30 September 2013

When Did Geeks Start Checking IDs?

I don't know where to start with this. I was watching SyFy channel's newest geek-centric reality series Fangasm. Typical kind of stuff, they set up a group of geeks - a couple guys that look like the stars of the (inevitable) upcoming Revenge of the Nerds remake, a couple of girls that look like SDCC calendar pin-up girls, and then a few in between - make them live in a small apartment together and send them out doing a few "challenges". In this case, it was getting signatures on a petition.

This is, in my opinion, where it started to go wrong. The cast went to a "Geek Pride" day in hasty costumes. After they got their signatures, they were enjoying dinner and some girls - Geek Angels, I think they called them? - came out in very scanty costume outfits. Cue the indignant geek-girl who is irate over the exploitation of geek culture.

First of all, I'm not sure I actually accept "Geek Culture" as a thing. Geeks aren't a subculture, they're just fans. I can walk into any room, any bar, any crowd and find geeks. Some of them look like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, some of them look like the next contestants on America's Next Top Model. There is no geek culture unless you define "accepting folks for what they like" as a geek culture.

Between this show and Heroes of Cosplay, there has been a big explosion of costuming into the pop culture realm. Because of this upsurge in popularity, there has been backlash generated. It's a growing trend to talk about people saying things like "women can't be real geeks", stuff like that. But then these shows fuel the fire. One shows cosplayers sniping at each other because "she's just trying to be sexy" or "he's not a serious cosplayer, he's just messing around!".

Why can't we - as the so-called geek culture - get it through our collective skulls that everyone is a "real" geek, regardless of their reasons. The "Geek Angels" on Fangasm may or may not have been "real geeks". Maybe they were hired just to dance and were stuffed into the costumes. But just maybe they're real geeks that happen to enjoy showing off their sexuality. Maybe they're exploiting the popularity of geeks - God knows that "booth babes" have been around for decades! - but jumping to that conclusion without knowing them, that is NOT part of the geek culture. On Fangasm, the intern that got torqued about the dancers is stereotyping, judging those books by the cover. In other words, ostracizing those women because she doesn't like the way they're presenting themselves.

See the irony?

Some people, men AND women, cosplay because they just absolutely love the characters. Some of them do it because they like the attention. Some of them do it because they like to show off their bodies. And some of them do it for combinations of all of the above.

Shouldn't the people who have lived as the social outcasts, now that the spotlight is starting to hit them, stop casting out others, creating dividing lines?

Okay, this is a rambling mess. Hopefully it makes a little sense to someone out there, if anyone even reads it.