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Dude for Thought


A little addendum to my  earlier post…

First off, just wanted to thank everyone for their comments. Even the ones that made me want to have crazy, uninhibited screwdriver-eyesocket sex were instructive, so…thanks. Secondly, I noticed a lot of people expressing concern for those were “there first.”

Some food for thought: Everyone is new at something. Everyone–at some point–has to dip her toe into the geek waters. Everyone–at some point–has to be the newbie. Everyone–at some point–is going to be less of a geek than someone who’s been geeking out longer. But when you gate-keep in a douchey way, that doesn’t really give people who are giving geekiness a try much of a shot.

How is this not supremely assholish, and, ultimately, self-defeating behavior?

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  • Evan Harper
    • bspencer


      • I couldn’t see the video but it does remind me of a Bones episode in which a gorgeous Booth Babe is killed by the romantic geek who specialized in armor and the sale of amazing “geek” artifacts like a sword used in an original horror movie (it wasn’t my plot so I’m not responsible for any of this to make sense.) He gives her the sword out of passionate love for her and she repays him by trying to sell it for mere filthy lucre, so he kills her–totes justified.

        • I stopped watching Bones when two things happened. First, they had a plot where the Illuminati were real. Second, i realized that Deschanel had a square face from whatever angle they filmed her, which leads inevitably to the conclusion that her head’s a cylinder, which I found disturbing.

          And then it turned out the Boreanaz is a creeper, and I felt morally superior for not watching.

          • HP

            I’m not a TV watcher, but I saw an episode of Bones a couple of years ago at my sister’s house, and I was struck by how Boreanaz would do this blatantly transparent exposition whenever another character would mention a) science, or b) pop culture.

            Maybe the episode a saw just required a lotta splainin, but I’m pretty sure I alienated my sister’s family by shouting at the screen for 45 minutes straight.

            • Bones had some good things in the earlier seasons–it was the first show ever with a seriously atheist female lead who, originally, did not have to compromise either her sex life or her intellectual life. But they very quickly began to try to create what you might call the ur “psychic wound” for female leads: her “weakness” that the male lead will fill. This is rendered explicit when all the team are rendered down into body parts (metaphorically) and one becomes the brain, one the heart, and I spent some time wondering who was the spleen.

              In addition they often fall into the “ripped from the headlines” and then twisted beyond recognition contrarianism that led them to have a word salad approach to terrorism and islam (at least until the introduction of the Farsi speaking Iranian character who they decided would be good and noble.)

              • examinator

                Let’s be clear here Bones is a vector to make money ergo it needs to appeal(the characters need to be recognisable/ identifiable) in the average mass viewing world.
                Not every one is comfortable with sex as a commodity of temporary amusement. be it from the perspective of the male or female.
                Likewise the American market likes the happy ending . Bones is no more than mental chewing gum ..what it isn’t is a deep or polarised treatise into subcultures or gender discussion by definition it is a mash up of accepted stereotypes with the odd genuflect to the aspiration of subgroups in society.
                I have no doubt you are a committed feminist which is fine but don’t forget YOUR special interest is exactly that a SPECIAL INTEREST.

  • Heron

    Exactly. And let’s not pretend new guys get anything like the scrutiny “out” women trying to participate in fandom discussions do. Just by being a woman who likes a thing not conventionally thought of as feminine, you’ll get called out on it and even harassed, as plenty of female comic fans, WoW and DnD players can personally attest. It doesn’t take particularly powerful google-fu to find horror stories about that, and that’s not at all like what guys have to put up with.

    I also find this idea that people who’ve “liked something first” somehow have a greater claim to it than anyone else bizarre. It’s media that you are consuming; you’ve got precisely the same right to it that every other fan has, unless you happen to be the person who made what you’re a fan of.

  • Patrick Phelan

    I suppose the geekkeepers get to be the second mother, who tells King Solomon that she’d rather see the child dead than given away. “But if my subculture absorbs more people, it might be different. And I don’t like different. So let’s stagnate everything and then I can be happy, because my happiness is what matters.”

    Honestly, I can see a bit of my earlier self there too, in that I had a hard childhood/early life, and geekishness was a big part of my relief and shelter. So then I get the impression that I earned the right to unironically enjoy Green Arrow comics. And anyone who doesn’t look like they spent at least ten years of school in abject misery (by my analysis, which is ALWAYS CORRECT) hasn’t earned it and doesn’t deserve it.

    I honestly really enjoy characters in fiction who have been wounded and respond by striking back at everything that comes within their field of vision. It’s just when they enter real life that I start growling and moving into my fortress made of cushions.

    • Big Bad Bald Bastard

      And anyone who doesn’t look like they spent at least ten years of school in abject misery (by my analysis, which is ALWAYS CORRECT) hasn’t earned it and doesn’t deserve it.

      What does somebody who looks like they spent at least ten years of school in abject misery look like? In this age of rampant slut-shaming, that woman who looks like a J.C. Penny catalog model could have gone through hell from her peers while in school.

      • Patrick Phelan

        Exactly this. I think it’s hard for people immersed in their own misfortunes to recognise that everyone’s social life sucks to one degree or another. If you finally get to the point where nobody is putting you down just because they can, then you’re not sure if you can really trust your friends or if they’re just after you for your (thing that makes you secure and universally popular).

        Also, if one feels like an outcast, it can make one feel better to step all over another person. But I’m sure this was all talked about in the previous post’s comment thread, which I haven’t read because I am a bad person.

        (Did said comment thread include these two Dork Tower strips? ‘Cause it should’ve.

        http://www.dorktower.com/2013/03/12/geek-speak-dork-tower-12-04-13/ )

        • brad

          Cycles of abuses, large and small, just go round and round and round.

          • Origami Isopod

            I and the public know
            What all schoolchildren learn,
            Those to whom evil is done
            Do evil in return.

