Friday, April 12, 2013

On authenticity and geek culture

It should be no surprise that I think the phenomenon of "fake geek girls" is specious at best. At worst, it's vile misogyny and strikes me somewhat of a persecution complex.

The logic, as stated by countless critics, is that previously geeks were ostracized and bullied for their outlier interests. Now that contemporary culture has embraced — no, colonized geek culture, geeks are defensive, that they were the original lovers of outlier culture and that they are entitled to the respect deserving of pioneers. Any non-geek that enters into the discourse of geek culture is doing so in a frivolous manner. As perceived by geeks, this is akin to allies within various social movements. The ally is not "in it to win it" because they are not emotionally invested in the success of the movement. Thus, they are trivializing it by their very participation. This is how geeks perceive the colonization of geek culture.

They're not entirely wrong, but neither are they entirely correct. If any trivializing is happening, it's due to the process of colonization by late capitalism that assigns monetary value and thus equivalence to cultural objects that previously laid on the borders. Spider-Man now has the virtually the same cultural and social capital as Survivor or Ellen Degeneres. The exchange value of Spider-Man has been depleted. No longer is your identity's worth tied up with the arcane knowledge of culture that's inaccessible and unwelcoming to outsiders. This colonization comes hand in hand with the Internet, of course. The Internet becomes the great equalizer; everybody has access to the same databases that list every single obscure comic book character and reference and issue and crossover.

No longer are geeks special for their special knowledge. So, they externalize this obsolescence and focus their ire on those that appear to be benefiting from the colonization without "putting in their dues." In other words, geeks bully those that previously bullied them. A cycle of retributive justice.

This essentially boils down to the idea that back in the nebulously defined days (70s, 80s, 90s), geek culture was inclusive because it was always on the edge. It needed more people in order to survive. Now it doesn't need people to survive because of the commodity culture. Whether we like it or not, superheroes and geek culture are now part of the mainstream. This is irrevocable. While geek culture was previously inclusive, now there is an attempt to make it exclusive. Average casual fans need an authentication cards just to enter into a conversation about some terrible TV show.

Let's face facts here. Geek culture is terrible. It's Sturgeon's Law writ large. Most of the cultural objects we consume are fucking awful (the New 52, Marvel Now!, crossovers, Rob Liefeld, Bendis, Flash Forward, Robert J Sawyer, the new Star Trek film, the Clone Wars theatrical film, etc etc etc etc). Most of it. Not all. Most. So why are we getting so defensive about a culture that's been thoroughly colonized and then diluted by late capitalism?

We need to get over the idea that geek culture was or is sacred and that it needs protection from "fake geek girls" who are trivializing the struggle for acceptance. We won. We received acceptance from the mainstream and now you're mad because of that?

Defensive geeks hold tight to their outmoded perceived structure of the world, where they are still the victims of targeted bullying. In reaction, they turn the bullying around and spew vile shit at women, PoC, LGBT people in order to maintain the purity of the geek culture. These outsiders would only trivialize or compromise the integrity of our sacred geek culture.

In my perspective, adding more talented people, regardless of background, could only help geek culture rip itself from its stagnant roots and bring geek culture into the twenty first century. More women, more PoC, more LGBT people can only help, they can challenge the homophobia, the racism, the transphobia, the sexism, the pure misogyny, the benign racism all of that stuff. More talented people can only improve geek culture.

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