Geek Girls Welcome Here

In this issue: The crew takes issue with a recent Forbes article, and discuss nerd on nerd hate.

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  1. Most of the commentary I saw on the Girl Geek thing came at it primarily from the gender angle, so it was interesting to hear you guys’ more generalised takes on it.

    Was Rodrigo’s “naked and famous” throwaway gag a reference to The Presidents of the United States of America or Tricky? The Spoilerites must know! Or this Spoilerite must, at least. How else am I to judge him harshly for his incorrect musical tastes?!

  2. I really should go read the article in question, but I have to wonder if this whole thing is coming out of certain programs trying to chase viewers in this current nerd/geek = cool culture by putting a cute girl in front of the camera to spout trivia and claim to be a “like, total geek” with perfect skin, hair, teeth, breasts etc. I do not know if Olivia Munn is really a nerd, but she comes off as forced which I believe is the true issue.

  3. Hey if attractive women want to vie for my attention, if TV wants to pander to my interests, and if corporations want to cater to my whims because the definition of geek has shifted into something worth their time, who am I to complain? If I bore the scars of geekdom or nerditude in school or as a computer scientist, why not reap the rewards? Why would I value the scars as a badge of exclusivity… inflicting them on others and deepening my own… rather than enjoy the moment for what it is. The only thing that mildly bothers me about modern geekdom is that it is more or less synonymous with pop-culture consumption (see: SDCC)… so it has shifted a little from active participant- folks who had to seek out their niche- to comprehensive enjoyment of what’s readily available. So I’m a little less proud to let my geek pride flag fly thinking it means I’m defining myself by consumption, nowadays, than in the past when it tended to mean more specific realms of media and interaction. So I can understand and sympathize with a desire to recapture the term for oneself… but, for me, not at the expense of the benefits I’m getting otherwise. I want Hollywood to see Avatar’s success and keep trying to bring us new scifi epics. I want the market to support indie comics, mainstream comic adaptations, and simultaneous fantasy TV shows. Why shouldn’t videogames be the biggest entertainment industry? Maybe creating the illusion of an exclusive club helps sell that- so I’m on board with that parlor trick- but the reality is mainstreaming means more for us so that I can find my niche in a greater bounty of product. With so much media, digital distro, etc. the finding matters less, the isolation matters less (you can connect with fans of any topic anywhere and when)… and it is more about the consumption [slightly sadly]… but what a feast!

    Regarding Legend of Korra… love.

    The intro implies the story will be focused on Republic City, so there should be less traveling / setting-up camp downtime and tropes- and if they do it right, I’m sure the city will feel just as big a world all on its own. They also seemed to have done the right thing, like Ben 10, and made the cast slightly older in order to grow along with its audience (while still being accessible to younger kids and the original series still stands as a great entry point).

    My only minor gripe is J.K. Simmons who does a really great job of disguising his voice and doing something different… but too often his J. Jonah Jameson performance pops into my mind and upsets the illusion.

    The music update is great, with big band / swing type influences to go along with the cultural and technological updates. But they don’t just throw us into the new world but instead give us a Water Tribe and Air Monk- folks unfamiliar or withdrawn from the modern world- as our point characters to bring us into the update. Pro Bending is new to us and its new to Korra, for example.

    I am so psyched for this series.

  4. Larp…or more specifically American Larp gets a bum rap because it is an ugly activity. The weapons are duct tape and foam and no matter how good you make them still look like foam bats. Couple that with the fact that it is an immersive activity requires you to suspend disbelief and you can understand how watching a 4 min YouTube video out of context looks totally laughable to an outside viewer. However, in Europe they take LARPing a bit more seriously…the costuming, the weapon design, the sites are all made to make you see rather than have to imagine.

    If you think Larp looks stupid and laugh at it, all I ask is you take a few minutes to take a look at this Tumblr image archive, I assure you these costumes, weapons and sites are breathtaking. You will want to watch a show about these characters, imagine being able to actually interact with them every weekend and you might be able to see the appeal of Larping. Also Larp =DnD + sunshine and exercise + more girls and bodices, it’s a win-win

  5. Thanks for this episode, it distilled a lot about what I hate about the “hipster” (if you can call it that…) mentality surrounding so much of our human interactions. “I liked this before it was cool.” or “You aren’t a real fan of x, unless y.”