      • Halloween Jack


  • Manta

    There is some unwarranted assumptions:
    1) that everybody would like that more people would share his/her interests.
    But that is not the case: through all history there have been aesthetic and philosophical movements and people that regarded popularity as a sign of vulgarity; geekiness is simply the latter incarnation(s).
    2) that wanting other people to share one’s interests and tastes is intrinsically a good thing, and not wanting that is a bad one. Would you elaborate on it?

    • bspencer

      Clearly, I’m not making the first assumption, since I’m arguing that people are obviously fighting that very thing. What I am arguing is that if you give people a chance, you might make a friend who shares your passion.

      If wanting other people to share your tastes was not a good thing, then I suppose everyone would have hobbies that no one else shared. Everyone would truly be an island to herself. That’s not REALLY what anyone wants, is it?

      • Manta

        I am not sure I understand you.

        For instance, you say “then I suppose *everyone* would have hobbies no one else shared”: why “everyone”, and not “someone”?
        The people who want to share their hobbies would continue to share them, the ones that don’t don’t: to everyone according to his tastes, right?

        Also, doesn’t your second paragraph contradict your first one? “That’s not REALLY what anyone wants” isn’t “that” precisely what you said in the first one somebody DOES want?

        • bspencer

          I am not sure I understand you.

          • Manta

            Ok, I’ll try to rephrase (thanks for your patience).
            I am asking: what is wrong according to your morals with somebody not wanting to share his hobbies/ interests/ passions with other people?

            • bspencer

              Clearly these people don’t mind sharing their hobbies with other people; it’s just people they deem unworthy they mind sharing them with. I think their criteria is for whom they deem worthy silly.

              • Manta

                Ah, that is a different point, with which I agree.

      • Lee Rudolph

        So, all you are saying is, give peeps a chance?

        • I will give this the groan I’m sure you are eagerly awaiting.

    • Halloween Jack

      A huge amount of the fake-geek-girl-hating goes on at conventions, which, of course, are based on the premise that one’s obsession is popular enough to warrant such a gathering. You have to take a peculiarly solipsistic view of this phenomenon to assume that the haters don’t want anyone to share their fun, rather than just certain types of people; that, or you’re simply ignorant on the subject.

  • Ronan

    “How is this not supremely assholish, and, ultimately, self-defeating behavior?

    It’s also human behaviour. Look at it any context, a community that is dislocated, an area that is regenerated, a bar that is renovated etc.. you’ll find people who react negatively to the change. Especially if they perceive that the newcomers are tone deaf to the community ‘as it was’ (which is, again not excusing misogynistic or racist behaviour but about why *some people* might not want it to change. Why not just ignore those people?)

    • Ronan

      ..dislocated really isnt the word im looking for..

      • Lee Rudolph

        Perhaps “deracinated”?

        • Ronan

          na that wasnt it, but its even better

          • Anonymous


            • Ronan

              Gentrified* would have been a lot better as well..I think the word I was looking for *was* actually dislocated, Ive just been using it incorrectly all these years..or at least google tells me it really doesnt make any sense in this context

              • Tamed? Neutered? Gentled? Bowlderized? Stripped? Mined? Borrowed? Appropriated? Used? Altered? Watered Down? Civilized? Sweetened? Opened? Abandoned? Cheapened?

                • Fuckboogered?

                • Ronan

                  These are all wonderful, wonderful additions..but Im sticking with dislocated..is there anyway that works?

                • Im sticking with dislocated..is there anyway that works?

                  Depends on what kind of… joint it is.

                  Sorry, I’ll get my coat.

    • Anonymous

      Especially if they perceive that the newcomers are tone deaf to the community ‘as it was’

      I’m repeating myself, but: women and PoC have always been geeks (as we’re defining them: folk into sci-fi, fantasy, comics, games, et al). The problem is not that they’re new. The problem is that they’ve stopped being content at being invisible, and have started speaking up, self-publishing, self-promoting, and creating sub-communities for people like themselves.

      • I think this is a really important point or, as bspencer would say “needs to be thissed.”

        I’d also like to point out that its kind of a sign of the aging of a fan culture when it stops being about the thing itself (the comic, the writer, the artist) and starts being about its own “thisness.” Geek culture didn’t start out being “geek culture” if by that we mean “nerdy guys clubbing together nervously to avoid being harrassed by jocks and rejected by beautiful women.” That’s just a second order explication of it. It started out being a private zone of appreciation and collection of an arcane or unusual thing/experience. Because doing this shit all by yourself is lonely and dull people started seeking out other people to share their experience with–so from the very beginnign the impulse wasn’t negative and anti social but social. And it continues to be social. But because everything is bigger post the baby boom and the internet what used to be a small, local, epicurian taste turns out to have lots of fans and followers. Some people can’t handle the jump up in size and scale and the sense of new anonmie that brings. For other people that’s just the new normal–like no one expects to go to a football game and be alone in the stands.

        • Anonymous

          This also needs to thissed. Every night. Twice.

          • Halloween Jack

            With a Sunday matinee.

        • aimai –

          This is so much more well thought through than the subject matter deserves.

          But there is a larger point.

          A very religious friend of mine once told me that, “Religions are by their very nature exclusive.”

          The deeper truth he articulated but didn’t intend is that clubbishness of any sort is 1) an aspect of ego-masturbating exclusivity in its own right, and 2) a way a making yourself appear superior {in your own mind} to someone who isn’t in the group.

          These features very strongly tend toward homogeneity in the group, and make the acceptance of newbies problematical.

          Human nature? Sure.

          Good human nature? Not so much.


          • I’m sorry but I think that’s absurd. Religions, by their very nature, since the ending of the elusinian mysteries, are not exclusive. People spend their entire lives trying to convert other people and keep people in the fold. They spend hours trying to share their experience of the numinous and point out where in the world–this flower, this sunrise–their experience will be replicated. Sure, some people are clannish and exclusive in their enjoyment of god’s favor (the plymouth bretheren and some of those splitter sects come to mind) but the very first thing every splitter does is try to bring some other people along. No one preaches for long in an empty church. If the church is empty they go and preach on the sidewalk.

