In defense of geeks everywhere

IN DEFENSE OF GEEKS EVERYWHERE…. The New Yorker‘s Anthony Lane, in his review of “Watchmen,” casually dismisses comic-book fans as “leering nineteen-year-olds” who fear “meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation.” Adam Serwer offers a welcome response.

Not to question what is, I am certain, the vibrant and thrilling sex lives of film critics, but I’m not so sure that “film critic” is much higher than “comic book geek” on the social spectrum. Moreover, what exactly do Lane’s thoughts on comic book nerds have to do with the quality of the film? What does the reviewer grant the reader by insulting the film’s intended audience?

I’m not going to argue with Lane over the quality of a film I haven’t seen, but I really find it hard to understand why comic book fans are the subject of such persistent abuse. You’d think we clubbed baby seals for a living or perhaps sold sub-prime mortgages. The unbridled contempt for people who like comic books reaches something close to the feelings people have for parking cops and tax collectors.

Comic book nerds can count Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow and Patrick Leahy among us…. Whatever Lane’s opinions of Watchmen’s source material, comic books are the closest thing Americans have to folktales, and their content is about as close as a reflection of American cultural identity, for good or for ill, as we have. You’d think that for that reason alone, the material and its consumers would be worth at least a minimum of respect.

Hear, hear. The condescension from Lane, and others, is tiresome and cliched. One gets the distinct impression that Comic Book Guy on “The Simpsons” is taken a little too literally among those unfamiliar with the medium.

As it happens, right around the time Adam was posting his defense of comic-book readers everywhere, Matt Yglesias (comic-book reader) referenced a remark by Ana Marie Cox (another comic-book reader) about Watchmen and contemporary politics, which Matt then expanded on to make a point about Cold War policy towards Russia.

It’s almost as if comic books have something compelling to offer to those who aren’t socially-awkward teenagers.