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Finn`s Wake : X2 and the Fandom Elite
© Mark Finn
May 22, 2003

Everyone please update your spell-checkers and dictionaries:

geek·ism n. 1: The belief that certain persons or members of geek heirarchy or fandom groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, trivia knowledge, or fan-based resources. 2:The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a fandom group or geek class; Control, rule, or domination by such a fandom group or geek class.

geek·ist n. : someone who believes in rule by an elite group of geeks

I’m declaring war, here and now, on those Geekus Superius who think that they deserve to control the Geek Nation. I’m talking about the fundamentalist geekists, those “Old School” comic book fans, who are flooding the Internet with messages of hate and despair regarding X2: X-Men United. Their dogmatic insistence that strict comic book continuity and character history be observed has created an undercurrent of bile for the best comic book movie since Spider-Man.

Granted, Spidey still tops the list, for one reason only: you really need to see the first X-Men movie before you see this one. And the number of switches and changes to the franchise from the comic book series are pretty big. But that’s not the point of X2. It really wasn’t the point of the first X-Men movie. The point was to put comic books on the big screen. And in X2, the film is an unqualified success.

All of that gets swept away on the Internet, however. Among the list of grievances filed by the geekists were the following:

  1. Nightcrawler is supposed to be furry, not just blue/covered in angelic symbols.

  2. Mystique was supposed to be Nightcrawler’s mom, so why wasn’t that mentioned?

  3. Storm was underused and where did her accent go? And why isn’t she the team’s leader?

  4. Wolverine doesn’t cry; this alone is heresy and grounds for a Jihad.

  5. Why wasn’t there more Colossus? And why wasn’t there a ‘Fastball Special’?

  6. Why wasn’t the Beast (Dr. Hank McCoy) blue and furry? Or just an X-man?

  7. The character of Jason was supposed to have the last name of Wyngarde, not Stryker, and he didn’t secrete fluid from his brain, either.

  8. There was NO mention of the Shi’ar aliens at all, and besides, Jean doesn’t become Phoenix until much later. This lack of respect for the holy texts is grounds for Jihad.

  9. Lady Deathstryke’s origin was horribly butchered and she was under-utilized.

  10. The lack of characters introduced, such as Gambit, The Morlocks, Some Guy from a Single issue of an Alternate History Series, and Banshee, was an unforgivable mistake and calls for Jihad against Bryan Singer.

There were others, but I selected the top ten worst offenses. You can read about the rest of their Purist Manifesto at www.Ieatmorepastethanyou.org and see the hatred for yourself. Or, if their website is down, search through any online discussion forum for movies, comics, or anything else geeky. You’ll find at least one geekist waxing disdainful about the movie, and unfortunately, their conversion rate is on the rise.

What they don’t seem to realize is the difference in intellectual properties. All forms of media are not the same. In fact, comics are the worst of the bunch. On the surface, they would seem to be cousins to the movies, but as Lone Star Press’ Bill Williams is fond of saying, “comics have an unlimited special effects budget.” To draw fur on a character is a few brush strokes with ink. To put blue fur on a person for photographic purposes takes hours. Even if it’s done on a computer. And it won’t ever look like the few brush strokes that it took to render in the comics. Ever. They are two different mediums.

Stories are told differently, too. Comics don’t rely on anything more than a visual component and the reader’s brain. In our minds, we make the action come to life. We rearrange the word balloons automatically when we read them out of order, we envision action that occurs between the panels, and we assign voices and inflection based on our personal experiences. My Wolverine doesn’t sound anything like YOUR Wolverine. You wanna know who my voice for Logan is? It’s Clint Eastwood. Corny, I know, but he’s got just the right amount of gravel in his voice for what I imagine a cigar-chomping Wolverine to sound like.

Movies, on the other hand, require absolutely no thought to absorb. You can think about them during the movie if you like, but that always detracts from the experience. Most of the time, the movie does its job and washes over you. Everyone speaks in the order they are supposed to. Scenes play out in real-time. The physics of our world are simulated in order for us to believe what we are seeing. We don’t experience movies the same way as we read a book, or a comic book.

I was once a Geekist. I know where they are coming from. It seems so easy to translate a character or story directly from one thing to the other, especially when you are standing in a comic book shop and you are surrounded by references and people that back your viewpoint up. Guys in costumes seem like a natural thing. People talk when they fight. It happens all the time. But step out of that box, and it’s a different world out there. If you gave that list to my mother, who doesn’t read comic books, she wouldn’t have the slightest idea what any of it meant. Nor would she care. It’s a different world outside of comics. At one screening, during the Hulk trailer, a girl in her twenties asked her boyfriend who that green guy was and what his powers were. As strange as that may seem, there are people out there who have never seen the Hulk before, in comics or cartoons. Hey, some people were outside playing baseball or upstairs playing with dolls while we were glued to the television set, eating bowl after bowl of Count Chocula.

I think the solution here is a little tolerance all around. For the geekists, it means not crucifying everything that is not canonical, straight from the comics, or purist. For the geeks, it means coming to the realization that some of us are so used to being marginalized, that even now that they have a chance to come out of their caves, they will dig themselves further in. We have to show them kindness and understanding. They have to stop being dogmatic and shrill. Only by working together can we, geek and geekist, overcome our differences and walk the earth in peace and harmony with our fellow man.

Mark Finn is the author of Gods New and Used and Year of the Hare, available from your local bookstore or from www.amazon.com. Check out his novel, “The Transformation of Lawrence Croft” right here on RevolutionSF, updated every week.

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