            • GFW

              Eh, I think I have an idea what JB’s friend meant: with a religion, the existing members get to dictate how the religion is to be expressed/participated in. It is “gate-kept” in that sense, even if they’re trying to herd more people inside the gates. The would-be gatekeepers of geekdom want to dictate how newcomers appreciate the subject or participate in the geekery, but they really can’t, so that freaks them out.

            • Manta

              Only if by “religions” you mean Christianity and Islam.
              To name one, Judaism does not try to convert.

              • That’s historically wrong. At its origin Judaism was a converting religion par excellence and only stopped when it became illegal/dangerous/forbidden to convert. Even today one can convert its just quite difficult.

                • Manta

                  If 2000 years ago Judaism was a converting religion, fine: but we are talking about today.

                • No we aren’t. It was a generic statement about all religions at all times and it was demonstrably false –or rather just a personal experience of one phase of a religious experience that has temporarily focused on dogmatic orthodoxy.

            • Lurker

              You forget that there are two types of religion. One is the religion as an exoteric phenomenon. All great religions are open to everyone who wants to join.

              On the other hand, there are a lot of exclusive movements that do not really want everyone as a member. Only those with sufficient zeal are accepted. For example, monastic communities and esoteric groups like certain freemasons in Europe. They want only members who can actively contribute to the cause.

              Similarly, when it comes to geekish hobbies, ham radio is one where gatekeeping is at its most active: you need to pass an exam and to get a government license to become one.

              • Is this, in some sense, the difference between our use of “cult” and religion–that what a cult wants is a kind of exclusive control over its followers that (many) modern religions have more or less relinquished? Acknowledging that all religions are also “cults” in the old sense of the word and that at the present time christianity certainly uses the word “cult” to mean “false religion.” I’m just talking about the technical use of the term cult at this time to mean something that is a subset of a religion or a practice which is exclusive and which demands an extra-ordinarily high level of commitment and discipline from its followers that almost definitionally cuts them off from previous behaviors and communities through strict dress, food, and thought codes.

                • Manta

                  Aimai, you are using your own definition what “religion” means to criticize other people’s opinions
                  “I’m sorry but I think that’s absurd”.

                • Manta

                  I mean: you are free to use the terms how you see fit, as long as you properly defined them beforehand; you are not free to call other people’s statements absurd because once read according to your (non previously stated) conventions they don’t make sense.

                • No, that’s ok. If you don’t know what you are talking about and aren’t interested in knowing what you are talking about you can carry on. I’ll continue to call your uninformed and rather combative opinions absurd. To each his own.

            • examinator

              Sorry but I’d question your reasoning which religious grouping doesn’t have their ‘initiation rituals’.
              Circumcision – Jewish. PS they do proselytise try and marry one without converting ! Note also Women up stairs men down it is a patriarchal religion how much more exclusive do you want?
              Confirmation – Catholicism. patriarchal etc
              Islam has it’s exclusive rituals too as is separating them from others, and it’s patriarchal.
              Under the flag- Salvo’s
              Baptism in its various forms – for many of the Christian sects/ denominations.
              Public declarations in others.
              In reality I’d suggest that the purpose of any religion is essentially to define the nature of their exclusivity it is the seeking of power and dominance that drives them proselytise (confirmation of their elitism/exclusivity)

        • UserGoogol


          In many ways the whole idea of geek culture is deeply self-contradictory. Geeks aren’t supposed to be able to make friends, but in the pre-Internet days of geek culture making friends was practically a necessity to being a part of geek culture. So the geekiest were therefore inherently excluded from geek culture. I don’t know if I’d have been able to hack it in the pre-Internet geek culture, myself.

          Gary Gygax was totally a fake geek. The guy made a game designed around gathering a bunch of people together and engaging in collaborative story telling. What kind of geek would do that? But of course if anyone’s a geek Gary Gygax was.

          So I think this contradictory nature feeds into a lot of fake geek hysteria. It’s impossible to be a pure geek. And when there are splits in geek culture, it’s easier to notice the fakeness in the Other than in yourself.

        • Halloween Jack

          I’d also like to point out that its kind of a sign of the aging of a fan culture when it stops being about the thing itself (the comic, the writer, the artist) and starts being about its own “thisness.”

          I’d argue that, at least in the more extreme manifestations, it’s the sign of the decadence of the culture when it becomes so self-involved. I was thinking about this when I was reading about some drama/fanwank involving members of the Harry Potter fanfic community, their little turf wars between groups and one person creating nested, interlocking legions of sock puppets to pump themselves up on LiveJournal and other forums, and marveling at how baroque it all was. I suppose that the people involved in the fanwank look down on “mere” HP fans who only read the books several times each and might throw on a wizard robe and Gryffindor scarf every Halloween.

      • Ronan

        “I’m repeating myself, but: women and PoC have always been geeks (as we’re defining them: folk into sci-fi, fantasy, comics, games, et al). The problem is not that they’re new. The problem is that they’ve stopped being content at being invisible, and have started speaking up, self-publishing, self-promoting, and creating sub-communities for people like themselves.”

        I agree with you here. I think Im probably just understating, (and ignorant to), the extent to which the backlash is driven by misogyny and racism..and am imagining ‘purer motives’ to the gatekeepers (such as not liking how the identity is changing rather than who is joining..if you know what I mean)

        • Anonymous

          I totally know what you mean, and I agree.

          I think a lot of white male geeks actually do believe they’re being swarmed with women and PoC, as you said. Trouble is, they’ve been wearing blinders, for a very long time, that were convenient to and helped perpetuate a certain kind of comforting fiction (that they were special outcasts).

          • Ronan

            Just to say, fwiw, I really enjoy your comments around here, and generally end up reconsidering a lot of my prejudices on the back of them – I know it’s not your *job* to do so, and that I can be quite tone deaf on gender issues (which really isnt a great reflection on myself), but, none the less, thanks for the response/comments

            • Anonymous

              Hey, thanks! I’m mostly embarrassed with myself when I type things and send them on the internet, but it’s a compulsion I can’t quit.

