Dear Geeks: This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dear Geeks: This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

Dear Geeks,

Get over yourselves. I know you think you're a big deal. I know you think there are a ton of us out there and that everyone should listen to what you like and dislike. I mean, everyone you talk to is a geek and they all think the way you do.

Wrong.

You're not a driving demographic. You're a sub-culture. A very vocal and localized sub-culture with a skewed perspective of your impact on the world as a whole. And if you don't get a handle on your inflated sense of your place in the world, you're going to lose any of the cred you've recently earned.

Allow me to explain:

1) Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass is a niche film. Somehow, someone managed to convince Hollywood that geeks and comic book nerds were a bigger part of the movie going crowd (thank you Twitter and FB) than they used to be and brilliantly wrangled a higher budget for a movie that, had it been made 10 years ago, would have been considered a "hit" with a 20 million opening. But what am I seeing today? Comments that Kick-Ass "flopped" and all sorts of reasons "why".

Flopped? Really? A niche film with a comic book/anime feel?

Remember a movie called Kill Bill, Vol. 1?

Per Box Office Mojo, Kill Bill made 22 million opening weekend. It had a 30 million dollar budget (which Kick-Ass started with) and it grossed over 180 million worldwide.

I think, geek critics, that you lack perspective. Somehow you got all wrapped up in feeling awesome because Hollywood somehow bought into the idea that you'd turn Kick-Ass into another Dark Knight. Instead of calling the movie a flop, why not be happy you managed to fool the studio heads into believing you were a money maker?

But, nope, you'll bemoan the numbers and call it a flop and get cranky that Roger Ebert didn't like it and you'll forget to do the word of mouth thing that makes little movies like Kick-Ass live and breathe.

One word, people. Serenity.

2) SyFy Channel

I saw a post today over at Geeks Dream Girl about SyFy changing around their line up and including wrestling. I think J has a point. I think Craig at SyFy has a great counterpoint.

But let me make a comment here. Even geeks don't watch everything on SyFy. If SyFy had to depend on geeks for their ratings, they'd be screwed. I mean, ask yourself. How many hours do YOU watch SyFy? It's a business. SyFy isn't a charity organization or geek television preferences. They have bills to pay.

Now, do I think wrestling is the way to do that? Well, that's debatable and I'd be more than happy to discuss that with Craig another time. But the next time you want to rant about the programming on SyFy, ask yourself what you've done to improve the ratings enough on the geek friendly programming to make it financially feasible for them to expand it.

3) The iPad.

(Okay, so the rant started about Kick-Ass, but this iPad thing has been bugging me, so I tossed it in here)

To every geek out there talking about what the iPad doesn't do, or what can't be modified, or how you can't jack it into whatever piece of hardware, or any of the other grumbling that's been going on...

...to quote a Mac geek I have a lot of love and respect for...

"Apple didn't make the iPad for YOU."

Y'know who Apple made the iPad for? Regular people who like gadgets and geeks who like toys. They made it for the people who like the VW Beetle for the budvase (guilty) and people who want a portable way to read, play games, surf the web and look at You Tube Videos but already have a phone and like a bigger screen.

It's not supposed to be geek nirvana. It's supposed to be a crossover gadget that caters to a wider variety of users.

Look, I'm a geek. I love geeks and I get it. I  understand the desire to rant and grumble and decry anything that might be a slam to all things geek. But maybe we need a reality check. Geeks are NOT a wide variety. We're a sliver of the bigger marketplace. Really.

And if we don't start being a bit nicer, we may end up being marginalized again.

Personally, I'd think that would suck.

Author's Note: I'm liable to get my geek card revoked for this, but I'm cranky today. And I do include myself in this as I'm just as guilty. See what happens when you let me take a week off work?; -)

40 comments:

  1. Very well said. It's easier than ever to find other geeks these days, but that doesn't mean we're a majority (nor would I want us to be).

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  2. "Everything everyone has ever made, and ever will make, was made specifically for me, and tailored to my needs. Or else it sucks."

    That's hyperbole, but it's essentially the viewpoint you're dealing with. I don't think, however, that it's a geek viewpoint so much as it is a more general consumer viewpoint. We encourage this viewpoint because we are a consumerist society.

    Singling geeks out for blame is likely to be counterproductive.

