Jun 21, 2011

Are you questioning Miss USA's geek cred?

My first question is, "Why?" Geek credibility, especially Geek Girl credibility, seems to be a hot button topic as of late. In fact, Action Chick Katrina Hill is putting together a panel at San Diego Comic-Con next month called "Oh, You Sexy Geek!" to discuss this phenomena. I will be on that panel. Can you be classified as a geek if you're attractive, what defines that attractability and who has the right to tell someone else they aren't a geek? Take a look at this video of our new Miss USA from California, Alyssa Campanella, and then we'll discuss further. (Her portion begins at 2:25 in the video.)



Campanella answers a question posed to her about her affinity for collecting history books. In the midst of her response, the newly crowned Miss USA happens to say, "I watch Game of Thrones, I watched Camelot...I know those are fantasy but I also watch the Tudors, so I'm a huge history geek."


When I heard that, my first thought was, "this chick is awesome!" Do you know what some other people thought? "SHE'S A LIAR." Seriously. Their first thought was to assume Campanella was lying about liking the HBO series (which has huge viewership) and simply pandering to the audience and judges.

Really? Really?? Because, while I don't like to make assumptions about geeks at all, I find it highly doubtful there was a large geek audience for the show (which had online voting) or that the judges, Real Housewife Caroline Manzo, rapper Lil Jon, Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler or chef Rocco DiSpirito would really care all that much if she were a geek. Should actress Mariel Hemingway, who also acted as a judge, care because she was in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace?? This is how ridiculous the whole thing sounded to me.

For the record, Campanella identified herself as a "history geek." That's all that should matter. But for some, just the mere mention of a genre television show by an attractive woman in the spotlight sets off alarms. Teresa Jusino wrote on Twitter, "What's sad is this reflects how they feel about themselves. 'HOT ppl aren't geeks, only NOT-hot ppl like me!'" Is that what it boils down to? That in order to be a geek you must not be attractive by society's standards? I'd hate to think so but some other comments on Twitter did not fill me with hope.

Chris Flocco wrote, "anybody that can walk in a bar and get free drinks all night shouldn't constitute as a 'geek'. 'less they're doing ppl's hmwrk." Gary Smithey wrote, "I'll belive that when i see it...those ladies are pretty pictures with personalitys of ironing board..i fear there are no geeks." Michael Hayes added, "Much as I hate to say it, when a Miss USA calls herself a geek, my first thought is 'bandwagon hopper.'"

Hate to say it? So why do it? Why not take a person at face value until you have serious reason to think otherwise? Why does being a beauty pageant contestant mean you can't also like Star Wars (which Campanella also mentioned at another point in the competition)? What is at the base of this denial of identity? Is it, as Jusino states, a matter of the indiviuals' self-worth? Or is it a matter of what some feel is a secret society being infiltrated by those who haven't been a fan of certain "geeky" things since birth and don't deserve to be let in now? Or perhaps it's something even worse. Julia Sherred wrote on Twitter, "All those who are questioning anyone's cred are just as bad as those who bullied them. Pathetic." Is a history of past abuse causing those individuals to become the abuser themselves? There is a precedent for such behavior.

Campanella is a redhead (albeit a bottled one) who actually hails from my home state of New Jersey. Coincidentally enough, E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic who was co-hosting the pageant, along with Bravo's Andy Cohen, mentioned Campanella's likeness to Poison Ivy - a comic book character - as she was walking up to take her question. Poison Ivy may be a pretty well known character and Rancic may work in the entertainment industry but I thought it was pretty cool she made that remark too especially since Campanella quickly followed it up with Poison Ivy's trademark kiss to the audience.

See, the bottom line is - ANYONE can be a geek. There should be no argument about that. I've tried to make a call for tolerance in the "geek community" before and while a lot of people took to heart what I had to say there are still lots of people out there who can't accept a geek outside of the particular mold they've made in their head. It's a shame because having a limited world view like that really prevents you from knowing some amazing people and hearing different opinions on things. I congratulate Campanella on her win. From the videos I've watched she seems like an intelligent and confident young woman. I hope we can talk Game of Thrones one day, not because we're geeks but because we are human beings who like an AMAZING television show.

84 comments:

Anonymous said...

Goodness! That's crazy. It's entirely possible for "hot" and "sexy" girls to be geeks. While this will make me sound terribly narcissistic, I'm one myself. I've a list as long as I am tall of guys who know I'm a geek, believe I'm a geek, and think I'm one of the sexiest things, if not THE sexiest thing, they've ever seen.

If living proof no longer counts, though, I don't know how to add credit to our geeky Miss USA.

SageShinigami said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Vice Presidential Action Rangers said...

Ive noticed the same thing. Like the media had this epiphany and realized that their core demographic doesn't just want attractive girls, but attractive girls who like the same stuff they like. Because thats what turns a fan into a fanboy and the difference can be major dollars. BUT fanboys are smarter than the average consumer (or at least ask alot more annoying questions) and dont like a put on. So I think the current mood of questioning a girls geek credibility all boils down to, no one likes a poser.

SageShinigami said...

"Bandwagon hopper?" Praytell, what benefit do you get from hopping on the geek bandwagon? Is it the promise of it being more difficult to make friends that aren't virtual? Or perhaps the likelihood that more people will giggle at you behind your back or claim you're a "kidult" that needs to grow up? Or perhaps you enjoy the idea of it being harder to find a date with similar interests to yours? I'd love for whoever said that to explain to me what you get for being a geek...'cause it'd be sweet to claim this imaginary perk package.


As far as Miss USA being a geek...I think, more than anything, it's sad that you can't watch shows like the Tudors, Camelot, or Game of Thrones (which I don't even like), without having to admit to being a geek. Like you have to admit it before people label you as one to take some of the sting out. They're really popular shows, and that audience didn't come purely from all the "hardcore" geeks in America. I'm not sure why you'd be a geek for simply enjoying a television show or three--what else should you be watching? Reality shows? Blah.

But then, she also says she's a history geek. I think that's neat, and have no reason to doubt her because as you so succinctly put it: None of the judges would've cared. I'm not sure why knowing stuff and being attractive have to be mutually exclusive.

Dave maulding said...

I noticed and appreciated Rancic's Poison Ivy comment, too. I'm also betting that Campanella is also more literate than her detractors that were used in the post.
I agree that it's sad that for a community once persecuted for what they liked, a good portion of the geek community sure picked up that elitist attitude fast when geeky topics started becoming more "in" than before.
I wonder if people still question Vin Diesel about his past love for playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Rainbow Nerdette said...

Why should it matter if she'd be a "lesser geek" or even a "band wagon hopper" anyway? If she wants to refer to herself as a geek, good for her. Good for geeks too by the way, cause she does seem gorgeous, likable and smart. Those people are nice to have in any group.

I happen to be a band wagon hopper myself. I have always been geeky, but only found out there were more people like me, AND there was a name for it too, after other nerds and geeks started to "decloset" all over the place. It was only then that my geekiness could started blossoming instead of being repressed as something that was pointed out to me as freaky and unfitting in everyday society.

Much like with gayness, the first step to respect for geekness is realising there is a closet and coming out of it too, which she did. Who cares if she has her geek streed cred yet? If she doesn't, she'll get there eventually, or hop off the band wagon again, but regardless of which one'll happen, she'll be good company allong the ride, like anyone who ads anything positive to any group :-D

Arturo said...

To be honest, my first question was, "And?" I mean, if she's a GoT fan and a history and science enthusiast, that's great, good on her. But I find myself hesitating before calling this a victory for fandom at large.

It's not unfair to suggest that because of her adherence to a body standard defined as "hot" and a relatively prominent position in media culture - the beauty queen - that she will get a pass from the non-geeks who watched her win the crown. Her geekdom will be framed so as to make her "exotic" for certain advertising demographics. And it's not like any young non-geeks watching the show, or looking her pics up online later are going to read that and think, "Wow, if Miss USA likes reading about history maybe I should stop beating up that one kid."

