There is a moment that every geek knows. That moment, when, while you’re deeply engrossed in a major plot point of a “DR Who” episode you’ve watched three times already, somebody interrupts and suggests that some storyline point of that or whatever tv show/comic book/movie you were watching the day before yesterday is mildly unbelievable. “Really?” I hear myself reply “And there was me naively watching it for its factual basis.”
I’m being facetious of course, but it does display a peculiar prejudice to which the non-geeks amongst us often fall into. That their interests are somehow much more realistic, and therefore more mature, than ours are. Soap fans are the worst for this, ridiculing sci-fi fans for watching unrealistic television while they watch equally unrealistic programmes simply dressed up in the gritty realistic clothes of “real life”.
There they are, ridiculing us for the likelihood of Captain James T. Kirk falling in love with everyone he meets while accepting total ridiculousness as down to earth realism. Even when such realism includes Rita, from British soap opera “Coronation Street”, having a breakdown, losing her memory and then being chased by her murderous ex-boyfriend Alan Bradley across tram tracks in Blackpool just so you can end the episode with Bradley getting run over by a tram. A tram! Now that is unrealistic.
“Who shot J.R.?”, “Free the Weatherfield One”, (any non- British people reading, don’t ask about this last one, you’re better not knowing) the entire series of “Eldorado” in Britain and “Dynasty” in America. These are unrealistic events. But just because there are no phasers, transporters, superheroes, temporal paradoxes, TARDISes or falling in love with alien princesses (although I’m not sure “Dynasty” didn’t try the last of these), then you can judge us.
Trust me, you can’t. The reason why not? Jason Donovan’s “Neighbours” era mullet. Honestly, any genre of television loses its credibility when one of its young romantic leads looks like he has a meerkat stuck to his head. (For all non-Brits and non-Aussies, check this monstrosity out on google images, it gave me childhood nightmares)
Another reason? “The Flying Doctors”. More Australian soap opera mullets only now they’re flying to get you.
It would be wrong to say that I hate soaps. I can quite happily watch them for a long time. I know “Who shot J.R.” and I actually remember when Alan Dale’s character died in “Neighbours” from a heart attack. (Interestingly enough, Dale’s characters in “Ugly Betty” and “The O.C.” both died of heart attacks too. Although in “ER” he only got paralysed from the waist down) I quite like soaps. I just don’t think they’re more realistic.
And, I would argue, that is what makes our geekery so enticing. Its lack of reality. It is unreal. It is that it takes us away from ourselves. To other galaxies and worlds, to revel in tales of derring do, of heroes and villains. This is why geeks exist. Its why, even when they find out its all fake, WWE fans still love to watch wrestling, the knowledge that it’s a story somehow makes it better. Rather something uplifting like that than watching some fight over who’s sleeping with who on a soap opera.
So next time, somebody ridicules your choice of geekdom, think “Jason Donovan’s Mullet” or “Joan Collins Shoulderpads” and at least it will make you laugh as you wonder whether the “Galactica” would be quicker than the “Enterprise” and just how do the three seashells work in “Demolition Man”.