Back in the day (AKA ten years ago, for me), if you read comic books religiously, you were a dork. As a girl, you were a tomboy and a dork. Those weren’t nice labels. Like many, I was picked on because I didn’t like the Spice Girls when all the other girls were singing their tunes in the schoolyard. Similarly, the boys in my grade school that preferred watching Dragonball Z to practicing basketball were treated pretty cruelly. I was fortunate enough not to care, so I wasn’t traumatized – I can’t say the same for my peers. We banded together, mostly, but we didn’t have what little Katie has today.
Today, we have the Internet, and with it a freakish sense of geek community and pride. Sure, there have been guys in Star Wars t-shirts since the dawn of time, but in today’s world you really, really want to be seen in one on the street. Being a geek is becoming one of those “in” things, like slap bracelets or Lady Gaga. The popularity of geek culture has exploded, endowing us – the nerdy ones – with this weird sense of new entitlement. Some of us are not used to this. Hell, many of our brethren were picked last on the dodgeball team. Being wanted, included, cool all of a sudden has begun inflating us with this intense feeling of power.
My friends, remember we cannot succumb to the Dark Side of the Force.
Those that were picked on in their youth and watched Star Wars in the theater are calling out “fake” geeks (y’know, those kids who wear geeky meme shirts from Hot Topic because omgwtfbbq it’s so cool! but have never actually visited a comic shop). They’re saying some aren’t geeky enough to be in their “cool club.” They’re saying they don’t want to hang out with kids who aren’t geeks. There are “purists,” and those who say that the only good comic books are indie comic books, and those that say that modern superhero books are crap, and–
There’s something wrong here. I’m not saying you should walk around with a Pokemon keychain without knowing the difference between Mew and Mewtwo, and I understand the whole take-back-the-label-that-hurt-you deal, but you can’t try to redefine that label to further isolate others, too. Not everyone’s going to be able to recite the amount of random Star Trek knowledge crammed into your skull, sure, but that doesn’t entitle you to look down on them. You don’t get to say who’s a geek and who isn’t because you’re some kind of magical ideal. If you try, then you’re doing the exact same thing those jocks did when they called you a loser for reading about Superman on lunch break. You’re excluding people from your life because they don’t have the same interests as you.
It’s perfectly okay to wave the geeky flag and be proud of what you like, but don’t get elitist about it. No one likes elitists. There are a million other, different people out there waiting to meet us lovers of cheesy sci-fi flicks, and we will never get to interact with them (or introduce them to said sci-fi flicks) if we cocoon ourselves in our own geekified clubhouses where no one else is welcome. Bragging about how we knew such and such before it was popular just makes us look like jerks. So let’s not do it! Let’s not even think it. If this big, wide world was open-minded enough to embrace us in our geekery, then we can’t close our minds on it.