Look at me, at my blog, at my life and work and self-identity, and it may surprise you to learn that I feel like a fake geek. It’s because I have something to hide. I liked Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — I almost certainly liked it more than many geeks or nerds will say they did — and you know what? Fuck you for making me feel bad about it.
This isn’t about seriously disavowing serious topics for serious reasons. This about denying the existence of sequels you didn’t like. This is about the ultimate dismissal of an artist’s work because you don’t want to process it. Vanity. Pretend a food doesn’t exist because you’re allergic — not because you don’t like it or don’t know how to chew it.
This is like saying “meh” on a grand scale. John Hodgman described meh as “the essence of blinkered Internet malcontentism. And a rejection of joy.” As Hodgman put it, “It’s part of the toxic Internet art of constant callous one upsmanship.”
Denial is the supermeh.
Denying movies doesn’t make them go away but it does sometimes make me go away. It tells me to shut the hell up, to fall into line with the geek consensus or risk having my card revoked. It makes me feel deeply unwelcome.
“We” hate the prequels, “we” hate Alien 3, “we” hate the end of Battlestar Galactica. All to the point of not looking at them? These are imperfect works with foibles and flaws, great and small … so never shall we discuss any part of them ever? Really?
This is fandom through hatred, which is a form of bullshit. Hating something doesn’t emphasize or validate your fandom of something else. Hating a part of something doesn’t mean you love the other part harder or truer or better. These are perpendicular things. You can dislike one thing and like another thing even within the same film.
Haven’t “we” learned that we don’t have to love — or reject — works only as wholes and hyperbole? We can rally for better depictions of women and people of color in works we love and still love them and still want them to change because we contain multitudes. We can disavow parts of a movie and like other parts of it.
Watch this: I will now simultaneously think nuking the fridge is a bad gag while enjoying Harrison Ford’s performance as Indiana Jones in Crystal Skull. I am doing it right now. It’s happening. It is not a big deal.
Saying one hates the prequels has become a tribal signifier, a signal of belonging, rather than a critical statement or an opinion on those films as films, as creative works. The meta-message is “I’m like you.” For me, being a geek was never just a team to join.
For me, all this time, the greek tribe wasn’t about the fact that we all loved Star Trek or Star Wars or Marvel or DC. It was about the fact that we could think critically and genuinely about works that might not get serious analysis or discussion from other sectors. Does Tolkien warrant serious study as a mythopoeic writer and world-builder? How does John Williams’ musical score signal the deceit in Jaws? How does the scale and style of editing and action change between Episode I and Episode II of the Star Wars saga?
You don’t have to like ancient astronauts or mystical fighter pilots or heart transplants in the wild … but can we at least talk about these things?