Outrage erupted on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend when writer/journalist Dirk Manning posted a still from Ted with an “anti fake geek girl” message on it implying that fake geek girls were whores. Image marketing manager Jennifer De Guzman took exception, and writer Mariah Huehner and other first responders of Twitter also made their feelings known. Manning did not feel that using the word “whore” in itself was offensive since some of his best friends are whores he really isn’t “that guy” and was hurt that de Guzman had called him “unprofessional.”

De Guzman responded here and Huehner (a sometime Beat contributor) responded at length here, pointing out how sexist and controlling the entire “fake geek girl” meme is.

If you really want to follow along at home, follow the conversation from this awesome back and forth.


Now, I’ve covered all this many times before. Only a bit more than a year ago, people were complaining about sexy actresses pretending to be nerdy so that nerd boners would form a forest canopy over Endor. Since then the objections to being played for a sucker by a pretty girl has somehow evolved into this mockery of bandwagon jumping girls who are trying to destroy liberty and freedom making men feel uncomfortable by hanging around in their hobbies.

In one of his statements, Manning called fake geek girls an “issue” which implies that it’s some kind of problem that wise people are gathering to discuss solutions for, like rising oceans and peak oil. There’s also some kind of implications (as in the Joe Hughes exchange, above) that nerds are some kind of ethnic group who need to protect their culture from infiltrators who are just trying to be cool by proving they know every class and tonnage of starship in Starfleet or everyone who was ever in the Legion of Superheroes. Is this some kind of weird reverse projection, to try to make YOURSELF feel cooler by pretending people are trying to be just like you? The comments in Huehner’s post contain much that is ugly but also much that is majorly lacking in self-awareness:<

But it’s undeniable that there are disingenuous people… and there are fake nerds… in the sense that there are people who care more about being associated with the nerd image and its perks than about the things that regular non-self-obsessed people care about.

“Nerd perks” — wtf is he talking about and where do I get mine? Is it like a decoder ring for speaking Sindarin or something? Or just an Avengers tumbler glass? Or is it that nerds are usually smarter than the general populace and so we enjoy the benefits of greater intelligence in general. Seriously, NERD PERKS? Someone tell Robert Carradine.

And here’s another comment:

“Fake nerd,” for me, are the girls who don “geek chic” clothes and massive glasses, and then take pictures of themselves applying a game controller or cable to their mouth in a “sexy” way. I don’t really see guys do it a lot, but I think that’s because the male ego doesn’t allow much wiggle room there. “Nerdy girls” are hot, while males nerds are just… nerds. I’m sure you get the fakes among men, too, but I’ve not seen enough of that to make a judgement there.

To every one who is horribly abused and bothered by this, let me ask you — what has caused more of the emotional scarring? Is is the fact that a girl who is sexually unavailable to you and therefore causing sexual frustration is pretending to be a nerd while doing so…or is it that a girl is sexually unavailable to you and therefore causing sexual frustration?

Isn’t THAT what this whole thing is really about? Lashing out at girls who you can’t have? The same thing that drives so much violence against and hatred of women around the world?

Because nothing else really makes any sense. Is there really ANYTHING that is unfashionable about liking comic books or SF or video games any more? I mean look at the top movies of all time. Color key:


NOT nerd

Disney and/or cartoon

1 Avatar

2 Titanic

3 Marvel’s The Avengers

4 The Dark Knight

5 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

6 Star Wars

7 The Dark Knight Rises

8 Shrek 2

9 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

10 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

11 The Lion King

12 Toy Story 3

13 The Hunger Games

14 Spider-Man

15 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

16 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

17 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

18 Finding Nemo

19 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

20 Spider-Man 2

21 The Passion of the Christ

Out of these 21 films only TWO are emphatically not nerd. I would say Disney and cartoon films occupy a transitional placement — cartoons were once considered kind of nerdy, and Disney freaks are definitely nerds, but the appeal of Finding Nemo, say, is as a warm and funny tale of parental overprotectiveness and not because clown fish are cool.

Is there anything vaguely socially unacceptable about liking Spider-Man anymore? Conversely, do you have to be able to write a treatise on organic vs mechanical web-shooters to be able to wear a Spider-Man t-shirt?

Before I expand this into the book that it needs to be, how about some basic rules of responsible fandom:

1. It is okay to like the things you like in the privacy of your own home.

2. It is okay to express your interests in public via Facebook, tweets or fashion choices.

3. It is okay to seek out the company of others who share your interests and compare shared enthusiasms.

4. It is not okay to bore people who do not share your interests by going on and on about them.

5. It is not okay to make fun of people for their interests unless they are being boring by going on and on about them to people who would rather be drinking a beer or trying to find a mate.

6. Thank God I spent the weekend looking at really cool art at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival where none of this matters.


  1. I have not been paying this any attention so I do not have any horse in this race.But in general I hate fakers.So it really does not matter if it is a guy or a girl if they are just pretending to like something to drum up interest in there next project I am not going to be very impressed by it.

    And people can like anything they want to regardless of there sex or appearance but if they are only doing it to jump on the next bandwagon then I think I have a perfect right to point and laugh at them.

  2. “1. It is okay to like the things you like in the privacy of your own home.”

    I think we should amend that to, “It is okay to like the things you like in the privacy of your own home, as long as they are safe, sane and consensual.”

