Yesterday, I read a Guardian article by Julia Eccleshare: The next big thing . . . geeks! and I have to say, I was a little annoyed. Eccleshare seems to be beckoning in a ‘new’ reading era, the realm of the geek. However, I feel this is a little late, if not totally redundant. I can appreciate that the wealth of ‘goth’ literature may have pushed the underdogs to one side, shadowing them in longing vampiric looks and supernatural heroism, but geek chic is hardly revolutionary.
Brooding teens for many a year now have chosen to support characters with whom they relate – characters who have just as many misgivings and insecurities as the readers themselves. I think you would be hard pushed to find anyone in their 30-somethings who was not touched by Dahl’s bunch of maligned litter ‘runts’ in their reading childhood. And none carrying the chalice of ‘geek’ more proudly than Matlida (my personal geek hero). Surely a girl with such smarts and wit and wisdom as she, falls firmly into the modern class-system. The Geek, The Jock, The Society Girl, The Mean Girl, The In-betweenies have been populating modern culture, literature and film for decades now, and who always wins? Is it the über popular? Is it those who appear to have everything? Rarely. Geek wins out more often than not.
Eccleshare even goes so far as to post a photograph of Hermione Granger as if to prove her point. Well. When seven books and eight films have been produced quite some time ago now (in the publishing world) I somehow think she may have missed the crest of that particular wave. She also quotes Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a recent contemporary example hailing in the ‘new age’. Only the eight years behind there then. I just can’t comprehend how so much literature can be swept under the Twilight carpet by a professional. I think it is actually slightly irresponsible. What about all the hard work put in by authors such as Jacquelin Wilson? There is a wealth of current authors out there striving to redress the balance, to show girls (and boys!) that the intelligent, awkward, studious individuals with every-day looks, are just like everyone else – desperate to be special and capable of incredibly heroic feats.
I also accept that with the ever-growing popularity of TV programs such as The Big Bang Theory, reaching its 100th episode in the UK this month, that geekdom may have entered a new phase of popularity, but again, geek chic has been adorning our TV screens for a good stretch of time. The T4-teen-generations have been sporting their own variety of Geek-chic for AGES! Regular presenters of TV teen magazines sport slightly awkward looking garb as well as the next nuclear physicist – let’s be honest now, as a dress code, Geek-chic has been fashionable and cool for a while now. Find me a University student from the past fifteen years who doesn’t secretly wish to be Tim, Daisy or Mike from Spaced.Or indeed anyone who doesn’t just adore Simon Pegg in general. How could anyone possibly have missed Benedict Cumberbatch as the enigmatic Holmes, or the other Gatiss creations incarnated as Doctor Who? Although fun is made of some, film geeks are also among the most quotable in teen cinema – Napoleon Dynamite, Michael Cera (swoon), Garth in Wayne’s World, the three white ghost busters, Johnny 5 . . . the list goes on.Each an inspiration in their own fumbling way.
So how, really, is Geekery “The Next Big Thing”? Its been a HUGE thing for decades. It is what has inspired countless, countless authors to put pen to paper. Inspired innumerable film directors to create masterpieces. Allowed millions of teens to not feel quite so mind-numbingly alone. Yes there is still ridicule, but underpinning even this is respect. All hail the geek heroes, and even though temporary shifts in taste and favour may come and go, you will always, resolutely be there, as popular and necessary as ever.
In protest of the Guardian columnist’s naivety, I plan to compile a list of literary geek heroes – please support this particular geek and add your own hero in the comments below.
For now though, I shall get off my high horse!