Posted on September 23, 2013 AT 01:43pm
I disagree with the idea that there are “no fake geeks”. There are, and just because some don’t want to be seen as fake doesn’t negate the existence of them. There are people who pretend to like things because they’re “what’s hot” at the moment. That exists and that’s what people do not want to be around. They would rather be around people who genuinely enjoy what they enjoy or at least genuinely want to learn more about it. The issue is that some of the people who are now enjoying it look just like the people who were making fun of them for enjoying geek culture in the first place. When you deal with that kind of shock… the beautiful, eccentric and “acceptable”, cool-weird people getting into what was previously deemed only fit for “outsiders and losers”. Of COURSE the people that spent their lives being called outsiders and losers are going to start trying to weed out the fakes.
You show up, suddenly want to re-appropriate things and expect everyone to just TRUST you because you’re under the belief that you’re “one of them” now and OF COURSE people are going to call you fake. “Who are you to say she’s not?” They’re probably the part of geek culture that was called a loser by people just as beautiful as she is. Let’s take into consideration the fact that a lot of nerd/geek subjects, like gaming, have mostly been considered to be “a guy thing”. In the early-mid 90s and before it, it was usually certain that if you brought up video gaming to an attractive girl, or most girls, they would write you off as a loser for it. Sure, the landscape is changing, even according to the ESA stating that 46% of game purchasers are female. A lot of those 46% are legit gamers that are totally into it like any guy is. Still, there’s the aching stretch and groan that comes with progress and desirable change that doesn’t come easy. Attention whores who only seek to use the culture haven’t helped matters either. Which seems to promote a misguided form of misogyny that tends to inspire a lot of sweeping judgements. (All misogyny is misguided though.) It leads to a lot of people saying “I hate girl gamers” instead of the more sensible “I dislike attention whores and fakes trying to make a profit off of the gaming community.” That being said, attention whores and fakes aren’t just female… but there aren’t as many perks available to a male posers/attention whores and they’re in the minority.
Is it necessarily right? No, not really, but it is what it is, and you can’t just cure it with harsh and dismissive cultural gentrification either. It doesn’t matter how you started or what you like… the fact of the matter remains is that you’re walking into “their realm” and you’re going to get called a fake. Naturally, there will be people you WON’T EVER convince, like in every facet of life that needs change to grow better. However, you’re not about to strong-arm and browbeat people into believing you’re worth listening to, expecting people to be nice. It’s already bad enough that the only person with a huge platform, media support, and a large fanbase to actually speak on the matter of absolutely necessary cultural change is a “pop culture critic” who resorts to content theft, contradiction and emotional/contextual manipulation to start a “dialogue” about sexism in video gaming. They even at one point stated that they weren’t even really into video games even though they say they’ve been a lifelong fan of it. (Take that as you will.)
There’s a video on The Escapist Magazine that raises the question “Why is this such a big deal?” This particular quote jumps out at me:
“Wouldn’t the existence of the “fake geek girl” mean that you, “real geek guys” and whatever it is you’re into, is so cool, so hip, so trendy, so massively dominant of the popular culture that the beautiful people want to be seen as you? Shouldn’t that be a win if you’re so fucking concerned about the reality and integrity of your [fandom]?”
On one level, I get it… it’s like “Dude, we (geeks) are awesome! We’re so awesome that the beautiful people want to be like us and maybe even talk to us! We’re finally cool enough to be in THE CLUB!” The thing is, you’re dealing with a culture, out of many cultures, who have been invited to “The Club” with a membership term of “As long as you’re useful to us.” The situation where people only want to be around you because it makes THEM look good and it gets THEM a profit in some form or fashion. Those same people that were like “We like your culture and want to be a part of it” and then later dropped them when it stopped selling or wasn’t selling enough.
Cultures based on ethnicity have dealt with it, underground musical subcultures have dealt with it and art movements have dealt with it… The fact remains that if you’ve been a culture that “Hollywood” hasn’t created from the get-go, you’re prone to being considered either a possible cash cow to milk or completely worthless. Hollywood is known for it’s use and harvesting of “beautiful people” like coal in Linfen, China. Even if they have to “make” some beautiful people with a shitload of photoshop and elbow grease. They’ll happily make all of that happen and make the rest of the world feel like shit because “You aren’t “this”… therefore you are a loser.” So having someone beautiful, or even considered “cool” in any form according to mainstream schools of thought, show up and say “I really like this stuff, I think it’s awesome.” will likely cause some people to be wary of their intentions. Even if it seems like something that should be considered normal.
This editorial also comes from the perspective of a person who enjoys metal music and culture; underground music in general, really. The same underground music that got attention from major labels and prompted someone like Steve Albini to outline just exactly how the “Cool Kids Club” of mainstream rock publishing screwed over unwitting bands looking for a big break. Detailing everything from the person who seems like they “get it” while tricking you into signing a pre-contract, contract. All up to the costs and the inevitable shanking you get from a record that doesn’t sell enough to recoup the money that was given to your band.