  3. I think the Internet is fueled by faux outrage and a lot of energy and effort has been exhausted by those who are considered professionals to a Ted meme Facebook image.

  4. I don’t have a problem with someone liking Spider-Man. I have a problem with someone calling themselves a nerd for liking Spider-Man when they have never in their life been ostracized for being a nerd. Those of us who have get a little sensitive.

    If you didn’t start enjoying it until it became cool, then you’re not a nerd for enjoying it.

    I can put together a bookshelf with the little parts and instructions from the box, but that doesn’t make me a carpenter.

  5. I agree completely. It’s pretty much exactly what I said on Manning’s Facebook & my Twitter. Interesting how none of the quotes of people who defended are included here or squidoo (whatever that other blog name was).

    There are disingenuous people. Period. It shouldn’t be wrong or “unprofessional” to point that out.

  6. Ah, remember the days when we sought media approval, when we gushed over the Sandman poster in Darlene’s bedroom? (Thank you, Josh Whedon.)

    Some celebrity wants to be perceived as nerdy? Fine. We can use the glamour. Don’t like it? Walk away. Ignore the hype. Celebrity does something stupid? Go ahead and mock. Celebrity denigrates your demographic? Call them out.

    Otherwise, it’s just noise. Tune it out and focus on the signal that matters.

    Maybe the celebrity IS a geek/nerd/fan, in which case, welcome. We’re glad you’re here. Have you read/seen/heard…?

  7. For Manning to use a pic calling women “whores” (even in jest, as this clearly was) while trying to take the moral high ground is kinda stupid.

    But as often happens in cases like this, the outrage over semantics has completely snowed under the actual point being made. See also the “blackface” exchange quoted here–one is worse than the other, and so HOW DARE ANYONE use the term as an easy way to point out the things they DO have in common.

    Since geek became popular/big business, there have been lots of people, men AND women, who suddenly claim to have “always liked” comics or whatever. This is a fact. And yes, that makes them fakers and annoying.

    Listing top-grossing movies has nothing to do with all this.

  8. I’d agree with people who say this seems to stem mostly from just disliking disingenuous people. Poseurs, if you will.

    It’s like a school playground. If you go around saying you’re tough, or funny, or smart, or popular, or can do an awesome trick off the monkey bars, the other kids are going to demand you prove it. If you say you’re a fan of a certain band by wearing their shirts, but can’t name any of their albums, or go to school carrying a skateboard but never actually use it, then the other kids aren’t going to accept you into their clique. Similarly, if you’re into a certain type of music but don’t look the part (goth, what have you), the other kids will be apprehensive to let you in.

    And if you get called out on something, being a geek, or whatever, then you pretty much HAVE to prove it. Like that awesome monkey bar trick you said you could do, if you just boast about it but don’t do it, no one’s going to believe you. But proving you can do it is the best way to shut people up. People HATE being proven wrong about something, nerds especially. Don’t complain about it, prove them wrong , and you’ll never have to again. Do that awesome trick off the monkey bars.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but there’s a barrier of entry into many things beyond an individual’s control. With any type of thing there’s a “Collective” that will pass judgement on you. And it used to be the barrier for entry for being a nerd (whether you were entering voluntarily or not) included things such as reading comics and being “good at computers.” Now, comics are mainstream and everyone has a computer in their pocket. So the “One True Nerds” feel like their barrier has been taken away, and it is their right to judge anyone claiming to be a nerd, the same way they were judged when they tried to sit at the “cool kids” table in junior high.

    But also, I don’t think the Internet is limiting itself to just judging “geek girls.” The Internet will judge ANYTHING laid before it. There are two type of people on the Internet: Those who pass judgment in comment threads, and those who pass judgment on comments in comment threads.

  9. I think this whole situation is best summed up in the last four words of number 6 on your list, “none of this matters.”

    Really, who cares what someone says, or likes or poses as liking or doesn’t like or isn’t real or faux or…..

    If you’re in 7th grade and looking to “fit in” with a crowd, what someone thinks or says about what you like or don’t like MAY matter, but other than that….

    IMO. this is all much ado about nothing.

    Like what you like, don’t like what you don’t like, state that all over the internet. If some say you’re not “real” or a phony, who really cares?

  10. Amber — I don’t think you actually read my piece very closely.

    I guess I spend too much time around real nerds to have been bothered by these Poseurs. Or maybe it’s because I’m not in the dating pool anymore? Whatevs.

  11. Whore is such an ugly word and I find that it’s usually juveniles who throw it around. I remember 15 years ago, comic creators were united in trying to get more women and girls into comics, now that we have, they’re constantly falling under abuse and being made to feel like they have to prove themselves. We also have spent years trying to convince people that comics are a grown up medium. So, I wish particular people would grow the F up and stop harassing those who we should be VERY warmly welcoming. When you get the link back up, I’ll leave this on The Beat, too.

  12. But here’s the thing– you DON’T KNOW THESE PEOPLE. Why don’t you grow up and get a new hobby! You aren’t in middle school- you’re a grown adult pointing and laughing– do you know how ridiclous that sounds? Can you maybe just MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS and realize that someone liking something you like isn’t a means for you to prove your value over them? Seriously, grow up.

  13. I’ve never been ostracized for being a geek or a nerd, except by dudes who weren’t quite comfortable with me as a woman being in “their” space. If that makes me not a real nerd, please come over to my blog and tell me that.

  14. Yeah, this feels so very last year, as I think John Scalzi summed it up best with his article “Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be”.

