Tag Archives: Geeks

Confessions of a Squee Killer

I came across a set of tweets from Jen Williams this morning…

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

I will never understand the urge to harsh a squee.

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

you see someone enthusing about something they love. You think, "I know, I'll tell them I think it's shit. They'll appreciate that."

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

Or, just don't. People love different things. It's okay.

 

I agree with completely with what’s being said here. I do. I’m not a monster or anything*. But… I think I can understand it. There have been times when I see people raving about a film or book, saying the exact opposite of what I feel, and the urge to kill their squee is powerful.

Just before I go on, when I’m talking about a ‘squee’ in this post, I’m referring to a demonstration of love and excitement about something, usually connected to science fiction or fantasy in some way.

I can’t speak for squee killers everywhere but for me, encountering a squee I don’t understand can be a painful experience, creating a sense of distance between me and person doing the squeeing.

I’m used to not fitting in. Superheroes and magic and giant robots are enjoying a time of relatively mainstream cool these days but it was not always so. Growing up, I learned to be careful with who I shared my passions with and those friends who also loved things like Star Wars, Babylon 5, Dungeons and Dragons, Amber, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and running around the woods in silly costumes were rare jewels indeed.

And with those friends and the wider geek community I have a feeling of belonging that I often don’t in the wider world.

I’m used to people not getting what I love but when those people are in circles that I consider to be ‘my community’ or ‘my tribe’ it can be almost unbearable.

Conversely, when people I respect squee about something I think is terrible, it’s also unbearable. I feel like maybe I don’t understand them after all, maybe they don’t understand me.

That’s when the Dark Side become tempting.

Perhaps, it whispers, if you were to point out to them why the thing they love is rubbish, they’ll realise their mistake and then unity will return.

Somehow, their squee makes me feel insecure. And I think that’s the point of all this. Squee killers are moving from a place of insecurity because it’s rare that they simply offer their opinion with a comment like:

“Yes, the effects in Prometheus were excellent, although I must admit I found the representation of the scientists hard to believe and that made it harder for me to suspend disbelief.”

Instead going for something like:

“Prometheus sucks in every way! The plot is rubbish, the characters laughable. And how did she run with that injury? And why didn’t she run sideways! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! And if you think otherwise you’re a ****weasel!”

Ahem.

I think this is because a squee comes from the heart. It’s a primal thing. And geeks don’t just like their fiction, they adore it. More than that I think we identify with it. For me, it is far more than just entertainment. I often hold fiction and the creators of said fiction up to my own moral standards and that can make me a tough audience.

But when I enjoy fiction, it feeds me in a deep way. Or it makes me feel warm and smile. Sometimes I actually feel it changing me as I read it and when that happens I want to share those good vibes.

I want to squee.

My name is Peter Newman and I’ve gone ten months since my last squee kill.

 

*Before alcohol only.

With Geeks it's Personal

I think most of us agree that geeks are passionate people. They don’t just watch a film or television show, they adore it. Rooms become temples to other-worldly beings, superheroes and time lords. They dress up as their favourite characters. They declare their love from the rooftops (or on twitter at least).

It’s a beautiful thing.

But it can lead to some very fiery arguments, especially online.

As somebody who has sometimes stumbled into these arguments, I’m often surprised at how nasty they can get.

“Anybody who doesn’t like this is lacking a soul!”

“This is a pile of **** and only appeals to ****tards!”

Etc.

I’ve been wondering why this might be. I think that when people criticise a story that we love, it feels that at the same time they’re criticising us (even though they often aren’t). So, “That film is rubbish” becomes “You are rubbish”.

Naturally we want to defend things we’ve identified with.

When I declare a love of a book (like Dune for example) and other people say, “Yay! I love that book.” There are mutual feelings of love and happiness. This person ‘gets’ me. They are clearly of good taste.

Conversely when my English teacher told me I should be reading ‘proper’ books and not Dune, I had this feeling of not fitting into the world and of being stupid for not liking more literary classics.

So where am I going here?

Well, there are a lot of things people rave about that I think are pretty terrible, for example:

X-men: First Class

Star Trek (2009)

Doctor Who

When people say how great they are I get the urge to argue with them. I want them to understand that these are not great works at all.

I want them to understand me.

But maybe there is something darker at play here too. Because I think I’d rather enjoy writing a post that demolishes the Star Trek reboot*. I also think there’d be something nasty and triumphant about it too. An attempt to prove superiority.

Opinions are just opinions. You may love all of the above when I don’t, and that’s cool.

I’m just going to try and keep my cool next time we talk about it online** and be careful to add some of the following addendums to anything I say:

I found it…

In my opinion

This did/didn’t work for me

Because when I’m talking to fellow geeks about sci-fi or fantasy, what I’m really talking about is love. And it doesn’t get any more personal than that.

 

*I’ve already ranted about X-men: First Class and I’m too scared to wake the sleeping Whovians. I’d also like to add that I get angry with these things because I love the characters so much.

**If we’re in the pub however, all bets are off!