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  3. I loved the New Beetle for the budvase, but I do not like the iPad...crap I have no demographic!

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  4. Right on. People forget that all the time. I forget it all the time. Thanks for adding some perspective!

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  5. 1) YES!
    2) YES!!
    3) ... no. Well okay yes to a degree. But the iPad is a 1st Gen device so most of the things I complain about will be taken care of by 2nd or 3rd gen.

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  6. In regards to "Kick Ass", I think you've fallen for the spin. If I was a writer and I needed to say something about this past weekend, what would be more stirring, ""Kick Ass" beaten by a movie that's been out for several weeks by a few hundred thousand dollars", or "Kick Ass implodes! Horrible movie! A Terrible Flop!!!"

    Geeks are entitled to their opinion if they didn't care for it, but I think you're giving into the spectacle of modern journalism.

    In regards to SyFy, that channel has been going downhill since the rebranding. It won't change the channel's fate of eventually going out of business. The should cater to the demographic you are berating in your post though, because they are actually willing to watch that channel. SyFy is grazing, trying to dip their toes in all the pools to diversify their audience. Unfortunately, they have already been labeled with the "GEEK" brand long ago and there is no undoing it. Either embrace it or die.

    Lastly, the iPad. It is consumer trash. Yes, perhaps it isn't intended for the techno geek or the day, but you are blinding yourself to the fact that this closed proprietary platform is just the next generation of iPad/iTouches. Now instead of getting an iPod/iTouch, you'll upgrade to a $500-$1k iPad. It is just Apple pushing their consumers to spend more money. Greed at its finest. Sorry if it offends you that geeks recognize it for what it is.

    Go push some toys and let the geeks do what they do.

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  7. Nicely said. For #1, it's just the way of the bean. For some unknown reason domestic gross is what determines a movie a flop. Even if Kick-Ass does modest at the box office, you can all but guarantee it will pick up the slack in DVD sales.

    #2. Yeah I'll admit I don't watch most of SyFy's programming. That being said, they are always a good Goto when I'm in the mood for schlock fest. I'm not totally on board for wrestling, but it certainly is more fantasy/theater than anything else nowadays.

    #3 iPad. 100% right. It's a crossover device. If geeks want crazy tech, then the Android tablets will more than fit the bill. The new Lenovo one is right in that wheelhouse. But if I want an easy device for my mother-in-law, you bet your bippy she's getting one for Christmas (as long as everyone chips in!)

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  8. @Anonymous

    1) I have no issue with people disliking a movie. My comment had nothing to do with that. It had to do with the reaction to the box office numbers.

    2) I thought the rebranding was a crock. I also think there's a reason they did it and that, again, comes down to dollars.

    3)The iPad is the iPod/iTouch, but bigger, easier to handle and user friendly.

    Since when does recognizing a demo and catering to it become greed instead of smart business?

    And, really? I'm not a geek and relegated to "pushing toys" because I disagree with your viewpoint?

    That is a complete crock. ::shrug::

    I was at Kick Ass opening day, watched Doctor Who this week and played with the iPad at Best Buy this weekend.

    Maybe I'm not your type of geek. Who knows.

    Oh and, feel free to leave a name next time. ;-)

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  9. Geeks aren't just a sub-culture...the situation is even worse than you say because we are a collection of sub-culture. There are sci-fi geeks (split into Media and book geeks) there are Game Geeks, there are Tech geeks, well you get the idea...

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  10. well yes I agree about the Kick-Ass remarks only tailored for an exact group so no complaints there

    SyFy...I don't have cable so really can't pass my opinion on that one, if they go down, sucks to be them

    Ipad..we're just cranky because they pushed it out so soon and it clearly needs improvements...why not wait another year, then put it out?

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  11. Great points on Kick Ass. I think all us geeks should have learned our lesson with Serenity.

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  12. Always easy to rip when you can do it behind the cloak of 'anonymous' ain't it? Hey GGD, this post convinces me that we are meant to be together! I am now getting on my chocolate pegasus horse and flying to your office to whisk you away to a quickie wedding in Las Vegas that will be presided over by a Jedi Robe wearing Elvis.

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  13. Maybe if Mac nerds didn't treat it like it's the end-all, be-all, I wouldn't be so inclined to criticize. I wasn't going to write anything until an idiot on TechCrunch wrote a whole post suggesting that people should write books FOR the iPad in a way that could never be printed.

