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!”


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!

10 responses to “With Geeks it's Personal

  1. I'm usually comfortable with stories just not being for me. Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, for instance, isn't a bad novel – its concoction of world-building and sociology simply isn't what stimulates me in fiction. It's great for another audience, particularly a niche in SciFi.

    I do, however, enjoy proclaiming things about how everyone is dumb and wrong for disliking something I'm excited about. It's cheeky, not sincere. Like when Gail Simone announced, "If you didn't like Ponyo, I will punch you where your heart should be."
    John Wiswell recently posted..Bathroom Monologue: SuspectMy Profile

    • I tried to read 2312 recently and struggled. I remember thinking how well written it was and how cool the concepts were but something wasn't clicking…for me.

      As for the proclaiming it sounds like a gamble. (Although that's a great line from Gail Simone.)

  2. Very good points, all of it. It's always good to make opinions clearly opinions, where people can agree to disagree. It's like the difference between "I hated this story" and "This story is awful, worst thing ever."
    Larry Kollar recently posted..Stonebelly the Dragon (#FridayFlash)My Profile

  3. What's even worse is when geeks define a pointless set of rules as to who can and can't be considered a geek. I've come across some who won't admit anyone to the inner circle who doesn't like Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, or if you don't like tabletop gaming then you're not allowed to be a geek. I don't really read the 'big' comics like X Men and Superman but I DO read the series like Preacher, The Sandman and Hellblazer, and apparently that means I can't be a geek. Sci-fi geeks have clearly never encountered horror fans before…
    Icy Sedgwick recently posted..#FridayFlash – Where Rock n Roll went to dieMy Profile

    • That's like a whole level up. Stripping someone of their right to have an opinion rather than discarding it. I suspect that a lot of it is self protection. It's only (relatively) recently that comic heroes and sci-fi have had mainstream acceptance and I think rules like that were to stem the tide of derision from non fans. But yeah, not cool.

  4. X-Men: First Class > Dune

    This is what we're here for right?

  5. Great post. As someone who taught English Lit. for years, it frightens me how badly people argue on-line and elsewhere. It seems like many people didn't absorb the part about how the rules for essays are the rules for critiquing, period.

    Having said that: if you ever bump into your old English teacher, do mention Dune is a standard text on university Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Romance classes. Maybe don't mention that when I studied it, I hated it :-).

    Funny you mention demolishing the Star Trek reboot, because I've taken a few swipes at it in my blog (the first film — I refuse to see the second). Even though I own the DVD of the first film, I think it could use some more demolishing.
    Katherine Hajer recently posted..both the future and the past are unwrittenMy Profile

    • Ah, didn't know you were (are?) a teacher. I'd quite like to bump into my old English teacher, we used to have a good laugh, although I think she despaired of me often. I can imagine her eyes rolling when I pass on your comment.

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