Recognizing that privilege isn't the same as self-loathing. I don't blame Campanella for the skepticism being thrown at her, nor do I question her fandom, but the culture she's trafficking in does lend itself to that. And unfortunately, it's easier for many people to blame her than the producers and advertisers who shape that culture.

By comparison, if Campanella were plus-size, wore glasses out of necessity, or an LGBT who did not look "hot," her geekdom would probably be either assumed, or lead to her being defined as "just a geek," not accounting for any other interests. She also would not have been allowed anywhere near this kind of event.

As I remaked to Kat, my follow-up question for Campanella would have been to ask what she would do when witnessing "non-hot geeks" get bullied or harassed at school. Even saying something like this, I think, would allay some people's concerns:

...I'm sorry to say that, yes, I did see people get picked on for liking certain shows, or for being good at math, or for wearing glasses. And I wasn't in a position where I could do much about it. But as Miss USA I would use my platform to speak out against bullying ...

And I think that's been something missing from the overall discussion re: celebrities and fandom. It's absolutely unfair that the question has centered on women. But it's also unfair that when actors and actresses say (or are scripted to say) they're geeks, that people who didn't get that genetic opt-out are expected to accept them blindly and buy product from them. A little more empathy at times, I think, and advocacy at others, would help bridge that gap for at least a few people.

Self-identification is absolutely Campanella's right. It's also just the beginning of the discussion. I do think she is in a position where she can push for something positive if she wants to. That would be more beneficial to our communities than her victory.

royallance said...

Anyone who questions the the geekyness of anyone who is not as awkward as Michelle Flaherty from American Pie has a wee bit more spare time than one would admit.

Epilepsy_doctor said...

Who is anyone to judge anyone else geek or otherwise. Ok she likes geeky things and refers to herself as a geek. That's cool that being a geek is nothing to try to hide any more. All geeks should be proud of who they are!!!!
My husband and I are both geeks but we are geeks of different kinds. I am a comic book and science geek where as he is a gamer and computer geek. But it makes us who we are.
I have epilepsy and am about to start my adventure to be a Dr. after a major accident ( see my blog for more info). My husband is behind me 100%!
Anyway... Geeks come in all shapes, sizes and races we are all wonderful! It shouldn't mater if you are Miss. America or a 33 year old mom with epilepsy who is starting her career. Just be proud of who you are!

The Nerd said...

It's not unheard of to pander to the judges in those things, so I would not be surprised if she was just on the bandwagon.

But everyone has a little bit of geek inside them and I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss her for admitting to it.

mrphy42 said...

First off, good on her for liking what she likes and being cool with that. It is great. I wish more people could and i don't question her geek credit at all. That being said here is my take on the "why" posed here.

It isn't that beautiful people can't be geeks, I think it is questioned a lot of the time because people have the attitude of "Now they are taking this away from us too." When I was a kid, being called a geek was derogatory. It was an insult. One we took and wore as a badge of honor. The beautiful people turned their noses up at us, scoffed at our hobbies and interests, pushed us around and shut us out, because we were geeks.

We took that and owned it. We started to wear it as a badge of honor. We grew up and put it out in the open. Geeks made movies and they were hits. They became television producers and slipped anime into proramming instead of bootleg chat like it had been. We owned it and put it into the mainstream. The thing is, now that we have gained that acceptance, people no longer know how to define themselves. Geek went from derogatory, to something to be proud of, and now it is becoming commonplace. For a while it was something special to be proud of. A way of saying "This is who and what I am, and I am proud of it!" The subtext was "Take that pretty girls that rejected me for being a geek!"

So if now they arecalling themselves geeks too, and still snubbing us, where does that leave us? Are we back to being losers with nothing special to claim because the beautiful people now took what made us special and still reject us and shut us out? So, people shout power to try to hold onto what we worked so hard for.

That is just one theory at least.

Anonymous said...

This quote from mrphy42 sums it all up right here:
"So if now they arecalling themselves geeks too, and still snubbing us, where does that leave us? Are we back to being losers with nothing special to claim because the beautiful people now took what made us special and still reject us and shut us out?"

A lot of the time when these uber-hot chicks come out of the woodwork it really ends up feeling like pandering *cough*OliviaMunn*cough. They say one thing, and then the minute the camera is off they are living the life of every other hollywood starlet wannabe.
We hardly care who likes to watch what. That isn't now nor never the point. The point is, "Geek" is a term a lot of us had to endure growing up and it wasn't the warm & fuzzy "gee how cool" term that it happens to be now.

Just because Miss USA watches "Game of Thrones" doesn't mean she is a geek. The show is watched by millions of people so I am guessing it goes way beyond the niche "geek" audience.

Larry Litle said...

Has the geek community really come to this? Have we split down the lines of Xavier and Magneto? We have the group that wants to live peacefully with non-geeks and help them appreciate what we bring to the table including our beauty. There are those that want some sort of litmus test for geekiness and to remain separated from the non-geeks of the world.

My ten year old daughter is beautiful. She is a cheerleader, into gymnastics, and a real girly-girl. She also reads comics, watches Sci Fi movies and TV, and goes to opening day of geek films with her father. For the most part, she is comfortable with being a geek girl while also being a girly girl. I will be furious if her geek creed is ever questioned just because of her beauty.

Thank you, Jill, for your attention to the ongoing issue. I am feeling a blog post rant about this boiling up in me.

Chris said...

Well stated. Perhaps even more so than 'beauty,' geekness comes from within. Geeks come in all shapes, sizes, races, genders, ages, and about almost all topics, and the world is a better place for it. If anything, exclusionary geeks are the ones who might need their papers checked for legitimacy.

Lisa said...

Just to clarify, she also called herself a science geek in the off live air Q/A session (that also factored into their scores) when asked about evolution being taught in school. It's possible that she calls herself a geek not to pander but rather because these hobbies of hers: thinking science is interesting and bringing it up in conversation with her (and i'm admittedly being a jerk by assuming here) mainstream friends and watching shows like game of thrones and tudors cause her friends to jokingly call her a geek. A lot of geeks are so sheltered from being shunned and thus only hanging out with geeks that they forget that around a mainstream crowd this might be enough to classify her as the "geek of the group" A lot of you might scoff at this, but as someone who's spent lots and lots of time being friends with non-geeks, this seems like a possibility.
Either way... I don't really care, if a little girl who justgot picked on at school for being called a geek saw this, they wouldn't sit around questioning the geek-hood of this woman or her claim to the title, they'd more likely think it's cool and make them less ashamed. I think it's great for everyone that the geek word is getting more mainstream, it is losing it's power as a mean taunt or insult.

Randy (formerly GeekBoy) said...

To quote one of the greatest movies of all time: "You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed."

The point being, these labels are kind of arbitrary and imposed and limiting, and we should ideally outgrow them. "Geek" was my badge in high school too, and even beyond that, but I don't own that label any more. Sure, I might refer to myself as a geek sometimes, and I certainly still do some geeky things, like read comics (less often) and consume sci-fi. But I'm much more than that too. I'm unique. I'm me.

So if a new generation wants to change the meaning of what it means to be a geek, then I say let them have it. It won't change who I am ... unless I let it. I'm only a loser if I think of myself as a loser, not on the basis of any labels. After all, how many times has the definition of what it means to be "cool" changed since people started using that word as a positive decades ago?

Alternatively, here's how I put it to a particularly obnoxious and judgmental geek over on Jill's FB page ...

At the end of the day, "geek" is a word. You don't own it. Geeks don't own it. Nobody does. If you want to get technical, it was originally owned by circus freaks. So if you haven't bit the head off a live chicken lately, then you're a pretty much a poseur. Go further back and the original German word "geck" has a string of possible derogatory meanings, from "fool" to "fop" to "one who cheats". Which one of those do you identify with?

