Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: geeks

Geeky and Cool


If you would see the family “caricature” drawn years ago on a vacation in Cape Cod, still hanging on my mother’s wall of family shame, you might say, “Boy, Neil, you must have been a geeky teenager!”  Looking at myself back then, I would say you were probably be right.  Yet, I would still have the problem of identity that I was discussing yesterday on my blog.  Was I really a geek?  How do I give you, the reader, a fuller picture of reality?  Or even more importantly, how do I see myself honestly without spending thousands of dollars in therapy?

Despite my goofy caricature, I did not walk around at the time thinking, “I am a geek.”  I went around thinking I was smart.  I was shy with girls, but at the same time, I knew my time was coming.   Basically, I was a neurotic mess, but sexy in my own mind.

Movies and TV shows rarely portray nerds and geeks realistically.  A few years a go, I wrote a post about the TV reality show “Beauty and the Geek.”  In this show, a male geek is teamed with a beauty queen so they can “learn” from each other and win the competition against other teams.  As expected, the beauties meet the unsocialized guys with the broken glasses and unzippered pants and go “yuch,” while the geeks drool over the perfect blond cheerleaders.

Eh, I never bought it.   If these guys were really geeks, they would be comparing knowledge of Battlestar Gallactica triva, not wasting their time on these dopey women.   Some of these women were so dumb, picked that way for entertainment value, that I couldn’t understand why these guys would be remotely interested in them.  Yeah, yeah, men care about the boobs, but as a certified geek, I know that we also have high standards.   We fantasized about the hot girl in high school, but she was also the one running for class president!   No nerd or geek ever wanted to go out with a cheerleader!  We made fun of you.  Pop culture is so one dimensional, thinking that “hot blondes with boobs” trumps all, that the geeky writers who work on these shows forget their OWN experiences as geeky high school students.  Maybe the geeky writers are so desperate to portray themselves as the nice guy underdogs, that they forget that nerds and geeks can be assholes, too, mocking the pretty girl who doesn’t know the name of the vice president.

My high school was a NYC public school, vastly different than the suburban schools you see most movies.  As in any school, there were cool kids, but I don’t recall it being extremely clear-cut who was “in” and who was “out.”  There were athletes, there were druggies, there were criminals-in-training, there were math geniuses.  The “coolness” was segmented, which is probably too complicated to deal with a true to life movie script.  It is the same way that people say that “blogging is like high school.”   Of course it is — if you just hang out with the mommybloggers or the daddybloggers or the BlogHer bloggers, or the African-American bloggers, etc.   Outside of each niche and the set in stone hierarchy, no one might even know you exist.  I know when I was working on the yearbook in high school, I felt like I ran the school.  So did those working on the school newspaper.  So did those on the basketball team.

We all want to be the sun in our own universe.   When I worked on a TV show, every niche of the production team believe himself the true creative force.  The network executives who bought the show considered it their own.  The writers felt that the words were based out of personal experience.  The actors ignored the writers and acted like the dialogue flew out of their mouths through osmosis.  The advertisers saw the show as a vehicle to sell their products.

The mind is powerful, and distorts reality, usually putting yourself in the starring role.  So, yes, I was geeky back then, as can be seen in that caricature, but despite what anyone might have thought at the time, I considered myself quite cool, even if I was still trying to figure out how to ask a girl out on a date, something that has never quite been resolved.

The question remains:  what is the real reality — how I view myself now, how you might view me, or how I actually viewed myself at the time?

A Geek Speaks

(Richard trying to look non-geeky with Mindi)

One of the summer’s more popular reality shows is "Beauty and the Geek."  Women seem to love it, because women love to change a man, whether it’s a geek to a hunk, or a jerk to a nice guy.    Television executives seem to instinctively understand this.   What’s more fun for a woman viewer than watching these geeky eggheads become cool dudes (with a little help from some women, of course)?

As a board member of JAGS (Jewish American Geek Society), my biggest problem with "Beauty and the Geek"  is the unrealistic portrayal of a geek.   You non-geeks of the world would love to think that deep down, all geeks want to be just like you ordinary mortals.  Put a little hair gel in our hair and we’re like every other guy on the corner, salivating over the bikini blond at the beach.  

Hogwash.   Geeks do not like the beach, especially without SPF 100.

The whole idea of geekiness is that you sublimate your sexual interests into something obscure, like physics or comic book collecting.   A real geek would easily trade one of these silly girls for a mint condition edition of Batman #5:  Batman meets the Joker.    There have been known instances where the libido of a male geek is brought into the open — after much assistance and therapy — but I doubt any red-blooded geek would be salivating over these dumb, poor-spelling girls for very long.  

Geekiness is something ingrained, like homosexuality, and cannot be changed with a "makeover."  A real geek would be bored very quickly.    Adam Mesh from "Average Joe" is average, but not a real geek.  Richard of "Beauty and the Geek"  is closer to being a real geek, but someone as annoying as him would not be allowed to vote at one of our board meetings.