        • nixnutz

          The other thing is that bspencer’s specific critique seems dependent on the assumption that Carrie Brownstein is a misogynist. If you don’t accept that premise then the video could be about normals invading the fandom and not women doing so.

          Which is forgivable because that misogyny does exist and is a problem but the video in question was, IMO, about a different anxiety so it’s a confusing place to begin the discussion.

          • bspencer

            The FUCK? I do not in any way shape or form think Carrie Brownstein is a misogynist. I think the Portlandia sketch was tone-deaf and insensitive. That hardly makes its stars raging misogynists.

            • I know, that was weird. Although it’s kind of impressive that with both threads, it took over 500 comments to get the misogynist word thrown into the mix.

          • witless chum

            Egad. Racism, misogyny, etc are not vampirism, where you’re all one thing or all the other.

            It in no way requires believing that. People will sometimes do atypically misogynist things that don’t reflect how they usually are. Other people will occasionally express racism, homophobia, etc. Many of us have little blind spots. Carrie Brownstein is just a person and isn’t perfect, no matter how awesome You’re No Rock and Roll Fun is.

            Also, do you have particular information about the production process of the TV, so you know Brownstein signs off on every skit?

            Personally, I’m with BSpencer’s interpretation, because it seemed to me that the woman at the bar was supposed to be falsely asserting nerdery, based on her tone and the fact that she was really generically talking about her interest in “comic books” not mentioning specific titles or something.

            • Are vampires really always all one thing or another? I hear that some vampires have a soul.

              • no that’s a birdhouse. And it’s IN your soul.

                Sorry. Just ordered TMBG tickets.

                • bspencer


      • UserGoogol

        I don’t think that’s really true either. There have been noticeably female subsections of geek culture for a long time. In particular I think slash fiction has been a pretty significant part of geek culture through most of its existence. (Fanfiction in general has tended to have somewhat of a perceived female skew to it too, I think, but especially slash.) Kirk/Spock is a romance for the ages.

        • Big Bad Bald Bastard

          Kirk/Spock is a romance for the ages.

          Kirk/Horta is better.

          • Kirk/Gorn.

            • Kirk/Evil Kirk.

              • wjts

                The space ghost that possessed Jack the Ripper/the talking cat from “Assignment: Earth”.

                • Halloween Jack

                  Q/Trelane or GTFO.

                • Jameson Quinn

                  Rational!Quirrel/Rational!Harry. In a totally poly way, of course.

                  But yes, Kirk/Spock was where it all started.

                • THAT CAT NEVER SPOKE.

    • Karen

      Q: Hiw many Austinites does it take to change a lightbulb?

      A: Why do you assholes from California have to move here and change our lightbulbs?

      • 20 years

        The Continental Club would not serve you if you had
        a California driver license way back in 1994.

  • Mostly, I’m just pissed that nobody responded to my comment linking to Shatner’s “Get a LIFE!” SNL skit.

    So here it is again.


    • bspencer

      I love that

    • Origami Isopod

      FWIW I lol’ed. Perfect response.

    • That T shirt, “I GROK SPOCK”, is funny.

    • Halloween Jack

      God, the nerdrage that provoked back in the day. Even though it’s true that the Shat is a documented asshole, that was a perfect moment of truth. I used to carry around a column written by someone in the Comics Buyer’s Guide who responded to the nerdrage by documenting incidents of fan behavior IRL that were even more extreme.

      • Makes me want to see Galaxy Quest again. Greatest movie of all time.

        • Halloween Jack

          First DVD I ever bought, trufax.

  • brad

    Anon accused me of as much, so I guess I’ll try to explain what I meant when I expressed what sounded like such a sentiment to at least one person.
    I’m glad young people are geeks, and they’ve continued and expanded geek culture in ways that have left me behind. I’m new to Adventure Time, for example, and I’m glad there’s great newer stuff like that out there for me to get into. And I cannot into anime at all, despite having been raised with Robotech and Akira.
    It’s not in the least about “there first”, and honestly I think that’s an unfair characterization. It’s about a pre-established subculture attempting to maintain some continuity and connection with what caused that subculture to form in the first place. There’s bad aspects of that, without any question or challenge, and change and growth is inevitable and (hopefully) good in anything.
    But kids are also dumb. I remember, I was one. And if we’re encouraged to shut up and listen and learn from those who have been there before sometimes, I think that’s a good thing. That’s not about geekdom or gender, it’s the same policy I apply to myself when visiting the blog of someone like Twisty Faster.

    And yes, it has occurred to me more than once, and before these threads, that it’s ultimately trivial to care about whether a particular person is a geek. But for a geek to not argue about the nature of geekdom would require not being a geek, and thus break logic. We don’t want that.

    • nixnutz

      My assumption was that the basic instinct is pretty universal but maybe I was wrong. And by that I mean the hipster impulse, “I liked them before they were cool”, you had something that was special to you and when it becomes widely loved you feel like you’re losing out.

      Anyone with any maturity recognizes that this is dumb but is it the case that most of you guys have never felt any variety of that?

      As I said late in the other thread there’s a big difference between “I’m having trouble recognizing you as part of my tribe” and “you don’t belong”. Only one of those things is problematic, although it’s probably best to keep the former to yourself anyway.

      • brad

        I’d be lying if I denied that own aspect in myself, but I’m also not 14 and watching comics start to cross over into the mainstream anymore. There’s a very real concern with geek culture being appropriated by mainstream culture that the inherent intelligence and its role as a safe space for some kinds of outcasts might be lost, if things like 4chan don’t show that it’s long gone already.
        But reading the comment thread in the last post makes me wonder whether my particular experience of geek culture growing up in the 80s and 90s wasn’t highly unusual, in that most of my geeky friends were female, and it was the first context I knew personally where lgbt folk my age could be themselves openly and feel safe.

      • CaptBackslap

        I’ve always felt the opposite when something I like becomes popular. Partly, it’s because that means there will be more things like it (and more discussion and more online information about it), but there’s also an element of “yes, yes…the world is coming around at last.”

