Geeks Don’t Look So Good

All right. Which one of you sent the Bazinga pants? I spent an hour over-thinking the state of comic book readership because of you.

A couple of days ago, as part of the Christmas ramp-up, the UPS guy showed up and tried to recreate the last shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark on our porch. Never let it be said that we let our Prime membership go to waste, as this week we had so many boxes delivered that it looked like Amazon was trying to wall us in for our own good. Among those many boxes full of gifts for our friends and children, my wife found one mysterious item she could not account for.

“I just accidentally opened my Christmas present,” she said as she came up the stairs.

“That is quite impossible,” I said. “Selecting the perfect gift takes me weeks of meticulous planning. Yes. That is why I will not start shopping until the 23rd.”

“You didn’t get me the Bazinga pants, then?”

“The what? I do not like the idea of anyone but me giving you ‘the Bazinga pants.’ I don’t like the sound of this at all.”

It turns out that the mystery pants are some kind of Big Bang Theory tie-in, which is proof positive I had nothing to do with them (although my wife did go on to ask me, “Are you sure you didn’t buy these?” at intervals just frequent enough to make me start seriously thinking, “Did I?” and check my order history for evidence of some kind of Mr. Hyde situation).

I have some not-small reservations about The Big Bang Theory. I can’t pretend to know what is truly in another man’s heart, but I don’t think anybody involved in that show is laughing with me. My wife, on the other hand, has never laughed at anything harder in her life. Every time she watches it, she has to rewind at least one scene and call me into the room to witness this week’s hilarity. I never get into it with her about how insulting the guys on the show come across to me–I’m not going to taint one of her favorite shows in the name of Geeks’ Rights, or whatever the hell–but I do sometimes gently ask, “Is this how you see me and my friends?”

In my head, I don’t really consider myself a part of any “comic book community,” because I don’t think a “comic book community” exists unless the definition of the word “community” is “any group of people who are ready at the sign of the first perceived slight to tear one another apart like a pack of hungry dogs with only one Milkbone between them.” In my head, I know the person most likely to attack a geek is another geek with a purity test in hand. In my heart, though, I see these Big Bang guys riffing obsessively about Green Lantern and have to remind myself not to blurt out, “Quit speaking for My People. You are misrepresenting Us to the world.”

Within a day of the Bazinga Pants Conundrum, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn had a year-old blog post about boning superheroes surface like a river body that hadn’t been properly weighted down. The post was tongue-in-cheek…? I guess? (See above re: the contents of another man’s heart.) Gunn’s apology was sincere and thorough. Once again, though, I found myself thinking, “Whether he’s making a list or making fun of the people who make these lists, none of this ends up looking too good for the superhero enthusiast. Once again, my reading habits put me too few degrees of separation away from being associated with homophobia and misogyny.”

That’s why I laughed in spite of myself when I saw the week’s other kerfuffle, when professional asshole Giles Coren wrote a column deriding the British literary establishment for considering graphic novels for literary prizes when they are “for children, and for men (yes, men, really, men) who are a bit too thick to read proper books.” Maybe Coren has no idea what he is talking about… or maybe he caught a few minutes of Comic Book Men on cable over the weekend. When you see so much as an ad for that show, can you imagine anyone in it being interested in anything worthy of the Man Booker Prize?

As much as we may want to point a finger at the “BAM! POW! Comics Aren’t For Kids Anymore” headlines and Big Bang Theories, I’m afraid in the end we Comic Book Men may be our own worst enemies. There are mainstream outlets that still try to make people feel bad about being geeky, but there are plenty of geeky people making it easy for them, hyperventilating about women in the clubhouse and setting up barriers to entry in order to protect our precious “Who would win in a fight, Tom Strong or Tom Green or Green Hornet?” way of life. No one who decides to buy a comic book does so thinking, “When I take this out of the store, I will be representing an entire group of people to everyone who sees me reading it on the train,” but for better or worse that is what happens. It’s one more thing to keep in mind. Perhaps the fault is not in our sitcoms, but in ourselves.

 


Jim Mroczkowski has apparently been reading karmicbwurks this whole time. Bazinga!

Comments

  1. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    I have a disdain for The Big Bang Theory that my friends who aren’t comic book readers cannot grasp. It’s like they gave the nerds from Saved by the Bell their own show.

    • kzap kzap says:

      Yea I have a hatred of Big Bang Theory too.
      I’m shocked that almost all of my geeky friends seem to like it, sometimes I think there must be something wrong with me or something I’m missing.
      Putting aside the fact that I don’t find it funny in the slightest, I’ve tried enjoying it but I just can’t, it just seems offensive.
      Maybe this is extreme but to me it’s just blackface for nerds.
      When I see geeks heralding the show as an accurate depiction of our ‘culture’ I sigh and think of someone of afro-caribbean descent in the 1950s telling their friends how spot on The Black and White Minstrel Show is, I just can’t imagine that happening.
      Not only that, it just seems to be written by people with no clue about the subject matter they’re writing about, this may seem like a little thing but a friend sent me a clip with a Red Dwarf reference thinking that would change my view of the show. Except it wasn’t really a reference, a character just mentioned buying the complete boxset of the British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, they didn’t even quote a line from the show, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised his entire half of the exchange had been copied from the description on Wikipedia.
      It’s like they wrote the show to appeal to the sort of high-school jocks that give nerds wedgies in the corridor and found out it was inexplicably popular with the very demographic it was mocking, so they throw in the odd poorly researched name drop and cameo just to keep them happy.