Madison said...

What really frosts my Pop Tarts is that if it were Wil Wheaton or Nathan Fillion saying those words no one would question their "geek cred".

I am old enough to remember when a woman couldn't possibly be beautiful AND smart. Or have a career AND a family.

You raise an interesting point about "born geeks". It reminds me of the days when women's clubs in universities did not admit anyone who was not born a woman.

May the Gods help us if we fall into the geekier than thou sinkhole.

Someguy said...

I never did realize we became an exclusive club. I don't have any reason, one way or another, to doubt if she is a history geek or not. If I get to meet her and she is nice and kind to me that's all I need. I wouldn't claim that I'm all knowing, in anything, and always leave an open mind. That is how I learn and learned from many different sources, some who would surprise you. I She seemed very knowledgeable in the clip and to give her some comic credit, when she was referred to as Ivy she went into a very believable Ivy movement. While Ivy may be a more well known character not as many would have been able to pantomime it so well.
It just sucks for ugly idiots lime myself to be surrounded by beautiful people who are smarter then us.

Amber Love said...

I agree with you, Jill. There seems to be the broad definition of "geek" used prolifically and then there's the specific genre which is often not explicitly stated. Just because True Blood had a presence at CCI, does that make a fan of True Blood a geek? I'd say no. It's just pop culture. Just a tv show but you don't necessarily become a geek for liking one show.

I would be more comfortable if people were more specific with their classifications and said something like "comic geek," "gaming geek," "goth geek," ...

And then there's the difference between "nerd" and "geek" which will be argued ad nauseum.

M. McGriff said...

You know this bruhaha about Miss USA is ridiculous and justr serves as another way to divide ourselves. Since when does someone's attractiveness level determine what their likes/dislikes should be? Is there some pre-requisite for geek guys when it comes to how attractive they are?? This really and truly gets under my skin because I don't think I'm the hottest thing in the world but I happen to be a girl who likes shopping and cosmetics just as much as I love Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Star Trek. So are those interests mutually exclusive??

M. McGriff said...

You know this bruhaha about Miss USA is ridiculous and justr serves as another way to divide ourselves. Since when does someone's attractiveness level determine what their likes/dislikes should be? Is there some pre-requisite for geek guys when it comes to how attractive they are?? This really and truly gets under my skin because I don't think I'm the hottest thing in the world but I happen to be a girl who likes shopping and cosmetics just as much as I love Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Star Trek. So are those interests mutually exclusive??

Lauren said...

I don't think the reason people are questioning Miss USA's geekiness is solely because she is gorgeous. I think it's the reasons she gave.

Obviously there wasn't time during the pageant for her to have an extended discussion about the Star Wars extended universe, why she believes in evolution, or who her favorite character on 'Game of Thrones' is. But that's the sort of thing that would have cemented it.

If somebody -- nobody how they look -- tells me they love Star Wars but declines to go beyond that, I wonder if they're just trying to get on my good side since they know I like it. Miss USA really didn't have a chance to prove her geekiness.

Kristyn Burtt said...

It's also interesting to note that she is dating Torrance Coombs, an actor on The Tudors.


KB
http://redcarpetcloset.tv/

nico said...

I think this response to Miss USA's geek cred has two symptoms.

The first is geek self-loathing, which you tapped on quite nicely.

The second is, oddly enough, ownership. You ever love a local band and see all of their shows? Then they get national attention and, though the music hasn't changed, you don't like them quite as much? It's because they're no longer yours and yours alone. Geeks want to be accepted, but at the same time want to enjoy the fringe status they feel like they've earned. It's the whole "firsties" phenomena.

She watched Game of Thrones and Camelot. Good for her. Why challenge that? The more people watch and enjoy interesting programming, the more good shows networks will deliver.

Personally, I think the history geeks should be more up in arms than comic book geeks... =)

console_gamer said...

I think the problem here is not that she says she is a geek. The problem is the qualifications to be a geek. The people that have a problem with her probably lived their entire life as a hardcore geek playing d&d, videogames, computers etc.. they don't think watching two geek tv shows and a couple of movies is enough to "earn" that title. We may have too much geek pride...

Pedro said...

YES! I tried tweeting at you but I had an experience at my LCBS where the guys that work there called me a NORM. What they hell does that even mean? I have been a life long comic/sci-fi/toy collector and was shocked by the statement. If anything the Geek community should be about inclusion not stupidity.

Miranda EarthCaller said...

Perhaps I'm wrong, which is fine, would not be the first time. I'm perfectly capable to change my opinion based on fact and observation. But for now, here is my take on this: Being a HOT Chic, makes you HOT and desirable to any man, women what have you. Being GEEK is irregardless of looks or Hotness. I dont know how being a history "buff" counts as Geek. Perhaps I need more coffee to get that point. But if Miss California were to love history and star trek or comics, then yes she'd be geek. I think people are getting carried away with using the term geek. If she continues walking run ways and all that jazz, then shes a run way model that love history. Ya wanna come and MMO with me Miss Cali? Perhaps she is in to more than just modeling and History, I hope so, cause modeling is not geek, it's drama and Hollywood glamour.

Miranda EarthCaller said...

Oops I forgot to add.....One can be HOT and still be geek yes. Certainly, no doubt about it. It is what one is "in to" that makes one geek.

the Atomic Cupcake said...

Ooh, we should judge people on their looks, and then exclude them from our little club.

Or maybe, there's no correlation between attractiveness and intellect. Maybe reading comics isn't less fun if you do it with a pretty face.

There's an oft repeated message in these movies, tv shows, and comic books we love: be yourself. It's what brought geekdom into its current prominence in pop culture in the first place. Who are we to tell this girl who she has to be?

Lisa said...

Nicely done. As a history geek (two degrees in archaeology, one in archives), tech geek (decade-plus career in web development), beer geek (certified BJCP judge), general genre geek and all-around geek mom, I'm happy to welcome her to the club. Just because she doesn't have the geek cred paper trail I've accrued over the years (yet!) doesn't mean she can't join in. It's one thing to define your own geekdoms, it's another thing to decide that someone doesn't belong to your club because of their gender, appearance, personality, etc. It's about time others recognized that we ladygeeks don't conform to a single stereotype.

I don't need to see her identification...

adrian said...

it does seem exclusive that being hot should preclude being geeky. i'm all for hot geeks. lord knows, i ain't one myself.
but if you have a history of never having met a hot geek, well, that covers it, doesn't it? i think a big part of it is regional-here in connecticut, it is so exceedingly rare to find female geeks *AT ALL* that when one does crop up, and you can't tell if she's a geek or a cheerleader, of course you're going to be suspicious. things here ar very sharply delineated. girls just aren't permitted the knowledge that they can have geeky pursuits here. my entire middle and high school time i never met one comic reading girl. only met a couple here and there since. i have been here 26 years, and there is not ONE comic shop i haven't been to here multiple times. i go to nearly all the small shows and connecticon, and the fact is, the geek girl population is about one tenth of one percent of precisely zero. ok, that's a mathematical exaggeration based on an impossibility, but lord, they ain't many of 'em. take "hot" off the table for a minute. if you never met or have met like, freakin three geek girls, why would you ever ever believe that they weren't aberrations?

i'm not trying to excuse the silly statements from miss usa's geek detractors. i'm just trying to point out we shouldn't really be shocked by those statements. ashamed maybe, but not shocked.

maybe in jersey it's a very different thing. i dunno. i've spent about 4 hours throughout my entire life in jersey. you have to tell me. maybe 40% of women there have 5 or more longboxes full, can tell you the atomic number of californium, or code c++. somehow i doubt it. people didn't believe gorillas existed before they put one in a zoo. (no, im not implying geek girls are gorillas.)