    • I read that long interaction with anon and I actually thought her points were really pretty good–if you didn’t mean yourself to come across that way you really need to re-examine how you are expressing yourself. In the absence of traditional forms of power and repression–money, ownership, copywrite, patriarchy, labor relationships no heritage is going to be transmitted free of some kind of change–like a game of telephone. If you don’t have a really strict oral tradition which includes beating people for making mistakes or changing the oral text novelty is just going to creep in. People are going to interpret things differently, talk about them differently, introject their own experiences differently. That’s just the way its going to be. You can mourn that and see that as a loss of purity or a loss of tradition, or you can celebrate it, but you simply can’t stop it.

      I’m engaged in a totally pointless and self centered blogging project in which I blog a bit every day about Proust, or the Tale of Genji, and/or in a subsidiary fashion whatever I’m reading about. Today I was reading Walter Benjamin on Proust, and Hanna Arendt on Walter Benjamin–that’s all about tradition, cutting bits out of tradition, rearranging quotes and ideas into pastiche, reflecting on our experience through a kind of bricolage of things we’ve read, seen, cared about, held, talked about–In Benjamin’s essay on being a book collector and in his essay on Proust he specifically talks about the ways in which we try to stop time by holding onto the experiences we associate with a thing–like a book–and how we value the search for the book more than even reading the book. How finding it in an out of the way shop, in a new city, is more meaningful than merely ordering a specially bound copy. You might argue–and he does–that Proust tried to do the same thing with particular memories.

      But when we read Proust, or a comic, or a comic that we read as a child or a teen–we are not the same person as that person back then, or as Proust. We bring something new to our own experience. So each new geek, coming to geekery (if its a thing) with their own experiences and their own memories, is going to enrich each new interaction. They can’t replicate your (Brad’s) experience anymore than when they eat ice cream they remember cold icecream sitting at Brad’s Aunt Betsy’s table while reading his first Green Arrow. But maybe their telling of their experience can enrich this timeline’s Brad and change his feeling about Green arrow retrospectively?

      • brad

        I will.
        I also believe that anon was talking to a person who is not me. I’m not trying to take control or define, I’m not justifying any of the behavior being taken issue with in the original post. If I’m part of a continuum of that behavior it’s not in the ways anon and you, as much as I deeply respect you as someone more intelligent than I, are claiming.

        • I accept that the “Brad” who wrote those posts wasn’t a true reflection of the real Brad–and its awful to have your posts read in a way that isn’t faithful to the way you felt when you wrote them. But its inevitable when one or both parties to a discussion are anonymous to each other. Anonymous’s reading of what you wrote was ungenorous to the real Brad–she didn’t try to find a way to meet you halfway or to explain what a nice version of you probably meant. But she wasn’t obligated to read behind the lines and find you more wistful than agressive, was she? I take it thats what you mean: when you complained about Kanye you meant “he’s famous” not “he’s black” and she should have taken that for granted?

          • brad

            In the context of where we are and the rest of the sentiments I was trying to express, yes, I do think she should have. Assuming I’m a dudebro at heart meant that any chance of real communication was lost, and I don’t doubt there’s things I could learn if she were in a more pleasantly conversational mode with me (and vice versa), because it’s condescending and insulting to anyone who (tries) to be better than that.
            And honestly, fuck my fee-fees, I don’t mean cater to me. But don’t assume I can’t look in a mirror, at least.

            • Well, sure, but you don’t know anonymous and she doesn’t know you so if you wanted to say “that’s not what I meant” you had to say, you know, “that’s not what I meant” not “how dare you dudebro me.” You and anonymous were, in a sense, agreeing but you didn’t want to be the first to say that as in “I agree with you, anonymous, that the remark about kanye didn’t come out the way I meant it to. Let me go back and rephrase that.”

              • brad

                I can’t disagree. I want to defend myself on the grounds that I was not the one loading on assumptions, but I can’t disagree.
                Kanye came to mind because even while I don’t doubt the guy genuinely was into comics as a kid, Kanye the product is a constructed thing and I’ve little doubt most if not every element is crafted to sell, above all.
                Hell, Kevin Smith isn’t the geek he play on tv, either.
                I don’t mean to pretend there’s purity in the world, as you said I’m wistful for the stupidity of my own youth. Maybe I want the kids off my lawn out of jealousy.

                • brad

                  How I wish for an edit function so I could fix those tiny little typos that bother me so.

                • Anonymous

                  brad, for the record, I don’t have to be conversational or pleasant with you, and neither of us are here to teach the other. It’s the internet. People are going to squabble. It’s fine, but please don’t concern yourself with my tone.

                  The Megan Fox and Kanye West remark was the (probably accidental) distillation, in my opinion, of a lot of unexamined privilege and prejudice. You chose as your examples of people who would be self-evidently unwelcome as geeks a woman who was virtually black-listed from her profession because she complained that her co-star and director were being sexist douches on set, and who thereafter was publicly bullied by both, and a randomly selected famous black man who sells a lot of records. It doesn’t really need saying, but black American culture and its endless permutations are often dismissed by white people as shallow, unintellectual, escapist, overly saturated with sex and violence, and worthy neither of academic examination nor celebration. (I wanted to say that this also happens in a culture that created Elvis and Hitler Studies, but I was confusing, as I so often do, White Noise with real life. Nevertheless, the point stands. Shit white people like are the stuff both dissertations and departments are made of.) That comment, combined with your “white boys” and rap and hip-hop comment raised some alarms.

                  And now this:

                  Kanye the product is a constructed thing and I’ve little doubt most if not every element is crafted to sell, above all.

                  Dude, I can’t with this. If you’re going to talk about him as a “thing,” can we at least differentiate between the person and the “thing,” and can you admit you don’t know him and you’re not in a position to suss out his bona fides, and that it wouldn’t be some terrible reflection on your own “wistful” childhood fantasies if the cool buy with the big bank account shared with you one of your hobbies?

                  White culture is full of self-promoting money-makers with very little substance whose purpose in life, as it appears to others, is to be famous. Bland, substance-less corporate rock outfits (a la Nickelback or some such) don’t get the kind of shit we give black musicians, particularly pop artists.

