The Sunday Magazine: Strong Women Make Weak Geeks Freak


I have always embraced being a geek; even when it wasn’t a great thing to be called. The wonder of time is if you live long enough sometimes things change. Over the last 15-20 years it has become a good thing to be a geek. Pop culture has reflected that. It has also dramatically expanded from the early days of convention rooms of a couple hundred white guys to the 150,000 at New York Comic-Con. I am amazed, and gratified, at the diversity of the attendees representing something much closer to real-life demographics.

I’ve written in the past what a golden age it is for representation in the geek world with heroes that look like any race or gender. Nothing has made me smile more than seeing little girls wearing Wonder Woman or Rey from Star Wars costumes. As they make sound effects with their mouths to represent their strength. With another candidate coming in a few weeks with the release of “Captain Marvel” it is the best of times. Except from one small corner of the internet; there the cries of week geeks threatened by seeing strong women are heard.

It started with the weeks prior to the release of “Wonder Woman”. There were multiple online campaigns about how the movie was going to fail because it featured a woman hero. This tiny minority bombed the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes with derisive comments prior to and after the release of the film. Sadly it was covered as if this was representative of the geek community. Box office don’t lie and $821 million later that they were spitballs off a battleship.

Nothing breeds sticktoitiveness like failure and so these idiots turned their eyes to the addition of a female Asian character to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This time not content to just try and use Rotten Tomatoes they harassed the young actress, Kelly Marie Tran. Causing her to delete her social media accounts. Ms. Tran’s character, Rose Tico, was a classic Star Wars hero type who proves her worth over and over. Along with Rey as the central protagonist this was double trouble for the weak geeks. This time they were as effective as tissue versus a lightsaber. Star Wars: The Last Jedi would rake in $1.3 billion at the box office. I want to point out that these trolls were covered as if they were representative of something other than flawed thinking. There were many articles that wanted to use them as a device to speak about the direction of Star Wars instead of treating them as drunk hecklers who should be ignored.

Now they’re back in these days before the release of “Captain Marvel”. They’re also being covered as if their opinion again represents a large group of fans. They’re criticizing Marvel for casting, wait for it “a feminist” in the role of what was one of the first feminist superheroes. She was Ms. Marvel before she became Captain Marvel. Then the star Brie Larson asked for more female and people of color to be included in her press tour promoting the film. Not at the expense of the white critics but in addition to them. As in add a few more rows of folding chairs for some new blood. Now the jerks are at it again working overtime on Rotten Tomatoes and blasting Brie Larson for being a “feminist”.

If there was any description of me which got under my skin, it was being called a “fanboy”. I always felt it indicated a lack of ability to be critical of the geeky things I enjoyed. I now realize I want to use it to describe this small group of weak geeks because they are immature boys who purport to be fans.

I know the answer to this kind of behavior is the continued success of movies with strong women in the lead roles. Eventually there will be enough female fans who will drown out the weak geeks. I know I’ll be standing with them.

Mark Behnke