We're also missing a bigger point here-"geek" has diluted to anyone with an intense interest in anything.(more often not so intense) it used to be a very specific subset of attitudes, APtitudes, and entertainment interests. now anyone can claim to be a "geek" while there rest of us "G"eeks (see what i did there?) stand by, no longer so special(to ourselves). We used to have a narrow spectrum that made us Geek. we used to be on the inside of something. now you can have a history geek, and only a history geek-they don't have to like GL, or Bats, or know the atomic weight of *anything*; hell, i've heard of *cosmetics* geeks. how far do we have to dilute it?

and here's something *else* to chew on. are we now so desperate to gain acceptance, that we *ourselves* accept anyone, anyone- to the point where *none* of us are anything specific anymore? Are we trading unique for inclusive, which then creates generic?

at any rate, an evening in front of the tube with miss america and Ned Stark can't be a bad thing. It would be disappointing to have *only* television shows as a commonality, but what can ya do?

Nightwyrm said...

Oh for f....

She called herself a "history geek", inferring that she has a love of historical dramas. She's not about to go to a con and pry a comic away from the sweaty man-boobs of some basement-dwelling "traditional" geek. These cred-doubters need to pull their heads out of their butts and realise there's a real world out there.

Glenn said...

To approach this in the best way, I think there needs to be some level ground, particularly to the definition of what a geek is and of course the difference between acting and being so. There are so many interpretations listed amongst those commenting and the references you mention.

Peregrine John said...

Ah, Nightwyrm got to it before I did. So instead, I shall simply point and laugh at those who have so richly earned it in this ridiculous kerfuffle.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying for years and years that this shouldn't be an issue. I'm a beautiful woman and a geek myself and I never understood the notion that the two shouldn't go hand-in-hand. Why anyone expects me to demonstrate my geek cred. (As so often happens) is just a puzzlement.

And I know this is going to sound harsh, but it's about time someone said it: Those who think they've been rejected by pretty girls because they were geeks need to wake up already. You weren't rejected for geekiness, but for being a loser. Geeks and losers aren't the same thing. Stop acting like a loser.

I've met plenty of boys/men in my life who assumed I was shallow because of my looks. That's why guys like you get rejected, not because you like comics, sci-fi/fantasy, and videogames. It's sour grapes. If you assume you're going to be rejected, you probably will be.

Pretty people never took anything away from you. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that most of those girls who rejected you in high school didn't go around thinking of themselves as pretty. They probably went through high school feeling awkward and uncomfortable, too. It's called adolescence, and most of us outgrow it.

Eleni said...

Thank you for writing this! I was noticing all the skeptics on Twitter, and it really bothered me. If she loves Game of Thrones and Star Wars, is obsessed with Renaissance Europe, and on top of that considers herself to be a geek, then who are we to deny her? It's jealousy, I suppose, when we see someone who's more like ourselves than we expected, except for being gorgeous and winning a beauty pageant. But jealousy is never a good justification for exclusion.

Geeks are a varied bunch. On top of our varied geeky interests, some like sports, some like singing, some like acting, some like cooking. Why should we be surprised if some like competing in beauty pageants? It doesn't matter how geeky she seems in comparison to me. She loves Game of Thrones, she's beautiful, and she won. Good for her!

beccathegreat said...

It's interesting to me how often guy geeks say they never met a girl who was into comics or other geeky things, especially in high school. And my question is, "How do you know?"

I went through most of school without advertising my love for geeky things. I didn't make a secret of it, but unless the subject came up, I didn't discuss it with most of my classmates. But I'd be willing to bet that I knew more about comics than anyone in my graduating class.

Also, if someone accuses me of being too geeky, or these days, not geeky enough, so what? If you want to exclude me from your little clique, be like that, but I'm not going to waste a lot of time arguing with you about it. I have comics to read, movies to watch, games to play.

That's the whole thing about it, isn't it, the cliquish mentality? You don't get to define me. I define myself. Miss USA defines herself. You define yourself.

You define yourself.

Alexa said...

I agree completely! Frankly, "geek" and "nerd" have expanded in terms of meaning & use over the years, as being "geeky" and "nerdy" has become, dare I say, trendy. While there have been some actresses who called themselves "nerds" for liking Star Wars and it was a little ridiculous, I think it's adorable and awesome that she called herself a History Geek. It sounds like she is -- she derives geeky joy from watching historical dramas.

Men, in general, seem to be a bit defensive when it comes to women also defining themselves as geeks and nerds, I've noticed. Geekism is a sacred man-club of comic book, LOTR & WOW lovers... nevermind that many, many women also love these things (and other things that they can be equally geeky about). But then an attractive woman?! No way! I think they think that attractive = popular and part of geek street cred is being unpopular (and carrying that chip with you for life).

I think geeks/nerds should embrace hot nerd ladies... the less pejorative the terms are, the less teasing and grief young nerd boys & girls will get. I think the cool nerd revolution is a good thing.

Scooter Atreides said...

Ugh, This crap again. :(

I've devoted far too much time to this non-issue and the subnormals who perpetuate it, so I'll just say this:

Newsflash, Jackholes: Not every Geek on earth is as unpleasant and miserable as you apparently are.

Your little clubhouse has got pretty people in it--deal with it.

ButMadNNW said...

I've lived on this outer spiral arm of the Milky Way for 32 years and for most of that time, I wasn't aware there were specific criteria one had to meet in order to identify as a geek. Is there a list somewhere that I can consult?

I am a geek. I am also female. I don't like LotR and think Star Wars is okay; I never really got into comics; I've recently gotten into WoW; I love Douglas Adams, Star Trek, and Doctor Who, among other things. If any of these things don't make me "geeky enough" for you, well, who asked you?

As far as I can tell from my experience, geekdom is not limited to specific interests. Most frequently, it may be a matter of liking something that not many other people like. That liking of a rare-ish topic leads to a certain level of exclusion from "society", so we (or Society) label ourselves geeks. When we find other geeks, we say, "Yay! Someone who understands me!" I'm very disappointed to be seeing geekdom become yet another way to exclude others when we've all experienced that exclusion ourselves. The in-fighting, the "my fandom/interest is better than yours" - it needs to stop.

As far as I'm concerned, EVERYONE is a geek of some form or another, because my definition of "geekery" is "intense interest leading to in-depth knowledge of one or a few particular topics". So yes, to my mind, there CAN be people who are "just" science geeks or sports geeks or comic geeks or history geeks or scifi geeks. But usually that level of interest in one topic spills out to other topics (because geeks are intelligent, inquisitive people), so I don't think ANY of us are just one kind of geek. Ergo, demanding that people identify as a particular subset of geek rather than just a geek seems ridiculous.

As for the difference between nerd and geek, my sister's always said: "A geek is a nerd who's not afraid to admit it."

Texrat said...

This is the stupidest crap.

Many hot people started off plain for years and then developed late. I knew several girls who did that in and after high school. And guess what? ALL were geeks. Hot geeks that, stupid me, I saw as just friends. Man if I could go back in time and kick my own stupid geek butt...

Anyway, just shut up, naysayers. You're wrong.

Anonymous said...

You seem to be missing the whole point that many 'geeks' were the butt of jokes and taunting. That is where the 'anger' comes from, them that question anyone who doesn't fit their view of a geek may feel that person can't know what it means to be a geek. To be labeled 'geek' and looked down on it is made worse if you didn't fit in somewhere. I'm sure some simply doubt anyone who isn't relegated to certain social circles would have their passion for things either, why/how could they if not left to their own devices as an outsider.

Yes anyone can be a geek but often it is a typical group that are labeled geek by people that look like Miss USA. That has changed in the last 20 years but it doesn't go away especially for those that lived it or are living it. It goes back to high school where many people became the kind of person they'll be for the rest of their life.