    Here’s the quote that I like:
    “It’s the major difference between a geek and a hipster, you know: When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.”

    Any jerk can love a thing. It’s the sharing that makes geekdom awesome.”

    That is still my reaction, if people want to fake and pretend they like say Hellboy, no problem. Perhaps if more people went to see Hellboy 2 or the 2 animated movies, there might already be a 3rd live-action movie and 3rd animated movie. Maybe it’s from years of liking small niche pop culture that struggles to survive that more of an audience is always better, as then that means more culture that I like.

    Just this past weekend, I went out with some friends for dinner and someone who that I hadn’t met before was into comic. I didn’t care about checking for their street cred and when they started liking it. Or whether they were harassed as a kid over it. No, it was fun talking about how great the new Batman: Death By Design book was.

  15. It strikes me that if you need to tangibly mock other people for anything to keep them out, then you are not terribly secure in your identity, except that your identity hinges on victimization. I get that. I got the emotional shit kicked out of me in high school. Is it valid to be annoyed when people try to capitalize financially on your socio-cultural pain? Sure. Is it okay to then lash back and be publicly nasty about to “keep” the people you have deemed as posers out? Only if you are okay with turning in the abuser you are clearly still traumatized by. If you have learned from your experience then you are likely secure enough in your world to handle it better than flashing back to your trauma and re-creating the highschool cafeteria or a middle school school yard.
    Nerdism should’t be about being bullied, even if at some point that was a part of the experience, any more than any other group is based solely on their trauma. It should be about the love of what makes your mind sing, regardless of whether it is embraced or not.
    If you can’t transcend that trauma, frankly, your group and culture will disappear because its not a stable particle. It’s transience is based on a transient social act. Poof. You’ll be gone. Which is why perhaps some people are holding onto that victimization by pushing others out based on that victimization. Because they don’t want to lose an identity they felt forced to embrace, and feel that identity is in jeopardy because people aren’t kicking the shit out of them for it any more, they’re now fighting what they feel is a natural entropy that threatens their very emotional existence.

  16. Seems to be that Manning knew the girl in the picture he accused of being a whore as much as De Guzman seemed to know him. Kind of hypocritical, if you ask me.

  17. Manning came off as dumb as hell. It’s not acceptable to call people whores. And what’s with his stupid get-up?

  18. The only thing truly “fake” here is the reason for the geek rage: the “real” nerds are just angry that the “fake geek girls” won’t sleep with them. Or actually, that they lack the basic social graces to get the in-some-cases-willing girls to sleep w/ them…

  19. Whore is such an ugly word and I find that it’s usually juveniles who throw it around. I remember 15 years ago, comic creators were united in trying to get more women and girls into comics, now that we have, they’re constantly falling under abuse and being made to feel like they have to prove themselves. We also have spent years trying to convince people that comics are a grown up medium. So, I wish particular people would grow the F up and stop harassing those who we should be VERY warmly welcoming.

  20. Using the terms where and blackface just show an immaturity and lack of professionalism with Manning. I understand what he wants to say, but there are other ways of going about that. Now, I can agree to an extent that there are fakes within the “nerd” community, such as people who only like a game or superhero but know nothing about the history. It’s trying to be used as a social status and people who have spent a good portion of their lives devoted to this culture have taken umbrage to it.

    I’ve seen plenty of people get into comics for the wrong reasons . I don’t talk to them,simple as that. They don’t affect my life or my love of the character. I’m not going to call them out on it for some superiority charge because it just makes me look like an asshole. I’ll judge them in private, sure, but that’s my right as a human being lol.

  21. Amber: I didn’t need to quote anyone defending Manning as I linked directly to his Facebook where anyone can see the discussion being had. No one is trying to silence dissenting opinions. My post was a letter to him and the issues I found with his post and his defense of it. Not, for instance, Manning the person. Likewise, if you go to my blog link, you can see PLENTY of dissenting comments, including some anonymous misogynist troll hilarity that rather soundly proves my entire point. See also everything that happened to Anita Sarkeesian awhile back.

    My blog is “SquidyGirl”, for reference. I’m not sure you read Heidi’s piece all that closely, either, if you somehow missed that the point is that it’s kind of ridiculous to spend any time deciding who is and is not a “fake” geek just by looking at them. Or at all. It’s a gigantic waste of time and energy, and adds absolutely NOTHING to geek/nerd culture. It just makes us look as cliquey and obnoxious as those we are supposedly so much better than. I don’t think we should be so proud to laud exclusionary, bullying behavior.

    Everyone else: There’s a big difference between just dismissing something/someone as fake and moving on, and, you know, implying that someone is a “whore” or less-than for posting a picture you don’t like, based on a huge assumption about their apparent “real” or “unreal” nerdiness. If you were ostracized or abused for being a nerd/geek, that should be especially repellant to you. I was, and I can’t think of any rational reason to perpetuate that on anyone. It doesn’t matter if I think they’re a “real” nerd/geek or not. How into something they are has literally no bearing on how into it I am. Plus, most of us have different ways of interacting with nerdom, expressing our nerdery, and even vastly different nerd fixations. It’s as ridiculous to get into the “real” vs. “fake” thing as it it is to argue about whether Star Trek or Dr. Who are “better”. It’s subjective and personal. If you don’t like how someone expresses their nerdery, move on. You’ll discover your life is not impacted in any way whatsoever.

