A quick survey of the geek landscape reveals that geeks love a good tale of heroics. Whether it’s warriors rescuing damsels, rebels fighting the evil Empire, superheroes punching villains, or sexy chicks kicking vampires, geeks are always happy to see some good old Manichean duels.
Or at least, they used to be.
At some point it was decided that out-and-out heroes were “lame” and “boring” and heroes needed to be darker. In the comic books, characters such as Wolverine (slices with razor-sharp claws) and the Punisher (shoots people) became the new breed of anti-heroes, and the geek world has never looked back. These days there’s no point in presenting a new hero to the masses without first having him kick a kitten or set a baby on fire to prove how badass he is.
The badassness of current heroes is not to be understated. For geeks, a hero should dress in black leather and/or a trench coat, be a loner, be ultra violent, have little mercy for his foes, and make supposedly witty wisecracks constantly. In other words, he should be a projection of how the geek imagines himself to be. It goes without saying that women should throw themselves at him for no fathomable reason.
For the geek, this sort of antihero is more realistic and less childish than heroic heroes. It’s a known fact that as far as geeks are concerned, “darker” means “more realistic and mature,” even when such darkness is taken to ridiculous cartoon levels.
Of course, every antihero must demonstrate that he’s more badass than the rest, providing an ever-lowering bar for them to slither under. Since geeks never know when enough is enough, this has resulted in all sorts of despicable persons being labeled as heroic by geeks.
This is compounded by the fact that geeks don’t know the difference between “hero” and “protagonist”, so they assume that the lead character in any work of fiction is supposed to be admired and emulated. As a result, many so-called anti-heroes are actually villains, with few redeeming features. There are two notable examples of this. The British comics character Judge Dredd began his life as a parody of ultra-violent dark “heroes” and now is considered one. The other notable character is Alex from A Clockwork Orange who is a sadistic criminal, yet is seen as an “antihero” simply because the system opposing him is somewhat worse.
For geeks, the trend towards antiheroes and villains means that they are free to remain self-interested assholes and still feel they’re the “good guys.” They don’t have to feel bad about themselves for not trying to act like decent people, and instead can congratulate themselves for being more mature and honest. As an added bonus they get to wear clothes that they believe make them look cool and dangerous.
So because they convince geeks that assholes are really cool, geeks LOVE antiheroes.