As far as blindly accepting what people say to be true sorry but mild doubt absent proof reins when it comes to the media and those living in it. Politicians lie to make themselves seem 'just like you', so do many celebrities, artists, etc. Those people aren't all 'just like you' some are but many aren't. Having lots of money and living in the spotlight isn't like living paycheck to paycheck. Yes we are talking about a pageant but these people are on TV, how many 'ordinary' people go on TV as a regular part of their lives? We won't discuss 'reality TV' because that is just the bane of human existence and more importantly the scripted TV show's migration from network to cable.

Now I don't doubt what she said because I don't care, I have no vested interest, or really any interest in what she likes or doesn't like. She can call herself a 'geek' if she wants, it may have happened that she was an outsider and grew out of that according to the world, seems so. People can 'geek out' about anything and be any type of geek like a history geek but the negative isn't something anyone can be by simply saying it.

Only some people were treated and made to feel like outsiders, looked down on or actually 'insulted' by getting called geek, nerd, weirdo, freak, etc and that is IMO a large part of why there is 'outrage' at this person labeling themselves as a geek.

beccathegreat said...

It's misplaced outrage, then. Not all pretty people made fun of or mistreated others. And here's the point many "bitter geeks" are missing: you're not the only ones who were mistreated in high school.

I'm a geek and I'm beautiful. I've always been a geek and I've always been beautiful. I'll tell you right now, and you may not believe it, that I've been mistreated far more for being beautiful than I ever was for being a geek.

Labeling people isn't of much use in the real world. You can be labeled in hurtful ways other than being called a "geek." Trust me. If the people you thought of as" pretty people" mistreated you in high school, I'm sorry. But they didn't do it because they were pretty. They did it because they were cruel.

The sad truth is, beautiful people are resented. And beautiful women, especially, have to live up to a standard that isn't expected of everyone else. That's why I'm expected to defend my geek cred all the time. Sorry, but I refuse to let it be my hang-up.

Sorry, but I'm not going to let it be my hang-up.

beccathegreat said...

In addition: It amazes me the casual assumption that Miss USA was never mistreated or looked down upon or called names. Being pretty doesn't give you a free pass from being mistreated.

ComicsGeekGuy said...

Beautiful women can't be geeks/nerds/dorks/whatever? Guess Jill will have to start blogging about non-geeky stuff then, because she obviously can't be a geek under that restriction.

What a crock!

zm said...

She's a "geek" because she watches a tv show? Uh okay.

Anonymous said...

I don't think she was lying about liking Game of Thrones or anything; hell, it's an HBO show and a damn good series, we should all be /glad/ that she likes it!

Also, being a "geek" should not be defined by how attractive someone is. Isn't being a geek defined by ones interests? Besides, she didn't say she was a comic-reading, scifi-watching, DnD-playing geek, she said that she geeked out over history. It's not really the same, but would it matter if it was? Why do people feel so uncomfortable without a label nowadays? We should just let people like what they like and deal with it. It doesn't matter if they're prettier than you. If you begin to shun people because you don't want to believe that someone more attractive than you is allowed to like the same things, that makes you as shallow as all the popular kids that made fun of you for liking it in the first place.

Anonymous said...

She said she was a History Geek, which just means she likes history and loves learning about the past while watching shows, whether factual or fiction, that are based in old eras of time. She probably is, in my opinion. If she had said something like a Gamer Geek, I would have a bit more doubt.

Dan said...

It is sad that people think that you need to be "unattractive" to be a geek. Have they never seen the amount of slave Leia's at a convention, or some of the other questionably convention costumes? Adrianne Curry is considered beautiful, and she is a self proclaimed star wars nerd. peoples misconceptions need to be over hauled. there is no cookie cutter mold we are shaped from, don't judge a book by its cover i guess is the best way to state it.

Vanthia said...

...hmm... I think maybe part of what's going on is that many geeks remember a childhood of being teased and tormented to varying degrees because of their geekdom... (myself included). being a geek used to be a lot harder than it is now, and perhaps they're resenting that now that the internet has expanded our world and made everything 'geek' more accessible to a wider number of people that there are those who call themselves geeks that have never had to endure the suffering they did in order to get that title. even finding geeky items, such as rare collectibles or old video roms are super easy now with the touch of a button (can everyone say ebay?) and no longer require all the searching and effort, and driving halfway across your state to get to that little comic book store. and even in the face of bullying irl people face in some places (like the very small, preppy jock town where I grew up and still live) have now found that they're not alone through the wonders of the internet - we have support networks around the world now instead. the internet has undoubtedly changed the face of geekdom forever, and I think people just need to accept that things change and move on with their lives. rather than resenting them, we should be embracing high profile geeks like this, as they help spread a message of acceptance and that just because your interests aren't the same as mine that that doesn't mean you can't be {fill in blank - here's some examples: attractive, successful, fun, a good person, etc.} ...and that's going to mean the next generation of geeks will get to enjoy their geekdom that much more, without nearly as much teasing and torment for it.

beccathegreat said...

This last post is a great one, but I still have to wonder: Does anyone really believe that geeks/nerds were the only ones tormented in high school? That's a very self-centered and narrow perspective, if so.

And yes, it may be easier now, and yes, that's a good thing. Why resent it? Twenty-five years ago, when I was a gangly pre-teen geek, I would have loved to meet more girls who loved the geeky things I did. I still feel that way. Why so many of those same geeks are now excluding the ones who turned out to be beautiful and well-adjusted amazes me. If they really were mistreated in school, you'd think they'd know better.

dayraven said...

it's a cryin' shame when the geek community is rejecting someone for any reason, as the geek name, at least when i was a kid, was a retreat from being ostracized by other social circles. shame on the collective geek world for trying to "out" someone as they seek acceptance. it's easy to be cynical, but why? why is faith in someone any harder? hot geeks are a blessing, welcome them w/ open trousers.

Jerec Khaliff said...

I think part of this backlash against 'hawt geeks' is that some geeks feel they didn't suffer, like the rest of us. Sure they may have read The Watchman and played video games, but maybe the pretended not to like those things around their friends. And *Gasp* maybe they picked on other people for the same nerdy interests they themselves share!

Nerds! Geeks! Fanboys! Lend me your ears!

Grow up. Having a persecution complex about something you love does not mean everyone is persecuting you for it. Yea, we all felt like we were targetted in high school. Scratch that, we were targets, our lives were hell. How do we change that for the next generation?

We make reading The Rings, watching Star Wars, and playing D&D until 3:00 in the morning cool. We make having an imagination a blessing and not a stigma. It's happening right now. Geeks now write scripts for movies and TV, they write columns in news papers and provide us with content that we, as geeks, enjoy.

How many times has Family Guy referenced Star Wars? I hear the show Community is doing well. Aren't Thor, X-Men and Spider Man movies being seen by millions of people? Don't you think that the people who say 'this geek stuff is for loosers' are feeling a bit left behind now?

Stop feeling trod upon. Start feeling happy that a girl who is interested in more just than nail polish, puppy dogs, and men with nice cars was just recognized as the most beautiful woman in America.

Celine said...

Just one question... why, in a post that's all about how physical appearance shouldn't be an issue for geek cred, did you find it necessary to mention that she's a redhead (oh, but it comes out of a bottle)? Like we can't SEE that in the video? Like the "Poison Ivy" joke wasn't enough of a clue? (And that's fairly serious geek cred on the part of the interviewer, too!)

Either her appearance matters or it doesn't. And the "but she dyes it" thing is straight out of the 1950s. Who cares any more?

The Nerdy Bird said...

@Celine, because I'M a redhead from NJ. It was to highlight what we have in common as well as the Poison Ivy comment. It wasn't a critique on Campanella, it was just stating the facts (that have also been stated in several other articles).

Tim said...

Watching history themed TV shows doesn't make you a history geek. Would that mean people who happened to watch Titanic, Saving Private Ryan and Pearl Harbor are history geeks? I think that's a pretty silly assertion.

But if she actually is a history buff then cool. It seems irrelevant to point that out in a beauty pageant though. Either way, the fact that she is very attractive doesn't mean she can't be geeky.

