE “offensive” humor because OMG it’s SO WRONG.

Casual Expertise
February 13, 2009

By now you should already know that geeks never merely enjoy something, they are in thrall to it. They don’t buy DVDs, they have a collection. They don’t just wonder what it would be like if Captain Kirk met Dumbledore, they write multi-part epic stories chronicling the event, and also work in an origin story for Darth Vader’s pants. Their interests are not merely their interests; their interests are their existence. Naturally, then, they are experts in their chosen fields.

The day after a geek-genre movie opens, you’ll find them in Internet forums and chatrooms discussing per-screen averages, star power revenue, sequel contract negotiations, and so forth. You won’t find them talking about whether or not it was any good, even though they were, of course, seeing it on opening night. In this situation the goal is not to discuss what you liked or didn’t like about the movie, but to show off all your knowledge of big Hollywood insider information. After all, having seen so many of these movies and read Box Office Mojo, you’re pretty much an expert on the business. (To be fair, a lot of the time this statistical regurgitation is intended to obscure the fact that the movie was a waste of celluloid.)

His exact equivalent.

Left: Harvey Weinstein. Right: His exact equivalent.

Similarly, when a comics fan is tired of talking about how all comics suck and aren’t as good as they were when the geek was a kid, he’ll devour all the latest information on which Assistant Cover Editors got fired, who is in charge of Vertigo this week, and who is rumored to be sleeping with who in the industry. None of this can possibly have any bearing on the geek’s life, and he’ll go on hating the resulting comics no matter what the company’s org chart looks like, but he can’t imagine not caring about any of it. How can he say he likes comics if he doesn’t even know about the rights dispute on a bad girl book that hasn’t even released an issue in six years?

Part of this is because so many geeks would kill to get jobs in “the industry”, whatever that industry might be. Devoid of actual talent, they can at least fasten themselves to this information like a remora, and therefore give the impression that they’re pretty much up there with luminaries like Harry Knowles. It’s yet another example of the geek overimagining his role in the great scheme of things.

No level of knowledge is too small to keep the geek from being an expert, nor is any piece of information too trivial not to be latched onto. Give a geek a starting belt in karate and within minutes he’ll be explaining all the things Bruce Lee is doing wrong in this movie, while another geek is explaining that the foley work technique is typical of this particular studio.

In fact, the geek isn’t too shy to let a complete lack of knowledge stop him from opining on the industry, even to someone who actually works in it. Any given videogame playing geek will be more than happy to tell a game developer, should they encounter one, exactly how the industry should work. Nearly everyone who’s ever opened a pack of Magic cards is convinced that they’d be able to double Wizards of the Coast’s profits if they were in charge.

Knowledge is power, even if it’s stupid knowledge nobody cares about, so geeks LOVE casual expertise.

Accuracy
February 10, 2009

If you ever need to escape from a geek in a hurry, ask him whether it’s more correct to say “two and two IS five” or “two and two ARE five”. By the time he’s worked out what needs correcting first, you’ll be long gone. The geek unit of currency is trivial knowledge, and this requires a fanatic devotion to accuracy. God help you if you try to quote Monty Python to a geek and get the words wrong.

Since so much is riding on the geek’s knowledge, it’s of paramount importance that this knowledge be as thorough as possible. After all, if it really doesn’t matter what stardate “Journey to Babel” takes place on, then what is the value of knowing it? It HAS to matter, and therefore it HAS to be known, and therefore it is unthinkable that this knowledge not be used if it can be.

In the quest for absolute, correct knowledge, nothing is above criticism for being “wrong”. A joke that relies on, say, Daleks being unable to climb stairs, must be torpedoed by a geek saying, “Um, actually, it has been established that Daleks can levitate up stairs.” Never mind that it ruins the joke and that the teller of the joke, knowing what a Dalek is, probably is fully aware of this, accuracy demands that the geek point out the utter absurdity of any humor that relies on such fallacious information regarding fictional robots*.

On the Internet, you can identify a geek in the throes of an accuracy attack by his signature cry of, “Um, actually…”. The “Um” is usually added (and yes, written in) in a feeble attempt to not make it appear that the geek is being condescending when 99% of the time that is exactly what he’s doing. Another phrase you’re likely to hear is, “you forgot”, the point of which is the unstated, “but I didn’t!”

umactually

It also makes no difference if the point that demands correction has nothing really to do with the topic at hand. You can write a three hundred page history of the kettle drum in orchestral music and if at any point in it you’ve made an off-hand remark about Babylon 5 that isn’t 100% correct, the geek will fixate on that one point like a laser. In fact, he’s likely to dismiss the rest of the text completely, since if you can’t be trusted with important Babylon 5 details, why should he trust you on your knowledge of musical instruments?

What it all comes down to is this: if you’re a geek and you have an opportunity to show off a portion of this vast collection of utterly worthless trivia you’ve accumulated, you have an obligation to do so. Not only will it humble any other geeks who may have thought for a second that they had a decent knowledge of the Shannara series, it will impress everyone else who witnesses this humbling. Also, the honor of the series demands it!

Geeks LOVE accuracy because dammit, if you’re not going to memorize the hit dice of every creature in the Monster Manual, why even play?


* Um, actually they aren’t robots.

