Saturday, 12 March 2016
10th Anniversary Classic Rant: Geek Hypocrisy
You know, the recent reposting of my old "Aang Ain't White" thread to the RPGPundit's Forum over on the theRPGsite and the responses that thread originally got and still gets now has got me thinking: geeks, like everyone else, have an urge to be in the "In Crowd". And it turns out that the "In Crowd" for the geeks are basically PC douchebags as much as anywhere else.
And as a result of this, you will have cases of blatant hypocrisy; where whole herds of geeks will squawk on and on about how great something is because it fits the List of Geek-Approved Themes and how horrible something else is because it Reminds Them of Their Traumatic Childhood; at all times failing to catch the moral/ethical paradoxes that underlie this remarkably shallow thinking.
Take the Aang issue for starters: Geeks tend to be anti-racism, which is a wonderful thing. Thank goodness. But really, I think the reason that there is such a great emphasis on anti-racist sentiment in Geek culture is not because geeks are so wonderfully cosmopolitan (though they like to believe they are, most geeks I've met in person tend to actually carry lots of personal biases and petty prejudices), but because this falls under the larger spectrum of the major Geek Social Fallacy of "TOLERANCE". Geeks were picked on once, so now anything that seems to involve picking on or insulting anyone is BAD, except of course if you're picking on or insulting the guys that remind you of the jocks who beat you up in high school.
Add a dash of White Guilt, and you have the recipe for a major Hypocrisy among geeks: Geeks will rage against the decision to cast little white kids as the supposedly Asian characters from Avatar: the Last Airbender, but they will gush with feigned excitement (because they believe this is what they're supposed to do) at the proposition that some white male literary character be forced to either not be white or not be male anymore ("An Asian actor as Superman?? That would be awesome! No, I don't even have anyone in mind, it doesn't really matter who played him, does it? As long as Superman weren't white!").
Now what really got me writing on this today was the epidemic of threads and reviews on geek forums for the new movie, The Book of Eli. In case you haven't heard much about it, this is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure movie starring Denzel Washington. I think it originally caught the attention of geeks everywhere because stylistically the movie is supposed to look extremely similar to the Fallout series of computer games. And of course, "Fallout" is on the list of stuff Geeks are Supposed to Love, so any movie that looks like Fallout will automatically be the Most Awesome Movie of the Year, even if you don't know anything about it, until some other evidence comes to light that moves the film over the List of Things Geeks Aren't Supposed to Like.
And indeed, that's what happened. Because we have since found out that in the movie, Denzel's character is trying to protect a book. And he goes all kung-fu-machete on people's asses trying to save this book from an evil bad guy, because that bad guy also desperately wants that book. Because both of them are convinced that the secret teachings in that book will be able to transform post-apocalyptic civilization. The bad guy wants to use it for evil, and Eli wants to use it for good.
And the kicker in the story is that the book... is the Bible!
Now, this is in many ways an extremely stupid movie. People have pointed out that the movie is set only 30 years after an apocalypse, and that the Bible is the most printed book in north america, so the idea that Eli could have the LAST bible left is pretty ridiculous. I don't think this is going to be a very intellectual film. I'm quite willing to believe that it will be full of lame Hollywood-preaching and Christian-conservatism.
But what bugs me is that legions of Geeks have collectively been shitting on the movie, since they found out that the book was the Bible, only because "Christianity" is on the Big List of stuff Geeks are Supposed to Hate. Its a mindless herd reaction, made all the more ironic and all the more annoying by the fact that the geeks who act this way also tend to loudly and proudly proclaim how they're different from the sheep that are the non-geek world, how being a geek makes them smarter than "normal people" and "different" and "special". Special as in "special ed.", sometimes. But "special" as in "actually applies critical reasoning and has a moral framework to one's aesthetic choices that avoids hypocritical behaviour"? Clearly not.
Geeks are no more rational or consistent in their choices as 99% of the rest of our society. They are driven by their Subculture's dogmas, and one of those dogmas is "Christianity is bad because my summer camp counselor was a Christian and he said I'd go to hell/forced me to pray/didn't let us play D&D/took away my comic book/touched me under my shorts".
It's asinine, intellectual immaturity of the worst kind, and allows for those with an agenda of pushing certain thought-control in the subculture (the Political Correctness apparatchiks, who of course also hate Christianity because it was a product of Western Civilization and Western Civilization is the ultimate evil to them) to promote their agenda and create a repressive environment.
Do you think all of this can't possibly be so? Well, go back four paragraphs, and re-read that section where I talk about Denzel's kung-fu-machete-awesomeness, and how he and the bad guy both want to use the Book for its Power. Now just imagine that the Book is some kind of Secret Lost Teaching of the Buddhist Sages, or something written by the Dalai Lama, or Tolkien or the Lost Gnostic Gospel of Dan Brown (because of course Gnosticism is ok, since it was the "geek" of the Christian world, given a massive "wedgie" by the rest of Christianity) or James Cameron's Script for Avatar, or any number of other things besides a Christian Holy Book. Suddenly, the premise shifts over to anywhere between "Acceptable if a Little Silly" to "Freaking Awesome" in most geeks minds, instead of "Burn It With Fire!" on account of said holy book being Christian. If I took a group of geeks and described the Book of Eli to them but I lied to them, saying that the Book was any number of things other than the Bible, it would suddenly be much better received, through little to do with what that "other book" might be, and everything to do with the fact that it would not be on the Forbidden List of Things That Are Bad in Geek Culture (Christianity being on there).
So don't get me wrong: there can be plenty of good, valid, well-thought out reasons for taking issue with Christianity. I can't stand most of modern Christianity. But that's not what geeks do. They have the most shallow, sophomoric, irrational, and often hypocritical ideas, about Christianity and a dozen other things, and let themselves be manipulated by a group of self-serving quasi-Marxist wankers to boot, all because of the Geek Herd Mentality.
The ultimate hypocrisy of all this being, of course, that Geeks look at the "conformism" of "normal society" and hate them for it. In fact, the Geek Culture is at least as conformist as any other, and made worse due to being blinded to this truth by the fact that one of the things on their List of Concepts to Conform To is that being a Geek means you're a hip non-conformist.
(Originally Posted January 16, 2010)