May 272015

An interesting thing happened a few years ago at a Dragon Panel I was attending. The purpose of the panel was to essentially chew out the SyFy channel over their numerous shortcomings, especially how they viewed their target audience. It was a fun panel with people in the crowd giving their two cents. I particularly remember the groans when the panel discussed how SyFy passed on picking up Firefly after it had been cancelled because it was “too sci-fi.” During the panel, a woman in the crowd asked why SyFy passed on some shows and cancelled others. Her point was that, as sci-fi fans, we all loved the same shows. She specifically pointed out the new version of Battlestar Galactica as an example. That’s when the thought shot into my head that not every geek loves the same thing. Case in point is that I don’t like the rebooted Battlestar Galactica at all.

Battlestar Galactica

While many sci-fi geeks loved the new Battlestar Galactica, it was not my cup of tea.

One thing I’ve noticed over the last few years is that when people find out that you’re a geek, they assume a lot of things about you. Personally, I find this both galling and amusing as no two geeks are alike. For this article, I’m not talking about the crappy stereotypes of never bathing, living in your parents’ basement, or unable to interact socially with the opposite sex. What I want to focus on is how diverse geekdom is.

As geeks, we tend to fall into the same trap even though we know better. How many decades has the war between Star Wars and Star Trek been quietly raging at conventions and on internet forums? What appeals to one geek may not appeal to another. The best example I can think of this is my brother and I. He’s six years older than me, and we love a lot of the same things. We’re both into monster movies (the classic Universal and Hammer films), sci-fi, Star Trek, post-apocalypse flicks, Star Wars, James Bond, and Doctor Who. He is a veritable gold mine of information on old movies and scarcely-seen tv shows. Yet he is not a comic book fan and doesn’t care much for superhero movies or tv shows. Neither is he into fantasy at all, either in book form or in cinema. His only gaming is that of 1980s arcade games (which I love as well). Conversely, I’m a huge comic book fan, have read fantasy all my life, and am an avid pen-and-paper rpg gamer (Dungeons and Dragons, Rolemaster, Call of Cthulhu, etc.). I play mmo games on a regular basis. As you can see, there are huge differences between us. I won’t even get into our arguments over which series is better, Star Trek: The Original Series or classic Doctor Who.

Attack on Titan

Geeks are a diverse bunch. Some may love anime like Attack on Titan while others may loathe the genre.

These differences between my brother and I are manifested throughout geekdom. You have geeks who love anime, video games, models, action figures, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and so on. Just because one is a fan of fantasy doesn’t mean that they love all fantasy. I love The Lord of the Rings but despise a lot of modern fantasy because it’s so nihilistic and dark. Someone who loves Doctor Who may hate Firefly. (Heresy, I know!) This existence of differing opinions runs into every facet of our lives. I’ve had several encounters at a convention where a conversation with someone turned to politics. (This is one subject I prefer to avoid talking about with strangers.) The usual modus operandi is that, while discussing a show or movie, the person I’m talking with will use that topic to bring up something political. They assume that since I’m a geek, enjoy anime and comic books, and am attending a convention, that I’m also politically a liberal. They’re astounded when I have to inform them that I’m conservative. The funny thing is that my entire D&D group is religious and conservative. I’m the lone Protestant as the rest of my gaming group is Roman Catholic.

Anyway, the point that I’m trying to make is that we, far too often, tend to think that every other geek thinks like we do. That is why that I started to feel some sympathy for SyFy during that Dragon Con panel. They can create a show that is sci-fi or supernatural, but that doesn’t mean that the show will appeal to everybody. The actual truth is that the entire spectrum of geekdom is incredibly diverse. We’re not a monolithic bunch that inhabits some Borg-like hive mind. That’s why it’s important for us geeks to understand that each of us has different tastes and opinions, and that we should respect those even if we don’t agree with them. After all, us geeks have to stand together.

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