I decided to shake things up a bit this week.
Why do we get so protective over our favorite parts of our culture? More and more we see instances of Geeks and Gamers feeling threatened by individuals they think are illegitimately claiming the culture. The thought of the poser or pandering band-wagon geek grows more prevalent as we see things like the Miss America fiasco or “boob”-gate. In both these situations, as well as others, people lashed out for no logical reason. Because there is no logic in it. Logically, our numbers growing would be a good thing. I’ve talked about this before so I get to thinking, why the extreme reaction? Why do we feel the need to defend our culture against what we see as fakes and posers?
I think the reason lies not so much in who is trying claim Geek Cred as what they are trying to claim. Maybe we feel the need to act this way because of our connection to the actual media. For example, with the whole Miss America thing, she said she was a history geek and liked Game of Thrones. Instantly people saw this as her claiming Geek Cred, which really isn’t what she said exactly, because they made that connection between Game of Thrones and Geek culture. So why the strong emotional response?
The answer to that is simple.
We feel so strongly because a lot of times the parts of Geek and Gamer media we hold dear have a very real emotional connection for us. That’s why we feel so passionate about defending what we consider sacred. Do you agree? If not, let’s put it to practice.
Final Fantasy VI (III on the SNES) will always hold a special place for me. I discovered it while my dad was stationed in Hawaii. It along with Secret of Mana and ChronoTrigger was one of my first RPGS. I remember rushing into the Blockbuster to the Super Nintendo section and feeling that sense of achievement at snagging the only copy they had and it was mine for 3 days. Also, a game got me through my freshman year of high school. We had just moved from Hawaii and I was starting fresh in a new school. No friends, didn’t really know anyone, and I was a pretty shy kid. But, on the last day of school, the guy sitting in front of me in my homeroom class for some reason started a conversation with me and we found out we had a mutual fascination with the world of Terra, Gau, Edgar, and Shadow. That was how I met my best friend Morgan. We spent the summer playing through FFVI and FFIV, among others.
The list doesn’t end there. A lot of my good memories from our duty station in Germany when I was 5 centers around cartoons like Transformers, He-Man, Super Friends, and Go-Bots. That was also the first time I saw Labyrinth, the Adam West Batman movie, and all three Star Wars movies.
In Hawaii, I found my love of Comic Books that became a steady obsession until after college when money had to go to things like bills and rent. I also bonded with good friends that I lost touch with over X-Men cartoons and action figures. I still feel a little sore at unknowingly trading a 50.00 hologram Wolverine card for the last card I needed to finish the set of X-Men Series 2 cards. I owe a lot of my creativity to those years of playing make believe with plastic figures.
Blade was one of the first R-Rated movies I went to after I turned 17; it was also the first time I drove to Savannah (a good 30-45 min drive) by myself after getting my license. I went with my buddy Dave and Angel. When FFVII came out me and Morgan drove to Savannah after school to be able to grab out reserved copies as soon as possible.
Role-playing reminds me of some of the best times I had with friends before my son was born. The summer after my senior year was filled with marathon all-nighter sessions of dice rolling Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Vampire the Dark Ages with Morgan and Eric. Also doing our best to LARP in a small Georgia town like Hinesville, looking back it’s amazing how super charged we were.
Later in life, all these things helped me through one of the darkest times someone can experience. I remember when my dad got diagnosed with cancer in October 2005. The outlook wasn’t good; at best they were giving him 6-8 months. I just wanted to focus on anything but reality. On the second day he was in the hospital I went out and bought X-Men Legends 2 for X-box. I played it for 24 hours straight, because who could sleep when waiting for news like that. That’s also when I gave Lost a real try, I watched every episode until the finale. Dad died in a month, a week before his birthday. I think I would have gone insane if it wasn’t for passion for things like X-Men, Lost, Role-playing games, movies, and countless other things that remind me of important parts of my life. Good and bad. They all hold a special place.
So I guess I can understand why people get so worked up about things the way they do. I’m not saying it’s the right reaction.
But I can understand it.