De-weaponizing the word geek: An interview with Geek Girl Chicago

If I could go back in time and do some things differently in my 20’s, I’d find Lauren Faits and beg her to be my best friend. She is, in a word, phenomenal. You can read her blog here on ChicagoNow – Geek Girl Chicago.

You want to read it.

It will make you powerful and smart.

I interviewed Lauren and as a result, I feel like I could kick ass and take names at the same fucking time. Yes. I’m serious. I mean look at her!

Lauren as River Tam. And weapons. GODDAMMIT SHE IS TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL!

Lauren as River Tam. And weapons. GODDAMMIT SHE IS TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL!

Here we gooooooooo!

Me: My daughter is obsessed with Pokemon. Me? Not so much. However, I think that Ash is a shitty trainer. Your thoughts?

Geek Girl: I love, love, LOVE Pokemon, but I completely agree. Ash is the worst, no matter what you think his goal is.

If the object is to "Catch 'em all," the kid is WAY too touchy-feely for the job. He's constantly having emotional adventures with Pokemon, letting his Butterfree go, crying over his Pikachu, etc. He hardly ever catches anything.

If the object is to "Collect Badges and win tournaments," he's also a failure. He gets badges handed to him for making a girl laugh, putting out a fire, and generally being a nice guy- but rarely for winning shit. That's no surprise, either. His base knowledge of how Pokemon work (e.g. "shoot water at a fire type") is piss poor.

If the object is "Get a girlfriend," well... we all know how he's doing there.

Maybe everyone in that universe is just awful? Team Rocket is laughably bad at their jobs, gym leaders are just handing badges out, and society lets Pokemon who can't even use human language be medical nurses. Wtf??!!

He is worse than the fucking sea witch, riiiiiiight?

He is worse than the fucking sea witch, riiiiiiight?

Me: I'm in love with Marvel comics. My friends all like The Real Housewives and they really don't understand the magnificence that is the mind of Stan Lee. How can I help them understand? I have no words that don't sound condescending.

Real Housewives? Pffffth...

Real Housewives? Pffffth...

Geek Girl: Stan Lee, eh? Excelsior!

On an intellectual level, I love Stan Lee because he was (and is) a pioneer at creating "flawed heroes." Instead of perfect, goody-goody, all-American Superman types, Stan Lee started writing heroes with issues. From anger management and alcoholism to just plain paying rent, Stan Lee's heroes are HUMANS.

He also wrote some of the first black characters in comics, addresses current events (a famous one being the Vietnam War), and loves strong female characters. Recently, when an idiotic comic artist called She-Hulk a "slut" and a "giant green prostitute," Stan Lee stepped up to make a public statement in her greenness's defense. So cool.

Stan Lee has created a charity promoting literacy and arts education.

Stan Lee is aging, and canceled 2012 convention appearances for medical reasons. He's now right back in the circuit for the fans.

Stan Lee STILL does personal cameos in many comic books, and pretty much every Marvel movie there is.

As Stan the Man would say, "'Nuff said."

LAUREN AS ROGUE FROM THE X-MEN. I BOW DOWN TO THIS WOMAN!

LAUREN AS ROGUE FROM THE X-MEN. I BOW DOWN TO THIS WOMAN!

Me: Marvel or DC

Geek Girl: Maybe this is a cop-out, but I love Marvel's heroes, and DC's villains. Marvel has the Avengers, Spider-Man, and the X-Men, but DC has Batman's bad guys.

Me: My son agrees 1495.4% with that “cop out.”

Me: I prefer Star Wars as to Star Trek. How about you?

Geek Girl: I watch Star Trek: The Next Generation pretty much every day in college. I adore that ensemble cast, and how they grow as a team. However, I remain a bigger Star Wars fan. This is probably because it was shown to me at such a young age. I can remember making Star Wars characters out of DUPLO bricks. That stuff is in my blood... yes, even after the unforgivable prequels.

Me: Do you think the term "geek" means what it did twenty years ago, because I don't. I really think that people are more open to the world of fantasy and seeing how magnificent it can be! Your thoughts?

Geek Girl: get this one a lot, and it's one of my favorite things to talk about.

"Geek" is certainly no longer a hurtful, offensive word. The community has reclaimed the term, and "geek" is now a (mostly) cool thing to be. Superhero movies are blockbusters. Everyone uses personal technology like cell phones, tablets, and computers. Video games and cartoons are more popular than ever. The fact of the matter is, the MAJORITY enjoys these things now.

My personal definition of "geek" is, "one who loves something- a book, a show, a game, SOMETHING- and dedicates a significant portion of their time, energy, and income to loving that thing. I think you can be a geek about anything. You can be a sports geek, a gossip geek... the term is so broad that it can no longer be weaponized.

What I'm more curious about is the essence of what it means to be a geek. Sadly, there will always be a social group that is ostracized for the things that it enjoys. So, if it's now totally awesome to love Spider-Man, what are the lonely, bullied kids into? What music? What television? What lifestyle?

We're going to have to find a new word.

Me: I have never dressed up for a cosplay event, but I want to. How do I even decide who I want to be? I can't narrow it down and I think it's because I want to FEEL it and OWN it. How do you get in that mode?

Geek Girl: There are lots of reasons to choose a cosplay. In the beginning, I tried to choose things I deeply, deeply adored.

My first-ever was Yuna from Final Fantasy X. I chose her because I thought I looked like her, but also because I put weeks and weeks of my life into that game. I played FFX in high school. The sadness and desperation of its characters resonated deeply with me. By the time I finished playing, I couldn't get the story out of my head. Cosplay was my artistic tribute to something I loved a lot. This was true for Paula from Earthbound, too.

Hmm, other reasons to cosplay... Sometimes, I make a costume because I'll get to learn a new, specific skill. I made Catherine so I could learn wig-building. I made Cheshire so I could learn mask-making. My next aspiration is embroidery. Maybe you could set a goal like that?

Finally, sometimes it takes a group to help make a choice. I've been a Disney Princess, part of the X-Men, in a Firefly/Serenity crew, and acting in the cast of Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Often, the group chooses for you based on need. ...Or, you could always have your readers vote!

I vote Ash Ketchum.

Me: But he’s such a fucking shitty trainer!!!!

Minion ME. Still a better fucking trainer than Asssss Ketchum NONE.

Minion ME. Still a better fucking trainer than Asssss Ketchum NONE.

So what DO you guys think? What should my first cosplay get up be?

Find Lauren and Geek Girl Chicago on Facebook, Twitter and read her blog, Geek Girl Chicago, here on ChicagoNow.

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