I wanted to say something about this, and luckily I found an excuse to in our lord’s post about PVP, wherein MGK observed that liking comics doesn’t mean you like video games, which led to some comments about whether or not this is true. I think the disagreement is largely semantic: Obviously a great many comics fans tend to like video games, but Bird’s point is that being a comics fan does not mean you must like video games.
I’m pretty sure the statement “all people who like X always like Y” is never true for any value of X or Y, even when X ⊆ Y. The only people who seem to believe otherwise are those seeking to define “nerd culture.” And these are inevitably the same people who want to clearly fall either inside or outside of that definition. The “gatekeepers,” as Bird put it, on either side of the gate, are the only ones with any motive to enforce this artificial distinction.
Think about it for a minute, and you’ll see that nerd culture is a complete crock. You’re a geek if you’re passionate about nerd culture, and it’s nerd culture if geeks are passionate about it. It’s an arbitrary, circular concept, defining a “genre” so nebulous that we have to call it “genre entertainment.” It’s why every comics convention I attend has booths devoted to such random subjects as jewelry, used pornography, Japanese candy, and historical costumes. Because all comics fans are nerds, and all nerds like other nerdy things, and kilts are the exclusive domain of nerds because I guess they were on Monty Python once.
Nerd culture sounds great to people who feel they perfectly fit into that pigeonhole (or people seeking a context to identify and ostracize nerds, I suppose). But it’s pretty shitty for the rest of us–the people who just want to be hardcore fans of some things without conforming to some standard of nerdiness about all things. I don’t want to like all the things a nerd is supposed to like. I don’t want to tell people how to be better nerds. I don’t want to be a better nerd. I don’t really consider myself to be a nerd.
Distancing myself from nerd culture isn’t a hard choice because it represents nothing I want to associate with. Millions of people watch Star Wars, for example, without being nerds. Being a Star Wars fan is only distinct from being a Star Wars nerd in that a Star Wars nerd seeks to aggrandize the act of liking Star Wars into some sort of lifelong discipline that should be respected. That’s all nerd culture truly owns; not the fandom, but the self-absorbed douchebaggery within it.
This is the only issue that I think really matters in all the discussions about fake geek girls and geek primers and geeks canons. Nerds keep trying to define the exact boundaries of their exclusive gated community, but arguing about whether the gates should be more or less open misses the point. Nerdiness is not a quality people aspire to; it is what people settle for when they give up aspiring to be anything else. So the gatekeeping is as pointless as posting guards at a landfill: It may make the guards feel special, but it doesn’t make what they’re guarding any more precious.