I have a confession to make. Today, I watched an episode of BtVS that I’ve seen nearly 100 times before. I watched it on Canada’s Space Network which reruns the show at 3 p.m. every weekday afternoon. On top of knowing everything short of how many times each character blinks in every episode, I also happen to own the series on DVD. They line a secret shelf in my room, protected from the sun’s colour-fading rays and safe from the sticky-fingered family members who would love to fray the oh-so-perfect boxes. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a geek. And if you’ve managed to get this far into the article while understanding what “BtVS” is, subscribe to Space like its your TV-God, and hell-yeahed my protective-DVD antics, I’m fairly certain YOU are too.
Don’t be ashamed, television as of late is sprawled with geek-types. We are not alone (and I don’t mean that in the “truth is out there” way). In the past few years, it doesn’t seem to matter if you like solving extraterrestrial mysteries, have a particular penchant for forensics, or say, saving the world–the geeks are standing tall. This past season alone, we watched as the old-school Screech-turned-Seth Cohen’s invaded not only prime-time, but made places for themselves on reality shows like Beauty and the Geek and The Scholar. In the latter two shows, contestants are priding themselves on their self-proclaimed geekiness and hope that it will win them fame, fortune and prizes. In years past, we’ve seen shows focussed on the dispossessed geeks of society ( X-Files, Buffy and Freaks and Geeks) reach such extreme cult status that their fandoms have transcended their tube presences and have inspired conventions, DVD releases, and sometimes a rebirth on the big screen.
So what is it about Geek that’s got people making the turn to nerd? It’s fairly simple, really. As fictionally based as television may be, its representation of the geeks is one that we’re all too familiar with. The dispossessed, the underdogsÃ¢â‚¬”those are all characters that the audience thrives and lives vicariously through. Which one of us hasn’t been set apart because of our personal quirkiness or because we are different from the mainstream likes of society?
Geekdom is about the strength to love what you love, openly with unabashed passion, regardless of what everyone else says. It’s about knowing you’ve found something special that no one else has discovered, and sticking with it despite its lack of impression on others. That then includes, worshipping Death Cab and comic books, while using your uber-nasal voice to provide much comic relief like Seth Cohen does on The O.C. every week. It’s about collecting those series DVDs and going to all lengths to keep them in top form, while remaining the humble sidekicks to the Buffy’s and Sydney’s of the world, who without your understated support, couldn’t fight the demons (personal and professional) that threaten the world’s safety.
If television has begun to understand that the way to relate to audiences is to bring out a character’s personal pride in their talents and interests instead of having them conform to the likes of the conventional, then I say Geek On. As long as these geeks remain cool–not contrived or used for geek-of-the-week purposes– then audiences can empower their inner-dork, while also learning just a little more about themselves.
Live long and prosper fellow geeks. Your time is now.