  2. idviceroy says:

    I love the Big Bang Theory! And one of the reasons is b/c the the things they geek out on are the same things I geek out on! It’s authentic!. They remind me of me, and I can laugh at myself.

  3. Julesxsxex says:

    God, so many times when i mention comic books i get the “oh you must love The Big Bang Theory right?” No. I do not. And i’m glad to see that for the most part, no one else does either. I work at a comic book shop, and the majority of our customers are reading mainstream comics, but even in that the diversity is incredible. There’s older gentlemen who have been reading since they were little boys and now bring in grandsons, Kids who are spending their allowance money on that one issue of spider-man, teenagers who think Young Justice is the best thing ever, jocks picking up books after practice, cute hipster chicks that like Dr. Doom more than anyone for some reason, and every other number of person that i can’t fit into categories except “comic book fan”. And all differences are left at the door over our shared appreciation of the medium. Unfortunately, none of those people make it on tv. Kevin Smith is probably the most prominent comic book fan in the popular culture, and he’s cringeworthy on so many levels. But that’s the price i guess.

    • Automator Automator says:

      Cringe worthy? That’s a little harsh. Smith comes off to me as a down to earth guy with a genuine love of comic books and the culture surrounding them.

    • RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

      I love Kevin Smith but the way they edit the show makes it seem like all they talk about is “who would win in a fight?” or “who is the hottest chick in comics.” Walter is the same way. This man actually pencils comics and watching the show all I would know about him is he loves action figures and is kind of a dick to customers.

  4. dfstell says:

    Yeah…..I loathe Big Bang Theory, Comic Book Men, Comic Book Guy, etc. Honestly, I think a big part of the answer to, “Why can’t we get new readers into comics?” is that most non-readers don’t want Kevin Smith or Comic Book Guy anywhere near their self-image.

    Not a big fan of the freaky cosplayers either. I don’t mind the folks who have put time and skill into their outfit, but the fat dude who is dressed up as Slave Leia just to get attention isn’t doing comics any favors.

    • JesseCuster says:

      I stand with you on the cosplayers front. Lately, just too many cosplayers getting a bug up their ass over criticisms when they aren’t doing anyone but themselves a favor. Its the only group of ‘fanatics’ I’ve ever come across that are so self-serving to the point of delusion.

      Love to cosplay? More power to you. Just don’t get your devil wings in my space or face.

  5. ryanwhodat ryanwhodat says:

    I have no problem with Big Bang Theory. I think most people recognize it’s a bit of a caricature for humor’s sake, and I don’t believe there’s any malicious intent. Comic Book Men on the other hand is mindless garbage and how comic fans can represent themselves in such a light boggles my mind. In the end, though, you represent yourself as an individual; it’s up to you how you are seen to others.

    • icn1983 icn1983 says:

      Yup, just like “Amos and Andy.” Caricature for humor’s sake.

    • ryanwhodat ryanwhodat says:

      I don’t know about you, but my “struggles” in life are nothing comparable to that of blacks in American history and have nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory. Sure, I’ve had the occasional funny look when telling someone I read comics, but I’ve yet to be tarred and feathered, beatened, threatened or intimidated. I survived just fine.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I, on the other hand, think Comic Book Men is fun and Big Bang Theory is patronizing lame bland drek.

    • icn1983 icn1983 says:

      Let’s focus on “Big Bang Theory.” It’s actors putting on “nerd-face” and getting laughs by exaggerating cultural stereotypes. They’re not racial stereotypes but it’s still a part of a long melodramatic tradition, akin to the Stage Irish, the Town Drunk, etc. I’ve watched it a couple of times and the humor comes from the geek protagonists being different or strange…and that’s it.

      Compare that with “All In The Family,” where the protagonist was explicitly racist, right-wing, and ignorant. Archie Bunker’s outrageous character is somewhat amusing and recognizable on it’s own, but the real humor and power of the show came when those opinions and preconceptions were met with a reality in which they did not fit at all.

  6. zlbenson zlbenson says:

    Ha! Just last night my mother said I would love the Big Bang Show. “Cuz they like comics and go to Comic-Con” and are “just like me”.

    I wear an Avengers shirt occasionally, and now I’m just like those irritating morons on that show? crap.

  7. Goon Goon says:

    I don’t like The Big Bang Theory but I really like Comic Book Men.. There is nothing wrong with that show.. It’s what happens in every comic shop except at a much larger scale. People like The Big Bang Theory so I don’t think it makes us look bad. It may misrepresent some of us but people like that show and the characters. Everyone loves comic book movies and The Walking Dead is huge right now. I think being a geek right now is considered much cooler now.

    • JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

      Just because people like the Big Bang Theory doesn’t mean that show makes geeks look good. People really liked Amos and Andy, but I don’t think anyone would argue that the show did any favors to the African American community.

    • jxc says:

      That last line of yours is precisely why I was so overwhelmingly happy to find The Chris Gethard Show with its mantra that loser is the new nerd. Avengers being the biggest movie of the year is great and all, but that doesn’t mean that somebody wearing an Avengers shirt because it’s cool has anything in common with me.

    • Goon Goon says:

      I didn’t say it made us look good. But it surely doesn’t make us look terrible. Typecasting is always going to happen with anything. All these people are spending money to see comic movies, and buy comic related stuff. Trust me we looked a lot worse before things like this. Like I said before its not an accurate representation of us but it has definitely changed the opinions of people toward us. Would you rather people put you down for what you like or people ask you if you do some of things in Big Bang Theory?

    • jxc says:

      I’d rather have people do neither and either like me for who I am or just leave me the hell alone.

    • JesseCuster says:

      What jxc said.

    • kzap kzap says:

      @jxc
      That “loser is the new nerd” thing says exactly what I’ve been trying to for years only more succinctly, thanks for pointing it out.
      I was bullied and called a “nerd” for years in school until I eventually reclaimed that word for myself, as many nerds did and used it as a badge of honor so it could no longer be used to put me down.
      I was so overjoyed when I found out “nerd is the new cool” you have no idea, only to be completely let down when I found out being nerdy isn’t cool, not really.
      Cool people who like some traditionally geeky things are calling themselves nerds but they were cool all long, those who were bullied for being nerds are still bullied, their tormentors just use diffident phrases to do it. This has nothing to do with the “fake nerd” debate by the way.
      This all came to a bizarre head when I was getting beating up for being weird (as per usual) and spat out between bleeding teeth “yea, I’m a nerd, I admit it, what’s the problem?” to which one of my tormentors replied “you’re not a nerd, nerds are cool now. You’re a looser freak” and just like that the label which had been used to put me down and which I had refashioned as a badge of honor was taken away from me.
      Guess I have to embrace being a “looser” now, until that word is deemed cool and society come up with a new one.

  8. I love the Big Bang Theory. I think it is a really funny show. I also don’t think it makes geeky people look bad. These guts all have successful careers, are highly intelligent, and some of them hav we’d with good looking women. Ost omit book fans I know can’t say the same about any of those things.

    • JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

      Speak for yourself.

    • I AM speaking for myself. Hence the sentence “Most comic fans I know,” as in people I know personally. Most of whom are helping o enforce the image of the comic book nerd. Socially awkward people who have crap jobs and live with their parents. Stereotypes exist for a reason.

  9. Simmons Simmons says:

    “You must like the Big Bang Theory” is a comment i hate hearing. I saw one episode, they missed the boat on Mathematics and Science, by a lot.

  10. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    I think one of my main problems with the show is that the characters are made to like everything geek from star trek to flash gordon. I know plenty of geeks who just like star wars, just read comics, just watch anime but none of them, none, like as much as these 4 characters like all while holding down pretty intellectually demanding jobs. Also I wouldn’t want to be friends with any of these people. Imagine seeing a movie with Sheldon and then going to get a cup of coffee after. Just imagine all the fun he would suck out of everything.

    • Reform Reform says:

      No one I know (who reads comics) are as sucessful as the characters on the show. The show is at best ok, and yes a bit overboard but atleast they are not a bunch of FAT DUDES IN SWEATPANTS or acne faced virgins living in their parents basement. The big BANG dorks have money and fun jobs.

    • gregdurham says:

      At least they get laid on the show. Most of the people I know who are into comics are smart, intelligent, and are in relationships. I loath the ” A ggggggirl??” sterotype.

  11. WheelHands WheelHands says:

    It’s nice to hear that so many people feel the way I do about Big Bang Theory. That show has done more harm than good. It’s also not funny, and I’m pretty sure I’d feel that way even if I didn’t love comics.

    Jim often writes about this topic passionately and eloquently. I always enjoy these peices, but it’s never really been an issue close to my heart. I love comics and the culture that comes along with it, but it’s only part of who I am. I don’t really discuss it with non-readers unless someone takes a genuine interest. That’s not to say I keep it a secret. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I’m into it, I just don’t feel the need to play ambassador. I don’t surround myself with people who make snap judgements, and on the occasion that I do run into one, I’m happy to snap a judgement or two right back. Everybody’s into something that someone else doesn’t understand.

    If I were to offer an opinion, I’d say that the current reputation of a comic fan is healthier than ever. Sure, these sitcoms and “reality” shows paint many of us in the wrong light, but all the attention from Hollywod and mainstream media has led to more stimulating conversation with non-readers than wedgies and vegetable throwing, in my experience.

