My name is Paul and I am a geek.
That’s not much of an Earth shattering confession as anyone who knows me is well aware I tend to wear my Geek pride on my sleeve (that and the Portal wristband and Star Trek wallet I carry around).
But I have lost track of the amount of times I have had to defend my love of things Science Fiction and Fantasy, and have been branded as ‘sad’, a ‘weirdo’ and ‘pathetic’ because of it. Many there has been a time when someone has asked what I am into and they have laughed openly in my face at the answer.
The people who tend to quiz me about such things, on the whole, sports fans.
Well, I just don’t “get it”.
This is a common phrase I hear. After my interrogation (usually followed by mockery), they claim they “just don’t get it”. The best example of this was DragonCon 2011. Me and my wife were waiting outside Hard Rock Cafe for a table to come free. We were dressed in our street clothes rather than costumes. Suddenly, we were descended upon by two older women who proceeded to quiz us on what was going on around them. They sneered at costumers walking past, asked why people would do such a thing and looked at me and my wife with disdain when we informed them that we costumed too. And then came “well we just don’t get it”.
But what really got my goat from that whole conversation was the fact that these two women were adorned from head to toe in Georgia college football clothing and merchandise, had travelled from the other end of the state to watch the college football game and recited most of the plays the team had made. When I informed them that I “just didn’t get” what the fuss about college football was about, they looked at me like I had slapped them across the face (I must admit, the temptation to actually do that was there).
Can anyone say ‘pot calling the kettle black’?
So, for shits and giggles, lets take these two fandoms and put them head to head. Let’s judge them by the criteria that sports fans usually reserve for labelling geek fandom as ‘sad’.
Round 1: “You wear those silly costumes”
Yes, yes we do. People costume for a number of different reasons, to garner attention, to show their support for what they are interested it, but on the whole, because it looks damn cool.
But sports fans never do that do they?
There you go sports fans, you really are no better. Although, it’s worth pointing out that people are more likely to want their picture taken with Iron Man, Batman or Spiderman than say some overweight dude in an England bra. Just saying.
Round 2: “You waste all that money on costumes, toys and going to conventions”
Well, partly true. Some costumes (like IronMan armour) can cost a pretty penny. But at the end of the day, the owner has something that stands out and kicks ass. Also, the majority of costumes can be made on a budget. For example, my Tusken Raider from Star Wars cost under $100, and my Zapp Brannigan costume cost even less. Cosplayer Nicole Marie Jean likes to put out ‘costumes on a budget’ tutorials every now and then.
Same with props and collectables, some are expensive, most are not. Depending on time and effort, people can make some pretty cool things cheaply.
But sports fans don’t pay silly money for football shirts and merchandise do they?
YUP! So, just a quick search on Google for ‘Official England Football Shirt’ pulls up these prices. So that’s $80-$110 for a tshirt, double that if you want the ‘away’ kit too. And these things change every year, so you have to buy new ones. To quote Mackelmore:
They be like, “Oh, that Gucci – that’s hella tight.”
I’m like, “Yo – that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt – that’s just some ignorant bitch
As for sports collectables? Check out this little number from Alabama’s store…
And let’s compare that to the Spatcave replica Pulse Rifle from Aliens:
I know which one is cooler in my book.
Now, let’s talk about convention prices. Admission to conventions can range from free to $200 (that’s if you are going for the really big conventions that last 4 days). Pricey huh? Wouldn’t see a sports fan paying that now would you…
Again, I took to Google. NFL game, Chicago vs Dallas at Soldier Field. $55 gets you a spot in the parking lot. The cheapest seat (way up at the back of the stadium so that you end up suffering from altitude sickness) is $112. Want a piece of the action, maybe in the club section perhaps? Be prepared to hand over $1213 per seat.
So even factoring in travel, hotels, food and other stuff, the geeks are getting a pretty sweet deal.
Round 3: Geeks are so obsessive, we live and breathe it.
So, popular opinion is that Geeks live in their parent’s basements, surrounded by collectables and toys left in mint condition in boxes, trawling the Internet for pictures of Seven of Nine topless and have Captain Picard tattooed on their left buttcheek. When we do interact with other humans, we are supposed to bore them to death about every tiny detail in Xena Warrior Princess, how Lucy Lawless had one button missing in one shot that reappeared in another and blah blah blah blah.
Here’s an experiment for you. Next game day, find the guy in the team shirt who is shouting the loudest and ask them how the season is going for them. Then ask them who their favourite player is and how their career has been. An hour later, if your eyes haven’t glazed over, ask how you think their team will do next season. You might want to prop your eyes open with toothpicks at that point because you will be in for the long haul.
OK, I will admit, I am pretty bad. I absorb useless Sci-Fi trivia like… like… something very absorbent, and I occasionally still hunt for a sneak peek at Jeri Ryan’s nipples (even if it’s just one). But I am not one to ram my fandom down people’s throats.
Both Geeks and Jocks have their extremists, the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy. Whether it’s Star Wars or the Atlanta Braves, these people wrap themselves up in their fandom like a blanket.
Round 4: Geeks never get laid / married
I met my wife at DragonCon. Every year at DragonCon, people throw around engagement rings like it’s going out of fashion. A particular favourite is during the costume contest. Some even pull out the stops and go all out awesome, like dressing as Batman and Batgirl and getting Dean Cain (Superman for those who didn’t know) to do the honours.
As for getting laid. At DragonCon, you have the chance to see more ass than the benches at New York’s Penn Station during rush hour.
As for the sports fans, I honestly wouldn’t know, but you generally don’t see couples banging on the Jumbotron.
So, in conclusion.
Truth be told, I could probably keep writing a great deal more about this subject, a LOT more. But, not even I have the patience for that.
Ironically, Geeks and Jocks are almost identical. Both sides have their extremists, both have ‘casual’ fans, both spend time and money showing their support for their chosen team/genre.
What’s more, Geekdom is now becoming more and more mainstream. Walmart now sells a large selection of geek shirts. Guys who used to beat people up for wearing Batman shirts are now wearing them. There’s always going to be people on either side who “just don’t get” what the others are into. But, they best way to deal with those folks is ignore them.
At the end of the day, we are all geeks about something.
Now, can anyone tell me what ‘the Blitz’ is in American Football? K, thanks, bye.