In the past week, Simon Pegg – of Pulp Fiction and Shaun of the Dead fame – has created quite a brouhaha over his comments on “geek culture”.
Since then, the Guardian has had Comment is Free pieces written about it, and he has had to write a lengthy blog in order to stem the cries from “betrayed” geeks and nerds across the world.
In the initial interview with the Radio Times, Pegg criticises modern cinema for “dumbing down” and “infantilising” us all; preventing people from facing the gritty issues of real life, and instead washing them over with superhero movies, and sci-fi.
He went as far as to say he was considering “retiring from geekdom”, in exchange for real cinema. In his follow-up blog, he attempts to steer away from (what some might describe as) the heinous comments, by writing: “We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in[:] inequality, corruption, economic injustice etc.
“It makes sense that when faced with the awfulness of the world, the harsh realities that surround us, our instinct is to seek comfort, and where else were the majority of us most comfortable than our youth?”
However, I am not here to analyse Pegg’s actual message of cinema causing us to be blissfully unaware of real world events, rather the concept of “geekdom”. Indeed, he finished the blog: “I am still a nerd and proud.”
As a kid I remember my Gran telling me to never place people in a box, and never allow myself to be put in one either.
It appears now this is the way in which we conduct our everyday lives: a world in which our own categorisation is used to compare ourselves to others, and dictate our relationships with those inside or outside our box.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that to consider yourself as just a person is a little bit bizarre.
Are you gay, straight, bisexual, transsexual, transvestite; Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Hindu; white, black, hispanic, or latino; nerd, or geek; a member of the “fitfam”, or the Cheeky Nando’s crew?
Traditionally the concept of “geek” was a derogatory one, used by the “cool kids” to tease us at school. “You like Star Wars?…Ah yes, you are clearly a geek.” “You enjoy classical music?…What planet do you come from? Planet Nerd?” “What’s your football team?…You don’t like football!?…What!?”On the back of this, most of us who were labelled as such would retreat into our own “geek gangs”, and attempt to find people of similar nature. Many people have since embraced their “geek” status, and Tumblr is now a sea of fandom and “geekiness”.
But why do we need to do this? Is it a statement, or is it really our own insecurity displayed by the fact we need to surround ourselves with the familiar, and immerse our own tastes to distance ourselves from the “misunderstanding other“?
So, with this is mind, it is bizarre that a reactionary movement has become the mainstream. As Pegg said in his interview, many of the films classically considered “nerdy” are now enormous money spinners.
Just look at the years of film ahead: Star Wars: The Force Awakens; the latest Avengers is out (taking $411 million since May 25th); Batman vs Superman; Guardians of the Galaxy 2; a new Star Trek – the list goes on (Marvel making much of the film news)!
Even in fashion, people now wear non-prescription glasses and “NERD” t-shirts.
What is geek now, then? Are we all geeks, or do we just have tastes; tastes that do not need to be categorised as “geek” or “nerd”? And what even is “geek”?
It appears that we simply overthink our own social standing.
The boxing of ourselves has to stop. You can watch Harry Potter without feeling like a dorky child; you can listen to classical music without being a nerd; you can live your life without ever giving a thought to your sexual orientation, and without asking someone about theirs.
People usually only talk about “removing prejudices” when it comes to ethnicity, but why not do it for everyone? Even geeks. It is time to treat everyone as an individual; with their own likes and dislikes, opinions and beliefs.
Let us do away with nonsense boxes, and allow everyone to have the comfort to like and be whatever they want, without being boxed.