The Nerdy Bird said...

@Tim, did you watch the video? She said more than she just watches historically themed shows.

Chris G. said...

Okay, I really feel I have to comment on this. Jill, I think you make some good points, but I want to point out one thing before I get started. First, this is Miss America. It's probably the most superficial contest ever, second only to American presidential elections. I can appreciate that there is hard work involved, as there must be in any contest, but the contestants' job is to make people like them. So I think some cynicism is required, regardless of what she claims to be.

Now we get into whether she has the right to call herself a geek at all. I think the meaning of "geek" has shifted and it doesn't mean what old-school geeks think it means anymore. Instead, "geek" is more synonymous with "devoted fan." I understand that, and it still raises my hackles a bit when someone refers to themselves as a "sports geek."

This brings me to my second point--"geek" has become a badge of honor among the old-school geeks, and I think part of the reason is that it wasn't easy to be a geek. You were on the outside, you didn't get to be one of the cool kids, and if my experiences are anything to go by, you probably spent some time wondering why people couldn't just like you for you, the way your mom always said people would. There's admittedly still some hurt there for me. Not a lot, but I still remember.

Miss USA, on the other hand, is definitely not an outsider. Sorry. The Miss USA pageant is almost the ultimate popularity contest. You have to be beautiful, you have to be charismatic and I've got to be honest, that doesn't apply to a lot of geeks, or at least a lot of geeks don't see it as applying to them. Even as I try not to stereotype I'm thinking that Miss USA has probably never faced any derision for watching Camelot or Game of Thrones. I could also split hairs on why she decided to say she's a huge history geek after naming two fantasy series, but I won't.

I think among geeks there may be some pride in holding on to what they believed in when it wasn't popular to do so. I think there should be, too--it takes a lot to stand up for what you believe in when it seems like the rest of the world is against you. And it can be galling to see the popularity of that word grow to the point where it now just means "devoted fan." In my personal example, anyone who called themselves a sports geek probably never faced derison for memorizing A-Rod's RBI's for five years straight. A fashion geek never got called names because she showed up in a designer sweater at school. Do you see where I'm going with this?

CONTINUED

Chris G. said...

CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST

However, your point is about another question entirely, which is, "Can someone be attractive and be a geek?" I think the answer is yes, but I can also understand the source of the skepticism. Let's be honest--attractive people are usually part of the in crowd. I think this particularly applies to women, but I can't back that up.

I think of course beautiful people can be geeks, but I also don't think it's common. I'd love to be wrong. However, beautiful people are stereotypically with the in crowd. I'd be willing to bet that in high school and in college there weren't a lot of beautiful women who were considered geeks.

Cut to the present. Comic book movies are hot. Sci-Fi and fantasy TV shows are rather popular, and "geek chic" is considered it's own brand of cool. When someone good-looking says they're a geek, I think the gut reaction of old-school geeks is resentment that these newly-converted geeks are jumping on the bandwagon and trying to be cool. These beautiful people are considered to be members of the in crowd, and since in the old-school geeks experience the in crowd has wanted nothing to do with geeks, the conclusion is that they can't be serious. Maybe the beautiful people are jumping on the bandwagon for the latest fad, trying to be cool. Maybe they're trying to persuade old-school geeks to see a movie the beautiful geek is in, or watch a TV show, buy their book or read their blog. Then when the geeks have done the beautiful person's bidding, the beautiful person will go back to treating the geeks like outsiders. I think it's a legitimate fear, but I do feel bad that old-school geeks have a problem being open and accepting, especially when they probably had problems being accepted themselves.

Personally, I say be open and accepting, but not naive. Don't let the baseline assumption be that the beautiful geek isn't interested. By the same token, though, if someone says they're a geek you shouldn't assume their experiences have all been like the old-school geeks. Times are changing.

Anonymous said...

Lulz. I'm an attractive woman and a geek. These are not mutually exclusive. I'd rant more but I'm gonna be late for my raid - and I'm main tank.

Anonymous said...

So the thing no one pointed out is that she loves the shows, [GoT] but never mentioned the books?

There are hot geeks, but this one smells like stunt magic to get some online attention, and has succeeded.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/user/telelli
Hot geek. I know her and she is both.

David said...

I'm married to a hot geek. I play with attractive geeks on MMOs (yes I've seen their faces beyond the avatars). Geekdom is a state of mind and NOT a set of physical attributes.

MWRuger said...

I think this is all pretty amazing and very sad. I am 50 years old and male. I was geek/nerd/freak in the 70's. I played white box D&D and saw Logan's run 10 times and I thought it was the Best SF of the decade. I don't want to bring up tales of terror or anything but there were reasons I skipped lunch and hid out in the library. I never had a lover until late in my 20’s. (not because I was a nerd/geek, I had no clue who women really were and was too shy to find out. )
I could easily point out to all of you who came later that you really didn't have it that bad, that Star Wars changed everything. Being a geek in the 80's or 90's? Please. A cakewalk.

So should I exclude all of you? According to many of you I certainly should. My generation of geeks raised a whole lot of baby geeks and Star Wars made it Ok to do so. Apparently we also raised our share of intolerant small minded folk.

I use a very simple rule. “Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.” If it’s full of bitterness and bile then that’s what you have to offer the world.

If she loves history, the question shouldn’t be “Is she a REAL geek?” it should be ”Really? What kind? I’m into Ancients and American history.” Being a true geek isn’t about protecting an image or excluding anyone. It is about the wonder of everything around us and being essentially, a polymath. Everyone can teach us something. Everyone.

Every conversation is a chance to see the world through that eyes that you don’t own. I have learned and heard many horrible things that people have done. I have also heard tales of struggle and triumph that amaze me.

For me the bottom line is simple. You are not diminished by being part of group that has entered main stream culture. You are not reduced by a beautiful woman or a handsome man calling themselves a geek. That only happens when you decide that you must exclude others to feel special.

PS. I am a geek. I am typing this from library of 2351 SF, Fantasy, History and assorted books and my music library of 149,751 songs is gently playing music. My 77 long boxes are in storage right now. I can stare at from this chair my Bettie Page bisque, Major Matt Mason and my Raiders of the Lost Ark (which I prefer to Star Wars) fertility idol.

I don’t like Game of Thrones (Read the books. One trip through the butcher shop was plenty for me) so I am not a geek?

The Nerdy Bird said...

Thank you, MWRuger.

The Nerdy Bird said...

I also wanted to post this piece that was published here: http://www.totalfangirl.com/2011/06/geek-or-poseur-here-we-go-again.html

"Here we go again.

You're not a real geek if you haven't seen Star Wars. Real geeks are people who have lived through torment and bullying. You can't be a girl and like geeky things. You aren't a true geek unless you have been your entire life. You can't be an attractive geek.

When I was growing up, I didn't have many friends. We lived in the country in a sparsely populated area, so I was forced to keep to myself a lot. I was awkward and didn’t wear brand-name clothes. I read Lord of the Rings and Hitchhiker's. I played Atari and watched kung-fu movies. I discovered DnD, LEGOs and after a while, the Commodore 64. I was mercilessly bullied in middle school and high school and even quit the marching band in a vain attempt to avoid further persecution. In other words, I have all the cred a geek approval board could ask for. Right? Wrong.

Being a geek isn't about how many raids you've led in WoW, how many game consoles you own, or your GamerScore. It's not about holding an infinite knowledge of the Doctor Who universe. It's not about being picked on for your hobbies or how unattractive you feel and it's DEFINITELY not about creating an exclusive club where only the aforementioned criteria grant you access. It's not even about whether or not Han shot first...even though he did. Being a geek is about one thing and one thing only. Passion.

Passion is what keeps you awake until 3am trying to take down Magtheridon and fuels the debate over the best starship Captain. Passion makes you spend an obscene amount of money on the latest exclusive figurine, or scour longbox after longbox for the missing issue of Captain America that will complete your collection. Hell, passion even sparks the need for the exclusivity that drives these arguments.

