Geeks: Our Own Worst Enemy

So. Last night I realized that being a geek in this day and age is the closest I’ll ever get to knowing how a self-hating [adjective-as-noun] person feels.

What caused this thought? At Comic-Con, they announced a film that will contain Batman and Superman. Here is literally everything we know about it:

1. It will be written by David S. Goyer and Zack Snyder.

2. They read this passage from The Dark Knight Returns comic:

I want you to remember, Clark… in all the years to come, in your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you…

3.

batmansupermanThat’s it. That is all we know. We know, at some point in the future, a film by Zack Snyder  and David S. Goyer will exist which contains Batman and Superman. Both Snyder and Goyer have good, bad and middling films under their name. I cannot stress this enough: we have nothing on which to make a value judgement.

And yet. The streets of the internet are awash with the semen of endless fanwank. The fixtures and fittings and finery in the Grand Ballroom are dripping with bile. Electrical fires are being caused by petulant tears. Toys are being thrown from prams. We, the geekle, are judge, jury and executioner.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

How did we become this? Shame, impatience and entitlement.

Shame! I’m gonna whinge foreeeeever!

fame

For years now, my definition of a geek has been “someone who is unashamedly passionate about what they like”. Operative word: “unashamedly”. In the past you could get mocked or bullied for being a geek, sure. Some people dealt with that by being ashamed. Others, by fully owning it. It makes no difference now. There’s no shame left. We made it to the promised land, people. I mean, for fuck’s sake, a guy tried to blow himself up at an airport in Beijing yesterday. Oh, you didn’t hear? I’m not surprised.

googlenewsComic-Con has overshadowed political protest and domestic terrorism. We, and the world, have fully accepted our geekdom. But, for a group of people supposedly so passionate and “open-minded”, why are we so fucking ashamed? Why are we such apologists? Why do the franchises we love have to have caveats? You know what I’m talking about. How many times have you heard the following:

  • “Yeah, this tv series is AWESOME! (But season 3 sucks. Stick with it.)”
  • “BEST COMIC EVAR! (Except for the [so-and-so] storyline.)”
  • “Oh man it’s great. (You just need to get past the first 23 issues.)”
  • “It will change the way you see superheroes. (The artwork’s shit though.)”

(Additionally, this means that shameless Twilight fans are better at being geeks than non-Twilight fans. Yeah, chew on that.)

I kinda get where this comes from. One of the best parts of being a geek is when you discover something new, and you just wanna share it with the world. But! You’re so concerned about other people being dismissive that you temper your praise with all kinds of warnings. This is not productive. Other people are not dumb. If you yourself are capable of overlooking something’s faults, then so is someone else. All this attitude does is it makes you more cynical. And of course, we’re cynical anyway. Before the past few years, what did we have to choose from?

Ouch.

We are past that though. That cynicism is no longer well-earned. It’s okay to look forward to something.

Impatience. A.k.a “bobdamn it, Herc, get to the fucking point already”.

Well. 24 hour news really fucked us, didn’t it? Anyone else remember when you’d see a teaser at the cinema, then a tv trailer 3 months later, and you’d go “oh yeah! that thing! might go check it out”. Those were the days…

But now. Holy fucking shit. Live tweets from conventions. News shared on facebook within minutes. “News” aggregator sites guaranteeing that everyone reports that same thing. On top of that, there’s no shortage of unscrupulous douchebags doing anything to get a page view, thus generating artificial outrage. (So many of their ‘headlines’ end in a question mark. And the answer is almost always “No. Of course not, you hit-whoring cunt”). Everyone’s tripping over themselves to be the first to report something. Every tiny, little, insignificant, unconfirmed, trivial fact is newsworthy.

We are behaving like Fox news. Yeah, you heard me. We have taken a 30-second story and transformed it into nearly 24 hours (and counting!) of hollow, empty punditry. We are 20/20 quarterbacks. [It’s what you get when a “monday morning quarterback” has 20/20 hindsight. Except it’s worse because we often aren’t at the point where there could even be hindsight!].

commentsWe get impatient. We amplify everything. We lose perspective. Instead of buying into this and accepting it as worthy of your attention, go do something else. Ignore it. You know, I managed to avoid trailers and teasers and news and promotional marketing campaigns for both Iron Man 3 and Pacific Rim (it’s easier than you think). I had no expectations. And I enjoyed the hell out of ’em both. Expectations lead to disappointment. Cut that Gordian knot, and you’ll have a grand ole’ time. Besides, in the time that you spend arguing or hanging on to every last word and detail, you could be experiencing and discovering  a new comic or tv show or book. Or even engaging with the real world.