                  Is your geekery that sacred and Special that Sexy Actress Lady (with her cruel, boner-enhancing unattainability) and Cool Black Dude are obviously unwelcome?

                  Which is the uppermost income bracket after which people are no longer allowed to read comics? Do you get a free pass, no backsies, if your mom was chair of an English department or if you were bullied in school? In that case, West is kosher and Fox is in.

                • Anonymous

                  cool buy = cool guy.

                • brad

                  Your tone matters insofar as hostile lectures based on faulty premises should be expected to fall on deaf ears.

                • Oh brad. It’s so sad. This comment by anonymous–can’t you pick a better pseudonym, btw? Is painfully on the money.

                • brad

                  That doesn’t mean I didn’t read and consider her comment, just that I don’t think it will be productive for me personally to try to engage this anon further. (Put in a self indulgently prickish way, I admit.)
                  No need to shit up another comment thread butting heads over how to split hairs or whose hair it was.

        • brad

          To try to clarify a little,
          I don’t agree that finding loss in devaluing the meaning of the concept “geek” to mean anyone who says they find any enjoyment in just about anything that’s considered geek culture is related to participation in the kind of misogyny lodged in many parts of geek culture that might be collectively labelled “4chan”.

          • I totally got that.

            Something that your post about your real experiences qua LGBT made me think is that, of course, this happens in every community over time. I’m thinking specifically of the Deaf community before it was possible for Deaf people to be mainstreamed or have cochlear implants, and the struggles over who is going to be considered deaf and what that is going to mean socially.

            There are a couple of books and tv series that explore this. One is a book called “Everyone here spoke sign” about a largely genetically deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard (?IIRC). Another is the TV show “Switched at Birth” which just did a very interesting episode about how the deaf kids feel when their school is invaded by a group of kids who are either fully hearing or just losing their hearing (but born with hearing). One of the things they discuss is just how comforting it is to know that when you meet another person, and they are deaf, you already share a fundamental experience with them that makes certain kinds of interactions just like being friends. But a play like Tribesflips this issue around and shows how limiting and even fake relationships “within” the community can be compared to those which cross fertilize outside the community.

            • brad

              I’m straight white male cis-scum, myself, in case my language doesn’t scream it in 40 point font, to be clear. But I’ve always been glad when people can be who they are.
              It’s not about defining or protecting community, for me, I guess if I’m honest it’s something a little juvenile, which doesn’t mean it’s utterly worthless, tho. Being a geek, to me, was about… embracing one kind of exclusion for better things. It doesn’t bother me when someone I don’t like as a person also enjoys something I love, but it does, in an admittedly juvenile way, bother me when a shallow person tries to use some element of a much deeper subculture to try to appear to be a more interesting person than they are.
              It doesn’t bother me enough I’d actually let it influence how I interacted with someone, unless I came to loathe them anyway, but if I’m honest it’s there.

              • I guess if I’m honest it’s something a little juvenile, which doesn’t mean it’s utterly worthless, tho.

                Only if you’re a juvenile.

            • Marek

              Great example, this is a real issue. I have a client who is losing her hearing and has been treated rather poorly by the Deaf community.

              • I feel for her. I have a profoundly, born deaf, cousin who was raised entirely in a hearing community–no sign at all–and while that meant she enjoyed some things she wouldn’t have otherwise she really has been isolated and rejected by the deaf community. I cried when I saw Tribes, which is a brilliant play in its own right. I heartily recommend it to your client.

                • Marek

                  I’ll recommend it to her – thanks!

      • Anonymous

        People in the last thread were talking about how bspencer has brought a lot of people out of the woodwork (or back into the threads), including you. I am really happy, if that is the case. Actually, I’m happy in either case. Love your comments.

        • Oh, I think I came back before bspencer started commenting, and only recognized her as my beloved vacuumslayer after her first post. But I am enjoying her threads and I’m glad to be back here.

          • Marek

            I’m glad you’re back too.

          • Anonymous

            Thank you for the clarification, and for kicking ass.

    • I’m still not understanding how this gatekeeping works face-to-face. Brad meets poseur in a group of friends at the bar. What happens?

      • Brad is sad. Secret Handshake is not exchanged. Poseur doesn’t even notice. He’s waving to kanye who is in a corner with some mutual aquaintances.

      • brad

        I think there’s an app for that?
        But do I have to code it myself for it to be safe as a test?

        • Just teasing, by the way.

          • brad

            No worries. I’m not taking any offense in anything except a few of Anon in the last thread’s assumptions. It’s to my benefit to have to question myself, generally.

      • Lurker

        Let’s change the setting into a convention: Brad (the stupid straw-man version) meets a person he considers a poseur. Brad lashes out verbally, commenting aggressively on the person’s sexual mores, body weight, mental health and lack of personal hygiene. The perceived “poseur” looks at him in amazement, is unable to find a proper response and feels bad.

        After meeting 50 brads during a day in the con, the perceived poseur leaves the convention in tears and, when at home, burns her complete collection of original “Amazing Stories”.

        • I think thats a very important thought experiment. It strikes me that a constituent part of the imagined geek reaction (or reactionary geek) self image is that the actions of one guy don’t amount to much, he’s just a lost, sad, lonely, outsider so if he behaves badly to some “newbie” girl its really either totally understandable, one off, or no harm no foul. People on these threads constantly tried to shut down the critique by saying “its just my experience” and “this is totally normal” and “everyone would feel this way” and “Im entitled to defend my experience of geekness/my childhood obsession.”

          But of course her experience, or that one black guy wandering in to the comic con, is a series of these interactions which, because they are so sterotypical, so constant, so unrelenting can go from being easily forgotten to anticipated and dreaded. You don’t get, if you are a guy who self defines as a geek, to take refuge in the idea that you belong to a “community” with boundaries and culture and also pretend that you aren’t policing those boundaries, with others, pretty harshly to preserve your control over it. If the group/convention/event is happening you always have a choice whether to be a greeter or a gatekeeper or, if you are renouncing that role and that responsibility (hey, I’m just here to get my fan card stamped. I’m just a bit player, not a major player) then you might want to consider that everyone else has the same right to be uhindered and uncritiqued on walking through the door.

