Oh, geek cred! Speak it aloud and it vanishes, it is so fragile. My geek cred is, at the moment, more valuable than my college degree. I am delighted when someone salutes it. (By the way, thanks again Rick Marshall.) Few people will ever care whether I remember the events leading to the 100 Years War, but my entire online life could unravel if I don't go see The Incredible Hulk. You don't know how I live in terror that, someday, I will be asked something Green Arrow related and not know the answer. My reputation will be in tatters. I had a chill of this earlier, when I Googled Cowboys and Aliens and discovered everyone had read it but me. (Which is easy – the entire thing is available online. I am horrified I missed even that.).
I don't think I am alone in this, or that it is just a professional fear. Over on the movie board I inhabit, we had an ongoing thread called "Losing Your Geek Cred" where we confessed our deepest fears, the stuff we kept hidden from other geeks so they wouldn't mock us. Those of us who hadn't read Watchmen, hated anime, didn't like Blade Runner, hadn't seen Evil Dead, didn't own at least two releases of Star Wars. We all laughed about it, but it is a strange thing. Why does being inclined to the geeky mean one has to like everything vaguely sci-fi or comic book related?
For example – I hate Battlestar Galactica. God help me, I have tried to watch that show. Everyone I hold near and dear in my life loves it. I certainly respect it as a high quality show, and I follow the goings-on from far away (I even want to know who the final Cylon is). But otherwise, I cannot stand it. The slow-motion, the intense stare downs, the long silences between softly-spoken bombshells of exposition. It drives me crazy. But the moment I say it or type my feelings aloud, jaws drop, and a bit of my geek cred is eroded. "How can you not like Battlestar Galactica? That show is amazing!" I find myself not saying anything at all if it comes up for fear of being shunned.
What kind of vicious world do we inhabit, fellow geeks? Is it because of the whole "geek chic" phenomenon that we are more suspicious and desperate to cull the herd? Possibly, but it isn't a new trend. I experienced it the first time I visited a Star Trek convention (and I went a grand total of three times), which I expected to be one big hug fest. A hotel full of nerds could only produce rainbows of love and happiness, where everyone was accepted and we all partied. Instead, it was like running a gauntlet. They immediately sniffed out that I wasn't really one of them – and it wasn't just because I was dressed as Agent Scully and not Lt. Troi. They just knew. And even the X-Files fans were kind of frightening, because they would rattle off an episode title or really obscure fact. My failure to pick up on it labeled me a fraud.
I thought it was just me. But as I moved out into the wider geek world (i.e. college), I found that many had experienced the same thing. All of us had gone to comic book stores or conventions expecting to find kindred souls, but found an even icier exclusion than we experienced from "normal" people. One of my friends summed it up best: the kids who got beat up for talking about Star Wars now pummel the "lesser" of their own kind.
As a female, I find I have to prove myself even more. The first time I went to ComicCon, I fell into a casual conversation with a guy about the comic book movie spin-offs. I mentioned that I really wanted to see the eventual Wolverine, and he sneered: "You just want to see it because you're a girl, and Hugh Jackman is hot!" "Hey," I replied tartly. "Wolverine is the best at what he does, and what he does isn't very nice." "You know the catchphrase. I take that back." Well, thanks. This is something a geeky girl runs up against often, and it is useless to fight it. Men can see Catwoman for Halle Berry, girls cannot see 300 for Gerard Butler. Frankly, I do it too. One woman I was friends with joined my online movie community solely to talk about Butler. She was horrified when the fanboys called her on it. But I too was aghast. "You can't just go in and talk about hot guys – you have to talk about Frank Miller first! You have to prove yourself a geek!"
It really is ridiculous. One doesn't have to prove themselves to be a sports fan. If you say you're a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, no one will ever demand to know who was on the roster in 1965. They'll just say "Man, they're going to go all the way this year!" You can be a casual sports fan, but you cannot, it seems, be a casual geek. To be a geek means being devastated by the cancellation of Firefly, to own everything by Alan Moore, to worship at the alter of Cowboy Bebop, to know the original roster of the X-Men in 1963.
Perhaps I am alone in this, and my feelings of geeky inadequacy have just been overcooked thanks to a weird weekend. But I thought I would toss it out to you readers, and invite you to make your own confessions – without losing your geek cred. It is time we stopped making each other feel stupid for not liking Akira, disliking Joss Whedon, or falling behind on reading The Avengers. It is ok if you've never even read The Avengers! And if you have nothing to confess, you can just flame me for disliking Battlestar Galactica or for my reluctance to see The Incredible Hulk. Flame me, but don't take away my geek cred. I really am very fond of it.