Words on Geek Shame and Other Things

Hello friends! I’ve written about geek shame before, but that was a while ago and I have new thoughts. It is a subject that is close to me heart because if there’s one thing I want in life, it is for the nerd/geek/whatever you identify as community to be inclusive as possible.

In this current climate I suppose there are a lot of things I could take up words about, but I’m going to start here. There are already people more eloquent than I who are coming to the defense of many marginalized groups of people against the tide of hate speech that has broken on our shores. I may add my voice to theirs soon, but I have to sort out my thoughts a bit. In the meantime, here are some inclusive thoughts I would like to spread if possible.

First - can we just get rid of the following phrases?
“Turn in your nerd card.”
“You just lost geek points.”

I myself have been guilty of using these phrases, but I like to think I’ve progressed as a human being and have love in my heart for everyone no matter what their interests are. So, with my little voice, I am going to expound on some things I’ve felt geek shame about that really are OK. You might read this and think I don’t know what you’re talking about, Hat, I’ve always thought these things are OK? and that’s fine. Power to you. It could very well be that I’m just yelling at myself. I do that often.

So here starts Fugly Mage Hat’s List of Things That Are OK. It is incomplete, for the whole list would take friggin’ forever.

Liking later iterations of a series than the first
There are plenty of examples of a series going downhill after the first couple of releases, and I’ve come across the attitude that the original is always best. Thing is, sometimes a series gets better with time because the authors/designers/whatever get new ideas about how to entertain or inspire. For example, I like the Cullen romance in Dragon Age: Inquisition better than the Alistair romance in Origins. I think with every game Bioware makes they progress in writing multi-faceted characters, and I can definitely see it as I’m replaying ME1, both visually and through conversation. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t like the Alistair romance - I definitely do. But Cullen’s character and personal struggles hit me in the feels more forcefully.

I also like D&D 5e better than 3.5. It is known. Moving on.

Liking a reboot better than the previous iteration or the original
Here’s the thing - I believe art is super subjective and there is no such thing as objectively good or objectively bad art. Maybe I believe that life is that way too, but I’ll start with art. It can be unpolished, dissonant or even insidious, but not “bad” (more on this later). And there’s a lot of art that rings truer to some people more than others because of the time in which it was made.
People like what they like and that is perfectly fine. You don’t get kicked out of the geek club for liking the new Ghostbusters better than the original, for example. I haven’t seen the new Ghostbusters, so I don’t know if that’s a good example. But my point remains. IT IS FINE.

Liking insert movie deviation from source material at any point
This has more to do with medium than an argument about good and bad. I think there are things that are completely reasonable and consistent in one medium that are nonsense in another. For instance, the Watchmen movie ending. I think it was consistent with the tone of the movie and the ending in the comic would have been jarring and unbelievable in the movie setting. But I thoroughly enjoyed the comic when I read it. It’s ok to like two different versions of the same thing.

Shopping at Hot Topic
Well, most of their stuff is super overpriced but you can get really cute things on sale. And who cares if they’re cashing in on niche popularity things? Back in my day if you wanted a She-Ra t-shirt you had to save the one you begged off your parents when you were 7 and hope your boobs didn’t grow. And they did, treacherous things. One person is not any more of a nerd because they scoured eBay for weeks to find the perfect vintage Transformers shirt than a person who picked up adult Batman undies at Target. It is all about the enthusiasm of liking the things you think are cool and accepting people who also like those things.

There are a lot of other things I think people shouldn’t have to take flak for, but I think I’ve gotten my point across.


There was one last thing I said I would touch on, and that is the objectivity of art. It’s a hard subject. Because you can argue - what about, for example, a book that dehumanizes a segment of the population? Wouldn’t that be “bad” art? It depends on how you define “bad”. What if that book was beautifully written? Isn’t it then “good” in some aspect? I think that’s why I love language - because there are so many words to represent concepts we have. I’m not a huge fan of the good/evil dichotomy in general, and I may catch flak for this. I think it’s too vague. You have to drill down and describe your reasoning. This hypothetical book I’m talking about, in my mind would be called harmful. The harmful/beneficial spectrum is something I can get behind more because it is more concrete. But even there you have arguments as to what is harmful. Is killing a murderer harmful or beneficial? I’m not going to try to answer that question, I’m still turning it over. I will say it depends on what system of measurement you are using to determine your answer.

It is said in logical arguments that you have to divide something down into its most basic premise in order to determine validity. For example Euclid’s geometry is built on, among other things,the premise that all right angles are congruent. If that for some reason is not accepted the rest of the postulates and axioms and whatever fall apart. You cannot construct the Death Star - small college in-joke.

Another question popped into my head, what if matter is infinitely divisible? Beyond the atom, the string what if we keep going and never find the smallest unit of existence? Does that mean it doesn't exist? I honestly don’t know. Do I believe in the discrete nature of matter? Do I believe in the soul?

In the end, everyone has to believe in something. Even if you say “I believe in nothing”, you’ve made nothing a thing and you believe in it. The fact is I’m a little out to sea as far as beliefs go. But there are a couple things I hold to be true which inform my everyday decisions. I believe in an Unmoved Mover which is not me, and I believe that all sentient beings which developed out of that Movement are equal and precious at the moment they come into existence. It is by that system of measurement that I determine what is harmful and what is beneficial. I will defend the things that are beneficial against the things that are harmful to the best of my ability.

I think it’s important to ask yourself what you believe as often as possible, to keep yourself grounded. And why you believe it. And you shouldn’t be ashamed of what you believe - if you are, that probably means there’s something wrong and maybe you don’t actually believe it.

I guess what I’m getting at, in a really roundabout way is that in this age of sweeping statements about what is right and true it is important to ask questions. Break things down, put them back together and determine what you really think is important. I think it is in the nature of humans (and other sentient beings because yes I believe in aliens fight me if you want) to want to know stuff. The moment we let go of that sense of wonder, that’s when we become lost or stuck. We start accepting things that may be harmful.

I realize that there are people out there who don’t agree with me, and that’s fine. Post in the comments, I’m happy to talk. But if you believe that the Unmoved Mover is actually me, I am here to tell you that no, honey that’s nuts.

But if you think that harming an innocent is ok, or that some people are fundamentally better than others, I doubt we'll ever get anywhere. And I will get in-between you and anyone you mean to harm.

So I guess there are some things that are not OK. Actions that I will condemn and use my little voice to oppose.

But - in the world of geekdom, you do you. I accept you, unconditionally.

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