    I agree w/you, it's a toy & cross-over device.

    Anyway, you can keep your geek card. ;) We're not a driving demographic, we're a sub-culture who's done especially well online because...we're geeks. This is the future the geeks of yesteryear dreamed of. And yay for that. :)

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  14. Anonymous commenter I think just created an inadvertent #4 - definitely a focus on the "get over yourself" part.

    Open non-proprietary platform is one of those things appeals most strongly to geeks, and isn't as big a deal to iPad audience. (And lucky for you, there will be alternative touch screen computers you can buy.) I also fail to see the problem with selling iPads to those who like their iPod Touches. I'm pretty sure selling people something similar to something they already like has other explanations that just "greed at is finest."

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  15. *applause* I couldn't agree more. Enough with the cynical, self-loathing geeks. They want everything *they* like to fail. These kinds of geeks are like 80s Metallica fans that got angry when they got popular. They were *their* band, and not for anyone else, man!

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  16. Word of mouth was what prompted me to go see 'Kick-Ass' in the first place. I was a little surprised at the box office numbers, considering almost everyone I know was so excited to see it. But box office numbers don't really mean much to me. 'Avatar' made how many millions and I still have no desire to see it. But people talking about 'Kick-Ass' made me intrigued enough to go on opening weekend. Which I never do. (And personally, I find that the more Ebert hates a movie, the more I'll love it.)

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  17. @anonymous -

    Actually, Kick-Ass was indeed number one this weekend, as reported by the Hollywood reporter:
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i3a5406892176b1a1bac79f6e6180d4f5

    As for the SyFy network, their ratings have actually been going up - their original movies and series are a huge part of that. Don't know where you got the idea that SyFy was going "downhill." The name change was stupid, I agree, but the network is making up for that with quality programming and better marketing.

    I think something that both you and Diva might be missing is that the line between "geek" tastes and "mainstream" tastes actually is eroding. The creators in Hollywood right now are all products of having grown up with Star Wars, and as a result, you can't change the channel without hitting upon some geeky reference or other, even on the most "mainstream" show.

    I have seen friends who have no interest in comic books whatsoever LOVE Kick-Ass. I've gotten friends who have no interest in sci-fi at ALL into Caprica. Geek culture has become so much a part of the mainstream that it's now what's making UP the mainstream. I don't think geekery IS as niche as all that anymore. I, too, agree that geeks can stop complaining, but it's because they've already won, and they need to lay off the victim act! :)

    And part of that "word of mouth" thing IS the online uproar caused by the complaining. Complaining is what made Serenity so successful, along with being positive about spreading the word about a quality story. Complaining makes obscure things KNOWN, and is just as important a part of the dissemination of geek culture as anything else.

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  18. I am trying to figure out why you continued to type after the first paragraph since you classify yourself as a geek.

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  19. You know what? Telling most geeks they push toys is not an insult since geeks are often adults who own a few toy cars. There's a yellow Tonka truck in my garage and I am gonna go push it around the driveway right now even if my kids won't come with me. I know how you intended the insult to sound, but here's to pushing toys!! Who's with me?

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  20. @Ruth - I haven't read the TechCrunch post in question, but the idea of writing books specifically for the iPad (or, in a more general sense, for web-ready-and-enabled electronic devices) isn't such a bad idea; in fact, it could lead to innovation

    I know that Cleolinda Jones' Annotated Movies in Fifteen Minutes ebook was done as an ebook in part because she could use hyperlinks to fill out the annotations. It's a simple enough concept, but it shifts the way one approaches the text, and it's something that absolutely cannot be done as a traditional printed book.

    So, while I completely understand the initial distaste toward the idea of books written for a single device, I wouldn't despair; besides the possibility of some really awesome innovations, there's nothing to say that books written specifically for the iPad and its abilities couldn't be translated for similar non-iPad devices that are bound to crop up. And I find the possibilities rather exciting.

    @Anonymous - As I seem to be talking about the iPad at the moment, your argument against the iPad is that it's just the "next generation" of the iPod Touch. Why is this a bad thing? I mean, should we all have brick-sized cell phones and 14.4K modems? Should we throw out our mp3 players in favor of portable CD players, or should we go back further to cassettes or 8-tracks or even records? When does the "next generation" become more than "greed at its finest"?

