In the 2000s, Geek Culture became self-aware. It rose up, seized pop-culture power, and asserted itself. Things were good.
In the 2010s, Geek Culture has started getting itchy, antsy, and annoyed with itself. There's a bunch of self-appointed gatekeepers putting up fences nobody asked them to build, in an attempt to keep "intruders" and "interlopers" away from an increasingly-precious subculture whose main criteria for admittance appears to be "I buy a lot of merchandising for some media conglomerate's mass-produced entertainment product." It's not the most weighty of self-identifications, nor, really, should it be.
However, one of the more prominently built fences seems to be built out of almost pure sexism, and a lot of women have been making a lot of noise about that recently. It gets noisy when you're swinging sledgehammers of righteousness at insipid claims that you can't possibly like video games because you have ovaries, or you can't possibly enjoy comic books because you don't know what issue the Joker debuted or some such.
Usually, such stories are pretty cut and dried: Sexist asshole is sexist, and people rubbernecking at the social wreckage should, hopefully, make a note of the ugly example being made of those holding archaic, caveman-esque beliefs on gender-equality, and stop being troglodytes.
Today's big controversy comes with a twist: What happens when the troglodyte in question is a well-liked, well-respected nerd with connections, powerful friends, and the keys to a Marvel movie?
James Gunn has a nice resume full of all sorts of geek-cred: He came up through the ranks of Troma, he got the nod to write the remake of revered geek classic Dawn of the Dead and managed to not screw it up, wrote/directed a cult horror triumph with Slither, cracked up the internet in the mid 2000s with a webseries called PG Porn, cast Rainn Wilson as a mentally-imbalanced superhero in the well-reviewed Super, and has been hired to direct Marvel's next big group adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy. His friends include Nathan Fillion and Joss Whedon, who personally vouched for the guy when he was given the Galaxy job.
A post of his from 2011 has been unearthed recently, and that post is basically, some shock jock bullshit. If you heard anyone read this post out loud, you would expect the person reading to interrupt his discourse with a fusillade of fart noises and air horns before throwing to a Def Leppard song on your morning drive. The post is entitled The 50 Superheroes You'd Most Like to Have Sex With and features entries such as:
My girlfriend voted for this Cajun fruit. I think she’s looking to have a devil’s three way with the two of us. The idea of my balls slapping against Gambit’s makes me sick to my stomach, but I can’t deny the fellow’s pure HEAT, as he yet again placed so high on this list, despite being male and in the presence of so many A-listers. Wolverine and Superman may beat him in sales, but it’s who the ladies love that really matters, and Gambit is the Galactus of Cock!
34. Batgirl – Stephanie Brown
Being a teen mom and all, you know she’s easy. Go for it.
This lesbian character was voted for almost exclusively by men. I don’t know exactly what that means. But I’m hoping for a Marvel-DC crossover so that Tony Stark can “turn” her. She could also have sex with Nightwing and probably still be technically considered a lesbian.
Actually, after reading, I'd revise my shock jock analogy. This is basically some Kevin Smith shit. If you heard someone reading this out loud, you'd expect to hear a lighter flicking, some coughing, and Scott Mosier giggling uncomfortably in between pauses for breath/weed. Reminder, by the way: Kevin Smith still produces Comic Book Men, one of the worst shows on television, especially when it comes to propagating the stereotype of shitty, emotionally stunted man-children as consumers of comics.
What will be interesting to see, as this story further unfolds, and calls for boycotts and firings rise in volume, is how Geek Culture responds to one of their own, one of the good guys, getting caught engaging in idiocy of this level. When comic book artist Tony Harris got caught on facebook being misogynist as hell, the retribution was swift and merciless - but he's Tony Harris, comic-book artist. His status isn't as elevated as Friend-of-Whedon, pal-of-Mal, Troma-tested, Marvel-Approved James Gunn. Will the vitriol be as vitriolic, or will people ease off the gas pedal? Will Gunn publicly apologize, point out that he was just trying to be funny, attempt to prove he's not really homophobic; or will he shut up and just wait for everything to blow over? Will some geeks be willing to go easier on Gunn because of his connections and his filmography? Will they attempt to provide context that could somehow mitigate this post?
Are nerds for equality in their ranks, but only to the point where it starts to threaten their entertainment choices?
Guardians of the Galaxy, starring a heavily armed talking raccoon and a sentient tree, is scheduled for release in 2014.