If you weren’t aware of the utter sh*t storm our video/article Hot Girls Pandering to Nerds caused on Twitter yesterday, consider yourself lucky. And I apologize in advance for making you aware of it now. If you just want to sit this one out until we’re back to our regularly-scheduled clowning and asshattery, I totally understand. So, the backstory is this: some people read our article about the “I love Star Wars!” cliché, which I suspect they only skimmed and/or misunderstood, and somehow interpreted it as an attack on all fangirls, or as an accusation that attractive women aren’t allowed to be geeky (one popular retweet: “Pretty ladies can be geeks too. It’s allowed.” as if I’d somehow implied that it wasn’t). Odd, because I thought I was on their side. I was variously referred to as “sexist” and/or “disgusting.” (Though there were some people who did get it — thanks, Salon). Now, I’m not one to shout about how not sexist and not disgusting I am, but out of all the things I’ve said or written, I was a little dumbfounded that this was the one for which I was being called sexist. Normally, I’d just say, “Okay, you got me, I’m sexist,” if only to avoid having a conversation with the kind of people who like to shout about things being sexist, which I generally try to avoid. (I’m male, my only place in that discussion is silent in the corner trying to look penitent). But in this case, I think what I wrote was totally misread, and God help me, I feel compelled to respond. And I don’t feel like doing it 140 characters at a time like a godd*mned animal, so hopefully I can just get this out of the way here and now and we can never speak of it again.
All we were trying to do was to point out the now sadly predictable dance where a talk show host asks an actress from a comic book movie about herself and the actress spouts about how much of a geek she is, which almost always involves invoking a love of Star Wars. As I wrote in the first place, the hosts asking the questions are as much at fault for the pandering as the actresses are, as are we for constantly buying into it. They say “I love Star Wars!” and we clap as if it’s a bold statement. But guys pander too — why didn’t we bust on guys for doing the same thing? Because in our minds, it hasn’t yet become as easily identifiable a cliché. It’s not that they don’t also pander just as much, they just pander differently. I haven’t seen Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans on talk shows being asked to prove that they read comic books (or volunteering their Chewbacca impressions). I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but there seems to be this need for attractive women (the women themselves and the men who want to project on them) to prove that they’re not some bitchy, Mean Girls cheerleader stereotype. We’re NOT saying anyone should have to act a certain way. We’re only saying that they should act how they act, and not feel like they have to prove anything.
Don’t misunderstand what “pandering” means. It doesn’t mean lying. When a politician says, “I LIKE PUPPIES AND ICE CREAM!” I don’t say he’s pandering because he doesn’t actually like puppies and ice cream. Only that that’s an obvious and superficial method of ingratiating himself. The negative reaction to the hot-girls-pandering piece seems on some level to be HOW DARE YOU SAY I’M NOT ALLOWED TO LIKE PUPPIES AND ICE CREAM! I’M GOING TO SHOUT MY LOVE OF PUPPIES AND ICE CREAM TO THE HEAVENS AND I DON’T CARE WHO TRIES TO STOP ME! No. We’re not saying it’s not entirely possible for attractive people to be geeky. Only that it’s become a little obnoxious and predictable for them to say they are publicly. Does that mean none of them are being truthful? Not at all. As I pointed out in the original post, Rosario Dawson seemed entirely genuine in her love of Star Trek. (And full disclosure, we left Rosario’s segment in there less because it seemed pandery and more because she says “QAPLAH!”, which has been a staple proclamation of the FilmDrunk comments section and sort of an inside joke around here. But it’s also a good illustration that, when done right, PANDERING TOTALLY WORKS).
I’m not here to question anyone’s geek cred. Frankly, I would rather pound my dick flat with a hammer than hear obscure Battlestar trivia as a way to prove… something. To me the issue is more people using a love of geeky stuff as a way to prove that they’re more than just a pretty face. Loving geeky stuff is fine, I just don’t think being a consumer of pop culture automatically makes you a deep person. And “I love Star Wars!” seems like an especially lame, inaccurate, mostly-pointless shorthand for what you’re really trying to say or prove.
Geek girls, fly your freak flag if you want to. But do you honestly think Olivia Munn running around in Leia costumes, Wonder Woman costumes, God-knows-what-else-costumes, etc., is just an honest expression of her love of sci-fi and comic books? Please. If so, let’s see her do it when the cameras are off. I’m not saying she secretly hates Star Wars, but it’s good business. Nor am I saying it’s her fault. Guys (yes, AND girls) clearly love the idea that “an attractive woman is into the same stuff I am! I could totally get her!” It’s idiotic, but if I point it out, the first reaction is, “WHAT’S A MATTER WITH YOU, FAGG*T, DON’T YOU LIKE HOT GIRLS?!” Right. And I’m the sexist one. I’m just saying people have figured out how to play to it, and it’s gotten a little obnoxious. Claiming to be geek is becoming the new claiming to be punk. Every bro-y A-hole who beat me up in junior high loves videogames, it doesn’t make you part of some special club.
And the Star Wars thing? For one, what does “I love Star Wars!” even say about you in 2011? It’s a far cry from playing D&D before computers. iPods and Budweiser are things that are as mainstream as Star Wars. It’s been around for thirty years. HOLY SH*T, YOU LIKE A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR CULTURAL MEGA-PHENOMENON TOO?!? LET’S START A ‘ZINE! It’s not geeky. Stop saying it is. Stop acting persecuted for liking something that everyone likes. That’s what we meant by pandering.
- Also, when I responded to Jenna Busch yesterday with “Yeah, well your dad was a sh*tty president,” I want to confess that I stole that line from Jacktion! I’m sorry if I hurt you, baby, sometimes I just get so scared.