Anonymity
February 6, 2009

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” This famous New Yorker cartoon cartoon appeared in 1993, when the publicly-accessible Internet was fairly new and exciting, and one of the things that excited people was the degree of anonymity it provided. It gave others a chance to express their thoughts and ideas without being judged by any physical qualities that might influence others against them. In such an environment, the ideas themselves would be the only things of value, and interaction would therefor be of a higher quality than those in the “real world”. Yes, people actually thought that.

The reality is closer to this cartoon. The geeks on the Internet immediately brought in their aliases and fake names and embraced the freedom available to them to be complete assholes. In fact, Internet Persona #1 is “The Rude Asshole” and at least 15% of every online forum consists of people doing this shtick.

Geeks love this world because it allows them to create their dream personality from scratch. For them, on the Internet nobody knows you’re NOT a black-belt hard-drinking sex machine with an astonishing collection of guns. They can now be an Internet Tough Guy and say things that would normally get their teeth punched out (except for the fact that they’re usually saying them to other pasty geeks who get winded at the thought of physical activity.)

It is telling that, when given the chance, geeks will eagerly replace their actual personalities with those of complete assholes. Under the cover of anonymity, geeks can happily be the racist, sexist, homophobic jerks they aspire to. Spend a few minutes in any anonymous geek environment (perhaps online gaming) and you’ll be hard-pressed to identify which of them actually are ignorant thirteen year old boys and which of them are only acting that way. Imagine if the aliens in V covered their horrifying reptilian faces with masks of Hitler.

Another important reason why geeks embrace anonymity is because of their love to be part of the crowd. If they dress in the same stormtrooper outfit, wear the same “V for Vendetta” mask, use the same anti-gay slurs, then they’re part of the team, as important as the other ants in the hill. It becomes a sort of geek solidarity, a cry of “I am Nerdicus” that bonds them to the other participating geeks.

Ur doing it wrong.

Comprehending 'V for Vendetta': Ur doing it wrong.

When not bonding with others, geeks can use anonymity to bond with themselves. They can create “sock puppet” identities that only exist to exchange high-fives with their main identities. (This is slightly more labor-intensive than the geek’s usual habit of simply insisting that hordes of people secretly agree with him in private messages.) They can even get extra mileage out of these phony identities by making them into geek dream dates, hot women who love both wearing fishnets and reading Bleach (and who hint at being sexually involved with their sock puppet master!)

Finally, anonymity is important to geeks because of course the things they do are so anti-establishment, dangerous, and offensive that they must protect their secret identities or “THEY” will strike at the geeks, possibly through their loved ones. At the very least, it adds an air of mystery around the geek that the women on the forum won’t be able to resist. Hopefully the women who aren’t also him in disguise.

They could kill you easily and get away with it, and geeks LOVE anonymity!

Hatred
February 3, 2009

This comic book is worse than a kitten holocaust.

This comic book is worse than a kitten holocaust.

DC Comics recently finished Final Crisis, one of those sprawling epics that comic companies do every so often. Reviews are mixed, with some folks feeling that it was a perfectly fine bit of superhero drama, and others thinking that it was a foul abomination straight from the anus of Satan himself.

Geeks can’t simply dislike something. It’s impossible for them to say, “Sorry, that’s just not my thing” and get on with their lives, much less accept that it still may appeal to someone else. Since every geek is an expert on filmmaking, novel-writing, comic-book-creating, music-producing, videogame-designing, and toy-producing, they can be certain that if they didn’t like something, it’s clearly a fault of the thing.

Since geeks will happily remind you that they “pay the bills” for companies that make things for them, they take it as a personal insult when they feel those companies have failed to deliver. A substandard comic book or videogame is not just a misstep, it’s a slap in the face, a “fuck you” to the fans, and it needs to be dealt with harshly, lest the company not learn from their egregious mistake*. Many keyboards will need to feel righteously angry fingertips before the geek will be satisfied. If the company isn’t careful, he may even begin a geek boycott.

Any geek who actually dared to like this offensive afterbirth of a product must be similarly treated harshly. The first thing to do is to ascertain that the person who supposedly appreciates this filthy insult isn’t just a troll. To go back to the example that started this entry, when one comics blogger said of Final Crisis, “Loved it“, he immediately got commenters who wanted him to clarify exactly what he meant by such a cryptic statement.

The geek must ensure that the people who liked this thing he hates are aware of how wrong they are. Since he comes to all his opinions through precise logic, he knows that the reason he disliked the product is because it was irredeemable crap. Therefore, the people who do claim to like it must either be lying or stupid. In the latter case it will be up to the geek to illustrate “reasons” why his superior knowledge of the medium means he is right, the product is awful, and anyone who disagrees is wrong.

It is tempting to say that this fanatical hatred is simply the flip side of the fanatical devotion the geek shows to the things he enjoys, and to a certain extent, this is the case. However, the fact that geeks have such hairtriggers on disliking things, racing each other to be the first to point out in how many ways something they only just now found out about “sucks”, seems to indicate that this blind hatred is actually desirable and comforting, moreso than the overweening devition.

Hate leads to condescension, which leads to superiority, and that’s why geeks LOVE hatred!


* – Unless it was produced by Joss Whedon, Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, or some other geek icon who can do no wrong, in which case it’s only “just a misstep” if blame can’t be shifted to some meddling “other”.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.