Oh, and by the way, this is the shit that other people take the piss out of us for. They don’t just point at you and go “you like Batman! ha! wanker!”. They unbreak their voice, undrop their balls and say “mnyaaaah! well, in issue 265, it clearly states that Sandwich Man is whole wheat bread, but in the press release for the Minge Boy crossover, it says…”

Entitlement.

So, this one cuts both ways. Many geeks feel entitled. And then the studios and marketing departments pander to that, ultimately hurting us, them, and Baby Jesus.

It’s a fair generalization to say that we like established franchises. Things with book or movie tie-ins, lots of episodes etc. More of this means more detail. It’s more things to sink your teeth into. It also means more potential inspiration for new releases. But why the hell would you expect a comic adaptation to do the storyline that you like best? And worse, why would you get pissed off that they don’t go in that direction?

For example, see all the people who had “much better” ideas for using the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. And were so adamant about it, with a tone of such betrayal. Your opinion  is your opinion, fine. But filmmakers don’t owe you a damn thing. And here’s the rub: imagine if they had kept it closer to the comics. We all know what would have happened. If it had been faithful, then the stuff that differed would have been nitpicked to death and the stuff identical to the comics would have been unsurprising and would elicit bugger-all response.

Geeks, listen carefully here: you do not know how to make the best [franchise name] movie/show/comic. We are either too fickle (you get caught up in the moment, and look back in 5 years time and go “oh, hmm. not so great”), or too stubborn (i.e. the conceit that Superman or Batman have a central dogma. We treat our obsessions almost religiously [often moreso], yet neglect to remember that, like religion, it is deeply personal. Your take on a superhero is not automatically true for other fans).

youropinion

But by fucking jove, right or wrong (usually wrong), we’re bloody vocal about it. And filmmakers, writers, executives, can’t help but listen. The joke’s on us, though! They listen too much. We shout so loudly we convince them (and ourselves) that we know what we want, and what happens when they listen to us?

  • They brought back Firefly as a movie! Maybe fan interest will convince Fox to bring back the tv series. No? Well, maybe all you countless (and vocal. Oh so vocal in their disdain for Fox), Firefly fans should have actually gone to see the movie.
  • That prick Zack Snyder had better be faithful to Watchmen! Oh. Well. He was almost entirely faithful to Watchmen. It’s like seeing the comic panels. But on the screen. Oh. I don’t feel anything. At all.
  • The new showrunners for Community went to Comic-Con, and saw people in the audience dressed like Inspector Spacetime. They suggested doing an Inspector Spacetime episode. Huge cheer from the audience. Huge. Smash cut, one year later: “man, that Inspector Spacetime convention episode really blew dead bears”.

It’s a noble effort, but you can’t please all the people all the time. The art of making a consistent, artistically valid, thematically cogent movie, is dwindling. It’s that old chestnut about a camel being a horse designed by a committee. Except the fans are the committee. And we’re dumb enough to think we have the answer, and they’re dumb enough to listen to us. Serves us both right.

Springer’s Final Thought

We’re passionate people. Sometimes that passion blinds us to other possibilities, makes us close minded. We hold on to this thing that we love, and somehow think that a bad movie/comic etc retroactively damages the rest of the franchise. We’re smothering what we love by refusing to let it grow. Evolution doesn’t work without mutation and variation. Geeks, give your obsession room to breathe, please.

We have become cynical, and we’ve made the decision makers cynical. We tell them “baby, just change this and we’ll be happy”. We, the fans, are a filmmaker’s love interest. And we’re sending them mixed signals. Constantly. Is it any wonder they get confused and leave us drunken voice-mails of mutually exclusive promises?

The best moments in life occur without expectation. Recently, a friend was asked if she wanted to go to the beach. She said, “Yeah sure, why not?”. The beach turned out to be on a small island in a different country, and she ended up flying the airplane herself for part of the journey! How much less satisfying would it have been if she’d known all that weeks or months in advance?

And yet, here we are. We’re given the latitude and longitude. We’re told our cruising altitude. Studio executives give powerpoint presentations on how coarse the sand will be, and the salinity of the water. Our minds are incredibly powerful. So, ironically, when we get all this information, we are at our most optimistic. We think of all the many ways things could turn out to be great. And from these concrete details we hope to carve intricately detailed sculptures of expectation. No wonder we’re so disappointed when it doesn’t match what’s in our mind’s eye.