    We’re all so diverse, how can you realistically pigeon hole people into such narrow categories of interest? I in no way mean to toot my own horn, but I was a university varsity athlete who read comics and programmed computers, was huge into Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. As a result, I found myself in more comfortable society with “nerds” and “geeks” than my “jock” friends because up until recently in my life (past 5-10 years) there was that shared sense of community, where people were happy to trade pokemon with you, it didn’t matter who you were.

    Lately though, and maybe this is just me, the in-group/out-group stuff has really started to irk me. Maybe I’m just more perceptive of it now? There’s a lot of that exclusionary hipster douchebagginess in the culture that didn’t seem to be there before. Matthew, you’re older than I am, has it always been like this? Or am I just noticing it more?

    I have been really meditating on all this since I read Patton Oswalt’s “Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die” article in Wired. Have you read it? I feel like it really hits on a lot of the similar themes. He states: “Fast-forward to now: Boba Fett’s helmet emblazoned on sleeveless T-shirts worn by gym douches hefting dumbbells.” – So people who work out can’t enjoy Star Wars? Please…

    So thanks again for the podcast, it was actually my first one I’ve listened to (first got introduced to Critical Hit a few months ago). I will definitely keep tuning in, keep up the good work!

    • I think the hipster hate goes both ways though. While there is a group saying “I liked it before it was cool” that isn’t what I feel the original article was about. It was about the trend in the opposite direction, someone finding these ‘geek’ subcultures and seeing them as a treasure trove of underground things to be ‘into’.

      I don’t think we should discriminate when someone who doesn’t fit the stereotype wants to read comics, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t believe in “fake geeks”. I don’t even think the label geek is important to the argument. I’m upset when I am very passionate about something, and someone who is for the most part without interest in the subject, decides they love it because its “geeky and underground.”

      The ‘I did it before it was cool mentality’? Yeah, it goes both ways. Its when people dawn a TMNT shirt, knowing nothing about the show, so THEY can say “Oh, my turtles? Yeah, I’m kinda into older stuff. Its kinda geeky. You wouldn’t get it.” They go on to perpetuate a new stereotype in our culture. The one that says “if someone is wearing a TMNT t shirt, they are a know it all. A hipster. Not a real fan, and just want a label.” which makes a lot of people who really enjoy the franchise, feel like they’re going to be judged even MORE harshly.

      As a true fan of many things from anime to comics, I love it when I find someone outside of the stereotype that enjoys what I do. I have nothing against that. What I do find fault in, is a young person who is feigning interest, no, feigning OBSESSIVENESS just because he/she thinks giant glasses and faded 80’s cartoon t-shirts will make him/her popular.

    • I think the difference boils down to this. I’ll use pokemon for this example.

      When you don’t know a lot about pokemon. You don’t know most of the abilities, or what a nature means. If you don’t know which pokemon came from which generation, that’s fine. You can be a fan and be inexperienced with all the things that make up pokemon. I wont ever fault someone for knowing less or more than me about pokemon, if they genuinly are interested.

      When you don’t know much about the medium, but draw attention to yourself over it. If you cover your clothing with pikachu and jigglypuff, and you don’t know what type of pokemon they are … that leaves a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Then its clearly not about loving pokemon, or BEING a pokemon fan. Its about LABELING yourself a pokemon fan, because that somehow makes you cooler.

      Its when the label becomes more important to how you’re perceived than the activity you enjoy. Both sides are guilty, not just the more experienced fans.

  6. This article look like a case of the no true scotsman fallacy. It goes a bit like this: If you are not a particular way you are not a True member of the group.

    Peole come from different backgrounds and have a lot to teach and when we try to dismiss them to feed our ego. We in fact are doing ourselves a great disservice.

  7. I’m a little disappointed you completely ignored the gender angle on the geek girl thing.

    Let me analogize…

    My mother worked her way up into a leadership position in a large martial arts organization that I won’t name. She did this in the 70s, when women were treated… lets just say, badly, in American martial arts. They were generally written off, and the assumption was that a woman in martial arts was mostly there to find men. In order to get the respect that she presently has (which is significant), she had to, well, she had to bleed a lot in the ring against male sparring opponents much, much larger than her. Eventually people were forced to acknowledge her as a legitimate martial artist, and while that battle needs refought periodically even today, she was able to open up a route for women in the organization to be taken seriously as martial artists. She genuinely forged new ground for women in terms of being taken seriously in a male dominated area.

    And you know what makes her mad? Women who join her martial arts group in order to be flirtatious, unserious, and ornamental for men. Because in a context where men are often looking for ways to create a male martial artist identity that implicitly excludes women, and where she’s trying to prevent that from happening, here come a bunch of women who buy into the other side’s narrative.

