I’ve recently returned from the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con–a swarming, heaving mass of geeky humanity.
During the convention, I got to spend time with a lot of pals including Angela and Aubrey Webber a.k.a The Doubleclicks. They are, of course, charming and talented and smart and good at all of the instruments ever. I’ve been lucky to tour with them a bit, they’re writing a song for my upcoming comedy and music album Flaw Fest, they appear on one of my favorite episodes of Obsessed, and they’re good friends.
During w00tstock, they premiered the video for their song “Nothing to Prove.” It’s a response to the rabid fear of the so-called Fake Geek Girl. (If you have no idea what a Fake Geek Girl is, here’s a thing I wrote on tumblr trying to explain the concept to a theater person.)
The video was co-conceived by another pal–the talented screenwriter and raconteur Josh Cagan. It features testimonials from geek girls and a few geek guys (some assholes named Wheaton, Savage, Scrimshaw, etc.) about the strange trend in some pockets of geek culture toward exclusion.
Here’s the video:
I thought a lot about geek culture during Comic-Con this year. One of the most obvious expressions of geekdom is cosplay. Dressing up as a character you like, or in many cases, just a character you find aesthetically pleasing.
I love watching cosplay. For the joy of those in costume and those who are thrilled when they see their favorite character walk by. But I’m also fascinated with the mash-up between the fantasy of the character and the reality of being a human at a convention.
I posted on Twitter and Facebook that all I wanted out of the convention was seeing one guy dressed as Batman eating a taco. I even followed a couple of Batmen, but they walked right past the taco stands.
I got a close second, though. In the middle of a business meeting, the Joker sat down next to me and ate a hot dog. He didn’t even eat it. He devoured it in two bites. I saw the Joker deep throat a hot dog. (When I posted about this on Twitter, it autocorrected to “derp throat” which would be a great geeky porn parody.)
I saw a guy in a really great Green Lantern costume standing against the wall on the crowded convention floor, charging his iPhone. It was sad and funny to see Green Lantern having to use a common power outlet to charge his phone instead of using his ring.
I saw several men dressed as Slave Leia.
Another friend saw all of the Avengers. But the Avengers were also dressed as Slave Leia.
Comic-Con runs shuttles from all the hotels to the convention center. The shuttle is a great place to watch superheroes confront the limits of the physical world. A guy in a great Iron Man costume got on the bus, lifted his helmet, and said, “Oh, man. I forgot I can’t sit down.” It was a double-decker bus so someone said, “Why don’t you go upstairs? There’s more room up there.” Iron Man’s friend said, “Bad idea. He doesn’t do stairs well.” So Iron Man just sort of squatted in the area normally reserved for wheelchairs while happily telling people how he made his awesome costume.
But my favorite overheard conversation was from a dude dressed as the Batman villain, the Riddler. He sat down next to me on the shuttle and started chatting with Cyborg and Green Arrow. He said he didn’t really read Batman comics or watch Batman movies. He just liked the costume. I laughed to myself. Then he said, “I picked this costume to match my friends. And I like green. But I didn’t want to be a DC character, I wanted to be Bane.”
I was unable to stop myself from leaning over to my wife and whispering, “Bane IS a DC character.” My wife hadn’t been listening to the Riddler’s conversation so she thought I was having a sudden attack of aphasia.
I whispered, “It’s funny because this guy dressed as the Riddler is a Fake Geek Guy.”
The Riddler was what all these judgmental dudes are so afraid of from women. That people will just appropriate geek knowledge and credentials. That they’ll wear the mask of the Riddler on their face but not in their hearts. And this will somehow rip a hole in the very fabric of the geek continuum.
I continued to listen to the Riddler. The topic changed from costumes to something very close to Riddler’s heart: tax laws as they relate to the legalization of marijuana.
The Riddler had a lot to say on this topic. Turns out, he was a huge geek. What he lacked in knowledge or passion in Batman’s rogue’s gallery, he more than made up for in pedantic pot tax lore.
He was absolutely not a fake geek. He was just a guy having fun wearing a costume with friends. Next year, I hope he fully embraces his inner geekdom and dresses up as Captain Pot Tax Laws.
It’s been said many times (and particularly effectively in The Doubleclick’s song and video) but one of the strengths of the geek community at this point is its spirit of inclusion.
There is too much “geek content” for geekdom to be based solely on your knowledge. No one recognizes every costume at an event as large as Comic-Con. What we recognize is the passion. And what makes the event positive is the moments of feeling like a part of a community no matter how odd or obscure your passion is.
My passion at Comic-Con this year was to see someone dressed as Batman eat a taco.
And a community rose up to support me. On Saturday afternoon many people tweeted at me, saying they had spotted a Batman in the vicinity of a taco stand. @SemiEvolved on Twitter then sent me this photo.
And it was good. Thanks, @SemiEvolved! This particular Batman was found at my pal Marian Call’s ninja gig behind the Convention Center. So he has good taste in tacos and music.
But since I’m a geek and I want to collect them all, I will be on the hunt for a sighting of Batman eating a taco with his cowl up.
That’s all you need to be a geek: follow your passion. Follow them down a street and take pictures of them eating tacos.
Next year, Comic-Con, next year.