        • JohnM

          And it doesn’t have to be 50 “Brads”. It could be only a handful or even just one. When someone is in a situation when he/she doesn’t know most of the people, it’s really easy to think that they’re all thinking what the one person who actually speaks to him/her says.

        • brad

          Unfortunately, there’s one aspect you’re missing from what “I” do; the attempting to make any cosplayer I’m at all attracted to prostitute herself to me.
          My southern friend who’s locally famous as a cosplayer carries a knife with her at cons. She’s never used it, but has felt the need to mention and show it. She’s been through too much else in life for those little boys to phase her, but it’s definitely another form of gender based gatekeeping.

    • Halloween Jack

      It’s about a pre-established subculture attempting to maintain some continuity and connection with what caused that subculture to form in the first place.

      It’s a pretty theory, but this is the reality–not from some random wanker, but from a (formerly-)respected artist. Also, there’s Joe Peacock, who posted his rant to a CNN blog. There’s quite a lot going on there, and I don’t see much (if any) of the “respect is due to the Elders” there.

  • Big Bad Bald Bastard

    Also, thread needs more King Missile.

    • Malaclypse

      That is never not true.

  • DocAmazing

    One thing to consider about the “there first” crowd (and I didn’t read the previous post, so maybe I missed someonoe else pointing this out): some things that were limited audience and are now more popular involved the early adopters taking a great deal of abuse for enjoying the now-popular thing. In many areas, for example, music is like that: a small set began enjoying, for example, music of a certain variety, and received abuse (often physical) from others for their musical taste. Time passes; the abusers begin ostentatiously displaying their newfoud liking for the variety of music that they once were abusive about.

    I do not think that it is incumbent upon the original fans who received abuse to forgive and forget, and I can well understand their tendency to want to push away the trendies. That said, the model falls apart when the people that the gatekeepers are pushing away had nothing to do with their earlier abuse.

  • Marek

    I’d just like to point out that the Anime Boston convention starts Friday and runs through Sunday. I’ve been reading these threads in the context of getting ready to go (decided not to pull my boys out of school Friday to attend, but we’ll be there all day Saturday). Anyway, a lot of great comments. Thanks for starting it off, bspencer.

    • I’m not at all into Anime but I will say I went to a Renfaire a couple of times–bored with bored children visiting grandparents in the armpit of Florida–and I was blown away by how much fun everyone was having and how everyone was in a bustier regardless of their age (six months to 70 years old) and just enjoying the hell out of swanning around in fake elfin or midieval costuming. What struck me was how unselfconscious women were, for once, about their bodies or fitting in with modern approaches to sexuality or beauty. It was like “damn it: I’m wearing silk and satin and hiking my boobs up to my chin regardless of my weight to height ratio. And fuck you all if you don’t like it.”

      • Marek

        Hell, if you like bustiers, you should check out Steampunk!

    • Fanimecon in San Jose is also this weekend.

  • JoyfulA

    I refuse to dip my toe into geek waters.

    • Lee Rudolph

      You don’t really notice the drone piranhas after the first ten or so. Honest.

  • any moose

    This is weird content to find on lgm

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      maybe so, maybe no- but either way weird never hurt anyone

    • I can’t figure out whether it falls under the “guns” or the “money”.

      • ckc (not kc)

        …just extend gatekeeping among geeks to gatekeeping among men, “races”, straights, nations/states, classes, percentiles, trades, professions, etc., etc., etc. The stakes vary (though less than you might think), but the processes are the same. Fits under L, G, and M nicely, I think.

      • Linnaeus

        Money. It’s always about the money.

        • When they say its not about the Money? Its about the Money.

          also, too.

    • kg

      Keep LGM Weird

  • Big Bad Bald Bastard
  • Just got back from seeing Star Trek Into Something* and I now that I’ve got liquor inside me it occurs to me one aspect may have gone unnoticed in the 500+ comments on two treads: the effect of corporate control. Comics culture, ST, Star Wars, any TV or movie franchise…all live, prosper, mutate at the whim of large corporations. Books less so, although obviously the influence is still there. The more successful a franchise becomes, the more money there is to be made selling dolls and Happy Meals, and the more likely the movies/comics/show will drift from its original themes and tone.

    I suspect some segments of geek culture resent what they see as their thing being watered down by suits for consumption by the masses – even if, as with the Nolan Batman and the Marvel movies, the new mass versions may be good enough to help the originals – and their newbie hatred is associated with people who learned about the thing the wrong way. Anyone who sees it that way is, IMO, still wrong, or else pop culture could never evolve, but there may be some kernel of rational dislike of corporate influence on art buried inside the load of misogynist and racist crap.

    Of course, pop culture is no beacon of purity. Years ago, my office was near Times Square during the transition from the Deuce to DisneylandNorth. I was walking along 42nd Street one day from 7th to 8th behind a fellow who was explaining to two friends why all the theaters on the block were out of commission and undergoing construction. When he used the phrase “crass commercialization of New York theater” I laughed out loud. He turned, angry, and I said “What would Flo Ziegfeld say?” That confused him enough that he gave up on talking to me.

    *You’ve heard of Star Trek TOS? This is Star Trek POS.

    • Joshua

      I never read comic books, but I really hate these comic book movies. I gave up on them after Iron Man 2 and The Dark Knight (which yea, I hate, except for Ledger’s performance) and tried again with X-Men First Class only to walk away for good.

      But the old comic book nerds I know really dig the movies. They watch them all, they see them day one, they look forward to the new ones. So I wonder if they are being watered down for the masses or actually being made for comic book fans, of which there are a lot more than I thought.

      • I was both a fan of Iron Man and Daredevil comics when I was a kid. Daredevil the movie was awful, but I’ve enjoyed what they’ve done with Iron Man (haven’t seen the latest).