    I don’t think comic books are so different. Female comic book fans who share their opinions in comic book circles are often looked at like they’re strange alien beasts who have inexplicably acquired the power of human speech. Female perspectives and complaints about the norms of the comic book world are often overlooked, or treated as trite. Even your own podcast, which is leaps and bounds ahead of the curve on this, isn’t perfect in its treatment of this subject matter.

    In this context, any woman who’s been a comic book fan for a long time (and hasn’t been driven away) is going to have made some sort of niche for herself. She’s going to have dealt with men not taking her seriously as a comic book fan, she’s going to have come to some degree of terms with the way comic books treat women, in total, she’s going to have forged some sort of specific identity as a female fan in a social setting that strongly insists on gender roles, and which often treats women as fundamentally ornamental sexual objects.

    …And then a new cultural trend shows up, in which other women attach themselves to this culture for the strict purpose of being an ornamental sexual object.

    I don’t think the “you’re not a true geek” critique is a good response.

    But I really, really understand where its coming from.

    • You’re right, we didn’t bring it up. I wanted to, but that would have been its own can of worms. But since you brought a can opener let’s look at a counterpoint on the gender issue:

      The article is called “Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away” not “Dear Fake Geeks: Please Go Away.” Then the article proceeds to talk about the writer’s own experiences in nerdiness while attacking (in the literary sense) people she sees as fake geeks. So why is the word “girl” even in the title?

      It’s possible that it’s just a way to reference the popular meme, but I think there’s something more there. I think that she’s threatened specifically by other nerdy girls. This isn’t specific of one gender or another you see the same thing with guys. If a girl walks into the sausage fest that is our local game night and says “Hi guys, I brought a Red Deck Wins.” All the guys are pretty supportive. But if a new guy shows up and says “Hi guys, I brought a Red Deck Wins.” Everyone is all like “Whatever dude, my black/white tokens is all like POW”. Seriously, Nerdy peacocking is the worst.

      So yes, I see your point that if you are part of a minority group in the industry you have to work extra hard, make fewer mistakes and pay with your blood for the mistakes that you make. I really, truly understand that. But a lot of the time the people gunning for you the hardest are the ones who share your (RELEVANT MINORITY TRAIT), because they’re scared that you’re going to ruin things for them, or because they’re scared that there’s only room for one gay black dude in the local chapter of the FFA and that upstart Dwayne is going to take your spot.

      Now, I’m not saying that’s the case with your mom. It sounds like she overcame a lot and legitimately wants women to succeed. Which is great. But dilettantes are an early sign of a medium’s success, and if a girl wants to do martial arts because she looks good in a gi then she should be able to. Who knows? Maybe she’ll discover that she’s good at it, or even that the physical activity makes her healthier, and she’ll continue doing martial arts for “more legitimate” reasons.

      • “But dilettantes are an early sign of a medium’s success, and if a girl wants to do martial arts because she looks good in a gi then she should be able to.”

        That’s certainly a legitimate counter point. My post wasn’t intended to argue that members of disadvantaged groups have some kind of moral obligation to represent for their group at all times. It was intended to argue for the legitimacy of the emotional reaction of members of the group who ARE spending time and effort trying to get proper treatment, and who do, in actual fact, have those efforts undermined by others’ behavior.

        “But a lot of the time the people gunning for you the hardest are the ones who share your (RELEVANT MINORITY TRAIT), because they’re scared that you’re going to ruin things for them, or because they’re scared that there’s only room for one gay black dude in the local chapter of the FFA and that upstart Dwayne is going to take your spot.”

        In short, what I’m trying to argue is: These things may actually be legitimate fears!

        I think that’s why this article was addressed at fake “girl” geeks. Something motivated the author to feel that girls, in particular, are a problem if they aren’t sufficiently authentic. The elephant in the room is that this author actually is, in real life, likely to be negatively affected by sexy cosplayers. That may not entail an obligation on every girl who wants to cosplay, but its still a fact about the world that explains how and why people react emotionally to these things.

  8. In regards to our “Nerd/Geek/etc” culture (I prefer Nerd myself, but I own up to that word personally and so that’s all that is), as a group we just like all other groups tend to try to espouse the idiocy of being exclusionary while doing just that. A pretty common example is the division between Trekkies/Trekkers and Star Wars fans (Star Warriors?…I dunno). Star Trek fans seem to be the group of the two to be dumped on a little more frankly, but really it fits perfectly within our general geekdom and that shouldn’t be the reaction, especially within our subculture. I think that’s on the decrease now though, what with a modern version of Star Trek in the theaters again Trekkers having the prequels to throw back at us Star Wars fans who get lippy. lol.

