Geeks vs The World
The following is a guest post from fellow blogger B.J. Keeton who, apart from writing a great blog, is also trying to bolster support for his dreams of publishing a novel via Kickstarter. His article here ponders the age old problem that faces all geeks at some point. No not acne, or poor hygiene, or even predictable sterotypes but rather if being a true geek will ever be accepted by the mainstream.
Being a geek is fun. You know it, and I know it. Our hobby lets us slay dragons, fly spaceships, head-shot zombies, and still make it home for dinner.
It’s awesome. And now that you can’t take two steps into Target without seeing retro-style t-shirts, and how Best Buy keeps pushing that only the Geek Squad can help with computers, it means geek is chic, right?
That’s what we always wanted. Isn’t it?
Well, kind of.
Unfortunately for us, being a geek is still seen by many people as being an outsider. That you’re different somehow, or that there must be something wrong with you.
For instance, have you ever told someone you’re writing (or have written) a book? If not, let me tell you how it typically goes.
Their eyes get wide, they smile, and they might even clap their hands. They are honestly proud of you – and for themselves. They’re talking to an author. Cue angelic trumpets and halo of light.
Just the idea of being an author is held in such high regard in our society that people tend to be awestruck by you.
However, the moment you tell them what it’s about – that you’ve written a science-fiction novel (or fantasy or horror) – their smile fades. They still try to be polite, but their smile doesn’t touch their eyes anymore. I mean, who wants to read about laser-pewpewing, unicorn-eating, manticore-marrying dragon-mamas?
Oh, that’s right. The geeks. You’re writing for the geeks.
Which means people who aren’t geeks won’t take you or your work seriously. And that sucks (but also brings me to my point).
Is there really that much of a delineation between geeks and mainstream audiences these days?
My novel Birthright is based on MMOs and draws influence from many other piece of pop-culturey awesomeness. As such, I like to think that there are certain corners of our geektacular subculture where folks might ooh and ahh over my literary masterpiece. And I made sure that I point that out at every opportunity.
(Shameless plug: if you’re up for some oohng and ahhing, here’s a two-chapter sample of Birthright with your name on it. Please note: your name isn’t really on it.)
I like to point it out because the geek community is incredibly tight-knit and we look out for each other. So when I started marketing this Kickstarter project, I immediately went for my geek friends.
The problem with doing so means that my book is doomed to fail. I mean, if I’m targeting geeks, it’s because Birthright has no mainstream appeal, right?
After all, it’s a scientific fact that if something is written with a geeky audience in mind, mainstream audiences are automatically excluded. That “normal people” just won’t get it.
And that’s where I think the problem lies – in nothing more than plain-and-simple labeling and unfounded biases.
Look at the top-grossing movies of the past few…well, ever. Avatar, sci-fi. The Avengers, comic/sci-fi. Harry Potter, fantasy. Lord of the Rings, fantasy. Transformers, The Dark Knight, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, all sci-fi/fantasy. Outside of Titanic and Forest Gump, the entire list of 50 top-grossing films is filled with SF/F works that tend to have geeks as their primary audience.
Ask anyone you know about almost any of those movies, and their eyes will widen before they tell you how awesome it was. But you ask them if they like sci-fi or fantasy, and they shake their head and say no.
So isn’t it about time for everyone to just admit that being a geek is fun? Isn’t it time for most people to realize that being a labeled a geek doesn’t honestly mean anything at all?
At this point, are we being redundant by even calling ourselves geeks?
If the top-grossing movie trends and geek-chic marketing strategies are any indication, there is no more us vs. them. No more geeks vs. normals.
Which means maybe creative-type folks like me have a fighting chance.
B.J. Keeton is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Birthright, the first book in The Technomage Archive series. He is is a writer, blogger, and teacher. When he isn’t trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he writes science fiction, watches an obscene amount of genre television, and is always on the lookout for new ways to integrate pop culture into the classroom. B.J. lives in a small town in Tennessee with his wife and a neighborhood of stray cats, and he blogs about pop culture, geek media, and awesomeness at www.professorbeej.com.