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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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well, yeah, if by geek culture you mean men
children of dune - leto 1
Wake Up, Geek Culture, in which I think I am reading a geek shaking a virtual cane at people getting their anime too easily, too many people of the ungeeky classes being interested in geek turf, and remix culture because it's killing originality and then I got lost in the Etewaf, which is apparently really bad, but kind of sounds like my perfect life.

...I'm not sure.

I want to approach this from like, multiple are you kidding angles because hello, kind of my entire identity being geek, remix, and also, I like anime and God would I have killed to have access to it in my teens. Or like, knew it existed.

Academics have covered remix culture, and the mainstreaming of geekdom is like, a constant refrain everywhere, so not even going to bother, mostly because he froze me up at the Etewaf horror--very Lovecraftian, that--in which everyone has easy access to everything and that's like, really bad.

Let's not romanticize the past in which we had to wait for years and go uphill both ways to get our manga, okay? That shit isn't nostalgic; that sucked. It sucked. Yes, we had lively discussions waiting for new issues for about an hour and then geeks went to war, and geek war isn't like mundane war; most of us enter with a vocabulary not limited to languages that actually exist and a lot of us grew up beneath the thumb of mainstream contempt and high school bullying and whoo boy did we carry that into every conversation ever? Oh, we did. Harry Potter books had what, a one to two year wait or average? Did you see that fandom? And let me just say, thank God Star Trek II didn't come out during internet culture and have the waiting period before Star Trek III came out: bloodshed, people.

Geek culture was expensive; it was very much the territory of middle and upper middle class who could afford to import direct from Japan or knew someone who could if the titles you wanted weren't here. Even domestic products weren't cheap or easy; it's not that long ago that VHS tapes were this new and exciting thing that allowed recording instead of staring at the television listings for a hopeful glance of something not a rerun of fifties era programming and being really disappointed on a daily basis. Cable still isnt' universally accessible even in the US, and certainly not in rural Texas, much less internet. Working class geek meant used bookstores because hardcovers or even new paperback were for birthdays, Christmas, and when it was something my entire family would want to read (which luckily, we overlapped taste in a lot of things). Buying movies was an event that was considered carefully.

[I'd love to hit a real discussion of classism in geekdom because along with shitty race issues and shitty sexism issues, geek cultural development wasn't just white and male, it was white, male, and specific to certain economic classes as well. It's not that POCs, women, and the non-middle-class weren't geeky or didn't develop their own geek-related culture but geek as it is presented to mainstream culture is--well, white, male, and very obviously both.

[I'm still boggling at people who are utterly shocked that POC and women attended and still attend sci-fi conventions and are interested in the same things that mainstream geek culture is; yes, we've been here all along, and the question you should be asking is not 'where have you been' but 'why didn't I see that?' No one asks that, though. It's weird.]

Geek culture was difficult unless you lived in a city; I was a geek culture of one at my school K through 12 and you think your clique had it hard? Please. I never even met a D&Der until college and a LARPer after that. I met geek culture in college without any geek socialization skills--and we do have them, believe it or not--and I was the geek that geeks didn't like, since I was a feral geek who developed independently in the high school library reading encyclopedias* from 1976 because I'd finished the fantasy section before my freshman year of high school ended.

[* Encyclopedia Brittanica. Accept no substitutes.]

You city geeks had it easy, baby; the nearest used bookstore was one almost-large room and I was buying third rate sci fi where the high point was finding Mercedes Lackey*--say it with me, that was the high point--and Anne McCaffrey* and God help me that shitty Thomas Covenant series that I read in desperation because it's not like there was a lot of choice there. But also Sydney Van Scyoc was awesome with the first time I ever saw a sci-fi matriarchal culture that treated it with such utter, utter normality that I barely noticed I was being taught my first lessons in feminism. Also, no one was raped. New books were the nearest large city--forty miles away--or Wal-Mart--Wal-Mart--and we were so rural we couldn't even get cable, so I never had a meaningful relationship with Fraggle Rock and dear God am I bitter about that.

