But I swear I’m still only a Level 3…

When did it become OK — nay, one might even say “cool” — to be a geek? This is a particularly weird trend, in my humble, geeked-out opinion. It seems geek culture is everywhere you turn. Thanks to Matt, I now know that GQ did a whole article on Geek Chic this fall. There are continual references to Star Wars on That 70s Show, which may not be the epitome of cool, but is most certainly mainstream. The Matrix, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Harry Potter are now the shit (measured by ticket sales, length of wait in lines to purchase associated merchandise, and the proliferation of said merchandise marketed to all age levels and both genders), and each is squarely placed in the sci-fi/fantasy aisle of the bookstore, next to Dungeons and Dragons and anime comic books, last refuge of the geek.

I spent the better part of my adolescence trying to hide my Anne McCaffrey books from my peers at school. I liked the series way too much not to read it at all, but cared much too much for fitting in to let on about it. And even so, I stopped bringing them to school when one guy so much as noticed them and commented. Hanging out with the theater folk in high school was a step up socially (from hanging out with the orchestra kids).

And I believe — feel free to correct me if I’m wrong — that I’ve done an admirable job of blending in. I have a very normal job, in university administration, at which I wear coordinating clothes approved by The Man from places like Banana Republic and Eddie Bauer. Many people would be surprised to learn the number of times I’ve read LOTR. Some scratch their heads in amazement upon learning that the game room in our house is devoted not to pool or air hockey, but my entire Nintendo collection, all major consoles included.

So imagine my surprise to discover that it’s now OK for me to openly debate the faithfulness of Peter Jackson’s renderings onscreen to Tolkien’s original conception in the novels. I’m delighted to help determine around the office which Rice college corresponds to which Harry Potter house, although still hesitant, because I’m only just beginning to believe that such an action will not brand me an outcast. I can quit concealing that I listen to mix CDs of video game music from Mega Man and the Legend of Zelda in my car!

That last one was too much, wasn’t it?

Leave a Reply