    Also: the meme is and continues to be gendered. Trying to make it somehow about “anyone who is a poseur” after the fact, when it SPECIFICALLY references women and ONLY women, it disingenuous and dishonest. Address the meme and the underlying sexism it perpetuates, or don’t. But don’t claim anyone else is misrepresenting the issue by discussing what is a clear reality.

    And if you don’t believe me, go read John Scalzi’s post about it, or Felicia Day’s. This is a poisonous and stupid attitude.

  22. I hate the term “nerd” because I don’t consider myself one (some small minded folks have referred to me as a “jock”). I have been in situations where I’ve had my “credentials” questioned. That kind of snobbery/exclusivity is ridiculous.

  23. “We also have spent years trying to convince people that comics are a grown up medium. So, I wish particular people would grow the F up and stop harassing…”

    For me, this is the most crucial point, and this very visible element of fandom is why I always hate talking to people I meet about what I do for a living.


  24. “If you didn’t start enjoying it until it became cool, then you’re not a nerd for enjoying it.”

    Who knew nerds and hipsters had so much in common?

  25. Don’t you hate all these poseurs, pretending to hate faux geek girls? God, everyone knows that’s so six months ago. It’s, like, Rob Granito old.

    Now all the real geeks are complaining about people who just bandwagoned on Firefly after the anniversary special. What’s that? You didn’t watch it ten years ago? You’re not a real fan!

  26. It’s got to the stage where I just don’t call myself a geek anymore, it doesn’t seem to mean what I originally thought it did, and “fake geek” accusations thrown at anyone, thought they are predominantly targeted at conventionally attractive women, really underscored that for me.

    Comics can be read and enjoyed by anyone, computer games can be played and loved by everyone… Hell, who is more “geeky” than the very dedicated sports fan? The lines blur, and so they should. More comics and games in popular culture is good for fans old and new.

    I don’t care if someone is faking it. What I do care about is the patronising treatment or oggling I get in comic shops, and the gendered abuse I earn for writing about women in comics. Ignoring the sexism inherent in many “fake geek” drama storms is a very clear indicator that such sexism is still very problematic indeed.

  27. “To every one who is horribly abused and bothered by this, let me ask you — what has caused more of the emotional scarring? Is is the fact that a girl who is sexually unavailable to you and therefore causing sexual frustration is pretending to be a nerd while doing so…or is it that a girl is sexually unavailable to you and therefore causing sexual frustration?”

    Please, enough of the “Real Geek Girl Outrage” schtick.

  28. As someone who spent much of his 20’s worrying about whether a band was “punk” or “indie” enough, I can understand being territorial about one’s preferred subculture. Fortunately, I grew up, and realized the whole exercise is pretty pointless as I was just trying to forge my own idenitity by deriding someone else’s.

    The problem I have with the whole “fake nerd” posturing is how the outrage is so aimed at women. “Geek Chic” has been a pretty across the board trend as anyone who has seen a NBA press confercence lately. However I haven’t seen a lot of op-ed pieces decrying Dwayne Wade’s fake glasses and bow ties are destroying the enjoyment of my hobby.

  29. I also don’t get why this is an “issue,” but I definitely get “nerd perks.” The nerd ur-tale is about someone who is usually cast out and ostracized, but the reality is that teenagers who feel out of place search for out-of-place fiction/art on their own. The Giver? No, the Starfleet Academy #41 slim paperback, please. The perks of the nerd are that your aesthetic matches what you identify as: creative, imaginative, out-there, different. And when you are a nerd for a long time, you are rewarded for understanding things like continuity (until DC messed that all up). Those are definite perks. There aren’t vouchers or beers-of-the-month, but I think these perks — or used to — did function as rewards. Not amongst the varsity squad, but in the Media Club. But now — because of that brilliant movie list — not so much at all. Everybody’s a nerd now (even the President) but somehow older nerds feel like this mass acceptance erases their individuality. And I don’t mean to make fun. Childhood experience is powerful. There used to be Star Wars nerd perks (which wasn’t really a nerd film at all since it was mass culture) but put it in Disney? Now the information is readily available to all — you don’t need a subscription to Bantha Tracks anymore. Some people don’t like that. But they should. It just means you were right in liking it first. There is power in that, too.

    Heidi, write the nerd culture book.

  30. The real irony in all of this is that my only intent in posting the meme on my FB page (where I usually post a few a day) was to comment to my FB friends about how fake PEOPLE (not fake “nerd girls,” fake PEOPLE) , annoy me, be them models posing as nerds, businessmen hiding their nerdiness, etc. I’m a big advocate of people loudly embracing who they are loudly and proudly, and if I would have come across a meme about a business man trying to hide reading a comic book in an issue of TIME magazine first, I would have posted that one instead.

    My intent was obviously missed (or at least misinterpreted) by someone who I recently connected with on FB and didn’t know me that well on a personal level (Jennifer) , and she took her offense at me sharing the meme to Twitter, at which time I continued to try and defuse the situation (or at least clarify my position on it) both on FB and Twitter. From there, the rest is history.

    As the FB and Twitter exchanges both show, I was pretty disgusted that the message got hijacked into becoming a discussion about both the hostility women face in the comic industry and/or whether or not there should be gatekeepers of geekdom — neither cause which I sought to champion, as I find both notions pretty disgusting — but at least it has prompted some discussion, and I’ve come to at least accept solace in that.

