I dropped by Evercon this weekend, a gaming and other geek-related convention this weekend, which happens to be held at my old junior high.
Tim Seeley, comic writer/artist of Hack/Slash and Revival fame, once graced those same D.C. Everest Junior High hallways on a daily basis. We both endured the hell that was junior high and the added hell of being a geek in junior high at the same place.
One of the topics that came up in our brief but enjoyable conversation is one I’ve discussed with many geeks my age: The difference between today’s fans and us. When we walked the halls of D.C. Everest, loving comics, Star Trek, Magic: The Gathering, maybe even anime (the later mainly an underground phenomena before the days of Adult Swim) was something to hide. Letting your geek flag fly was the equivalent of wearing a kick my ass sign. Seeley related that he once wore a Spiderman shirt and was asked by an older classmate if he was still into “baby stuff.”
This is, of course, before a truly decent superhero movie had been made that wasn’t Batman or Superman. Now how many incarnations of Spiderman are we on now? Tell kids today that you once got your ass kicked for wearing a Star Trek insignia and they look at you as if you’d just told them you went to school in a cart and buggy. It seems impossibly anachronistic to them.
While I think that’s great — it should be an anachronism — I think there’s a bond between older geeks who endured the abuse. When we hid the latest X-Men comic between our textbooks, or banded in a group geeks for protection, or traded a VHS tape of the lastest Star Trek episode to a friend who’d missed it. The trepidation with which we’d share our love of geekdom to a new friend, and the delight when we discovered they were into those things too. We were earning our Red Badge of Courage.
But that being said, I’m glad newer generations don’t have to. I’m not even entirely sure the word geek even applies; The days of the Breakfast Club are gone. Today you can be a jock who plays Pokemon. Or the prom queen who stands in line for the latest Hunger Games movie. After all, isn’t that what we always hoped for?