But here's the rub. Passion isn't confined to science fiction or the Marvel universe. My parents are both geeks, yet neither one could tell you what LARPing is or recognize Felicia Day. My mother was a librarian and then a teacher for twenty years. Her passion is books. My father is a mechanical engineer and a math nerd with a passion for woodworking and robotics. Their passions define them, and even though they don't identify with the title, I would certainly call them geeks.

And if passion truly defines one's geekiness, then some of the planet's geekiest people are sports fans. I know this is going to curdle your blood, true believers, but hear me out. They paint their faces and wear all manner of outfits to display their passion. Cosplay, much? They spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to live out their fantasies at sporting events or to find the rare Billy Martin card where he gives the cameraman the bird. And have you seen fantasy football?! It's basically Dungeons and Dragons with athlete statistics.

But here's the greatest part - this passion binds us together like the Force. Do you know why you feel awesome at conventions, aside from the alcohol? It's the community that's created from being around like-minded, passionate people. So, how is it that a group brought together by their mutual loves and interests can be so dispassionate towards others and even members of this shared community? Who are we to question another person's passions?

We stand up daily and proclaim our love through t-shirts, tattoos, Twitter and blogs, but when others try to do the same, we call them fake and demand proof. It's as if being bullied and excluded has somehow granted us this right. When we were younger, we all wanted more people to share our passions, but now that we've found one another through the internet, our club is somehow full? Things change. People change. LABELS change. Why not SHARE our passions instead of spurning those of others? That's MY community of geeks."

Your friend, Rusty said...

Well said, Jill.

Another comment mentioned that in her answer to the evolution question she self-identified as "science geek" and a supporter of teaching evolution in schools - a very un Miss USA answer.

On the larger point of whether hot women can be geeks - there is a similar issue in the lesbian community. Some people (and even some lesbians) believe conventionally attractive women can't possible be lesbians.

I would guess that the notion of hot geeky lesbians would make some heads explode.

beccathegreat said...

Wow, Chris G. You've certainly cleared up some things for me. Very well-communicated.

Why this assumption that beautiful people--women in particular--don't know what it's like to be an outsider? Beautiful people are always popular?

That may be what it looks like from the outside, but it's not the reality in many cases. Way back in the Dark Ages, when I was in high school, I wasn't part of the in crowd. I wasn't mistreated any more than anybody else, but I frequently moved and because I was shy, I wasn't generally part of the "in crowd"--or any crowd, really. Even the geeks didn't accept me.

Because I was an attractive girl, I wasn't called a loser or a geek. No, instead, they called me stuck-up (because I was shy) and worse. The girls were the worst, of course, because they saw me as competition. The boys didn't help that--the first people to speak to me at a new school were always boys, usually to make a comment about my bra size or to rate me on a one-to-ten scale. Talk about humiliating--to be a shy girl in a new school and to realize that everyone in the room is staring at your breasts!

The point is, it didn't matter that I was geeky because I was judged on my looks. I'm not even sure what the "in-crowd" is, to be honest. Is that the one you're wanting to be a part of? Because I would have loved to have been accepted by the geeky crowd, but I wasn't, because I wasn't outwardly as awkward or unattractive as they were. They didn't want me there.

But here's the thing: I could have had--and still can have--as much company and attention as I want. Provided we're talking about male attention. Provided we're talking about dates. But sometimes--hard as it may be for those who've never had an overabundance of it to understand--often, what a person wants isn't attention but understanding. True friendship--not some guy trying to impress her or to get in her pants.

I wish I could say it gets easier, but it doesn't always. I'm still judged on my looks and still treated like an object by men. A lot of women are still predisposed to dislike me. What has changed is my attitude. I recognize that everybody has it hard, particularly in adolescence, and I deal with it. I try not to take it personally.

But yes, it makes me angry when I hear some other geek imply that he or she is more authentically geeky because "pretty people didn't suffer in high school." What a load.

Stephanie said...

Hi Jill!

I've never commented here before, but I saw your link on Facebook and was intrigued, and Chris G.'s comment really resonated with me.

I'd probably consider myself more of a nerd than a geek, in that I was always the quiet, bookish, academic overachiever. I was (and still am) genuinely interested in learning about anything and everything and while I could have an in-depth, hours-long discussion about astronomy with my dad's college professor friend when I was 8 or 9 years old, I just couldn't connect with my classmates. I was physically and socially awkward, though in high school I did manage to find my place among my fellow band geeks. ;-)

So I get the idea that terms like "geek" and "nerd" become a sort of badge of honor for people who were viewed by others and/or themselves as social rejects, and the skepticism that we'd naturally feel when someone we perceive as "popular" describes herself using a label usually applied to the social rejects.

Which isn't to say that an attractive person can't be a geek or a nerd. Some other folks mentioned the whole "late bloomer" thing. I was one of the most awkward, unattractive adolescents you could possibly imagine. I still don't really see myself as particularly attractive, but people who knew me in middle or high school and saw me in/after college have told me that I "got hot" and I've had total strangers hit on me, so I guess now I'm a hot nerd?? It's a concept I can't quite wrap my head around, because I still look in the mirror and see that awkward 13-year-old.

So for all we know, Miss USA used to be an unattractive "old school" geek, an ugly duckling turned swan, and maybe she's always been really into history, to the point that other kids made fun of her for it. But she could also just be capitalizing on the fact that now it's "cool" to be a geek. But we don't know for sure which it is, so there's really no point in passing judgment.

Chris G. said...

Beccathegreat,

I think the assumption that beautiful people are part of the in crowd is mostly the view from the outside looking in. If you take a Venn diagram, I think there would be a subset of "In crowd" completely encircled by "Beautiful people."

Yes, there is more to it than that, and I think geeks like anyone else are prone to stereotyping. This is just stereotyping from the other end of the spectrum.

As far as the "In crowd," once you get out of high school it becomes a lot less significant. It was something I wanted to be part of in high school, but I've been over that for years. Give me a decent gaming group any day--I have a lot more fun with gamers, or comic and anime fans.

Anonymous said...

As an older geek I can attest to the fact that girls who admitted to liking comic books didn't look like that when I was a teenager. I suspect that a lot of the negative feedback comes from geeks from the fugly generations who are now understandably upset that so many insanely hot women are now openly loving comic books, video games, sci-fi and geeky boys rather than the jocks they clung to when I was in school.

As I look at my son, surrounded by comic books, action figures and more and then I look at stories such as this I cannot help but smile. In about ten years you are going to be sooooooooooo happy.

Xoer said...

Nathan Filton and Wil Wheton are both good looking guys and confirmed HUGE geeks why is it more believable for good looking guys to be geeks than it is attractive women?

Arturo said...

Nathan Filton and Wil Wheaton are both good looking guys and confirmed HUGE geeks why is it more believable for good looking guys to be geeks than it is attractive women?

At least part of the reason has to be because the consumer culture they work for has created the narrative that geek girls are "unicorns." It's not the actors' fault directly, but when DC Comics says outright that it's pursuing a male 18-to-34 demographic, that's the kind of exclusionary practice that fuels the stereotype to begin with.

Joe said...

Geek = Fan, or any synonyms or phrases for being a fan of something in my opinion. But I'm not questioning her geek cred, cause at the end of the day, no one really has enough creditability.

Jojo said...

Being a geek and identifying yourself as one is much too easy. First make distinctions between fandom, geekiness and enthusiast.

I'll take you over 15 years back to the word, "punk". One would conjure up images of Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious and Henry Rollins. But that look, not so much the music became popular in the late 90's. A pure of heart punk would know that punk was not Good Charlotte, Sum 41 and definitely not Avril Lavigne. You know how easy it was to become a "punk" in the late 90's? Easy as a trip to Hot Topic. I'll leave it at that.

