Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rant: Fake Geek Girls and other such crap.

So, like a turd that just won't flush, the "fake geek girl" debate - although calling it a "debate" honours it more than it deserves - came up again yesterday after this particularly incoherent rant from artist Tony Harris. Twitter and the Blogosphere and so on exploded into righteous fury, and many words have written on the subject. And in many ways it was heartening to see, that this sort of crap is stood up against, and reading through yesterday there was some optimism to be found in the idea that the visceral response is a good sign for geek community being open and inclusive, and y'know, not deep down just a bunch of gynophobic basement virgins with too much access to the internet.

And then the more I thought about, I started to feel genuinely angry about it, because although there are many, many, good people standing up against this sort of behavior, it still keeps happening.


First off, what gives anyone the right to decree who is a "proper" geek and who isn't? I mean, lets step aside from the misogyny for a minute (and we'll get to that) but cut straight to the basics. Who the fuck do you people think you are? What makes you think that you have the right to tell me if I've earned the right to label myself as a "geek" or not? Do I have to pass a test? Do some sort of strange ritual where I have to recite the Green Lantern Oath with my right hand on a copy of Stan Lee's writing desk? In so many debates - sorry "debates" - in the fanbase there is always so entitled, vocal minority who think they can claim ownership of a franchise, or a character, or just the whole of geekdom, and anyone who doesn't share their views is not only "wrong", but guilty of some fundamental thoughtcrime.

No-one has the right to tell me I am or am not a "proper" geek. 

Now here's the second point. I am in many ways a terrible geek. I don't buy comics much anymore, and in fact have never bought a superhero comic (a few Trades, yes, issues, never). I know about most superheros from watching cartoons and movies than from understanding the "source". I've never read any of the Star Wars Extended Universe Novels. For many years I hardly touched an SF or Fantasy Novel, preferring to read history and politics books. But you know what? My Geek Credentials will probably never be questioned because I'm a thirty-something white male. And whilst many of the people decrying "tourists" into the community claim its not about women, it's therefore a stunning co-incidence that the targets of their ire so often seem to be women. Women, who presumably are fine when confined to being drawings, fighting crime whilst dressed as strippers, or on trade stands in gaming shows, but actually in the crowd, wearing a The Big Bang Theory t-shirt or, god-forbid, in a costume, are just terrifying!

It's hard to credit and argument that late-comers and the ill-informed are spoiling the community when fingers are pointed so reliably at groups that are recognizably "other" to the norm. Especially when it's backed with odd anecdotes about how "true" comics are being intimidated by "sexy women" in costumes, "preying" on them. Really? I mean, really?

Thirdly, lets assume for a minute that there are now floods of new people coming into Geekdom, uninformed newcomers who don't understand the full history of the Fantastic Four, and can't explain how the events of Knightfall are different to the plot of The Dark Knight Rises. Fucking Hell! They're everywhere! Buying merchandise and attending conventions and watching movies and maybe, just maybe, making conversations. Lets assume that is all true.

Thats fucking awesome. 

Communities survive and thrive by expanding and assimilating new people. Artistic endeavors are strengthened by borrowing from, and being inspired by, ideas outside their immediate orbit. If Geek Culture is spreading into the mainstream, and that mainstream is spreading into us, then maybe yes, we lose the secret club feel lets us look down on the world of the uninitiated, but its a policy of failure and despair to try and turn away from that. If millions of people share our interests, does it matter if they don't carry an encyclopedic knowledge in their heads? Does it matter if they're "doing it wrong"? No, of course it doesn't. What matters is that they look at the characters and stories that we love and want to be part of it, and we should be welcoming that with open arms.