…(unless you want to be.)
so, those of you who have read enough of my posts are probably aware that i like to read some comic books on occasion. when the subject comes up, usually in regard to the newest superhero movie or something, and i reveal that, yes, i do enjoy a well told and well drawn comic tale (be it superhero or western or some other genre) i’m almost always met with the same response:
“you read comic books?!”
one would think i’d said i like to eat live rats or something. i go to parties, stay out late, play loud music, etc., how could i possibly be one of them?! but the general explanation that follows is, “you don’t seem the type; too smart; too cool, too (fill in the blank with whatever rationale you wish)…” but it all boils down the this perception that only “geeks” read comics (or watch science fiction, or whatever other activity is somehow deemed “weird”).
it’s really odd to me. elsewhere int he world, it’s quite common for people of all ages and walks of life to read comics (see japan for an easy example). millions watch comic book based movies every year (they aren’t all superheroes, by the way such as “road to perdition”). yet, in north american culture it’s seen as an oddity by some. it’s an attitude that’s been on the decline in recent years but it’s one still kept alive by some people. the strangest thing about the attitude is that the people doing the most to keep the “geek” are the fans of said entertainment themselves.
the funniest thing about this is, i get the same baffled reaction from comics readers, sci-fi fans, etc. because i don’t look, act, or identify myself as a walking stereotype, they think i couldn’t possibly be one of them. well, in a way they’re correct in their assumption.
i’m not a geek. i don’t think of myself in some self effacing manner. i’m comfortable with who i am and what i do. i don’t need to behave like a social pariah because of my tastes in entertainment (of all things! i mean, really, how absurd is that? not politics, art, etc., but entertainment?!) and i don’t really see any reason that i should. sports fans aren’t geeks because they are avid supporters of their chosen teams. nor are fans of mainstream tv shows. nor are music fans looked down upon for loving the awesome sounds crafted by yours truly 😉 so why would comics be any different? i think because some of the people identifying as, and behaving as, self described “geeks” don’t want to be seen as normal, healthy individuals. they’re more comfortable being disparaged and shunned. i think, deep down, they’re not comfortable with who they are and that’s a shame.
i’ll close with this, from an interview with one of my favorite writers, grant morrison:
I like that you find the word ‘geek’ offensive.
Yeah, it is, it’s circus freaks, degrading circus freaks who eat chicken heads. I came from the opposite, when people would call someone a geek, and I was like, “What’s the difference between someone who collects comics and someone who collects Britney Spears records or someone who collects football programs? You wouldn’t call those people geeks, so why are you calling these people geeks?” Not all of us who love comics collect them, there are other hobbies. They’re no different from most people who consume things and put them in the corner or put them in a drawer, that’s what I was trying to say. Anyone who’s into anything could be called a geek, but they don’t call them a geek. It’s just easier to use than any other word.