The Dangers of Geek Entitlement

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.

Okay?  Okay.


  1. geekwholanded January 16, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    It is one brave new world than what it was when I was growing up. I do feel that we should get to the point in which we should include those that share and even want to join in the fun. Lord if someone just wants to read comics then by all means encourage it people.

    1. ilikecomicstoo January 18, 2011 at 5:30 PM

      Absolutely! It’s great when you include people you care about into what you like, but it’s also okay if they don’t automatically take to your exact same interests.

  2. GidgetWidget January 16, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    Hear! Hear! Not only does this need to be said, it needs to be championed!

    I’m surprised no one has taken the time to make note of this, until now. It’s been lurking as the subtext of some conversations, but never articulated so directly and with precision. “You live in the Golden Age of Geeks,” an icon of comics said, “and it was not too long ago that Geeks were cultural pariahs. Enjoy it while it lasts.”

    Noticing the propensity for over-blown criticism, especially negative attacks, by a lot of “Genre Websites” the apropos sense of entitlement is not only among fans. It is also directed towards the creators of the content Geeks love.

    That vitriol aside, we ought to learn our lessons from the “Geek Canon.” Whether it is Spiderman or Yoda, Calvin or Picard, Jack Kirby or Rod Serling, Thundercats or Akira, Firefly or BSG, we who possess the knowledge of Awesomocity do not turn away from the mission.

    Share this knowledge, generously, with those who seek it. Otherwise, I suggest you go spend a day with a bunch of Philological elitists and get a taste of that bitter, elitist, opium.

    1. ilikecomicstoo January 18, 2011 at 5:34 PM

      Thanks so much for your comment! It’s an unfortunate trend that I’ve been noticing lately across many online platforms, and I felt someone needed to stand up and make a point of it to others. I’m glad it hasn’t offended anyone (yet, haha).

  3. philbyday January 16, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    No doubt what u’re saying rings true. Myself being a self professed dork I totally get the whole being isolated deal and am aware how those of us who are “dorks”, “nerds”, and “geeks” can be just as prejudicial.
    Myself, I have not seen Tweilight, and have no intention of seeing it, believing that I would rather dislodge every toe nail that I have from the bed that its housed than 2 suffer that cinematic fate. That said however… I harbour no ill will 2ward those who freely love that phenomenon. 2 think there r ppl that can’t get past not liking something 2 the point that they’ll practcally disassociate themselves from some1 just 2 prove some sort of point is beyond me. That’s the world in which we live, I guess.

    Nice post, I was wondering when you were gonna next share your p.o.v. Well done as usual, ILCT!

    1. ilikecomicstoo January 18, 2011 at 5:36 PM

      Agreed! I’m not a big fan of Twilight either, and I poke friendly fun at my friends who like it, but I would never stop associating with or avoid someone because of their taste in popular movies. Thanks so much for your comment, I appreciate the support!

  4. balladeer January 18, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    Thanks for taking on the subject of “Geek Chic”! You seem to have the same sense of humor I do. I’m a comic geek and a mythology geek (the two definitely go together I think) plus a geek for really bad movies. If you ever want a laugh related to those subjects come on over. Want to exchange links? (I’m not a spammer, I only comment at blogs that are about a subject I’m interested in.)

  5. oddfellow January 22, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Great write up. I am one of those old school comic “geeks” and I love this era of all things geeky being more embraced. Hell, it just means I get more and have easier access to the things I think are cool! I have no problem sharing them with people less knowledgeable or less geeky than me. It does make me scream though when the industry “dumbs” something I love down to try and get a bigger audience of less geeky/knowledgeable people, but that might be a different subject all together, because I don’t blame the casual geek for that.

    1. ilikecomicstoo January 23, 2011 at 11:59 AM

      Amen! I understand what you mean about the industry, but I appreciate it when they do it sometimes because it means that I can branch out into unfamiliar territory, haha. Thank you so much for your comment!

  6. Sadako January 30, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    Nice, insightful post. I definitely saw this mentality quite a bit when I was in school. Maybe it’s that people grow up feeling outside the mainstream and then feel they have to fight to hold on to this turf because even though it was considered dorky, it’s *theirs*. It reminds me a bit of a Daria episode, Quinn the Brain, in which Quinn writes a decent paper for English paper and is branded a smart, brainy girl. Daria says she never loved having the image of being the brain but it was her image, dammit.

    Oh yeah, and of course, I’m also reminded of the Twilight episode of South Park, but to be fair, I think I did have to side with the goth kids on that one. :)

  7. anonymous March 16, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    what? good point for sure. but you’re overcomplicating it

    it’s fine if you like dragonball z as a kid. what dragonball z doesn’t do for you is put you in contact with other people -basketball does. spice girls, as awkward as it sounds, is a social thing. their musical ability doesn’t blow anyone’s mind…even a five year old can tell. it’s just upbeat and fun, at least for a kid who doesn’t have to read an entire series before they can understand it or relate.

    maybe it’s not right to expect people to understand you, when so many ‘geeks’ aren’t exactly reaching out either.

    i realize that’s the entire point of your post

    but i think it starts a bit earlier.

    i’ve seen this qualified as “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people” in a million different ways. but if you’re gonna skip the people part and head directly to comics/ideas/characters that people may or may not be interested in

    you are no longer relevant or important, because you’re not making anybody else happy. you don’t have to read an entire series to understand spice girls. sometimes people-pleasing gets a bit sycophantic and awkward and outright cruel at times, including to ‘geeks’

    but you can’t ignore the people part of the equation and expect the golden age to last forever. they see a lot more of ‘geek culture’ now -it’s easier. Maybe they can now relate to you a little bit, but it doesn’t make geeks any more likable by themselves.

  8. LPcomics March 21, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Man, I wish this geek thing was in where I’m from.

  9. CloneCarnahan April 29, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    i totally know what you mean. i’ve found myself on both sides of this equation.

    let me explain:

    i, for some reason, seem to only like the indie comics and i always feel the need to give a disclaimer before telling anyone, that, it’s just by chance. i don’t know exactly why i’m only into the indie stuff (i have an idea) but i’m sure sometimes it makes me come off like a jerk, hence the disclaimer.

    on the other side, I really REALLY like Star Wars and I am NOT a prequel/clone wars hater at all. i totally dig that stuff (ok not so much episode I) but when i get talking to another Star Wars fan, once it comes out that i REALLY like Episode III, they get this look on their face like, oh, you’re one of THOSE…

    So I hear ya.

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  12. Eleanor February 17, 2020 at 8:25 AM

    Thanks for saying this, it’s definitely needed.
    I’ve been subject to this type of behaviour before, but it wasn’t in a comic/geek setting.
    I am a girl and I am into humanities (love English and it’s my best subject, hate maths. Keep this in mind).

    So my school is fairly small, as a result it is hard to avoid certain people in my class. These two guys in my class who also fit the mold for the type of stuff you’ve talked about, but instead of comics they’re super into physics.
    So, they’ll have a conversation and I’m normally sat at the same table, half in the conversation. The conversation revolves around physics and I don’t understand any of it, then they’ll ask me something on it and obviously I can’t answer. While they never say it outright you can tell by their reactions that they think I’m an idiot (I’ve even described it as how Penny is treated in Big Bang Theory).
    One of them has also repeatedly said that a joint degree in English Lit and History (which I am going for) is not a ‘real degree’.

    While I know this is not geek or comic based, the attitude is pretty similar to what’s been described here.


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