[I am not saying they're bad; I'm saying, think about a world where my sci-fi pinnacle was Anne McCaffrey.]

Yes, yes, the icky mainstream are all making your geek all less than special; those of us who, let me say this again, were reduced to rapey incesty Thomas of white gold ringness and the Gor novels unironically shelved beside the sci-fi aisle saw the dawn of Amazon.com, hulu, and bittorrent like the second goddamn coming, okay? I waited half my life to fall madly, desperately in love with a million things and Geek!Seperis of the dark days before the internet and access to Amazon would like to say, are you kidding me?

[I won't even go into women in geek culture, because being a feral geek, my early interactions with geek (male) culture were so off that I didn't get the joy and delight of trading sexual harassment for interaction and second class acceptance. My regret, it's legion, really.]

The days when geek culture belonged to the urban middle class male is over; we all own it now. Don't look like that; we're not saying you have to leave. See, we like to share. That's kind of the entire point.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/74038.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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I love the 'it's so easy for you to get anime now' or the 'we didn't have manga back in the day! certainly not for free online!' arguments. I mean, they're right, but so what? If I recall my teenage years correctly: reading manga/watching anime = awesome, hunting it down like rare mushrooms and paying through the nose to get a hold of it = sucked balls.

I still don't watch as much anime as I like because I still associate with being Way Too Expensive. Last week I almost cried when I realized that anime comes out in season sets now and is comparably priced with my favorite live-action TV. ::hugs Yuu Yuu Hakusho to chest::

Funimation also shows entire dubbed seasons of anime (like FMA: Brotherhood, Trigun, xxxHolic, etc etc) on Youtube. Thumbs up to Funimation, I say.

Thumbs up to Funimation, I say.

This statement cracks me up*, but that is indeed awesome. *skips off to YouTube*

*Mostly related to my twelve-year-old self, Dragonball Z and a grudge that should have died years ago.

I was a geek culture of one at my school K through 12

Hi. Yes. This.

Also everything else.

But especially this.

And the rural thing. And the not-having-cable thing. And the 40 miles to find an actual bookstore thing.

Dear god I love my easily-accessible fandom/media/things I have now.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Those Thomas Covenant books, they were all we had. Those, some Heinlein, and there was rape everywhere but it was all we had.

Signed, A Small Town Geek with a library that tried but just didn't know.

Co-signing, so very much.

God, Covenant. I can't get over that one. Just. So much no.

Okay, see, I'll admit that when the LotR movies happened, I did have several dragonish moments of "Who do all these newbie movie fans think they are?" because LotR was Special and Important and Belonged To Me. But I immediately realized that I was being an enormous asshole. More people having more access to things that I love and falling in love with it themselves means that yes, I am no longer the Holder of Secret Knowledge. But it also means more love to go around. Dude needs to stop trying to be Fafnir over there and enjoy the company of his fellow fen.

Yep. I was blessed with a geekly father who had issues of Analog SF and F magazine from the 1950s to 1980 or so, and there was some good stuff there, so I lucked out in my reading. But I was also in a small town that was over 100 miles from the nearest city, and cable was this thing that somebody else's dad had. Return of the Jedi didn't make it to my town's one theater until 3 months after it had been released.

I would have loved having SF media downloadable or otherwise easily obtainable, as well as online fora where I could discover people with similar interests.


That Patton Oswalt op-ed was so inane I couldn't even read the second half of it.

For a hot second there, I wanted to register with Wired just so I could post a CRY MOAR macro in the comments section. But really. I'm going to take a moment and do some role reversal. That old dude needs to get off my lawn and bother someone who cares. I eagerly await the day when everything really is available everywhere forever, and hope to find Elvis's grunge album on a hard drive near me soon.

Yes, this so much! Our bookstore was five shelves and the rest was office supplies.
I bought trade paperbacks from a bookstore an hour away by sending them checks and phoning in orders.
The only comics you could buy in town were X-men from the Walmart. And I did buy them.
Our video store was also a pool and spa store.