    • Goon Goon says:

      I agree with the last paragraph.. All this attention goes right back to our hobby and allows us to see our favorite characters on the big screen. It is also bringing in new readers. Not many but every one counts.

  12. karatechop16 karatechop16 says:

    Another great column, Jim!

  13. Impossibilly Impossibilly says:

    I really like The Big Bang Theory. I think it’s one of the most consistently funny shows on television.

    I’ve noticed that my friends who do not like The Big Bang Theory are the ones who most remind me of characters from The Big Bang Theory.

    • jxc says:

      Shouldn’t that explain precisely what the problem is to you, though? It’s legitimately the only show I’ve seen on TV that offends me, because I see myself in one of the characters and all the traits I share with him exist only to be laughed at.

  14. LBolt says:

    I do not like Big Bang Theory ,and not just because it is laughing at us, but because I find it very unfunny. Like all of Chuck Lorre’s stuff it feels very much like it is written for my grandparents and others people like them who have little experience with good comedy and just like the safe thrill of something different than christian radio.

    Comic Book Men on the other hand makes me actually laugh out loud every episode. It captures that teasing nature of real friendship much like the pick of the week podcast.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      Yeah, they are two very different types of humor. Comic Book Men’s camaraderie is what I enjoy.

      Big Bang Theory seems to be written to appeal to the LCD and the characters don’t even feel like really people. But I admit I really haven’t watched much of it at all, because what I have watched left me cold and unimpressed.

    • Reform Reform says:

      I dislike laugh track shows .

  15. Shows like Big Bang Theory are the least of our problems these days. I think our own worst enemies are ourselves. All the recent internet squabbles about “real geeks” and “fake nerds” and all this made me think that i still view “geek, dork and nerd” as a derogatory insult, but for different reasons from when i was in middle school. So much of the culture has turned into the bullies they grew up running from. I like all this stuff but i’m not gonna fight anyone over it, or judge someone cause they give the wrong trivia answer, which seemingly is what its all turned into. I think casual fans and hardcore fans are equally awesome.

    All subcultures go through that tribal thing where at first its all-inclusive and then its about street cred and elitism and wearing the right badges. I kinda feel that’s where we’re at and don’t really think its very sustainable.

    i’n not a “real nerd” and i’m cool with that. I’m just an adult who likes some stuff and has a few hobbies, but i would feel incredibly insulted if you lumped me in with that dork,geek,nerd monster that’s roaring all over the internet these days. At least shows like Big Bang Theory and Comic Book Men show people having fun and getting along.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I agree totally. I hate all the nerd pride and geek love and stuff like that. They are all derogatory words. Why would anybody want to embrace words that put you down? Can’t you be cool and like comics at the same time? What about people like Nick Cage, Sam Jackson, Rosario Dawson, CM Punk, Barack Obama? You can embrace the geek/nerd/dork terms all you want, but they still represent other people looking down on you.

      I remember feeling like I was too dorky for the cool people but too cool for the dorky people, so I didn’t fit in with either group. But I realized I’m just somewhere in the middle, like the vast majority of people in the world. It’s like you have to be all or nothing these days.

    • well, its the thing with labels, it turns into ego and pride which turns into street cred, which turns into judging yada yada fear, suffering, DARK SIDE! =)

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      Thank you, Master Yoda, for your words or wisdom.

  16. I don’t look “geek” or whatever is supposed to pass as this look. I get the “Oh, YOU read comic books?” reaction from others at times, but it rolls right off. We can’t help what other people think of us until they get to know who we are and even then, they might not like us. I don’t relate to a show like Big Bang where one of the character’s has an a borderline incestuous thing going with his mother because its simply not me. But I also don’t have the time in the day to rail against it.

    At the same time, I see we have a bit of “The Passion of the Geeks” or “Passion of the Cosplayers” over-sensitive reaction to perceived insults. Sometimes, its just a matter of moving on and don’t let little things get to you.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I would say the vast majority of people I see in my local comic store don’t look like geeks. There are a few weirdos I’ve seen, that’s for sure, but most just look like normal, regular people who like comics.

      The people at comic conventions, and all the cos-players, those folks can be a little scary, though. I’ve never actually been to a comic con, and have always been leery about doing so. And honestly I don’t even know what I’d want to do there in the first place (browse high-priced back issues? wait in lines? be overwhelmed by the stench of unwashed masses?)

    • ryanwhodat ryanwhodat says:

      AMEN.

    • @BCDX97: I’m not saying I don’t look geek and everyone else does, but rather people are baffled when I say I read comics because I guess I don’t look it. All the people at my LCS don’t look the part either.

      My other point was that sometimes I see people within the geek culture go looking to be victimized and this only adds to the frustration of being a fan and reader of comic books.

  17. randall4000 randall4000 says:

    I’m probably a little older than some of the folks here and remember pretty clearly how “grunge” was co-opted by just about every tv show/movie/clothes designer/snack food company/you name it/ etc. in the 90′s. It stings when a mega corporation compiles a bunch demographics and marketing statistics and attempts to sell your own culture back to you. That’s why Big Bang Theory misses the mark so completely with it’s portrayal of geeks. Although if you take away the geek factor it’s no better or worse than about 95% of network television comedies. Parks and Recreation For Life!

