Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where Are The Geeks?

I am drawn to stories about geeks. I love geeks in movies. My excitement over Fanboys was serious (Star Wars? Kristen Bell? OMG, it was like I'd ordered up a movie just to suit me and someone made it) and I was pretty psyched for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (which should have been titled Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Giant Letdown, just because Michael Cera's character, despite being a geek, was a misogynist prick. That ain't redeemable). The best ever example of geeks, for me, was the fantastic television show Freaks and Geeks, which I can't recommend highly enough, and actually need to go watch again right now having thought of it.

But I especially love geeks in fiction. Or want to, anyway. I rarely find books about geeks - especially girl geeks - that read true to life.  Far more often, it seems that the writer tells us a character is a geek, makes him or her strong at academics, and maybe puts them in ill-fitting clothes and ugly shoes. Aaand that's it.


Now this is where I have to make a confession. I am a pretty big geek. Over the years, I've learned to pass for normal. I married another geek who passes for normal, and in fact, I was so deep in hiding that, while MJ loves my dork side, he didn't even know I read comic books until we were married.  But I read every Star Wars novel published up until 2003, I have a rock collection, and I went to Geek U. (seriously, you would not believe the things I saw at my college) where I minored in Physics and crushed on a boy who wore a periodic table of the elements t-shirt.

I like to think that I know a little something about the subject, and these are the defining characteristics of how I'd classify a true geek:
  • Obsessive interest in one subject or more. Probably a subject most other people are not interested in, but regardless of whether it's generally considered interesting or not, their level of knowledge is Not Normal. 
  • Some degree of dissatisfaction with the world as it is - and a response of seeking out some type of escapism.
  • Disregard of some social norm. Yeah, you've got the serious geeks who wear their homemade chain mail to class (I went to school with multiple people who did this) and who can't make eye contact, and then you have the cool geeks who are just slightly quirky. But you're not a geek unless you sometimes slip up and talk too much about something you find interesting, only to realize you are being stared at blankly because no on else cares about the physics of A Wrinkle In Time, or linger over geeky t-shirts you know you shouldn't wear in public, or something. Something that says This Girl Over Here? Not Quite Normal.
For the record, it's not like MJ and I have matching Unobtanium t-shirts or anything.

Also, I'm beginning to realize I may have overthought this. Sorry, but that's sort of what I do. And I want to know, why the absence of the geek? Are they too hard for the average reader to relate to? Because I think, while not everyone will bounce up and down with excitement when someone makes  a math joke or a Star Trek reference, we can all relate to feeling a bit socially awkward or out of place in this world.

...can't we?

Anyone have any book recs to prove me wrong in my analysis of a lack of geekery in modern fiction?


Summer Frey said...

Sad to say nope, but I'll be keeping an eye out just in case someone else does.

I'm also a geek who married a geek and has great geek friends. I think geekdom is an often misunderstood and feared classification. :)

Old Kitty said...

Not a book but remember that Sandra Bullock 1992 film, The Net? She was a believable geeky woman - I mean she ordered pizza online!! In those days that was like, wow!! So she gets caught up in some secret service thing later but up to then she was a very believable geeky proper woman!! She worked in cyber space!!! Wow!!

Take care

Shelley Sly said...

I can so relate. I'm a geek, married to a geek, and proud of my geekiness. Aside from the other things I geek about (video games, anime, sci fi, psychology), I also geek about writing. I'm pretty sure my coworkers see the word GEEK across my forehead ever since I started talking about query letters.

I wish there were more geeks in media. I, too, was disappointed by Scott Pilgrim, not only because of Michael Cera's character, but because I felt like Ramona didn't really have a personality. Just my opinion.

Whew, sorry for the long comment!

Janet Johnson said...

I can't think of any either. And I LOVE your post! I had a great laugh because I can see it all. Hopefully you're writing that long-anticipated book?

alexia said...

No book recs, but for movies, have you seen Never Been Kissed? Love it.

Meredith said...

I try to hide my geekiness with people I don't know well, but once you get to know me, it definitely comes out! I agree that there aren't that many true geeks as protagonists out there.

Project 27 said...

I'm such the same way! Very much a geek, but I manage to pass for normal when I want to...Until it's time for a geek convention, then it's Slave Leia bikini all the way!