    To me, technology is about what's behind the next corner, the next "next generation." It's exciting to see what advancements there are. I mean, I *like* needing a hard drive in my computer. I *like* feeling like 3GB is an adequate amount of RAM, but more is better. And, yes, for the companies making the new products, it is indeed about selling those new products, even if those new products are just a step beyond the old product.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I like new technology that's better and more than what came before.

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  21. "But the next time you want to rant about the programming on SyFy, ask yourself what you've done to improve the ratings enough on the geek friendly programming to make it financially feasible for them to expand it."

    Sorry, but I find this a really bad complaint. What CAN I do to improve the ratings? Nothing. Not a damned thing. I am not a Nielsen household.

    Until they come up with a system that more accurately reflects what people actually watch--one that INCLUDES Hulu, Netflix, etc.; one that INCLUDES most of us, not a selectively skewed sampling--Sci-Fi shows will always get short shrift. Always.

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  22. @ToddPM

    Good point. Okay, ranty brain took over a sec. I blame lack of food and a week off work.

    ::grin:: Thanks for that.

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  23. Here's my thing about The SciFi Channel (...yes, I know, but I don't want to call them that stupid name! :P ):

    If they make and show quality programming I (and other geeks) want to watch, we'll watch them more often, driving up the numbers and negating any need for wrestling. They've spent so much of their life airing drek and/or endless reruns. I loved "The Dresden Files", but they canceled it. I'll admit "Alice" and "Tin Man" rocked. I can't think of anything else right now. *steals GGD's excuse of needing food*

    On a similar note, I struggle to understand why BBC America is about to start showing ST:TNG (*American* television) when there is so much good Brit TV they could be importing and AREN'T. But I digress.

    And re: iPad? *yawn!* I have a 4-year-old Zen that was better than the iPod back then and is still alive and kicking. It annoys me that "iPod" became for "MP3 player" what "Kleenex" is for "tissue". But that's mostly because it's such a closed system: iTunes will only work with iPods, etc. And I have a Droid, not an iPhone. So yeah, no interest whatsoever in the iPad.

    *stops rambling* (Sorry if this comment happens more than once; login issues.)

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  24. I love you for this post.

    Seriously, I work and live with geeks. I have to deal with the "It's all about me!!!!!!" mindset ALL. DAY. LONG. It's tiring. Yes, you may think something is effing awesome. Someone else thinks it's effing lame. Berating them with your logical or illogical reasons for liking it and why it is, indeed, all things amazing is NOT likely to get them to like it, it's probably going to make them end up biting you in the face. Or, well, that's the reaction it brings up in me :P
    Yes, part of it is fear of cancellation or removal. If you LOVE a show, but you know no one who likes it (but want to keep it on the air), you're gonna tell everyone all about it and why they should watch. This goes for movies, websites, hell, bakeries. Why? Because we're not dumb. We know that if people don't spend money to support something, it goes away. But, too many (and, in my experience, geeks are the BIGGEST culprits) people want to BEAT THE JOY INTO YOU. There's an old Hindu proverb...."Once you've cut off someone's nose, there's no point in giving them a rose to smell." Think about that before you become the biggest asshole on the planet about that new thing you like. /rant off

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  25. But... isn't your post just one more geek bitching about geek-stuff?

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  26. @Corey

    Close. More like geek ranting about geeks who bitch about geek-stuff?

    ::grin:: That may be too meta even for me.

    I rant. It happens. I never said it made sense.

    But thanks for reading.

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  27. @Nancy, you really do need to read the post to understand the bad. Or read my response. This guy seems to think that ALL that people should be writing for is digital media, especially the iPad. He ignores the fact that most people don't have iPads, etc, etc.

    As I said in my own response/rant, if you have an idea that would make a better app than book, then it needs to be done as an app so it's fully-realized.

    But people who make things that are best as apps will have to accept that they dramatically limit their audience (no poor readers) and possibly limit the future of their book (I speak as someone who plans to spend her life preserving materials in all formats, I'll certainly give it a go if I come across these down the road but who knows whether they'll save well).