    Thanks for the (mostly) balanced article, Heidi. I’ve never made it a secret that I’m a fan of yours personally and your work at THE BEAT. Hopefully next time my name appears here (aside from in the comments), it will be due to something more positive… or at least less divisive. :)

  31. Exactly. I went to a paint nite at a local bar this weekend with some friends of mine who are all into comics. We got to chatting about LoEG as we were painting, and when we talked about how much we loved the Lovecraft/Wodehouse crossover pastiche from Black Dossier, the instructor came over and said “I heard ‘Lovecraft’ and ‘Wodehouse’ in the same sentence and I need to know more!”

    I didn’t quiz her to find out if she ONLY knew Jeeves & Wooster from the Hugh Laurie series. I didn’t care if she only knew Lovecraft from Cthulhu memes. And when we explained that it was in a LoEG comic, and she said she loved LoEG, I didn’t give a crap whether she meant the movie or the comic. I told her where to find a thing she said she was interested in, and everyone was happy.

    Why would you even want to surround your hobby with such negativity? Defeats the purpose, as far as I’m concerned.

  32. I checked out your blog. You’ve sufficiently dedicated your time and energy to nerddom, so yes, you can call yourself that and have me believe you.
    That you managed to get this far without being made to feel different is lucky for you.

  33. I get the feeling that Dirk Manning mistakenly thinks that Suicide Girls are the be-all and end-all of Geek Girl culture when they’re just softcore porn with a geek-by-way-of-goth-by-way-of-BDSM motif.

  34. As i’ve gotten older and have throughout the years belonged to several groups: hippie, punk, alternative rock etc and myself been in my younger years myself guilty of accusing of people faking it…a certain “us” and”them” puritism thing mentality …well….anyway…And another topic that is being mentioned: cosplay, not a thing of mine (or so i thought lol) , and not groups i remember belonging to actively (facebook now has a feature where they can include you as they see fit it seems)…i gotta say the sexiness puts a smile on my face when i wake up in the morning, as i see it in my feed, guilty as charged…I know female sexiness is a double edge sword…on one hand it’s empowering (madonna, Playboy when it started etc..refer to writings of Camilia Paglia)…or a way to demean. I remember Heidi questioning cosplay girls their “geekhood” in these very pages and catching flake for it. In the end when all is said and done make no mistake about it: in the real world, sure we’ve come a long way, but very little has changed.

  35. The gendered nature of the ‘Idiot Nerd Girl’ meme is certainly problematic — but the poseur phenomenon it seeks to indict is real. Ignoring or dismissing it will only make you seem varying combinations of naive, foolish, and /or apathetic.

    The people within the various nerd subcultures get to define what those subcultures are, what they want, and ultimately what they’ll get. If your subcultures are composed of insightful, creative, genuine, hyper-literate, and otherwise interesting people, then they’ll nurture and elevate great talent — who will produce great stuff.

    But if those subcultures are overrun by ignorant, sub-literate, superficial goofs (following the scent of money , the nerd crowd’s increasing cultural cachet, or just the herd in general) then they’ll venerate figures and works who mirror those lesser attributes — the end result being subcultures that die via choking to death on their own offal.

    If you prefer one of those scenarios to the other for the things and communities you love — then, like it or not, you have a dog in this fight. Pretending to somehow be ‘above it all’ is just strapping on blinders.

    Lastly, @ Brian Wood: I’m a huge admirer of your work — but, dude, conversations like these are very much the province of a ‘grown-up’ medium. The fights and flamewars that break out in literary fiction and ‘mainstream publishing’ put most of the comics crowd’s so-called controversies to shame. Hell, Salman Rushdie and John LeCarre just concluded a very nasty personal feud that started way back in 1997!

  36. @Will Naslund “It’s only rock n’ roll but i like it”. When our biggest triumph as a culture is “Avengers” …well, maybe we should just shut up because clearly we are are dumb so many ways over…and i say that as someone who enjoyed the movie more than the comic, which i remember since i was 4 and younger and my hippie mom used to read Marvel comics to me as night time stories.
    Anyway, your passion is commendable, but it is what it is…and yes ultimately what drives the culture is you, maybe there is a reason why you shouldn’t trust anyone over 30:) so don’t listen to me.

  37. I had lots of other reasons to feel different, like being home schooled my entire life.

    But come on, doesn’t EVERYONE feel “Different” about something as a teen?

    “I can’t run the 40 as fast as Timmy. I’ll never be wide receiver! I want to kill myself!”

  38. If she didn’t care whether she had my approval or not, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  39. With all due respect, I have to take issue with you continuing to state people “missed” or “misinterpreted” or “hijacked” your message of annoyance of all FAKE people of ALL genders. Because when de Guzman posted on this meme, there was only two comments on the matter from you: The meme itself, which equates girls who wear glasses with whores who find glasses, and a later comment where you further clarify that you are offended when female models wear glasses and hold comic books. Nowhere was there any mention of am male examples of this kind of phoniness nor even a caveat that you are referring to anyone other than women. All de Guzman had to work with was two specific examples from you stating your offense and annoyance with women who pretend to be nerds.

    So the onus for this controversy falls upon you. If you showed a bit of sensitivity in this matter, you might not have posted the meme at all or made it clear that it did not mirror your own views 100%. Facebook does not force you to share every meme you see. But whatever you do share reflects back upon you. Don’t play the innocent victim of other people’s misunderstanding. Realize that you should have been clear what your message was before you decided to share that meme.