Jesus-PaintingNEWSo. What can we do to be better fans? It pretty much comes down to enjoying what there is to enjoy, not treating every detail as discussion worthy, and at the very least waiting for a trailer before we put on our judgemental pants. And for shit’s sake, stop clicking every damn “news” link tagged with [franchise name].

If you’re really that impatient to discuss something passionately, then stop living in the past, stop living in a hypothetical future, put your money where your mouth is, and go unashamedly embrace something new.

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34 Responses to Geeks: Our Own Worst Enemy

  1. sj says:

    Does this mean I’m not allowed to talk shit about Peter Jackson anymore?

  2. Anna says:

    Unrelenting geekdom can still exist without the background butthurt.
    Like my sincere, unadulterated love for Adventure Time.
    Except for the character Tree Trunks… how I hate that slut.

  3. I have never considered the Lords of the Drinks geeks, but fair is fair we too have a soft spot for fiction as proved in the article below. Just don’t forget to spend some time in reality too! 😉

    http://lordsofthedrinks.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/the-vip-list-to-a-fictive-bacchanalia/

  4. I feel this way every time people complain about pumpkin flavored things during fall.

  5. segmation says:

    Doesn’t everyone have some kind of geeky thing in them? Surprised if this is not true for all.

  6. starwarsanon says:

    Ha. Hahaha. Kind of like this post….

  7. Ahhh the guilt, it burns. I just wrote an article doing exactly what you’re saying not to…
    That’s life for you.
    Excellent article though. I’m not sure if I agree with the whole unashamed/ashamed aspect but you’ve hit the nail on the head with ‘geeks are overly passionate’.

    • hercles says:

      Ha! I didn’t mean to make anyone feel bad or guilty, I guess I’ve just had enough negativity. Being a geek always had this sense of childlike wonder and appreciation, and now that seems to be overshadowed by massive cynicism. Mostly, I’d just like to see more open-mindedness and hope.

  8. Logan says:

    Reading this after the news of Ben Affleck being in the next movie makes me laugh a little on the inside because the way some friends acted just because Ben Affleck was cast. They acted like the movie will surely fail and Batman will no longer be a cool superhero when they know nothing about the script nor have they even seen any footage at all, whatsoever, let alone the entire movie.

    Oh, and, I’m one of the people that thoroughly enjoyed the Green Lantern movie. *scurry away*

    • djmatticus says:

      I will say that I too enjoyed the Green Lantern movie, even though I don’t much care for Ryan Reynolds. However, Ben Affleck as Batman? I won’t say that he will make the movie fail, but the man can’t act… he can’t. “It is known.” He won’t stop me from seeing the movie. He won’t stop me from enjoying the movie. But, I will still always wonder if it would have been better if they’d had somebody else in the role.

    • Ditto on Green Lantern. Well, most of it. *scurries, anyway*

  9. I pretty much stopped reading after – “They read this passage from The Dark Knight Returns comic: I want you to remember, Clark… ” That’s the greatest comic in history; how can a movie quoting it ever possibly suck?????!!!!!!! P.S. And I liked Affleck’s “Daredevil”.

  10. You have single-handedly and at a stroke convinced me to reverse my conviction that Ritalin should not be prescribed to adults. Well done, Captain Tangent!

    (Hides all coffee from Captain Tangent.)

    (Who will NOT be played by Ben Affleck.)

  11. Okay I was having a bad morning till I read this. Really I am guilty of this and i am only semi-geek. Still, they better get the Superman-Batman Movie right or there will be an uproar! I mean, not every geek will read this article *wink*

  12. Kelly M says:

    I think anything that has a fan base is likely to elicit such a response. Whether it’s Lord of the Rings fans nitpicking the position of an Orc on screen or Star Trek blowing a fuse when there’s a continuity error, there’s always bound to be a debate about something, somewhere. You can’t make any kind of announcement these days without some form of fan backlash or fan outrage (though, having said that, comments on discussion forums and news pages make for entertaining reading).

    I used to get annoyed about reboots until I realized that 1) I was not being held at gunpoint to go watch the new film/buy the game/read the book and 2) the originals hadn’t been wiped off the face of the Earth. Don’t want to watch a film where Batman is being portrayed by Ben Affleck? Well, the Christian Bale trilogy’s right there waiting for you. Not to mention the Michael Keaton films, the Val Kilmer one and the godawful but superbly camp George Clooney one. Or just stick to the comics. 😉

  13. jamesroom964x says:

    Nice to see someone take the geek culture to task for a little bit, and in a very funny way. Anyway, I think some of the traits that typically dispose one to geekdom also make one analytic and detail oriented, so it’s a tall order for most geeks to just relax!