"Geek" is a new fad marketing term. I would never challenge a person's geek cred. I don't consider myself a geek. I play video games, read lots of comic books, listen to a lot of Japanese pop music, cosplay as a various anime characters and a have an unhealthy obsession with Hello Kitty. Does that make me a geek? No. That makes me....me. That's who I am and I don't know anything else.

I do take exception to people who advertise themselves falsely as geek just to market and promote themselves. I like that in the age of social media, that I can connect with my fellow "geeks" and otaku and share our affinities of all things we love.

But when someone goes out of their way to make themselves a "known" geek or a "famous" geek...or even worse "Internet famous". THAT betrays the will of the force.

The geek world is a community built on shared interests and hobbies. These interests and hobbies are a bit different and unique and conjure up stereotypical images. Nonetheless, I will stand by my otaku interests with absolute devotion until the day I die.

Here's is my opinion. The geek world is a humble one. It's forged through a lot of isolation, ridicule and persecution. In 1997, a documentary was released titled "Trekkies". I bet all my money, "geeks" watched that and exclaimed "WTF"? I bet geeks today would walk into a furry convention or a LARP gathering and react the same way. What's the point? The people from the movie "Trekkies", furries and Larp'ers go about with their activities with extreme love and humility. It's part of them and they don't promote themselves for 15 minutes of fame.

What's annoying about the "geek" phenomenon is that it's "famous" participants are turning into Julia Allison. Google her when you have the chance. It's not so much about the love, the otaku or the interests...but it's about the fame and self-promotion. I follow many geek and geek girls on Twitter. What disappoints me and forgive my language is the constant circle jerking amongst each other on Twitter. "Like we're the popular geeks here and you're not." It's not a club and it's not exclusive. I'm talking to you too, old school geeks.

Anyone can be a geek. The door is always open. All comers are welcome. But if you're just advertising yourself, or if this is just a gateway to Hollywood or becoming "Internet" famous, just fellate an producer or yourself. And get it over with. Better yet, stop writing blogs, stop tweeting and introduce someone personally to D&D, Ultimate Spider-Man or World of Warcraft lore. Built it and they will come.

I leave with the Michael Caine's famous line, "You're supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"

mjcaligiuri254 said...

As someone who's been on the geek train for a long time, I can tell you that I'm glad to see ALL women willing to come out and admit their love for sci-fi, fantasy, comics and all the rest. Maybe in these days of a black President and same-sex marriage more and more people are willing to come out and show their true selves. Diversity is not just about race or religion, it's about accepting that other people see the world differently than you and that it's okay.

If she was lying to get ahead, shame on her. If you're judging her the same way you've been judged in the past, then shame on you.

Paperclippe said...

I'm not sure how to feel about this. Let me be the first to say that I happily accept our Miss USA as a geek: if she says it, if she wants to be a part of it, that's good enough for me, end of story.

But, like many others have said, it's the fact that we're even still having this discussion that hurts my brain.

And yet.

And yet.

The fact that we're having this discussion, openly, and FOR THE MOST PART civilly, is allowing people to peep in (in a good way, mind you) on the geek community. The fact that we're having this discussion is turning over many of the minds that formerly said "WHY BUT SHE IS A GOOD LOOKING WOMAN HOW CAN I EVEN TAKE HER SERIOUSLY" (which is another, bigger problem for another, bigger day) to those that now say, "Yes, Miss USA, perhaps you are a bit of a geek. And a fox. And I'm down with that."

And that is not something we should stifle.

The 'geek' community as it stands, doesn't. It's an ever-changing flowing living thing and the advent and subsequent domination of the internet and internet culture has brought geeks and geekery farther and wider than I think anyone would ever have imagined. The pervasive nature of all things geek or fandom or what have you is pervasive now. That doesn't mean we have to change who we are or what we do or what we call ourselves.

It just means that we must go forth into the vast beyond with open hearts and open minds and see far beyond someone's physical features and the limited amount of time they are given to speak earnestly about themselves on basic cable. After all, if we can't manage that, who among us is more shallow?

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to say that there aren't beatuiful women who aren't geeks. But the fact is that Hollywood's trend of "selling geek" in order to get people to buy a product/movie ticket/tv hour/whatever has made this environment of questioning someone when they "come out" as being a geek. Personally, I have my doubts about this woman, but I could be wrong. All I know is that every time a "hot" famous person plays the geek card, I can't help but roll my eyes.

I understand that we should be more accepting, that we should embrace people who call themselves geeks proudly, but this suspicion exists for a reason. If people weren't so fake, then we wouldn't be so suspicious. So before you go blaming members of our little community for not accepting others, ask yourself if we've been given a reason to. It's not fair or right, but it's reality.

As Marlo Stanfield said, "You want it to be one way...but it's the other way."

Wes A.

The Nerdy Bird said...

But that's just the thing, Anonymous. Miss USA isn't up there on stage selling anything for Hollywood, she was selling herself. What reason does she have for pretending to be a geek in that arena.

I don't dismiss the fact that some actors play up the geek bit to sell their movie but you know what? That's their job and if they aren't really geeks you'll see it down the road when they stop talking about the subject. Or who knows? Maybe doing the project actually sparked their interest and they become a real fan after all.

It seems to be the base assumption is, if you're on national television you can't POSSIBLY be a geek.

And another thing I want to point out, is a celebrity saying they are a geek going to get you to see a movie you weren't already going to? Not me. So I don't understand why this makes everyone so angry. So no, I don't think we have a reason to not accept others at face value. It does nothing to us personally if the person winds up not being genuine.

Anonymous said...

I thiink our jaded attitude towards true geek cred can be blamed on obvious panderers like Olivia Munn, or any Maxim model who claims to be a geek solely to appeal to the demographic. Panderers are the worst.
That being said, hot girl geeks do exist, and we should welcome them. Remember, hot or not, they are PEOPLE. People have varying interests, so let's welcome those who share ours.

Anonymous said...

Jill, I see where you're coming from (This is Wes A. again, btw). I'm not saying that a "hot and/or famous" person can't be into "geeky" things. If an actor signed on for a comic movie and became a fan during the project, that's awesome! I'm glad that our little community has grown a little bit. I'm not being sarcastic here, I'm being genuine.

Maybe I'm too jaded a person, but I feel kind of burned by Hollywood for "playing the geek card" so often these days. Obviously, you can tell when one of these people are being disingenuous. But it's happened so freaking often that I personally can't help but be suspicious of anyone who says it now. And I think a lot of others feel the same way. I'm NOT saying that it's right, because it isn't. I know this. All I'm trying to do here is explain the POV of someone who might have said kneejerk reaction. I admit that I'm not being fair to this woman or to other "hot, famous" people, but I'm TRYING, I'm trying real hard. It's hard to fight that kneejerk reaction that I've built up. Do you see where I'm coming from?

And for the record, I think discussions like this are good. It can help someone like me analyze these kinds of reactions and work to avoid them. Thank you for posting this.

beyondtheautumns said...

I know in the burlesque scene where almost everyone has a geek pedigree the girls that take it to another level and moonlight as cosplayers are typically ostracized by the rest of the performers. Typically these geek girls pulling double duty are well educated, thin, pretty, and boast a bigger draw then the traditional dancers.

However I think acceptance differs from geek culture to geek culture. M:TG players always welcome girls at the table, where table toppers, with the exception of White Wolf players, are typically weary of girls sitting in. However Trekers and cosplayers have zero issues with girls, since for the most part they make up at least half of the fan base.

Matthew H Camp said...

Geek is in the heart.
Biting heads off chickens on stage also qualifies you, regardless of societally measured hotness.

But, being a brainiac, I prefer Nerd anyways. Rock on, girls!

Anonymous said...

My only objection is that she used watching "The Tudors" as evidence of her being a history geek. That show is so sensationalized that it is more of a soap opera than a show with educational value. As a history geek, I am actually embarrassed to admit I watch it!

- KT