  18. Shingen Shingen says:

    I always think it is funny when comic book fans rush to condemn shows like these for misrepresenting them, and creating problematic representations of “geek culture.” Mostly because this group overlaps heavily with those who see nothing wrong with the way women or minorities are portrayed in comics, where the same kinds of essentialism and stereotyping is occurring. Many of the same people who are grumpy about the way Big Bang Theory makes all geeks look bad have no reservations about the way comics treat the female body or the treatment of women. They don’t think it is a big deal when the cast of their favorite tv shows or movies lacks diversity.

    But, hey, make geeks look bad and suddenly it is this important issue. I’m not saying that Big Bang Theory doesn’t deserve critique. just that maybe, possibly, the next time you dismiss out of hand the treatment of women or minorities in comics or “nerdom” maybe you consider how this feels, and accept how presentations of certain people can impact the lives and thoughts of people every day.

    That being said, my biggest issue is the education/employment one. I know a lot of folks with PhDs, and even in the sciences this level of nerdiness is uncommon. I also know lots of geeks, and most are normal guys who do normal jobs.

  19. Wondering says:

    Sorry just quickly adding some names to prominant comicbook fan. In the UK our two highest profile fans are Simon Pegg and Jonathan Ross. Both are big names in the UK. A few years ago Ross was the highest paid tv star, though comicbook fans can have a very bad image.

    Without blowing my own trumpet I am an intelligent cultured man. I know my wines, can quote social theorist and literary figures like I’m reading off my own phone number. Yet people are suprised that I have decades of comic book collecting behind me and will talk passionatly about storieslines old and new.

  20. jpriester73 jpriester73 says:

    People on these forms worry too much about perception. I very much was on the preppy side of things in high school 5 years ago. I was a football player, on homecoming court, and unfortunately wore Abercrombie and Fitch. I secretly loved reading sic-fi, watching lectures on Ancient Greece, playing Risk and Civilization and wanted to tryout comics but was too afraid it would hurt my image.

    Shows like Big Bang Theory and the superhero movies help me embrace my inner nerd. Finding normal people who read comics in college pushed me over the edge and now comics are a big part of my life. I was cool with my image being more nerdy.

    Now I’m less concerned with my image than I was back then. I don’t find my identity in comics, loving sports, listening to music, reading history or anything like that. Therefore I don’t care if reading comics is portrayed in a poor light because it’s not who I am, its something I like to do. I’m much more concerned with how my actions are perceived not my hobbies.

  21. JohnNevets says:

    I have to admit I’m with the minority on this one, and that surprises me a bit. I really enjoy Big Bang. The thing is, like most good sitcoms, the reason it is good is because of the character development and heart, not the superficial background. Just recently somebody on this site wrote about the difference between That 70′s show and That 80′s show, and that’s the point I’m getting at. Yes the cliche 70′s environment was part of the fun of the 70′s show, but it was the characters and heart that made the show good. The point was it was a show set in the 70′s not about the 70′s. The same way Big Bang is set in a cliche academia/ geek world. Sometimes they do a better job then others of getting the details right (the set/ prop design is usually pretty good). I think it only adds to the show when they do, but that isn’t the point. The point is the human story.

    And remember this is being said by a mid 30′s guy who has a pull list, Firefly travel posters, a ham license, a pretty good collection of Star Wars Legos, and a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I’m the one matching the guys in the show, and should be upset that they are making fun of me, but instead I’m laughing with them.

    By the way, I’m just stating how I look at this, and can appreciate that others don’t see it the same way.

  22. CaseyJustice CaseyJustice says:

    This issue seems to come up quite often, especially on this site (which I love very, very much), and I can’t for the life of me understand it.

    What is the investment, exactly, in how The Normals perceive people who like to read comic books, or watch science fiction, or what have you? I feel like the end-goal of this whole “Geek Renaissance” is that no one has to feel ashamed or weird because of what they enjoy, and yet we’re still mad that Brian O’Halloran and Sheldon Cooper aren’t giving us our propers?

    I enjoy the Big Bang Theory, and perhaps this is a bit of a biased perspective, but why does everyone assume that the fact that one of the most popular shows on television is about intelligent, introverted geeks is a bad thing? These are our protagonists. We’re meant to empathize with them, root for them and love them. They’re the butt of the joke in precisely the same way that every sitcom character ever is the butt of the joke. The truth, I think, is that we’re just not used to being caricatured in a loving way, and as a result we get overly defensive.

    • *applause*

      Very well said.

      I like geeky things and don’t get mad at The Big Bang Theory for the same reasons that I have a blue collar job and don’t get mad at The Honeymooners.

  23. Here is a question for everyone spewing hatred at the Big Bang Theory: do you hate all shows with main characters who have geeky interests? Do you hurl venom at The IT Crowd? Do you stay up nights writing hate mail to the cast of Spaced?

    • RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

      I love The IT Crowd mostly because of the writing and situations but now that I think about it Roy is what I think of when I think of typical geeks that I know. He’s big into computers, reads comics, casual gamer and really loves a good foreign horror movie. He doesn’t have a PhD and he doesn’t have an opinion on everything related to geekdom.

      Also the situations in the show could happen on any sitcom, not just a geeky one. Let’s take my favorite episode “The Work Outing.” The whole crux of the episode revolves around Jenn’s date seeming gay and around Roy and Moss being mistaken for something they are not: a disabled person and a bartender respectively. There’s nothing particularly geeky about it at all. We know they’re geeks because we’ve seen the show before but they don’t feel the need to reference Star Trek or Crisis on Infinite Earths every episode.

      In my opinion Roy is a much closer representation of an average geek than any of the characters on The Big Bang theory. I will be the first to admit however that where I have seen every episode of IT Crowd I’ve only watched the first season of Big Bang as well as about 3 or 4 episodes here and there.

    • RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

      Also it’s not that the actual show has bred the hate into me it’s more that everyone assumes i love it because of the subject matter. after a few years of hearing “What?!?!” followed by “How could you not like it??” every time i tell someone the show just isn’t for me it gets to a point where you just learn to hate what was once something that was just “not for me.”

    • WheelHands WheelHands says:

      I don’t stay up nights writing hate mail to any show.

      I’ve never watched The IT Crowd. I enjoyed the few episodes I saw of Spaced quite a bit, because I found it clever and subtle. Neither of which I would use to describe Big Bang Theory. I don’t care for the writing, the performances, the characters, or the situations. I admit, I’ve only seen a few episodes, but I honestly didn’t crack a smile. It doesn’t help that I find the flagship character irritating beyond words. All of this has less to do with my being insulted or misrepresented as a comic fan, and more to do with my personal standards of entertainment.

      I don’t spew hatred, because its not important enough for me to hate it.

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      @Roi “The Work Outing” is my favorite episode as well. That’s when I knew that show was genius.

      I’m staying out of the rest of this :)

    • RobotZombie RobotZombie says:

      It is impossible to hate The IT Crowd

    • KevinAB KevinAB says:

      @RoiVampire: I think you have summed up this entire difference of opinion with that one clarification.

      The “geeks” who dislike Big Bang Theory do so primarily because they feel it misrepresents them, and they worry about or actually have individuals in their personal lives that equate them with the characters in the show.

      The “geeks” who like Big Bang Theory do so because they have no issue with how the show represents “geek culture.” This could be for any number of reasons. As one commentor said, they found nothing disparaging about the geek portrayals on the show and in fact saw themselves in it. In other words they felt the show was an accurate representation of them. Others, such as myself, probably have little to no concern for the “image” they project or how people view them. They may think themselves geeks (and I am a huge one, my profile pic is me dressed as Dr. Horrible) but it isn’t really something that they feel defines them. I’m guessing that, as in my case, they also are not in any setting where they are consistently being judged as being cool or not, such as high school. I care about people thinking positively of me, but I have no real thoughts on whether or not they see me as “geeky.” I feel absolutely 0 kinship with the characters on the show. I share some of their interests, but I recognize them for the ridiculous and amusing caricatures that they are. Because I don’t feel that others equate me with them, I have no issue

      Ultimately, while I think there are people who find the show genuinely not funny, I think the majority of the “geeks” that dislike it do so because of their own representational fears. I am fortunate in that I have a highly satisfactory social life and feel absolutely no pressure to “fit in” or not. Because perception of my interests is such a non-issue to me, I can watch without recoil (though I did do so the first few times I saw it). I don’t feel the show is laughing “with me” OR “at me.” I don’t see “me” in relation to the show at all.

    • walterwhite walterwhite says:

      Damn, again well said Kevinab–Glad to know people can just enjoy being themselves without the fears of other peoples watchful eyes. Regardless of Big Bang or Comic book men, people are going to judge you far more on looks then the perception of TV show characters. I love Breaking Bad, but I don’t think all people who make meth are cool/badass .

  24. As a “reborn” comic book geek since 2003 who is also single, I’ve come to love The Big Bang Theory and the mainstream acceptance that it has given us…..before the show started, whenever I told someone I collected Comic Books they would kind of “cringe” (especially women), now they smile. Perhaps they are making fun of me behind my back when they smile, or are simply embarrassed for a 40 year old in a tie at work who admits to such a thing, I don’t know.

    I often wear my superhero shirts to managerial meetings (if I’m off that day), and have helped many to verbalize Godzilla’s roar (skreeeonngk!), I even use a Flash flashdrive which higher-ups in the company find fun and original. I’ve also found it a way to break the ice with beautiful women who enjoy watching The Walking Dead….”Did you know it’s a comic book?”….and there are many beautiful women who enjoy TWD!