What does that have to do with this? Imagine we embrace the fact that you do have cool people in nerd culture who are all sorts of attractive and awesome. People embrace it with open arms and hearts because it’s BOOMING now. There are all sorts of emotional investments and supposed friendship ties forming all over the place. It seems like they love the subculture for what it is and only wish to put their hearts into it. Enter the very moment it stops becoming “cool”… Imagine a majority of those people that either drop it because of it’s “uncoolness” or say they’ve “grown up” from all of that. Leading to the same thing that seems to have happened to fanbases of everything from Sebastian Bach to Tupac. When the fakes leave, they take their income, their support and their supposed love with them; leaving the rest in DIY land to fend for themselves. It’s been a recurring theme and at this point it’s happened so much that whenever Hollywood and The Cool People show up, people can’t help but look upon them as if to say: “We know the score… you want to partner up because we look like a unique brand of potential money and status.”
It’s no different than someone looking upon the cool, fashionable, genetically favored person and thinking: “You’re only in this because you want to look ‘different’ and unique to boost your “cool factor”.” . Simply because that actually happens, people may be prone to thinking they, or you, are one of those people who would do such a thing. That’s even worse than just plain faking it, because then we deal with the question: “If everyone had bright coloured hair and went for all of these cosmetic and cultural extremes, would you be one of them or would you dress like a plain Jane or John Doe in spite of all that? You might vocalise “I’d stay the same” but it wouldn’t be surprising if your mind would lean towards “Plain ol’ “normal” look, please!” because it’s now an “other“.
Am I dismissing the fact that there are people who actually want to get into geek culture and are excited by it? Nope.
Am I dismissing the fact that plenty of those people are seen as attractive/beautiful? Nyet…
Am I denying the rampant and unnecessary sexism in geek/nerd culture that exists today? Hell no, not at all.
I’m disagreeing with the idea that there are ONLY people at different varying levels of falling in love with something that society labels as nerd/geek culture. Sure, that exists… but there are also fakes and denying their existence in the favor of establishing your own validity really doesn’t help matters. If anything, it’s disrespectful… Not because anybody claims to “own” their favorite franchises or styles. It’s because for some people those styles and franchises are their “home” and once you mess with their home, you mess with the people that live within that home. I’m not going to be dumb and act as if nobody beautiful or cool ever got into anything nerdy until just recently. I’m quite sure that there were plenty, just not enough to make a difference as something normal. They were definitely a minority and the rest were content to either ignore or give those nerds some hell.
We can’t necessarily act like everything can be all peaches and cream after maybe a decade of “Nerd Chic” worming it’s way into the collective pop consciousness. Especially considering it was three to seven times that amount of time of people acting as if being a geek was this terrible thing that should have it’s ass kicked and head dunked into a toilet. There’s still a scar upon the culture with a large enough stigma surrounding it all. We still have people painting the picture that geeks and nerds are just maladjusted adult children with an unhealthy focus on something so minute. So logically… it kind of makes sense as to why people have this huge hate-thing going on concerning “fakes”.
It may not be right and the logic may be flawed… still, it is what it is and it naturally happens when you’re part of a culture known for being ostracised. All we can do is be better ourselves and be better to people. If people don’t trust you or think you are or may be a fake, respect that… Go fit in elsewhere instead of attempting to “take over” pejorative image macros that probably have nothing to do with you. Stop complaining about the people shouting “fake” and just be authentic. If whatever your Nerd/Geek preference is moves you and influences your life… Then go do your thing. If your spirit is legit, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Real recognises real, even if it takes a while to do it …and please, stop announcing a label like a gimmick. It’s hard to take anything seriously when you’re calling yourself a Girl Geek or a Black Nerd. It’s right up there with White Rapper, Girl Cartoonist or African American Metal Musician.
However, there’s something to be said about the authentic nerds and geeks out there. It even bothers me a bit to say this… but, perhaps we should let go of this supposed fight to snuff out fakes and those just looking to profit off of the culture. As you can see, all of the efforts taken to do that feel more alienating because you can’t really tell who is faking it that easily. So we end up offending all of the wrong people as a result; regardless of whether or not our gripes have anything to do with them specifically. Our best bet is to let them die off… and stop giving them money every time they show up on Twitch.TV or decide to use some other money making scheme to live off of. Be respectful, don’t say anything if you don’t actually have something nice to say, and STOP FEEDING THEM. (Send money to Lucahjin, Smooth McGroove or someone else instead.) Let the others die off, be ready for the moment when nerd culture becomes uncool or at least becomes so normal that nobody cares enough to try and suck major profits out of it. Send your support to the ones that care about what they put into it and everything will be fine. At the end of the day, the truest ones will stick around and realness will take on an entirely improved form.
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