Thursday, May 28, 2009


Thanks to Matt for pointing me to this post on Wil Wheaton's blog (yes, that Wil Wheaton) about the appropriation of geek culture for marketing purposes, largely in response to this "I Am a Geek" video created by "the Society for Geek Advancement." I just watched the video, and wow, it's pretty horrifying. Apparently these would-be geeks have co-opted the term to mean "social media user." Seriously, go watch it—it's only 2 minutes long. You know how you can tell it's bullshit? Because it features Julia Fucking Allison claiming to be a geek. Ummmmmmmm NO. (Also, notice the source for their definition of "geek" which includes "interest in ... new media": Wikipedia. I'm guessing someone in the Society made that edit.)

Look, I know unpopular people with math/science inclinations stole the word from chicken-head-biting circus freaks in the first place, but don't they kind of own it now? Whether or not Wil Wheaton is an "exclusionary geek elitist," I have to agree that having a blog/using Twitter/reading Gawker/liking Wii does not a geek make. If this is the society for geek advancement, why does the video spend so much time dissociating itself from perfectly respectable geek activities like "gaming"? It's not like a race or a nationality where you can wear the term without exhibiting any of the stereotypes. If you don't participate in the activities associated with geekiness, by definition you're not a geek. This video does not argue for acceptance of geeks in the mainstream, it argues for thinking of Ashton Kutcher as tech-savvy even if he doesn't know HTML.

I feel like famous/hot people just LOVE making faux-humble claims a la "I'm a huge dork!" Britney Spears used to do that all the time before she had a crack baby. It's like, No, Britney, Justin Timberlake doesn't date dorks. The Britneys and Julias of the world could never, ever hang with actual, for real geeks. We're not talking geek-chic fetishists in short pants and undersized cardigans, we are talking about people whose clothes are legitimately out of style. We are not talking about people who like to use software, we are talking about people who like to write software. I'm not saying that one variety of person is better than the other (I am not myself a true geek, though I enjoy them), I'm just saying there's a distinct difference, and the above video is basically a huge insult couched as promotion.

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