    People can play around happily with their iPads and I don't really care. I don't want one myself, more for them. If in a few generations of big changes the iPad becomes interesting, I may change my mind.

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  28. Uhh... Okay...? You're wrong, and being a little bitchy and extremely judgemental and even more critical of a subset of people which you seem to have a loose grasp on, but sure, thanks for your opinion.

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  29. Dear Anonymous,

    I'm really sorry you have your boxers and/or panties in a twist. It seems that Geekgirldiva struck a chord with you. I'm confused on where your anger is coming from. Looking at the rest of the comments from geeks, and people who actually use a name by the way, there seems to be quite a bit of agreement.

    Any person with integrity, geek or otherwise, would agree that geeks can have a knee jerk reactions. Hell I have been guilty of it. But to deny it is self serving and self delusional. This is normal however, everyone can have knee jerk reactions and often do. To cloak geeks in a shroud of perfection is silly at best.

    I'm sorry you were so offended by this post that you had to troll it anonymously.

    Best wishes,

    Phuul

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  30. If the blogger has a problem with people leaving anonymous comments then she should remove the ability for people to do so.

    Don't allow someone to leave comments on your website in various ways and then patronize them when they do so.

    I could make up an imaginary name if that helps.

    Plus, everyone posting under anonymous isn't the same person, Phuul. It is various people.

    Perhaps this is a worthwhile blog but a lot of people came to this blog for the first time today and saw a hypocrite.

    GGD has admitted such and the commenters seem to have showed her the error of her ways thoroughly.

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  31. Dear Anonymous,

    If you want to be treated as an individual you might want to post with a name. Because the host decides to let anonymous comments through doesn't mean you can be an asshat. As for hypocrisy well you might want to look to yourself.

    The commenters have NOT "showed her the errors of her ways." Thoroughly or otherwise. The only thing you have shown is that you are the epitome of self entitled people who seem to think the world owes them something. Thanks for proving Geekgirldiva's point.

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  32. I think this post hits the nail on the head. That vocal "geek crowd" needs to STFU and be happy with what they get rather than bitch when things don't go the way they think it should.

    @Anonymous Actually since the name change SyFy has done A LOT Better than it was doing before. Its viewership has increased, its advertising revenu has increased, the only people who are upset at the name change are those I mentioned above.

    I just got back from watching Kick Ass, (which was listed as Kick A** in the theater... pissed me off) I read the comic 2 weeks ago. After taking the time to separate the comic form the movie I've formed the opinion that Kick Ass was indeed a Kick Ass movie. The things they changed from the comic NEEDED to be changed to try and satisfy the general public audience. I may not be happy with one of those changes but I can accept it.

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  33. re #1: in this case, it wasn't just geeks fretting about the numbers.

    On Saturday, MTV ran a story quoting a Lionsgate exec as saying a $20 million opening weekend would count as "a win" for them, and also mentioning another exec saying the film "never took hold" like they thought it would. Good thing it wound up doing well, of course but it seems even the people who would normally "know better" ended up a bit disappointed.

    In any case, I'm confident Kick-Ass will do just that when it hits Netflix and (legal) download circles.

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  34. Lastly, the iPad. It is consumer trash. Yes, perhaps it isn't intended for the techno geek or the day, but you are blinding yourself to the fact that this closed proprietary platform is just the next generation of iPad/iTouches. Now instead of getting an iPod/iTouch, you'll upgrade to a $500-$1k iPad. It is just Apple pushing their consumers to spend more money. Greed at its finest. Sorry if it offends you that geeks recognize it for what it is.

    Go push some toys and let the geeks do what they do.

    There is nothing more twee than anonymous freetards trying to win the geek penis size contest. With a girl.

    How DARE Apple want you to spend more money on their stuff! How DARE they not give you everything you want for free, because you bought something. once. years ago.

    Do you get paid for your work, or are you a clean-ish hobo like your dork lord stallman, living off the funds of others who are zombified by the site of him picking his toes in public? If you get paid for your work, you might want to have a chat with the accountants about this concept, and how it works in the really real world. Not that you'll listen, but give it a shot.

    Apple, (and Google), requires cash to stay in business. Google sells you to advertisers, Apple advertises stuff to sell to you. Either way, they want someone's money. Yours is as good as any. Moreso, since "dumb, but has money" is the best target audience of all.

