07 August 2011

Geeks, Sex, & Pandering: Yet Another Blog About It

With no particular structure outlined here, I find there are a few things I feel the need to say regarding this subject. I had posted a little relating to this back in April with the whole “Game of Thrones” catalyst that found me with a need to speak up. *In the interest of full disclosure I have still not seen “Game of Thrones” or read any of the novels on which it is based. My need to chime in then was primarily due to the sexist crap (among other things) that a particular review stirred up.

The latest onslaught into the fray seems to be due to a SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) panel entitled “Oh, You Sexy Geek!” that was moderated by one of my tweeps Katrina Hill (a.k.a. Action Flick Chick) and included panelists Bonnie Burton, Adrianne Curry, Clare Grant, Jill Pantozzi, Clare Kramer, Kiala Kazebee, Jennifer K. Stuller, Chris Gore. I did not witness this panel first-hand and as such only have the writings of those that were there to go by. If there were a tiniest inkling of the smallest chance that I could even afford to think about actually attending a SDCC event, I would have been proudly in the audience for this panel. My comments henceforth are related more to the issues I think this panel was hoping to address and my personal views relating to them. I have done my best to limit my information regarding this panel discussion to those that were actually there, so that all information I have gleaned relating to this specific discussion is at least first-hand.

To Pander or Not to Pander, Is That Even A Question? OR The Geek Problem

There has been allot of issue being taken in recent days, months, years about the attractive elite somehow pandering to the fan-ship of so-called geeky things. This has cause more than a few bad things to be said from multiple sides of the issue. The inherent problem is that these things are recipients of great amounts of passion by their fan base that it becomes a no-win situation. When there are many people who feel passionate about a particular subject, in a very personal way, there becomes no way to please all of these individuals. Voices of dissension will always become prevalent. This becomes especially noticeable with the recent upswing in "comic book movies" being made, more to the point the reviews of them.

Not to add further controversy to the discussion, but to illustrate my point, I'll use religion as a momentary metaphor here for just a moment (those might take offence to this usage have options: either 1) take it with a grain of salt and try to understand what I am getting at respecting the fact that I have stated that I wish not to stir up further controversy or 2) discontinue reading, or 3) skip to the next paragraph and try to keep up). Without picking on any theological particulars I will just say that there are several different schools of religious thought that claim to be the only true path. Each of these has people within the belief structure that will go to the death stating this as fact. All other beliefs are therefore wrong in the eyes of the people that are devout in this belief. With many of these religions, there is only small things that differentiate them from one another. The same can be said of comic book fans in regards to the movies made from them. These fans love a character/book for specific reasons and these reasons do not always coincide with reasons another fan of the same might have. For this reason, there are always going to be elements of the source material that will be included/excluded that will be loved/hated by the fans.

I guess the point I'm making here is that any attempt to make these films is in some way pandering to fans. Hell, the books themselves have pandered to the fans within the times they are published in for ages. Without a little pandering in this way, these characters would only exist in a time bubble and would never grow and become beloved in the longer term. However, this is not the definition of pandering that has become a hot button issue.

What we have instead is the perception of attractive (usually quite famous) people suddenly declaring a long-standing geekdom and a surge of long-time geeks crying shenanigans about the whole affair. One question becomes about whether they are true geeks, of faux-geeks hoping to capitalize on the latest popular thing. Another question that arises seems to be that is someone is popular and/or attractive, how could they possibly be a true geek. One thing many long time geeks have in common is that they were chastised by others for liking things that weren't considered popular. I have mentioned before that I am a guy that doesn't like sports, or care about cars much and as such was bullied for not being truly male. For me, it wasn't even about what I did like, but rather what I did not. Most of the geeks I know were not popular and those that managed to bridge the popular gap back in high school did so by maintaining a separation and keeping the geeky things they loved a closely guarded secret.

That said, who is to say that those that were unnoticed or felt the need to hide for the sake of survival couldn't be the popular (and even attractive) people of today?

Personally, just the fact that so many of the comics, movies, and other nerdy things I have enjoyed for so many years has become accepted enough for me to not worry quite so much about having to defend myself (and others) makes me happy. Many of the people who are actively bringing these things to the forefront are the people that felt the same way (or similar enough) as I did growing up. So, maybe there are a few famous-ish people out there that are hoping to get a little coat-tail riding in, so be it. It isn't like that hasn't happened before (look at "alternative" music if you don't believe). Maybe, we might end up with a few new people that will become genuinely as passionate as the old guard because of this perhaps unlikely introduction. Is it such a bad thing to hope that the next generation will not have to worry about an ass-whooping because of something they enjoy too? Acceptance is acceptance no matter how it comes about.

Society Should Realize That Sexy is Too Subjective to Be Objectified

Let me get up on the soapbox for just a minute here, if I may. One thing that I find particularly annoying about this whole affair is the supposed divide between the "attractive" and the rest of the masses. An argument could be made that there are certain standards by which beauty is based. But to this end it can also be said that this standard changes at least a little in every era. However, if a more individual approach is taken, these so-called standards tend to fall short of what attractiveness means for each person. Sure, there can be some consensus that could be met in some cases, but more often this is not necessarily the case. Since I am the only person I am qualified to use as an example, I will submit the following, which is a statement I have made often in the past in a multitude of formats and forums:
"I will not list some arbitrary traits that I would like my ideal match to have, personality or otherwise, that I do or do not like. I won't do that because each person is different. There is always someone out there that has a way of making a given trait work or not, depending."

What is meant by this is that, for me, there is no set checklist of what I find attractive (there are a few guidelines for what I don't, but that is for another time and place). Each person is an individual and I realized long ago that each person has to be judged on their own merits, and arbitrary lists of traits (especially superficially physical ones) will only hinder connecting with other people. Perceived attractiveness based solely on societal imposed standards should not be fodder for judgment of a persons sincerity.

The "Getting Along" Problem

Until each and every person learns to accept each and every other person for all of their differences as well as their similarities, there will always be people that can't get along. There is a strong likelihood that even if such universal acceptance could happen, there would still be people not getting along. I know I try to accept everyone and there are a sizable amount of people that annoy the hell out of me with regularity. But with passions for things that I discussed earlier, and the differences that the roots of these passions can have, problems such as these will not go away. The old concept of agreeing to disagree is all we can hope for in much of this, and perhaps that is our best recourse. I only hope that such action wouldn't close the door to discussion, because despite the differing points of view we may find some significant common ground, too. That is, if we are willing to try.