    That went nowhere, so on to the more current issue in the same vein. The MSP crew submits something I agree with as well, that we should be inclusionary and invite people in to experience more of our culture instead of wanting them to leave. An example of this idea not being used at all is when Twilight invaded the San Diego Comic Con and Nerds Unite and rail against tickets being bought up by people who aren’t true fans of everything SDCC is about (which seems to be more about Twilight and Hollywood these days anyway). I’ve been equally as negative about Twilight, and I made it through the first two or three movies and couldn’t bear to watch any more. Just because I don’t care for it, I shouldn’t take it upon myself to criticize those that do.

    I read comics as a kid, it helped me to learn to read and as I had a father who on his weekends with me would still go to the Eagles club (kinda like a Moose lodge or whatever) and I’d sit there for hours and so I got lucky that one day a comic shop opened in the building next door and he’d give me 20 bucks to go get some comics and I could spend hours in there looking through the books and eventually come back with a huge stack of the 5 for a dollar books (hence the reason I have no books of monetary value in my collection). I almost never had two comics that were sequential, so I never knew how a story either began or ended and had no depth of knowledge about the Marvel/DC/Eclipse/Malibu/whatever universes. I got out of comics for a while during college and for a while after until I got a job at a video rental store and met a guy, Sam, who I found out after a while was really into comics too. We started talking about comic books and movies and stuff during and after work and started hanging out and he’s the one that first introduced me to The Watchmen and let me borrow his OGN and helped me understand the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, which I later bought those 12 issues plus all the related crossover/tie-in books on Ebay and read through them. Actually he’s also the person who introduced me to Major Spoilers and to the podcast a couple years ago. He wrote for the site doing movie reviews for a while there. The point is that my interest in comics, which was a love for all things comic book related (but lacked information and context) could have been just left for the occasional super hero movie and random comic book, but because there was someone out there who had way more knowledge than I did and took the approach of bringing me into the fold and chanting “One of Us! One of Us!” over and over (which at the time I thought was a little creepy) actually made me enjoy the medium even more and he took me to my first comic convention ever and I’ve gone every year for the past 4 years now. And because of all that, I’m now able to raise my children to be Nerds of the Highest Order. My four year old knows who Zilius Zoxx is, I mean come on!

    So, yeah, you can take someone who has fringe knowledge that has an interest and create a friend (for one) and someone who will enjoy the same things that you enjoy. And really, the more of us there are, the more weight our interests will have and maybe, just maybe shows like Firefly won’t get cancelled so quickly and we’ll get more comic book movies.

    • So to distill all that, the more people we bring into the fold, the more people we can get listening to the Major Spoilers podcast and visiting the site. And the more money those people will donate to Major Spoilers which will keep our favorite site running for years to come! So, come on Geek Girls and Boys, there’s always room here.

  9. Josh "Spaceboot" Treleaven on

    I know what you’re saying with regard to being the odd one out in a group of geeks. Me, I’ve always been “the handsome and charming one”. And it really bugs me when another guy tries to be the handsome and charming one. In every gaming group I’ve ever been in, I sort of feel like Snow White surrounded by seven dwarves. Can you imagine what would happen if a younger upstart tried to impinge on Snow White’s territory? Suddenly she’s the Evil Queen.

    But that the epithet of Geek being ill-defined is a good point. Geek is the sort of name that no one, least of all actual geeks, should apply to themselves. It’s not just “Fake Geeks Go Away”, this is how I would put it:

    Dear Geeks,
    “Everybody stop this nonsense of calling yourself a Geek. Yes, you. I’m talking to you. No, I don’t care if you really are a Geek, and I definitely don’t want to see your credentials (except for you, Star Wars action figure guy, but let’s talk after). I don’t care who you are, you cannot call yourself a Geek. This is how we know the “fakers”: they’re the ones who self-identify as geeks. We don’t mind if you pursue hobbies that have once been termed “geeky”, and we would be happy to love and include you in our legitimately cool (nb: not geeky) hobbies. But if you revel in the dorkiness, then these hobbies are not for you. Content is king: revel in the content.

    • Actually, the evil Queen was the fairest in the land until the young upstart Snow White usurped her title. So, in your analogy, you’d be the Evil Queen. ;)

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