Apparently at some beauty pageant this week, the winner stood on stage and declared herself "a geek". Specifically, she called out a few shows she liked including Game of Thrones
(which is amaaaaaazing,
but we'll discuss that later), and declared herself a "history geek". And with that, it seemed, the meaning of the term "geek" that I knew and as I had once understood it, died a last and wheezing death before a televised audience's eyes.
I didn't see this, of course. I didn't watch TV last night, and I don't watch beauty pageants when I do watch TV. But I have the internets, and the internets were abuzz.
I want to refer you to an article I wrote in 2004 about the death of the phrase "bling",
which was a not-dissimilar experience. When white-bread moms are dolling up their upper-middle-class daughters, they may now use the phrase "bling", but the word has lost any weight or meaning.
And, so, too, has the term "geek".
It sort of reminds me of when a very dear friend of mine from high school who's tastes ran toward Top 40 radio, top-rated sitcoms and whatever fashionable people were wearing, etc... (I love this person, and I genuinely am not trying to be critical, but I'm being honest here) jumped in the car with me during a winter break home from college, put in Counting Crows
on the CD player, turned to me smiling and unironically announced "see, Ryan, now I'm alternative." It was so adorable, I just wanted to give her a hug.
Today there's this whole weird argument raging on the internet, and it seems mostly to be happening in the Girl Geek quarters, especially amongst younger women (in their 20's, it seems) who are debating what constitutes a geek, and many are PROUD (like, fierce, angry proud) of overcoming their self-stated reject status and fighting for the right to have a community they may not have felt like they've had before.
So, when Miss America describes herself as a "geek", its causing a kerfuffle. It's the co-option of a hard-won name for a lot of folks out there, and the insinuation of oneself into a community that seems to feel that their rejection at the hands of the beautiful people in high school and then the self-identification of someone who looks exactly like those people who made their lives hell...? It can be seen as an affront to everything they believe they've discovered, nurtured and built an identity around.
Yes, it sucks when you see the people you can't stand like your favorite band or are, say, using the Superman logo on the mudflaps on the same truck upon which they've dangled Truck Nutz.