    Now given, I don’t suffer from any social anxiety (though I can sweat through a shirt when working up the courage to ask out a woman…but I think that’s most men) , and I’m an outgoing person who works at a job with outgoing people (the Hotel Industry)……but if us Comic Book Geeks would simply be nice and gentlemanly, I believe we would be well loved by all!!

    Many CB-Geeks take pleasure in being condescending and defensive toward anyone without “knowledge” of our genre, but I would challenge you to take the time to explain the characters and why we love them, and you may just find yourself taking them to you LCS (where your rep will soar!) &/or talking about your favorite title over dinner with a special someone (who may not know as much as you do, but is willing to listen and form their own opinion).

  25. RobotZombie RobotZombie says:

    One of the sports radio shows has started a bit in the morning where their socially inept assistant goes to his local comic book store on Wednesdays to ask people questions about thier comics and “related” subjects.

    I find myself sometimes cringing but overall I think hearing people who have little to no frame of reference discussing superhero names they thing are terrible (Animal Man) or making very accurate observations about the financial realities of running a comic book store funny. Being able to laugh at stuff like that can help keep perspective.

  26. Neb Neb says:

    I actually really like the show as well. I can see how it’s humor is not to everyone’s taste. I think the show’s heart is in the right place, and in a way, has made some geeky things a bit more acceptable. I never feel like I’m laughing at the characters as much as I’m laughing with them, which I think is the point.

    I also appreciate that they go out of the way to make things accurate both from a scientific perspective to a pop culture/geek perspective. If they were really trying to make fun of comic book people, they would just write whatever.

    I guess if you think it misrepresents comic book people, then talk with friends and family about it. Show them with the way you live.

    But hey, the great thing is we all have a choice about the media we consume, so we’re not forced to watch it.

  27. zombox zombox says:

    Many of my friends frequently tell me how much I would *love* Big Bang Theory, as though I should be happy that real people acknowledge the existence of my curious hobby at all. None of them see me in the same light as those guys, but they definitely see me as the paragon breed of geek. Assuming others are more like the characters in the show. I confess, I’ve seen the show and if that is how most of the world view our particular subculture then it is doomed. Also, the show isn’t funny. Its really dumb, low brow humor. And not even the fun raunchy kind.

  28. BobDigi76 BobDigi76 says:

    People really. Hate the Big Bang Theory? It’s a show, funny or not & to get this upset about the portrayal of geeks is a little out of whack. As many here have already said it’s a caricature, not reality. Anyone getting this bent out of shape are doing a little too much self-identifying & really need to get a life.

  29. Maybe I’m missing the point but I thought the article was more about how “actual geeks” like those on Comic Book Men represent themselves and how that leaks into popular culture like Big Bang Theory rather than if Big Bang Theory is any good or not.

    For what it’s worth, I think this article is right in one respect. Comic Book Men isn’t a great advertisement for the culture they espouse. But most TV and especially reality TV is reductionist. They boil down their characters into bite-size, stereotypical pieces. Case in point: most gay men are flamboyant and most teenage girls are catty. I only saw a few episodes of Comic Book Men’s first season but it seemed like typical reality fare. It suffers from the same problem that shows like Pawn Stars or Swamp People have which is to be reductionist. When you have a show called Comic Book Men, the audience wants to to see men doing “comic book things” as they know them. Its the same problem that happens with comic book movies. The hardcore fans are upset when nuance that’s baked into 50 years of continuity is thrown out to placate the casual fan. But the audience isn’t the people that know about US Agent or Peter Parker’s parents’ story, its for everybody else.

    I’m sure I’d be offended if people I respect equated me with the comic store guy from the Simpsons based on these kinds of characterizations. But I don’t care about those opinions. I like what I like. I also defy the stereotype even though it doesn’t describe anybody I know. I don’t live in my parents basement, I don’t where licensed clothing exclusively, and I have a normal adult life. I know geeks across the maturity and societal spectrum and they’re as diverse as any other group of people. It’s not my concern if people I don’t know or respect use a hobby or interest I indulge in to prejudge me.

  30. SleepingMan SleepingMan says:

    My big problem with the Big Bang Theory isn’t that the main characters of the show misinterpret geek culture and all that jazz but that it continues the long standing portrayal of geeks being social retards who for the life of them cannot talk to women and so on and so forth.

    Also really lazy writing that does nothing original, take away the fact that the four main guys are nerds and it’s nothing but an average sitcom and for a show thats apparently really geeky they never seem to do anything clever with famous sci-fi and fantasy movies or tv shows. Unlike Community where that show is totally a geeky show, I mean how many other sitcoms have you watched where they had an episode homaging My Dinner with Andre, playing with the format of clip show episodes, taking huge potshots at Glee and Good Will Hunting, having 3 paintball episodes with references to Die Hard, Sergio Leone westerns, Star Wars, 8 bit era gaming, their own version of Doctor Who or a whole episode around Advanced Dungeons & Dragons that also deals with suicide very carefully and maturely ?

    This is why I don’t like Big Bang Theory and I probably never will.