        But perhaps it is all about the money — my copy of Iron Man #1 is worth more now than it was, Daredevil, notsomuch…

    • Jerry Vinokurov

      Yeah, the inability to develop a proper sense of irony about the consumption of corporate product is a major problem for a lot of the people who are Very Concerned that The Wrong Sort are getting into their interests.

    • bspencer

      I get that, but I think we’re dealing with two different issues here. Sure, things getting watered or dumbed down is a bummer, but I think you get into the pretty dicey territory when you assume women were only drawn to a thing after it sold out, MAN. (Not that I think you’re saying that at, but CLEARLY that’s what a lot of people think, deep down, which accounts for some of the hemming and hawing you see in this thread.)

  • mattH

    Haven’t read a single comment, I just need to post this from John Scalzi before I even get into it:

    Many people believe geekdom is defined by a love of a thing, but I think — and my experience of geekdom bears on this thinking — that the true sign of a geek is a delight in sharing a thing. It’s the major difference between a geek and a hipster, you know: When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.”

    Any jerk can love a thing. It’s the sharing that makes geekdom awesome.

    • Dave

      Which, of course, is a “No True Scotsman” argument which just takes us round in circles. Geeks-as-they-should-be are undoubtedly a nicer bunch than geeks-as-they-appear-in-fact-to-be.

      People, meet people. Prepare to have your expectations lowered.

      • mattH

        Go read the whole thing, it’s not about what geeks-on-the-ground are, it’s what geeks should be in relationship to one sexist ass’s comments on CNN. I posted the link in relationship to how the idea of exclusion is pretty inimical to these community’s lon term health and success, and that this very discussion being had here was hashed out last year.

  • How about grow the fuck up and stop screaming “Mine!” Mama smack.

    • Don’t you DARE start listening to the Mekons!

      • bspencer

        Don’t fall for it, aimai–it’s a trap!~

  • One, I doubt that the vast majority of people that enjoy these kinds of things (Star Trek, comics, video games, etc.) worry about their cultural signifiers (“what does liking this make me?”) or making walls (“I might be a fan, but are they truly a fan?”), just as most people don’t decide to create a group for those that love “Meet the Parents” or try to decide who’s a true “parenthead.” “The Avengers” was hugely popular – what percentage of the people that saw that movie stopped to think about if it made them a geek or if they would be allowed in to geekdom? What percentage even is aware that people care about it?

    Two, I don’t think that there’s any reason to think that self-appointed gatekeepers really have a deeper understanding of the subject matter. In my experience, hubris leads to error.

    Three, this kind of behavior is found all over the place. It’s not like there aren’t long conversations here about how certain individuals aren’t real progressives, or certain posters that have become veritable punching bags for other posters.

    • Sure. Anything that has been around a long time–from the Bible to Shakespeare to Dr. Who is going to have a “canon” that has been picked over, fought over, changed, bought, sold, translated, had gatekeepers and re-interpreters and re-enactors. Hell you could call the entire proposition that Americans are “heirs” to the Founder’s vision and “own” and “use” the constitution a kind of elaborate cosplay (literally so in the case of the teaparty) or some kind of LARP. I think that makes the entire thing more interesting, not less.

      • No doubt, but there can be a tendency to overemphasize some vocal minorities. And though it’s not uninteresting, I think a broader view of things makes them more interesting. For instance, how much of this is an actual growth of acceptance and how much is perception, how much are we talking about a degree of obsession and lifestyle rather than the subject (“Seinfeld” showed Jerry being really into Superman, but he wasn’t treated as a geek), how do other groups (like Harry Potter and board game fanatics) fit in, etc. This battle comes off more as a struggle between different groups that go to conventions or something.

        • Can’t tell what “this battle” “comes across as” since I”m just a bystander but I think it sounds like something much bigger than that–some people (specifically older white guys) are attempting to police and purify a practice (comics, comicons) that are actually quite capitalist in structure and output: in other words responsive not to a fraction of their market but to their entire, growing, market. The 2012 rant by the comic book artist about “chiks” who are only “convention hot” (ie not sexy enough to rank in the outside world but so arrogant that they think the can reject the sexual interest of “real” authentic, virginal and loser guys at the comic convention is a case in point. The response by women is to say “I won’t buy the guy’s comics.” The response by other women may be to supplant the guy as comic writers or artists. Eventually he will have his fan base, and new artists who don’t despise their new market, will have theirs.

          But from the point of the practitioners, like women, its a straight up attack on their right to be at the comic conventions at all if they are not conventionally beautiful and also willing to put out to whoever asks them for sex. Its like they don’t belong in this guy’s universe unless they accept the role of a sacred prostitute who has to take all comers.

          • Which is all well and good (or, eh, the opposite), but that still makes it a battle over what’s happening at conventions/among groups going to conventions. Not unimportant, but it’s also something that’s disconnected from the vast majority of the population, including those that watch Star Trek/play video games/whatever.

  • PK Scott

    I think men in general are struggling with the loss of privilege that their gender has traditionally imparted to them. Being a geek or a nerd doesn’t change that.

  • Jameson Quinn

    I think part of the question Brad was asking is, is any part of gatekeeping redeemable? And as someone who, like Brad, has an OG background which was soaked in privilege, there’s definitely a part of me that wants to be on his side. Both “respect your elders” and aesthetic snobbery (“x sucks and only a philistine would compare it to y”) have their good sides. But I think that gatekeeping, per se, slides inevitably towards the arrogant, unself-aware, ad hominem versions of those things. Sexist (and other -ist) gatekeeping can’t be cast off without casting off gatekeeping in general.

    In other words: if you want to respect your elders, great. You have no right to decide who’s your junior, though. And if you want to dis STID or you think Heinlein is crap or whatever personal boundaries you want to set, there’s no call to be ad hominem about it. And if you have privilege, use it to fight privileged gatekeeping whenever you see it.

  • All this talk of GateKeepers, and no one mentioned Zuul?

    • bspencer

      I didn’t wanna get all the Sigourney Weaver fans all hot and bothered.

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