Last week a guy named Joe Peacock expressed his disdain for posers in a very poorly worded, sexist and assumptive article on CNN. I am not going to link to it because I don't want to drive traffic to the article, giving it any kind of validity. As sad as it is, he is just expressing an opinion that is pervasive in the geek male - that female geeks can't possibly be geeks, or nerds, or intelligent, or care about anything beyond being popular and wearing makeup. He uses some of my favorite people to pry a rift between those he perceives as real geeks and those that are posers. That disturbs me a lot. I disturbs me a ton actually. It generates a plethora of disturbance.
John Scalzi has written a very coherent and well thought out response to this on his blog. I agree with him. No one has the right to decide who is and who isn't a geek. That is a label that we each need to decide for ourselves whether or not it fits us. We are potentially alienating some amazing, creative people when we indulge in that behavior. So what if a percentage of people are just there to ride the wave of geek culture popularity? So what if people want to draw attention to themselves by wearing cool/sexy/geeky/well made costumes? Isn't that the reason anyone wears a costume? No one dresses up in blue unitard, red underpants and a cape and expects to blend into the crowd. For some of us, cosplay is about showing our geekdoms literally on our sleeves and connecting with others of the same ilk. It is fun, it is creative. Poser or not, I am constantly impressed by the creative approaches to costuming I see. Seeing those costumes inspires me to do things I may not have tried before, even though I am a geek and have been all my life. It also initiates conversation with people who might know more than I do about my particular geekdom, turning what might have been just an exchange of facts into an actual conversation.
I do not see that as a bad thing.
So what if there are posers out there? We are currently experiencing an insurgence of geek culture in the mainstream. It is all of a sudden OK to know about every little detail of every Superman comic ever written. It is OK to dress up as your favorite character and paw through a box of toys. It is OK to rave about your favorite Sci-fi show without being scoffed at and being dismissed as "one of those". People who were closet geeks are now feeling it is safe to come out and be themselves.
I don't see that as a bad thing either.
Any mainstream popularity comes with those that are only involved because it is "THE THING TO DO". That is normal. It is rooted in our Jr High selves' need to be included and part of the cool crowd. So we have a small invasion of these people for a few years. So what? In a few years mainstream will move on to the next "COOL THING" and we will be left to our own devices again.
Only this time, we are better. We are stronger and more creative, because we have picked up some awesome people who needed that nudge to feel ok to be themselves. People who might not have been in contact with geek culture are being creatively sparked in ways they might not have otherwise. They will contribute nothing but good to our geekdoms. They will inspire us to be better. They will become part of the attractive richness that is geek culture.
And in my opinion, that is not a bad thing.
Not that I agree with these naysayer negative nellies, but I think I understand where they are coming from. Geek culture has mainly been made up of social outcasts. Maybe not OUTCAST outcasts, but a lot of us weren't popular due to our geekdoms and we looked to our geekdoms as a safe haven from the ridiculing public. After a day of being lonely and alone, watching others in large groups of friends, or after a day of being teased, jeered at, and molested, THIS was our place. The place with others who liked us and who accepted us as we were. People who recharged the depletion of self worth that comes with dealing with that kind of shit all day. A place to replenish your HP. These posers that people are writing about with such venom epidomize the very thing we were escaping. They are the personification of all the negative bullshit from which we willingly separated ourselves.
To these guys, this must feel like an invasion. It must feel like these people have not only taken over our schools, our workplaces, our gyms, our recreation centers - now they are trying to muscle into OUR thing. They are trying to take away the one thing that is OURS. They are boys upset at their parents requiring them to let girls into their tree house.
I don't agree.
I sincerely hope these guys ( I say guys, as the only issues I have seen are of the male persuasion, but it also includes any gender who acts this way), see thier behavior and understand that it is not OK. I hope they see that they are acting like Middle Schoolers, and they need to grow up and behave like adults. In my experience the best way to get rid of those kind of people is to ignore them. Eventually they will get tired and go play somewhere else. Abusing them on the internet is not going to help your cause. It does not make you look like an intelligent, well adjusted adult. It is perpetuating the stereotype of the cave dwelling man boy in his mother's basement who can't deal with people or real life. Let's face it, that stereotype has not applied to geekdom universally since - well, EVER. It also will provide fodder for those hater when again geek culture is passe, and the "cool kids" have moved on.
Thanks for letting me get in my two cents.
Acceptance (NOT tolerance) and solidarity for all.