  40. Many comics, books, tv shows, movies and other genre pop-culture in other mediums die out because the audience is too small. If anyone is “faking it” but adding to the size of the audience, then all I see is more of the stuff I like surviving. I like seeing the things I enjoy succeed with huge audiences, because I want more of it! It’s awesome that the Walking Dead tv show is one of the biggest shows on tv right now. More Walking Dead and perhaps even more zombie stuff (I’m not sick of it yet). It means it’s easier to pick up trades, rather than have to special order them or buy them online. It means not 1 but 2 Walking Dead board games! I like this kind of success, even if someone perhaps wearing a t-shirt about the Walking Dead might not have ever read the comic, or just faking it completely because it’s popular.

    As for taste, I personally think 90% of comics is crap, however using Sturgeon’s Law people tend to think 90% of everything is crap. A lot of popular music is pure garbage as well, but what people think is good and bad differs from person to person. We all have different tastes and what we think is pure garbage is different from person to person.

    I don’t have any right to judge anyone else’s tastes and they are allowed to like whatever the hell they want. As I imagine a lot of what I like, absolutely LOVE in any medium other people think is garbage.

    I’m sorry but trying to be a gate-keeper of who can like certain things is such an incredibly stupid proposal. You could never enforce it and it is a waste of time and effort. Let people like what they might like and who cares if anyone really likes it, is apparently faking it to like it or whatever.

  41. Ugh, I’m so sick of men acting as the gatekeepers to Geekdom – which, despite Dirk Manning’s statements after the fact, he was clearly engaging in, deciding who is fake and who is sincere. Even worse he did it through slut-shaming, racial insensitivity and the old “I have friends who are geek girls too” wink-wink defense. It’s strange to think people “pretending” to be nerds is a serious issue that needs addressing. Comics are a big tent and there is no litmus test.

  42. Yeah, I fail to see what Mr. Manning is gaining at this point by defending the original meme in question. Without getting into the greater psychology of it, it’s simply offensive to call women whores for any reason. He should say I’m sorry if I offended you or anyone else and take it down – private FB page or not. That’s being part of being a responsible member of any community.

  43. I find it sad that you really think it is okay to judge who is a “real nerd” or who has suffered enough to be a nerd. How about we just say if someone wants to be a nerd, they’re nerd?

  44. Uh sure. But to single out females in a traditionally male “thing” and call them whores? I honestly don’t see how anyone can say that is right.

    If you post a meme that is sexist or racist than you are going to be held accountable for posting it. Doesn’t mean you’re a sexist person or racist person, it means that you posted something that is sexist or racist which is mostly always demeaning to someone.

  45. Um…people HAVE said unkind things about Wade for wearing those glasses, and those comments strike my ears as being pretty bigoted.

    Here’s the trick: “Fake” is a dog whistle that means “Not my preferred demographic.” That can be leveled against people who don’t match expectations of race, gender, background, sexual preference. When someone says, “I just hate all fake people,” you have to wonder what they mean by that.

  46. Awesome. I wore a Superman t-shirt the other day. I’m a cosplayer!

    What? You typically spend hours sewing and making sure your costumes look just right? Doesn’t matter, we’re both cosplayers!

  47. Actually Glenn given the current costume that Superman is wearing consists of a Superman t-shirt and jeans your point show your lack of geek cred. Sorry, it’s clear your a poseur.

  48. Spend a week reading the Reddit gaming forums and your eyes will bleed at the misogyny aimed at who is and isn’t a “gamer girl.”

  49. IGN.com just launched a new show on START! and the first ep was on this topic:

    I’ve come around to your way of thinking, Heidi, but it is easy to see why people who were persecuted growing up would feel threatened when people who look like the people who persecuted them start showing up in their scenes.

    The larger point, of course, is that we’d like for our scenes to expand, and so it’s better to just drop all of that. I get that, but folks are hardwired to think in terms of turf and fear so this is a tough point to get across.

    Like I said, I’ve come around to your side, but I was on the other side not so very long ago.

  50. If somebody self-identifies with a particular label (e.g. “geek,” “nerd”), I’ll generally take them at their word. I can’t imagine why this would even be an issue, unless a substantial number of male geeks/nerds suffer from gynophobia or something similar.

    “Out of these 21 films only TWO are emphatically not nerd.”

    Oh come on, those dreary Passion of the Christ geeks are the absolute worst.

  51. This is pretty typical behavior for any “scene” that finds itself being immersed in the mainstream. That doesn’t excuse it, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s symptomatic of a general feeling amongst a lot of geeks/nerds/whatever that their interests are being co-opted and commercialized and as a result, they’re lashing out at whoever they feel is an easy enough target. That lashing out generally victimizes people that those being co-opted view as lower on the food chain than them and I think that all of us– male, female or otherwise– have experienced the scary misogynist aspect of a disturbing percentage of comic fandom, making it clear that a lot of male comic fans view women on the whole as less worthy of equality in fandom than them. For many male comic fans and geeks/nerds on the whole, this growth in mainstream interest has also come with increased attention on that misogynist and sexist aspect of geek culture so you get the double whammy of geeks/nerds feeling co-opted AND getting taken to task for having such immature views on gender equality. It’s a hurricane of misplaced anger, with the cold and hot air of a multitude of problems any growing culture faces colliding.

