The Nine Faces of Dave
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star wars geeks don't watch doctor who
I'm amazed how much I've changed since summer began. Not
just physical changes, mind you, but also big psychological
changes. I'm in better shape than I've been for at least 10
years, and I actually enjoy exercise now that I'm reasonably
good at it. I feel like I'm actually doing what I want for
the first time. My exercise doesn't even feel motivated by
outside forces now; it's all me from here on.
Now I just need that attitude to spread to other aspects of
my life, and maybe I can live my life instead of worrying so
much about what other people think.
I'm currently trying to justify a large purchase of DVDs. I
want to buy a boxed set of the old Doctor Who TV show, this
one being the complete Key to Time series. Unfortunately, I
can't find it any cheaper than $92 and change. It's still a
big savings over Amazon, and an even bigger savings over the
purchase of each episode individually. Still, having lived
the cheap lifestyle for so long, it's hard to justify such a
purchase, even if I have enough money that $100 won't really
make a noticeable difference.
The other purchase I'm pondering is the DVD release of "The
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension." It
has one of the most devoted followings of any cult classic,
and it sounds hilarious, so I figure it's worth getting. It
has some of my favorite actors in it, including Christopher
Lloyd and Jeff Goldblum.
Now I can make the entire purchase for about 110 bucks, and
that includes shipping on both items. So I think I might be
able to justify the expense, especially in light of the huge
nest egg I built up from my job at college. The problem is,
what if such a purchase generates problems later on?
See, I have a habit of not watching movies. It started when
I was at college last semester and had no time to do any fun
solo activities. The end result is that several movies, and
about six or seven episodes of Mystery Science Theater, are
now sitting on my hard drive, unwatched. I even bought some
Godzilla movies on DVD during the fall semester, and haven't
watched them yet.
So there's a pretty good chance that these DVDs would end up
coming with me when I go back to college. Now that could be
a very good thing; my roommate for next year is a supporter
of the "movie night" concept, and a little Doctor Who would
provide a good alternate to his stuff. Plus, he's the sort
who would probably enjoy old British sci-fi and a completely
insane '80s cult classic.
The problem is, I can't tell how other people would react to
such fare. I really resent the stereotype of "scientist as
geek," and yet I'd almost be helping to perpetuate it by the
purchase of these DVDs. Now granted, I don't consider this
sort of thing geeky. Doctor Who was a science fiction show,
but it was a lot deeper than Star Trek and all those. There
were some really brilliant scripts, and the show explored a
number of social issues.
And like my favorite sci-fi comedy, Red Dwarf, the budget of
Doctor Who was extremely limited, and yet they accomplished
some pretty incredible things. It's a great example of how
creativity can triumph over budget constraints.
So in a way, I see British TV and cult classics as a sort of
counterpart to traditional "geek" culture. Rather than Star
Wars and all that horseshit, there's something obscure, off
the wall, and arguably cool, and it's aimed mainly at people
like me. Hell, self-proclaimed geeks usually don't like my
kind of stuff; enough of them have told me so.
Unfortunately, most of the world doesn't see the difference
between these subcultures. Call them "geek" and "geek-west"
to distinguish them. The point is, the second you step out
of the mainstream in the general direction of geek, you lose
very quickly, because suddenly you get lumped in right along
with the irritating fanboys who can't carry on conversations
about anything else and who actually care whether you think
Kirk or Picard is better. It doesn't matter if your actual
orientation is geek-west, or even west-geek-west, because in
general, people can't see past the fact that you have a geek
vector in your motion.
Now when you think about it, it's really kind of stupid not
to make the distinction. For one thing, the typical "geek"
likes things that everyone else is aware of, but they manage
to take it to a whole new level. I'm talking about all the
people who buy those technical manuals for ships that don't
exist and probably never will. I'm talking about people who
write X-Files fan fiction. I'm talking about people who act
as though George Lucas can do no wrong.
I guess the biggest difference is moderation and possessing
somewhat discriminating tastes. "Geek-west" does not entail
camping outside the theater for days. We call crap when we
see it, regardless of who's responsible. And as for Doctor
Who fans, we don't really care which Doctor you think is the
best (though for the record, Tom Baker and Peter Davison).
But the problem still remains that most people don't bother
with trying to know the difference between Trekkies and cult
film lovers. And at the risk of sounding mysogynistic, that
tendency to lump together everything offbeat seems much more
prevalent among women (though the men who do it are just as
bad, if not worse). And so I'm faced with choosing between
staying on fairly safe ground, or just doing what I want and
hoping for the best.
When I get back to campus, I'm going to be living in a whole
new dorm, dealing with a whole new set of people, including
a whole bunch of women who don't know me. And I anticipate
facing some rather substantial challenges with improving my
social life. I don't see trouble making friends, though I'm
anticipating a lot of the same problems I've had before with
women. Even if my physical problems are mostly fixed, there
remains the issue of my cultural orientation. And maybe my
luck has just been bad, but in my experience with women, it
doesn't take a whole lot for them to think you're a big dork
(especially if you're right around the same age).
I'm really trying to avoid this sort of exchange:
Me: "So this is my room, my roomie's stuff is over there, my
stuff is on this side."
Girl from the hall or wherever: "Whoa, nice DVD collection.
Say, what's this 'Doctor Who?'"
Me: "It's a British TV series about a guy who travels around
space and time and has adventures."
Girl: "I see...well, I'd better be going."
Me: "Hey, we're doing Movie Night this Friday, care to come
Girl: "Um...I'm busy."
So you see my problem.
Now I suppose there's also the possibility that it could go
Girl: "Oh wow, I didn't know you were a Doctor Who fan. And
you have the complete Key to Time series!"
Me: "We're doing Movie Night this Friday and we'll probably
show the first couple of those. Want to drop by?"
Girl: "Absolutely. See you then."
Given my experience with the women at my college, however, I
think the chances of that happening are slim to none.
Anyway, feedback is welcome if you've any advice or comments
or anything like that. Please speak your mind.
I wonder if I don't get feedback because these always end up
being so damn long. Or maybe it's just because I drive away
98% of my prospective audience by talking about Doctor Who.
This is Dave, signing off.