  31. Big Bang Theory is a bad show on many levels. Take away the insulting nature it treats ‘nerdom’ and you see just how poor the writing is. Then again the show is created by Chuck Lorre who has done some TERRIBLE sitcoms over the last decade (including Two and a Half Men & Mike and Molly).

    Shows like Spaced and IT Crowd are great because it is a sitcom where the characters are nerdy. Unlike Big Bang Theory where the premise of the show is: ‘look how silly these nerds are’! Whenever I watch Big Bang Theory I feel so much hatred when it comes to the writing and I feel they really hate this niche. While I know for a fact that the writers of Spaced and IT Crowd RELISH in this culture and don’t wanna demonize it.

  32. rafterman rafterman says:

    Every non-geek I know loves the Big Bang Theory and they always tell me they’re reminded of me when they watch it. Not so much for my behavior, but because they recognize that I like the same stuff as those guys. The show doesn’t insult me due to its portrayals of nerds. I just don’t think it’s funny.

  33. canadianD canadianD says:

    I don’t want to sound like a hipster but i think the problem is that “geek” culture has been mainstreamed and the mainstream product is different than the real one.

    I’ll have people come up to me, people that know i read comics, wearing a Green Lantern shirt they bought at JC Penny’s and act like their “such nerds”.Someone mentioned “cute hipster girls” which is something i see a lot.They love to talk to me about the indie comics they’re into and somewhat look down on me for reading “superhero comics”.

    As for Big Bang Theory, well i watch it.Yes i know i just said all of the things above but i do watch it for purely entertainment’s sake.I don’t mean to offend my comic brothers.

    The geeky part used to be the sub-text of the show but in recent years the’ve brought it into the show’s text by talking about Star Trek and the Avengers and acting like the worlds biggest nerds.I originally liked that the show stressed how smart the main characters are, basically how geeks probably end up more successful than their peers that bullied them.But as of late the show has been cringe worthy.My dad loves it though which is evident of its audience.

  34. gregdurham says:

    I just have to say sometime I been feeling for a while now. “Geek Chic” is over. It jumped the shark the night that asshole walked into a nidnight showing of ” The Dark Knight Rises ” and opened fire. It used to mean something when you really had to work to find old back issues of your favorite comic. Now just jump on eBay. If you wanted a “Flash” t-shirt you had to wait till the next Con. Now go to Target. The thill is gone. It’s over.

    Will I stop reading comics? Never. But I threw out every “Superhero” t-shirt i had when I noticed a tv character was dressing like me, when i noticed alot of fat, ugly americans wearing them.

    Years ago I worn a beautiful silver Green Lantern ring. I worn it because I liked what it was a symbol of. My love of comics,my love of Green Lantern, my love of heroes. I worn it for years. And I got to meet and talk to some really cool and interesting people because of it. It got to the point where the soft silver comformed to to the shape of my finger and I couldn’t take off the ring if I wanted to. But when I saw the first preview for the Green Lantern movie I went home and cut the ring off and sold it for scrap. Because I didn’t want people to think I was wearing it because it was “Geek Chic”. I miss that ring, but I feel so much cooler without it.

    • SleepingMan SleepingMan says:

      That’s whole reasoning of getting rid of some sweet gear is crap.

    • JohnNevets says:

      Greg,

      I first want to say that I respect your view, it’s how you feel, and I accept that. I also appreciate the enjoyment that comes from feeling good about being unique in your loves, or at least one of a small number. It really does feel special when you find someone else who shares those interests. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is “Being true to thine self ” also has it’s own enjoyment. Fads do come and go, and yes it does seem like some folk follow every one of them. And yes it can be a bit annoying when “your thing” becomes the “it thing”, but just go with it. Have fun with the crowd when you can, and with your friends after the crowd has dispersed. I’m guessing that if you were still wearing that GL ring now, very few people would even remember what it came from, and even fewer would assume you were a fan of the movie.

      It’s like that video of Ron singing Kereoke from a while back. The coolest thing about it was that Ron was having fun, and because of that, others could enjoy it as well.

      Anyway that’s what I’ve learned the hard way, take it or leave it.

      John

    • gregdurham says:

      SleepingMan, lighten up.

      Possessions do not the man make. ” He who dies with the most toys wins.” is just a slogan on a bumper sticker. Or as I like to say ” I was sad because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no dick.”

      John, all very good points. Life is for the living !!

  35. Not a fan of BBT. Now that I think about it I don’t like anything on CBS. Their NFL broadcast and commentators are equally as annoying as the characters portrayed on BBT.

  36. Dud317 says:

    Whoa! Some of you guys need to dial it back a notch. It’s one thing to dislike a show finding it unfunny, boring, etc. but it’s another thing to be insulted by it. Prejudicial? Really? Woe are the problems had by a middle class white male. I’d be more concerned about how your whining about a sitcom (regardless of success) makes you look like a huge baby. How much more acceptance do you want. Comics are more globally accepted in more forms than ever in history. Looking at the stereotype, well everything it stereotyped, it’s human nature. People enjoy farce. Besides, you think physicists are on message boards griping about how they are represented? No one cares.