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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)


  1. From my experience, the issue many geeks tend to have with religion is that books written 2,000-3,000 years ago tend to be quite outdated in terms of science. Many geeks I know are rationalist, educated scientifically, and typically also somewhere on the libertarian spectrum. They typically see religion as a tool used by the authoriotarian conservatives to tell people what they should do with their lives.

    Personally I think that the Abrahamic faiths have a lot to offer us even today morally and socially, as long as we take into account the fact that the people who wrote the Bible lived a long time ago and sometimes had scientific ideas which are now outdated (i.e. creationism and a number of other things about nature mentioned in the new and old testaments which we now know are wrong). Avoid reading it too literally and you will learn much from the wisdom of our ancestors and our G-d.

    1. Or just read it for some awesome stories and take it for granted that the god stuff is just the result of undiagnosed mental illness being mistaken for prophecy.

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    3. Or political criticism of the regime/the monarch/the aristocrats spoken/written as prophecy to make it harder for the rulers to silence it... Some were punished for it, though (such as Jeremiah) as tyrants don't like being criticized even in the name of G-d.

  2. Most of the Bible is Jewish anyway. Christians are just a subsect of messianic Jews. So is anti-Bible antisemitic?

  3. If you read the bible from the concept of just reading what the words say and not what you are told they mean, then you get a very coherent story. And there are glimpses of advanced civilizations. Think of the tower of Babel as a spaceport, and the story takes on a different light. Or the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the destruction and the fate of Lot's wife bear remarkable similarities to atomic explosions. A lot of the outdatedness, is that we simply believe that we are somehow smarter than our forebears. The opposite is actually true, the average educated man 300 years ago actually knew how his technology worked. Do we even know how email or texting works? some can say yes, most of us not even close. Imagine someone 200 years from now trying to explain television, and you will get a better perspective on the bible.

  4. I've always wondered why few rpg try to take place in mythic medieval Europe (Iron Age and Dark Ages seem okay, but true knights and crusades, etc, no way) and I think you might have hit on why. They just don't want to deal with Christianity as the dominant force.

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  6. And that is why they are called geeks.

  7. I thought The Book of Eli was a pretty crappy movie. Denzel coming out with biblical quotes while kicking ass just reminded me of how much better Samuel L Jackson does the same thing. And my main thought was that they'd just done the whole thing half-heartedly. Like, they have this apocalyptic scenario, in which bibles were gathered up and destroyed: 'some people say that's what the war was over to begin with'...but then that's it, really. What they should have done is gone Full Christian Apocalypse, all Harlots and the Beast and sacred animals covered in eyes and the moon red as blood etc. That would at least have been pretty spectacular. What you get instead is a bog standard apocalypse with this weird focus on the Bible (no, not the influence of the Bible, the actual Bible) as being a ridiculously powerful force.