    I come from the punk/indie scene and although the misogyny isn’t quite as vocal or rampant there in my experience, it still exists and when bands like, say, Modest Mouse went from being on a small indie label to selling out arenas and popping up on the mainstream charts, you’d get a ridiculous number of guys who would make female fans feel unwelcome by testing their indie credentials. “What, did you come to this show because you heard ‘Float On’ on the radio? I’ve been into Modest Mouse since they were on K and I used to catch them at house shows in Issaquah” or “Oh, did your boyfriend put ‘Ocean Breathes Salty’ on a mix for you after you saw Garden State and bought the soundtrack?” were the type of things you would hear in that community and they’re not that much different than what’s going on here. These kinds of sentiments come from confusion at seeing people who wouldn’t have given you the time of day before suddenly being “fans” of the culture you love and I think you’re exactly right to point out that a portion of it has to do with that prior feeling of rejection, Heidi. But I can tell you from experience that the only way to really defeat this kind of attitude is to push through it, to make yourself heard and to not let close minded, knee jerk reactions to a problem that actually has nothing to do with you ruin your newfound interest in the culture. As someone who has never really bought into uniforms and thus never looked the part of a punk, breaking out my encyclopedic knowledge of, say, Detroit’s late ’60s/early ’70s proto-punk scene didn’t really have much of an impact on people who felt obliged to shut me out. But refusing to be bullied and instead making myself actively involved in the community, whether through bands I played in or shows I booked or so on, did make a difference, both for proving I didn’t need to show off my knowledge and for showing that regardless of other people’s close mindedness, I wasn’t going anywhere.

    As difficult as it is to shake off other people’s shitty attitudes, I wish that more new comic fans, of any gender or nationality or race, would become more vocal in the community, to prove that they have just as much right to be here as a walking stereotype with a basement full of longboxes and to make it easier for those who are like them and have been intimidated by less accepting nerds. I don’t like what the worst aspects of comic fandom have done to the medium, but that’s exactly why I’ve gotten involved with the medium as a critic/journalist and an activist. Likewise, I’ve used that position to recruit others who may not have the typical perspectives one usually finds on comic sites and to do as much as possible to spotlight the diversity this medium has as well as pushing it to do better. All of us who work in this industry can be better at making new fans feel at home and if we want attitudes like what Manning has displayed here to fade away, then we need to up our own game.

  52. Ex-actly. All this “nerd culture gatehouse” crap is just projected bullying from people who can’t over not getting asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance when they were 14. They’re still pissed off at the popular kids, still going through life telling themselves “I’m *superior* to those douchebags, and one day I’ll prove it.” They’ve created a master narrative of self-pity and persecution complex, and the place in it for all those “dumb jocks” and “vapid whores” is outside the special nerd clubhouse they’ve built around themselves. Keep out, this means you.

    It’s pathetic.

    Really, the whole phenomenon can be summed up by this link: http://www.theonion.com/articles/yearbookstaff-meeting-devolves-into-discussion-of,1456/

  53. Those “perks” strike me as completely ephemeral and self-defined. Which is to say, the main “perk” seems to be the ability to comfort yourself with a fairy tale about how you’re special because you’ve got an unbroken run of Flash comics. I’m not saying that isn’t a nice thing to have, or special to the person who has it, but having it doesn’t make the person special.

  54. Also, the whole “fake nerd” meme (“in the original sense of idea that spreads virally”, not the newspeak definition of “unfunny image macro”) is dumb and specious in and of itself. Which Heidi also noted above.

  55. “Captain, I’m detecting high levels of unresolved high school issues in this post. The readings are off the scales!”

    “You always say that. We need to get new scales.”

  56. I’m sick of gatekeepers, period. If they want in, let them in. If they do douchey stuff later, we can always kick them out, but the more people I can talk to about how Spider-Man is awesome, the merrier.

  57. Frankly, I’m starting to question whether “persecution” is the right word. Getting made fun of or ostracized is no picnic, but when I think of persecution, I think of things like pogroms and ghettos. I’m not sure if my middle school experiences, unfun as they were to go through, measure up.

  58. Words are given meaning by context. They don’t sit in a box usable in only in the certain situations Lord Merriam and Dame Webster (or should I say, Master Political and High Pristess Correct) deigned them suitable for.

    A reader of reasonable reading comprehension understands that “persecuted at middle school” does not mean the same as “persecuted in the pogrom.”

    Sorry, I don’t mean to be a jerk, but I am pretty exhausted by language police. No one who talks about the persecution of nerds means to equate it with the persecution of minorities, especially in historically inequitable times. I’ve simply had it with people who pretend like that’s how language works. It’s not. I worked at a professional liberal for 13 years and have simply had enough of misdirected self-righteousness.

  59. I love The Twilight Saga — it’s the weirdest superhero origin story to come around in years. And it’s not as if Stephenie Meyer didn’t salt the narrative across the books with multiple superhero references (Superman, Spider-Man, etc.) More power to Meyer for bringing a flood of geek girls into comics via the movies and Comic-Con.

  60. It’s funny how a “culture” that started as a way for people who didn’t feel like they belonged to start feeling like they belong now has people working hard to make sure certain people don’t feel like they belong.

  61. “Isn’t THAT what this whole thing is really about? Lashing out at girls who you can’t have?”

    Are you really that dense? Take one hobby you love. Insert someone that’s only in it for attention. Proceed to be FRUSTRATED. Do you understand the outrage now?

