Two weeks ago, I was at the Albany Comic Con and ran into my roommate. He was standing in front of a camera giving an interview for a forthcoming web series being produced by local independent filmmakers called “Super Knocked Up.” Without getting into too many details, it is about exactly what you think it is.
They asked him several questions pertaining to super-heroes for a promotional video they were putting together: what super-power would you most like to have, who is your favorite super-hero, what comic book movie are you most looking forward to, and other expected comic-related fare. About four questions in he was interrupted by Obi-Wan Kenobi, who needed to bypass the interview to get into his room (located in the courtyard holding the Convention).
Once Obi-Wan had retrieved whatever it was from his room that he needed so desperately (it wasn’t a lightsaber, that much is certain) the interview concluded. My roommate introduced me to the two conducting the interview, acquaintances of his, and asked if I’d like to help contribute. I said yes, gladly, because I never turn down an opportunity for self-promotion.
We conducted the same interview I had just overheard, pausing for Convention announcements and the occasional raffle drawing. Then came the final question.
“Why do geeks rule the world?”
“They don’t,” I replied.
The one holding the microphone raised his eyebrows in surprise. They clearly hadn’t had and didn’t expect anyone to challenge the presumption in their question that geeks, nerds, or whatever you would like to call them “ruled the world.” Why would they? We’ve been hearing for the better part of ten years that geeks rule the world, whether it be through geek chic, stories and editorials about the prevalence of the internet in our day to day lives, or phrases emanating from Madison Avenue. Going as far back as our childhood, adults would tell would-be bullies that they should be careful not to dismiss someone as a nerd or geek because “one day you’ll be calling him ‘sir’.”
But it’s all a great lie. The artificial boost to the geek’s self-esteem is not a salient truth, but rather a selling point. People in marketing realized during the internet boom that geeks are passionate about those things they can buy with income that may or may not be truly disposable, and as such will empty their pockets with no hesitation so long as they think they are being singularly catered to and are given the perception that what they say and do is important.
That doesn’t equate to geeks ruling the world. They have enough influence in mainstream culture to dictate norms to a degree, but only in the realms of entertainment and gadgetry. They aren’t catered to because there are so man yof them ,but rather the money they carelessly spend and the amount of energy and attention they pay to frivolous things essentially does the marketer’s jobs for them. Geeks are the alpha and omega; both consumer and walking advertisement.
To realize the absence of geeks in World rule one need only look at the news – and by news I mean hard real-world news and not internet sitse devoted to entertainment and/or gadgets – to realize that it’s not the geeks who are steering the ship. In fact, they’re in the steerage doing all of the rowing while the businessmen that bullied them in high school crack the whips that drive them into a frenzy. Over the course of the last twenty years, we have been fed a lie as old as time itself through marketing and entertainment: that the geek shall one day inherit the Earth. The concept from which I derive the pun was itself developed as a means to keep the poorest in a society from becoming restless and too eager to usurp the inherited power structure. Thousands of years later, that approach is still used to maintain control over a slightly different segment of society. The difference is that the powers that be have fear of the poor if they get unruly. Not so with the geeks, for the only unrest they exhibit is over postponements in release dates and minor glitches in technology.
And so the geek who was bullied and told that one day they would turn it around and control the course of events is every bit as powerless, except now the bullying has transformed into the encouragement of self-delusion. Geeks are the engineers that develop the gadgets and technological advances that drive those in power further up corporate and political ladders, but one doesn’t come across them except as anomalies such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Even then, they’re at the top of a mountain of tech, but they simply develop the tech and tools used by those that run the world. Bill Gates doesn’t hold the sway in Washington that, say, an oil or tobacco executive does. Guys like Gates that are held up as the high geek standard are very rich engineers, and only become power brokers if the phrase “anti-trust” appears in the docket (a rarity). They may do a lot of good with donations and charity work, but do not control policy in any real or tangible way.
My response to the producers of “Super Knocked Up” was not nearly as long-winded as what you just read, but it did hit upon all the major points. After I’d finished, the man behind the camera nodded his head and smiled.
“That was great,” he said, as he and his companion thanked me for destroying the premise of their culminating question and telling them that they do not rule the world. They seemed grateful to have the perceived weight of responsibility taken off their shoulders.
“You’re welcome,” I said asI retrieved my things.
We made some small talk and I departed to spend the rest of my afternoon perusing the Convention floor. I watched grown men dicker over the price of action figures, heated discussions about the importance of decades of confusing continuity for comic book characters, and a legend that had once inked the great Jack Kirby receive thanks from fans from all walks of life that were born well after he had retired from the industry. It was truly touching and it brought a smile to my face. You just don’t see that sort of pure joy, apprecaition, and celebratory ambience on the floor of the United Nations.
Geeks don’t rule the world, and it’s the world’s loss.
- Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye…
- Listen to me LIVE as guest co-host of Alternative to Sleeping tonight at 10pm!
- Realtors: “WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH” George Hearst III: “NONONOO SSSSHHH IT’S OKAY, it’s okay…here. Here’s a pacifier.” Kristi: “#oops.”
- Open Mic web series premiere tonight @ Lark Tavern
- Trust Me, You’re Going to Want to See This