    On the open thing, it's so nice that you display your insecurity about your upcoming obsolescence for us all to laugh at. Here's the thing about iPads and their users:

    They make socially stupid jerks like you unnecessary. With an iPad, people don't need to kowtow to millenial asperger ego. if it goes sideways, reboot it, you're fine. All of a sudden, there's a computer for people who don't what source code is, who just want something that works, and could give a handful of monkey poo about who the gatekeeper for the applications are as long as they work, and you can't stand it.

    Because once all the pretty people who can bathe regularly get one, their sole reason for talking to prats like you goes away.

    Uhh... Okay...? You're wrong, and being a little bitchy and extremely judgemental and even more critical of a subset of people which you seem to have a loose grasp on, but sure, thanks for your opinion.

    you must be an atheist. you can't believe in a hell and talk hypocritical b.s. like that.

    If the blogger has a problem with people leaving anonymous comments then she should remove the ability for people to do so.

    no, what she should do is figure out a way to pay a brute squad to smack little pinheads like you upside the skull a few times until you learn that imitating bad wheedon dialog is not the same as actually being a raconteur.

    Don't allow someone to leave comments on your website in various ways and then patronize them when they do so.

    Abstruse Goose says it all

    I could make up an imaginary name if that helps.

    But "prat" is already a word

    Plus, everyone posting under anonymous isn't the same person, Phuul. It is various people.

    True. Idiots are pack animals.

    Perhaps this is a worthwhile blog but a lot of people came to this blog for the first time today and saw a hypocrite.

    you're so precious when you're so full of it your eyes are brown.

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  35. Beautifully written. I agree wholeheartedly.

    My response was a bit long for the comment form. http://gtpeachleigh.blogspot.com/2010/04/in-response-to-geek-girl-diva.html

    Basically, it's these geek things that allow companies to manufacture Geek things.

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  36. @Ruth - Okay, I'm up to speed with you now. (I totally should have read the post in question.) Yeah, I agree that writers shouldn't all write for the iPad (or any similar device) to the exclusion of anything else, if for no other reason than they might just want to write something wholly and completely traditional. I do think encouraging experimentation is good, though, even if the audience is limited.

    So, basically, I think we're in general agreement on the matter; I was just a page or two behind. :D

    (By the way, I've perused your blog, which is quite enjoyable. I'll have to check out new posts, when they come.)

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  37. I don't think you have to worry about your "geek cred" with this post. Us geeks could not agree on anything anyways. :D

    As to the article as a whole, I get it too. Geeks are many - but we Geeks have yet to learn to roar with just one voice. I'm not sure this is a bad thing, but it does make effecting main-stream/other cultures more difficult. Especially when they still greatly outnumber us.

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  38. Well spoken! I think "geeks" many a time are overly critical of things, and are generally, very picky creatures.

    I didn't read any reviews before I went to see Kick-Ass and I absolutely loved the film.

    I thought that Syfy renaming themselves was hilarious. If anything, I watched it less after that over time. What they need is a really good series, like they had with Battlestar Galactica. Leave wrestling on Spike tv.

    I played with the iPad at Best Buy, it's a neat toy. I have an iPhone so it wasn't a huge deal. I think people are getting way too passionate about the fact it dosen't come with X object. Start up a company and make one better, or just buy something else.

    Life goes on.

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  39. I think you're wrong or at least need a different perspective of this "geek fad" you speak of.

    The so called "geek" you speak of is a manufactured product created by those who seek to turn out one simple thing... profit. The real geeks and nerds, who where the origin of the stereotype are nothing like those that you've been fed.

    It happens all the time. Where ever there is potential for profit there will be those who will try to exploit it. Like grunge music and plaid shirts.

    The fact that you think that the point of geek popularity has anything to do with geeks themselves proves that you, yourself have been tricked by the marketing machine. Advertising and Media strike again.

    Its all just a fad. And as long as it still turns out a few dollars, you'll keep seeing more of it. But as soon as the new cash-cow comes on the media chopping block, the geek fad will go away like slap on bracelets. ... only to come back again sometime around 2020... maybe 2030.

    BTW... a real geek will tell you the IPAD is retarded. And the person who said "Apple didn't make the iPad for YOU", is not a geek. The technical term for these people is "consumer".

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