Geek Girl On The Street Reports: The Geek Tipping Point

Kate Kotler writes for Bleeding Cool;

Ugh, in the wake of Miss USA declaring herself a “history geek” the Internet (which is usually “really really great for porn”) has been awash with columnists and bloggers declaring the “death of the geek subculture.”

Responses have varied from the slightly misogynist, insulting statement of Devin Faraci on Badass Digest:

In the aftermath of the Miss USA thing some people have been getting ruffled about arguments over just what a geek is. There’s this whole network of geek girl blogs that mostly exist for the writers to crow about how much of a geek they are because they watch a lot of Torchwood, and these folks are the ones leading the charge to let everybody be a geek. Their argument: being a geek is about passion

To the slightly ridiculous statement of Alexandra Petri via The Washingtion Post:

Will Rogers said that “we can’t all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” The same once applied to geeks. We couldn’t all be geeks because someone had to harass us verbally and steal our lunch money.

This isn’t new. This exact same freak-out by so-called geeks, bemoaning the death of our subculture and bawwing about “popular people” perverting what it means to be geek seems to happen at least once a year. Usually when an attractive (and therefore, popular) person asserts some sort of claim to “geek cred.”

Last year it was outrage that foxy, scalding hot women like Michele Boyd, Clare Grant, Milynn Sarley, Rileah Vanderbilt (better known as Team Unicorn) would dare to pose as geeky girls in the Geek and Gamer Girls video, because EVERYONE knows that it’s IMPOSSIBLE for geek girls to also be hot.

Whaaa’s that you say? Geek girls aren’t hot? Huh, news to me. So what’s up with all the geek girl fetishism then, fellas? ‘Splain that, would ya?

This year it’s outrage that Alyssa Campanella, (better known as Miss USA,) a young woman who received multiple National Merit awards and graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA, then went on to study acting at one of the most competitive theater schools in the country, would DARE to claim that she’s a history geek.

You know, because getting a 4.0 and getting into a really competitive school isn’t at all GEEKY, right?

The thing that I’ve always hated the most about the “geek subculture” is the one-up attitude which many geeks wind their whole sense of self-identity around. In order to be a geek you not only have to establish that you’re an obsessive fan of something obscure, but you have to be able to trace your geek lineage back to origins – citing the first time you BBS’d or what character from Vampire you LARP’ed in high school, what made up languages (like Klingon or Quendian) you speak, what the first mint condition Issue #1 you ever collected was, or how many obscure action figures (still in the packaging) you have on the shelves of your office… This attitude is often accompanied by the assertion that a person cannot be a geek unless they’ve been socially ostracized for liking the obscure, weird things geeks like.

Honestly, this is all crap. A geek can be anyone. Some of the geekiest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing have been the “secret geeks.” Otherwise outwardly popular, well adjusted, attractive people who, secretly, love WoW or building WWII model tanks or have been watching Doctor Who since 1963 or is a such a trivia sponge they can cite encyclopedic factoids about a variety of topics forth with the fury of mind warping genius.

It drives me nuts when people like Petri spout forth reverse classism on being tortured and tormented in high school like it is some badge of honor or rite of passage… Like this was worthwhile and (in some sick way) fun? It’s just silly to think that if you weren’t socially tortured at some point in your youth, you can’t be part of the “geek club.” Because we were once excluded, we now exclude, how warped is that?

You know what? High school is miserable for everyone. Not just geeks – being a teenager sucks balls. And everyone wishes they could be someone else than who they are – popular, smart, funny, well liked. (I say this with authority coming up onto my 20th high school reunion this August – Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders, Class of 1991 represent!) From where I stand, I’d rather “geek” be accepted and considered a variable type of cool so young geeklings don’t have to be as abjectly miserable and picked on as I was growing up. I would rejoice if individualism and intelligence was truly being celebrated.

And, frankly? The “geek is chic” movement that geeks are grumbling about? YOU MORONS, that’s everyone else saying they wish they were “cool like us…” It’s a compliment, not an insult.

People -like Devin Faraci and Alexandra Petri – hell, like some of you denizens of the Bleeding Cool forums – those who proselytize and preach “pure geekdom” based on obscure and ever changing assets make me want to scream: “Who decided that the proverbial you were the arbiter of all geekdom? And that if someone doesn’t meet your detailed specification of what ‘to be a geek’ means, then they are not a geek at all? Who the fuck made YOU the boss of all geeks?”

Geeks come in all shapes and sizes, even the petite size zero of a Miss USA. Shut up and deal with it.

Kate Kotler is the founding editor of Geek Girl on the Street.com, the editor-in-chief of FilmCatcher.com, a freelance writer/editor/marketing hack and full time geek girl who lives in Chicago. She loves Doctor Who, Frank Miller, Wonder Woman, knitting, puppetry and she used to be a professional fire eater. See her full resume on katekotler.com. You can Tweet at her @adorkablegrrl on the Twitters.