Thursday, May 19, 2005

"You've Got a Good Geek Cool Going For You."

I had a girl say that to me a while back (and subsequently stuck it into a screenplay I wrote. I had forgotten that it had been said to me until a friend read the screenplay and said "I would have thought that line sounded odd if I hadn't heard someone say it to you" and then I remembered that it had happened to me. One of those weird moments of life theft and having someone tell you something that happened to you).

No, that's not the whole point of this entry, today is the opening day of RotS, and I had to swing by the Arclight to see if I could get the group I'm going with dinner reservations (the Arclight has a bar and restaurant, to which we planned to get sloshed at). Yesterday two of my coworkers wore Star Wars T-Shirts, one for A New Hope, the other a Sith (he bought a poster and got the shirt, as I understand). Both wore theirs because they felt they couldn't wear them for the next couple weeks, or possibly ever again. The explanation given was the same as in High Fidelity "Don't be that guy wearing the Band T-shirt at their concert. Don't be that guy." So they wanted to show their allegiance without embarrassing themselves. As I went in to the Arclight, there were numerous people dressed in Jedi robes. Not even really good robes, either, but like cloth cut into robes (snobbery in my geek derision). I had to grab a picture on my cell phone, four of em, playing with plastic lightsabers, with another guy dressed as a Trekkie just cause, and a Princess Leia circa ANH. All I could do was laugh.

I guess, and this goes with anything - though I was less spiteful towards the LOTR dressers when I saw all three films back to back to back for the one day marathon - I have a certain amount of contempt for people who dress up for a movie that they haven't seen yet and don't know how it'll be. I guess they're saying they've drank the Kool-aid, but I can imagine nothing sadder, nor more amusing than the thought of one of those dudes strolling out of the screening, sitting down on the corner of the curb and bemoaning the waste of his time, if not his life. Perhaps people of this nature are so pre-sold that the movie cannot be bad, because they can rejigger whatever they see to meet or best their expectations. If that is the case, then what's the point of actually watching the movie?

But, and here's the meat of my point, which I've been meting out, am I a geek still? I mean you enter my place, and it's covered in posters, ahem, framed original one sheets. And little genre stuff, all things considered, though I do have a frame ESB in my kitchen. My place is crammed full of DVD's and books and magazines, with many of those books and magazines cinema centric. I think you can find Andrew Sarris's Auteur guide above my toilet, and a copy of Paulie Kael's Taking it All In a couple feet away. By all definitions of previous that makes me fanatical about movies.

And, to take it even more personal, I was an awkward adolescent. The films that turned me on as a youth were things like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Aliens, the Star Wars films, The Nightmare on Elm St. Films. When I was 14 I bought a laserdisc player. Though I was too large an individual to attract any bullying (I'm 6'3"-6"4" now, and probably was about six foot by the time I was 15), and though never one to hang in geek circles (I didn't play D&D, or anything like that) I spent much of my time in high school biding my time and watching movies. I had friends, but I was more passionate about the films I was watching, and couldn't really share with my peers. But it wasn't until college that I really blossomed out of that shell.

So, okay awkward adolescence, and movie posters on his apartment wall, check, what else? I worked at a video store, could probably recite the majority of Holy Grail verbatim (or at least used to, I haven't been able to sit through the film for a very long tim), and have a large collection of cinema centric T-Shirts and memorabilia (a bar of Soap from Fight Club, etc).

But there's a bunch of catches. I work in the film business and have done so since 99. It's my job. I have had sex, and have had it with multiple partners. I do not live anywhere near the vicinity of my parent's basement, and haven't lived at home since I was 22 when I spent three months doing the no rent thing after college. I can and like to dance; evidence points to me having rhythm. Most of the movie T-shirts and memorabilia I own is because I got it as part of working in the business. I probably wouldn't have half the collection of DVD's that I do if I hadn't gotten a lot of them through my critic work. I guess I've fulfilled the geek dream by turning my passion into my business. I am paid to be involved with movies.

And I look at a lot of my friends, and you know what? They would fall under the auspices of the same geek stigma. Two of my friends (a guy and a girl who are living together) actually played some D&D not so long ago, and both come home from work, crack beers and have been known to play Everquest into the long hours of the night. They are also attractive people, or that is to say, other than the guy wearing glasses (if that itself is a sign of geekery... who's to say), you'd have no idea they were geeks. Other friends in this geek range are married and have (a) kid(s). I know guys who fit under the qualifications of geekery and get laid all the time. Whatever the bad or socially akward stigmas attached to geekery cannot be attached to my friends. And one of the more interesting developments in geekery is that for a while now there are decidedly femme geeks who are not round and splotchy. Much like how my friends who could be labeled geeks are not round and splotchy. Just as I can say for myself that I am not round and splotchy.

But I look at those guys in their poorly made robes and I think to myself that they are dorks. But I would easily brand myself a dork. I just have limits of dorkery. You get me going, and I can rant as long as Knock Off's running time about how great a movie it is (91 minutes, I could do it). I guess, and this is no shock, that there is a class system in dorks/geeks/nerds.

But at some point I think a new label needs to be developed to describe this phenomenon, of the functional dork, the dorks who have no problem meeting members of the opposite (ir in some cases same) sex. Because it's not that I'm a geek dilettante, but there are some elements of this passion that I feel wholly removed from. It's the 21st century, and the world needs to meditate on the nature of geekdom, and all its facets. Then again, I've surrounded myself with the likeminded. Perhaps a regular Joe sees me wearing my Hulk T-Shirt and Kill Bill Vol.2 jacket and thinks "Look, a geek... I bet that guy thinks he's cool, or something." That though ties up my point. There is geek cool. This isn't a contradictory thing, even though (by some definitition of geekery) it should be.