  62. I was with you until “proceed to be FRUSTRATED” because that’s when it all gets too silly and junior-high-y for me to keep up with.

  63. There is a problem with ‘fake geek girls’. It’s not an outrage, and it doesn’t make me angry, and it’s really no big deal, but yeah it is a problem when hot girls pretend to be geeky. Why would they do this? I think the reasons are pretty obvious: either they are trying to make money of geeks or they are attracted to geeks. In the former case, there is actually no problem at all: society is full of people trying to ply all their advantages to make money. I certainly don’t begrudge hot women using their hotness to make a buck. Where the problem comes into play is in the latter situation where fake geek girls are trying to attract a geek boyfriend, maybe because they think they are smart? Or maybe it’s just a fetish: they’ve seen too many episodes of Big Bang Theory. But the reason that this is a problem, is that not being geeks themselves, these particular types of women do not understand what it means to be a geek at all. They think it means hanging around and telling jokes about pop culture just before you go out dancing. What they tend not to realise unless they are truly geeks themselves, is that real geeks don’t really go out much because they mostly enjoy spending 90% of their time on their geeky hobby. Once they realise this, these fake geek women often turn rather hostile and destroy relationships in some pretty outstandingly immature ways, considering that they specifically went out and tried to attract someone who is totally obsessed with something other than being in a relationship. And that’s the problem: it’s just a miscommunication, as often happens in many different ways: fake geek girls is just one of those ways. They are real, and the criticisms have a point. Don’t try attract something you don’t really understand. But it’s not the end of world, just ordinary sexual politics operating across cultural divisions.

  64. Agreed. Also, it’s not a Disney film or cartoon, so shouldn’t it be in green (or red if you think dystopian futures with genetic engineering isn’t “nerdy” :P )

  65. BBT is a show in which actors who are not members of a social minority pretend to be said minority in order for the social majority to laugh at them, not with them. How is “nerdface” not an accurate summary of the show?

  66. The thing is that people tend to just assume nerd girls are fakers, especially if they happen to be hot. Sure, if they actually just acted nerdy to try to be cool it would be a problem, but can you honestly imagine very many doing this.

    Sure it is a common system that things popular in geek culture tend to get popular in mainstream culture a few years down the line, contributing to what would seem to be a higher social standing of the geek. The hole idea seems to be that hot women act geeky to try to appeal to geek guys who are imagined to be very easily interested. This just reflects the very sexist belief that everything women do is aimed at men. I honestly don’t think very many bother to go through the trouble of integrating into nerd community just for a bit of attention. Especially because most of the girls accused of this are considered hot and would probably have no problems getting attention without faking anything.

    And honestly, there is no clear definition between geek and non-geek anymore. There are lots of people who are casual gamers, enjoy fantasy and read the occasional comics without defining themselves as geeks. At the same time you don’t have to know the name of every single x-man and be able to fix any computer to be a geek.

    Geek culture is becoming more mainstream lately, which can scare a lot of people because it will inevitably change the “group identity” of geeks. The self image of a member of a group of social outcasts is pretty strong.
    An so, people who do not like this change will try to stop it and several ways, one of which is to reveal anyone who doesn’t “truly belong” in the geek culture. Girld that are viewed as hot here have very little to say, as hot girls have stereotypically been seen as the very opposite of nerdyness (oh the irony), and therefore, unless the in some way quickly managing to “prove her value” as an actual devoted geek she will be shunned by these “traditional geeks” for representing a factor they feel to be destroying their community….

    …wow, that felt like writing an historical account of something…

  67. You’re a dude. Of course you don’t believe the problem exists. You’ve never been called a whore in your life.

    All these women are telling you the problem exists. So, the problem exists. I hope that clears up any confusion.

  68. and you mean all of that in the most pandering way.
    Ironic as you’re defending women who pander to you and your hobby.

    For fucks sake, show some god damn dignity. I’m a guy and I’m embarrassed by the this blatant whit knighting.

  69. “This is pretty typical behavior for any “scene” that finds itself being immersed in the mainstream. That doesn’t excuse it, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s symptomatic of a general feeling amongst a lot of geeks/nerds/whatever that their interests are being co-opted and commercialized…”

    Since when were comics *not* commercialized? The geeks/nerds/etc. who get together over comics, science fiction media, etc. instead of getting together over math/science/etc. are getting together over *purchases*. The ones who hang out at comic book stores are hanging out at *stores*.

  70. As a proud nerd, who happens to be female and pretty, I feel like people sometimes doubt my intellect, but I can generally set them straight. I am not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, My Space, or whatever else people use, so I don’t know what it’s like on there as opposed to real life. On the other hand, there is a girl I know who likes to where a sweater with ‘NERD’ in all caps emblazoned on it, who also spends half of her time trying on different shades of lipstick during class. I have also seen a different girl wearing platform heels, a low cut top, and bright pink bootie shorts, all with a beanie with ‘NERD’ written on it, again in all caps. On the other hand, I am female, I am pretty, I am a nerd. I specialize in Ancient Greek Mythology, Shakespeare, and math. I don’t wear t-shirts with ‘NERD’ written on them, but I do wear t-shirts, which should scream nerd, such as a grey one with brightly colored Shakespearian insults, and (the square root of negative sh*t) squared, with the subtitle, ‘Sh*t just got real’. And I love it.

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