  14. jumeirajames says:

    ‘The geek shall inherit the Earth’.
    Jay Carpenter (President of iNation)

  15. This is a tour de force! I’m geekily bowing on my creeky knee at this. Live long and prosper, dude!

  16. ThatIssacsDude says:

    Replace “Geek” with “unwitting and unthinking high profit margin robot consumer” in the above article and you’ll gain some insight into your obsession

    Read: alienation for obsession…but not THAT kind of alien…

  17. pkmiguel says:

    In my opinion, this is simply the result of our fast paced lifestyle. Every impatience is the fruit of a society that literally is counting every second – in which that second means an awful lot of change: from economic fall, road accidents, etc. Look at societies living slowly, day by day, relaxing and has a moment to gaze at the night counting the stars till they fall asleep. Those societies are happy and content.
    The formula is this: the faster your country grows, the more impatient (and let me stress the word stressed) their people are.

  18. godtisx says:

    Wow I loved this. Yes… you, “the fans, are a filmmaker’s love interest.” 🙂 But you are right “Evolution doesn’t work without mutation and variation,” and geeks, should give their obsession room to breathe. But near everyone is geek of some kind when it comes to movies and becoming cynical, making the decision makers cynical, which is choking the material to death.

    Right.

    I hope everyone finds, and reads this. Great work.

  19. aymiebarton says:

    This post made me laugh in a really unattractive way, there goes the geek stereotype. Ah well. I’m not sure whether or not this Batman Vs Superman film is going to work, as you said, both writers have ranged in quality. Anyway, I’ve just started a blog could you check it out and maybe share it? http://aymiebarton.wordpress.com/ xx

  20. parlerdinde says:

    This post made me cherish my geekhood … I think this is just about the coolest thing since sliced bread. Good on, my friend.

  21. LexyWolfe says:

    See, you’re doing exactly what the corporate marketing machines (CMM for short) want to do. Lumping all geeks into the same mold. We’re not all the same, and we’re not all loud. Passionate does not mean loud. (Though it does mean confusing the hell out people near you. That’s just fun.)

    The CMM have discovered that Geeks (generalized) a lot more numerous than they expected. However, they can’t nail Geeks (generalized) with Geeks (specialized) quite as well. I am a geek. I like technology and science, though I’m not brilliant-angellic-chorus-background good at them. I like comic books and cartoons and sci-fi movies and fantasy novels. I also like cookbooks, gardening (a girl can dream, but no time to do more than that.) I like cars. I occasionally like watching sports, but not often. Good luck finding my demographic.

    That said, we’ll take a franchise that I’ve adored since the very first episode. Transformers. I loved the first generation series. The animated movie made me cry. I got irritated with the bastardizations of subsequent series and efforts to reboot the cartoon, and nowadays, I just don’t have time to watch. But the Michael Bay Transformers are not the cartoons, and for me, that’s fine. (Kinda pissed he keeps killing off some of the core characters, but whatever.) They are entertaining in their own right, and sometimes, explosions are really cathartic. But, I know people who spit nails over his rendition. I don’t understand why. It doesn’t negate the earlier renditions. And it won’t stop future renditions.

    As for the CMM-infested Hollywood and the new Superman/Batman movie, I don’t have high expectations. Not because of the actors or the directors. I don’t expect much because the CMM looks at the “geek franchises,” figures that they’ll make all geeks happy so long as is on the title and wears and force them into the same cookie cutter mold that makes every bleeping movie not much different than any other bleeping movie.

  22. Pingback: Geeks: Our Own Worst Enemy | You'll thank me later

  23. ensigntongs says:

    Hehehe wow! I’m actually speechless hahaha

  24. So what are your thoughts of the next Star Wars? I am a geek and proud of it. I still get made fun of by out-of-shape, old jocks who still think they are so hot and cool. LOL!

  25. I mean in their own rightful way, aren’t they just still trying to be popular? I mean I was never popular in fact I had many geeky friends in high school. But, they were ALWAYS right and always knew everything first. Believe me. I am not hating. I love sci fi never been to comicon but i’ve been known to buy a fangoria here or there. And I will admit right here on this comment. I am self loathing lesbian. So, I feel your pain. I really do.

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