Monday, January 24, 2011
Open Letter to Patton Oswalt and the Old Geek Guard
A few weeks,Mr. Oswalt wrote an essay regarding the current state of geek culture and this being a case of some delicacy and in need of early attention,I thought it best to address this situation now.
Granted,Mr. Oswalt is a professional humorist and most of his comments are well seasoned with tongue firmly in cheek. However,a ring of true angst regarding the changes in the pop culture realm can be clearly heard throughout.
Also,he is not alone in his basic annoyance that the internet has made it far too easy for the newer generations of geeks to acquire knowledge that he and his kind labored so mightily to obtain back in the day. Some are even so offended by the commercialization of their once only known to a few interests that they scorn those who seem all too eager to embrace the mainstream marketing of them.
While I have some sympathy and a few complaints of my own about the seemingly endless bout of pointless remakes,sequels and 3D-ing going on in Hollywood,amongst other things,there is something that I really need to tell you and that you really need to hear:
Get over yourselves,guys,seriously!
This self appointed term "otaku" that Oswalt uses to describe those who hunkered down and went out in search of such arcane knowledge and lore regarding foreign and low budget films,comic books and offbeat music is quaintly amusing but a tad pretentious. It's not like you were seeking out the hidden wisdom of the ages or making history making discoveries there.
You were simply finding a niche to fit yourselves in and while there is some relevancy to that,don't make it more than what it is or was. Pop culture is meant to be inclusive not exclusive. This whole "super secret club house" vibe that a lot of you are putting out there is off-putting to say the least.
Plus,treating many of the pop culture touchstones of your time as sacred texts not to be disturbed is beyond going overboard. Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark is a walking talking disaster but that and another Hollywood reboot won't destroy the legacy that Stan Lee wrought(not to mention it has become great punchline material). Even tho those Star Wars prequels were a hot media mess,it's not the herald of the end of all greatness,I promise you:
I know,all of those instant experts out there who sprout quotes and references to things that they don't really know that much about are irritating but that's nothing new. There have always been those who rely on cheat sheets and cheat codes to one-up their info base and they burn out fast and are soon forgotten.
The folks who are honestly interested in learning more will carry forth and you could be of service to them by pointing the right way forward. Instead,many of you are indulging in your self pity party theme of "my specialness is no longer special" and lashing out at those who are or just seem to be more up to date. That Gran Torino approach only works for Clint Eastwood,guys:
What would be of actual help to you as the pop culture playing field widens is rolling with the new while still keeping the best of the old alive in your heart. Part of that switch over involves being more receptive to other and occasionally younger influences,especially from the girls.
Yes,some of you don't mind having the token gal pal on board but guess what,guys? There are legions of female fans out there who have been kicked to the sidelines for far too long and the savvier fellas on the new geek front have enlisted them in their ranks.
It's still a struggle for women to be as respected in certain industries like the comic book/graphic novel realm for one and if you are truly on the side of the outsider,then standing up and supporting them is the right thing to do. Not that they need you to do so,but it would be a strong sign of character on your part:
In conclusion,guys,don't hate on the next generation of Gleeks,neo-nerds or whatever the tagged on name is going to be for them. Embracing all creeds,colors and orientations is what the heroes of most of those sci-fi/fantasy stories you love so much strive to accomplish and if they are really your role models,shouldn't you follow some of their lead?
Railing against the changing of the guard is what many of the villains do in those stories as well and destroying the world in order to save it(as Oswalt mockingly insists on doing)is a major mission statement of theirs.
Ultimately,who do you want to be-the wise old mentor leading the way or the vindictive emperor clinging to those remaining threads of power anyway you can? The choice is yours,friends-choose wisely.
Lady T and the rest of the geek sisterhood
P.S. By the way,Patton,there is no need to speed up the beginning of the end. As with any self sub-staining system, pop culture and creativity will shake off the excess and renew itself again. Wait and see:
UPDATE: I just received this response from Edward Champion(whose Green Hornet review is linked to in this post)and at his request,I am adding it here:
"Actually, I am over myself. And I agree with you about grrl geeks struggling for self-respect (and being shit on by misogynists like Devin Faraci). If you read my essay carefully, you'll see that I'm complaining about the way in which the New Geeks wish to monetize their interests (at the expense of skepticism and anything more dignified than the stance of a rabid and fawning fanboy) and become some baser capitalistic tastemaster that is clearly at odds with the initial passion.
That's alarming on several levels. As I made clear in my piece by referencing a very recent movie (SHOOT EM UP), it's about embracing a culture that is all about integrity rather than the vanity of selling out."
I thank Ed for taking the time to read over this Open Letter and while I am happy to see that we can agree on some things(and possibly agree to disagree on others),he does seem to be taking his pop culture tastes a little too seriously. Maybe it's just me but this does sound a lot like a certain Doors fan's take on allowing new members in:
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