Most of the women I know waited until this weekend to read their comics. I know this not because of any major plot point or spoiler that had people talking, but because of the way one ad in last week’s books seemed to make every woman I follow on Twitter exclaim, “What? What?” almost simultaneously.
The offenders were DC Comics. The ridiculous ad was for CollegeHumor.com’s newish “comics and geekery” section, poking fun at the “villains of nerd culture.” The villain showcased was the Fake Geek Girl.
If you are not aware of this meme,
I seethe with jealousy for your charmed existence and please can I be you for even one day it’s built on the notion that attractive women—any women, really—are only claiming to be geeks to impress or get attention from guys. When a Megan Fox or a Rosario Dawson describes herself as a “total comic book nerd” or a “gamer” on a talk show, there’s a subset of the population whose blood boils. These are people whose cognitive dissonance allows them to see comics as something that sets them apart as individuals yet reflexively shout “Hey! Hands off my label!” at the dizzy broads at the same time.
If you were to ask one of these guys about this attitude, I assume they’d tell you they were reacting to the phoniness that pervades modern life. (I haven’t bothered to ask one of these guys. That conversation just sounds dead on arrival, doesn’t it?) These are probably guys who got hassled for being geeks as kids, maybe didn’t light the dating world on fire, and now they see everybody who ignored them or picked on them hopping on the superhero bandwagon. When they look at Megan Fox on that talk show, they see the girl who wouldn’t talk to a geek like them in ninth grade acting like she loved The Fantastic Family Or Whatever all along, and they attack.
Funny how people who were bullied throughout their childhoods will become the most hateful bullies themselves at the first whiff of a victim. Hang on: when I typed “funny,” I misspelled “unimaginably depressing.” A round of applause for human nature, everybody.
Yes, these are pathetic creatures protecting Comics, clutching Comics like Gollum. To an extent, though, I get it. I’ve done it myself at least once. I have a vivid memory of being in a Blockbuster Video in the nineties when the in-store TV network was showing the newest Star Trek trailer. When it was over, they cut to the smiling face of Entertainment Tonight’s Leeza Gibbons, who chirped, “I admit it! I’m a Trekkie!” I looked up at the screen and said to it, out loud in a room full of strangers, “Oh, shut the @%$# up.”
Here’s the thing, though: who the hell am I to say what (if anything) is going on in Leeza Gibbon’s head? Who the hell are you to determine what is in Megan Fox’s heart vis-à-vis penciling? Who the hell is anyone to declare what’s really going on inside a stranger, and if anyone can do that, couldn’t that skill be put to a much better use during an election year?
“These girls aren’t real geeks. You can tell.” Yeah. All of a sudden, you understand women.
Hypothetically, though, let’s say the Fake Geek Girl is an actual thing. Let’s accept that there are scores of women now masquerading as geeks in an effort to impress you “real” geeks. (This is how you know the premise of the Fake Geek Girl is false, by the way. Don’t flatter yourself, “real” geeks. You’re not exactly the catch of the day; I don’t care what your mom has been telling you.) Let’s say it’s all true.
What do you care?
How does a mad pandemic of Fake Girl Geekery impact your life in any way? Are these poseurs making your shop sell out of Tiny Titans before you can get your copy? Oh, no, if we don’t get rid of all these fakers, people without Hobgoblin mini-busts might start to feel comfortable going into our comic shops! How are we supposed to sustain our persecution complex and drive our hobby back into obscurity?
The Android’s Dungeon isn’t your clubhouse anymore. The band you used to see at the 100-seat club is on the radio now. CollegeHumor.com has a Comics section, for Chrissakes. Your specialness is gone, and it’s not coming back unless you go get super into Westerns or toy trains or something.
Is my irritation about this coming through? I can never be sure.
There is no danger to comics culture or the geek community, partly because the existence of those things is sort of ridiculous when you think about it for a second. I need to start more sentences like, “As a lifelong participant in television watching culture” and “We in the grocery-buying community….” Every time Chris Hardwick talks about Nerds like it’s his goddamn ethnicity, I lose another layer of tooth enamel to grinding. Honestly, isn’t killing the comic book community the best thing that could happen to it? What if we started acting like this thing we do is as normal and mundane as drinking Pepsi Cola? What if we fumigated the clubhouse, opened the blinds, and started welcoming in as many people as possible, without judging their intentions or checking their genitals? You may say I’m a dreamer.
As irritating as this is to me, I can’t even imagine how irritating it must be for a woman trying to enjoy her comics and talk to people about them. Imagine enjoying Batman, then flipping to the back cover and having the company who sold it to you say, “You don’t really like Batman. Why don’t you go to the mall and buy shoes or something?” I know Time Warner doesn’t care about their comic book revenue, but why not just print “Go away, audience” in block letters?
I don’t know what to do with these people. I was talking to my friend Kelly about it this morning, and she suggested that taking them seriously and combating them only gives the fire oxygen. The adage “don’t feed the trolls” also sort of irritates me (some schmuck waltzes onto my site every day and takes a crap on my head, and I’m just supposed to sit there quietly hoping he leaves? That’s your plan?) but she may have a point. It’s like that stupid, somehow timeless argument about how “women aren’t funny”: when it reemerges, my first thought is not “That’s not true! Outrageous!” My first thought is, “How can we possibly still be talking about this?” If Christopher Hitchens had said that Mexicans are dumber than British people, we wouldn’t be asking Mexican academics to comment; we would be asking Christopher Hitchens to shut up forever and not printing his article. Maybe we should be looking at these guys the way I looked at my grandfather when he weighed in on black people. After a certain point, all you can do is shake your head, secure in the knowledge that there won’t be another generation coming along to continue his nonsense. His time has passed.