This world is a thousand times more accessible and I'm thrilled about it.

I love your whole post with my whole being. I remember being a teenie little geek. The days of staying up until 11 pm and watching Star Trek reruns on the TV station based out of NYC that sometimes was nothing but snow, but I got sound, and I would still watch it because that's all I got. And when they built the mall and Waldenbooks arrived, I was in high school. Now, I realize how small its selection was, but five whole shelves of sci-fi/fantasy seemed like an endless supply because before that there was nothing but the library, which had an incredibly small sci fi section because we were central PA and that sort of thing wasn't exactly embraced wholeheartedly. I remember discovering that a friend's mother was a geek, too, and she took me along when she drove to Scranton for a con, and that's where I discovered zines, but they were damned expensive... and in retrospect, that little con was pretty small and dingy, in the basement of a masonic hall that smelled musty and had one place to buy food that only sold hot dogs, but oh, if at the time it didn't look like an endless hall of gleaming treasures.

Oh, if I were cut off from online fandom and fic and all this sharing, it would be like someone had turned off all the lights after I'd gotten used to seeing the whole room.

Edited at 2011-02-03 04:24 am (UTC)

THANK YOU. I normally love Patton Oswalt, but I really kind of took offense to that whole essay, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. You nailed it.

It's kind of like my FIL's assertions that life was so much better in the 1950s. Sure, if you were white. And a guy. And straight. And [insert list of other things my FIL totally was here]. *eyeroll*

Ugh, I could not even read the whole article. I mean, really, what? It was like some sort of alternate universe where having more people who share your interests is bad, remix takes no effort or artistry at all, and losing art to the mists of time, never to be recovered, is a good thing. Just - everything that ever was, available forever? If I believed in a heaven, that would be it, and like, he wasn't even trying to convince us that it's better for things to be lost (WHY), he just seemed to take that as a given. Like as soon as he pointed out it was happening, we'd all go - oh no! We have to stop this! I can't even - O.o

The days when geek culture belonged to the urban middle class male is over; we all own it now.

Hear, hear!

Hell yes. I grew up in tiny town in Wisconsin, but I lucked out in that both my parents are big readers and my father is a huge science fiction fan, so we had a ton of hard sf in the house for me to devour (and the entirety of McCaffrey - my father was really into her, which was kind of odd given that he generally wasn't a fantasy fan. He still hasn't noticed that I stole his copy of LOTR.). I also had parents who were the type that got their VCR early and taped the entirety of Star Trek. I lucked out a lot in that. But there were no conventions. There was one teeny-tiny B-Dalton that carried virtually nothing and an underfunded public library. I was basically a fandom of me-and-my-parents, which was a bit awkward. The internet was a complete revelation. Not to mention bittorent. I admit, I kind of hoard downloaded tv shows now. Because I can.

So basically he needs to define who he is by who's not allowed in his club. And that's clearly...us.

I think he needs to go find a new club, cause I ain't leaving.

as someone born after 1990 whose entire intro to geek culture was based around the harry potter fandom and broadband and slash fic and tamora pierce and i didn't even know dude geeks until i got to high school and gamers, i would just like to say after reading this entry i feel so, so lucky

also, everything seems much better now and this assbag needs to sit down before drastic measures are taken. and by drastic, i mean people writing foursome fic shipping him, voldemort, moaning myrtle, and the giant squid.

although - disclaimer - after reading this again i have a feeling a lot of it might be tongue-in-cheek? of course that's no excuse, if he didn't want it to be taken the wrong way he should have written it more clearly. oooooh patton oswalt, please stick with comedy if this is what happens otherwise

I *was* geek culture...

Hahaha, me too.

No nostalgia for that!

This treatment of while male middle class geekdom leaves me just as confused as the new biracial-not-black phenomenon. It was enough to finally get all that sorted back in the 80's, and now here's the rules changing.

Just discovered your writing. I see you come by your brilliance honestly.

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