Wake Up, Geek Culture
, in which I think I am reading a geek shaking a virtual cane at people getting their anime too easily, too many people of the ungeeky classes being interested in geek turf, and remix culture because it's killing originality and then I got lost in the Etewaf, which is apparently really bad
, but kind of sounds like my perfect life.
...I'm not sure.
I want to approach this from like, multiple are you kidding
angles because hello, kind of my entire identity being geek, remix, and also, I like anime and God would I have killed to have access to it in my teens. Or like, knew it existed.
Academics have covered remix culture, and the mainstreaming of geekdom is like, a constant refrain everywhere, so not even going to bother, mostly because he froze me up at the Etewaf horror--very Lovecraftian, that--in which everyone has easy access to everything and that's like, really bad
Let's not romanticize the past in which we had to wait for years and go uphill both ways to get our manga, okay? That shit isn't nostalgic; that sucked
. It sucked. Yes, we had lively discussions waiting for new issues for about an hour and then geeks went to war, and geek war isn't like mundane war; most of us enter with a vocabulary not limited to languages that actually exist and a lot of us grew up beneath the thumb of mainstream contempt and high school bullying and whoo boy did we carry that into every conversation ever? Oh, we did
. Harry Potter books had what, a one to two year wait or average? Did you see
that fandom? And let me just say, thank God Star Trek II didn't come out during internet culture and have the waiting period before Star Trek III came out: bloodshed
Geek culture was expensive; it was very much the territory of middle and upper middle class who could afford to import direct from Japan or knew someone who could if the titles you wanted weren't here. Even domestic products weren't cheap or easy; it's not that long ago that VHS tapes were this new and exciting thing that allowed recording
instead of staring at the television listings for a hopeful glance of something not a rerun of fifties era programming and being really disappointed on a daily basis. Cable
still isnt' universally accessible even in the US, and certainly not in rural Texas, much less internet. Working class geek meant used bookstores because hardcovers or even new paperback were for birthdays, Christmas, and when it was something my entire family would want to read (which luckily, we overlapped taste in a lot of things). Buying movies was an event that was considered carefully.
[I'd love to hit a real discussion of classism in geekdom because along with shitty race issues and shitty sexism issues, geek cultural development wasn't just white and male, it was white, male, and specific to certain economic classes as well. It's not that POCs, women, and the non-middle-class weren't geeky or didn't develop their own geek-related culture but geek as it is presented to mainstream culture is--well, white, male, and very obviously both.
[I'm still boggling at people who are utterly shocked that POC and women attended and still attend sci-fi conventions and are interested in the same things that mainstream geek culture is; yes, we've been here all along, and the question you should be asking is not 'where have you been' but 'why didn't I see that?' No one asks that, though. It's weird.]
Geek culture was difficult
unless you lived in a city; I was a geek culture of one
at my school K through 12 and you think your clique had it hard? Please. I never even met a D&Der until college
and a LARPer after that. I met geek culture in college without any geek socialization skills--and we do have them, believe it or not--and I was the geek that geeks
didn't like, since I was a feral geek who developed independently in the high school library reading encyclopedias
* from 1976 because I'd finished the fantasy section before my freshman year of high school ended
[* Encyclopedia Brittanica. Accept no substitutes.]
You city geeks had it easy
, baby; the nearest used bookstore was one almost-large room and I was buying third rate sci fi where the high point was finding Mercedes Lackey*
--say it with me, that was the high point
--and Anne McCaffrey* and God help me that shitty Thomas Covenant series that I read in desperation because it's not like there was a lot of choice there. But also Sydney Van Scyoc was awesome with the first time I ever saw a sci-fi matriarchal culture that treated it with such utter, utter normality that I barely noticed I was being taught my first lessons in feminism. Also, no one was raped. New books were the nearest large city--forty miles away--or Wal-Mart--Wal-Mart
--and we were so rural we couldn't even get cable, so I never had a meaningful relationship with Fraggle Rock and dear God am I bitter about that.
[I am not saying they're bad; I'm saying, think about a world where my sci-fi pinnacle was Anne McCaffrey.]
Yes, yes, the icky mainstream are all making your geek all less than special; those of us who, let me say this again, were reduced to rapey incesty Thomas of white gold ringness
and the Gor novels unironically shelved beside the sci-fi aisle saw the dawn of Amazon.com, hulu, and bittorrent like the second goddamn coming, okay? I waited half my life
to fall madly, desperately in love with a million things and Geek!Seperis of the dark days before the internet and access to Amazon would like to say, are you kidding me?
[I won't even go into women in geek culture, because being a feral geek, my early interactions with geek (male) culture were so off that I didn't get the joy and delight of trading sexual harassment for interaction and second class acceptance. My regret, it's legion, really.]
The days when geek culture belonged to the urban middle class male is over; we all own it now. Don't look like that; we're not saying you have to leave. See, we like
to share. That's kind of the entire point.