In Defense Of The Genre: on the Geek culture and the Kidulthood “myth”.

Disclaimer: This is not a “hey we do exist” post. Because, let’s face it, Geek Culture has been spoilt lately (for better, but also for worse, admittedly), with all the references, TV shows (Bazinga anyone?) and comics adaptations (Hi Marvel). Nope. It’s more about the general cliché that comic aficionados, graphic novel readers, sci-fi lovers, music addicts, fans of TV shows, gamers … are OBVIOUSLY lost in their teens for ever.

Kidult: (n) An adult who participates in youth culture and activities traditionally intended for children.

One of my friends, on my gigs and comics addiction: “It’s great, but don’t you think it’s time to grow up?”

It is funny how the idea of being a grown-up almost inevitably includes losing passions to a “reasonable”, “stable” life…Especially when it comes to pop-culture. How many times am I seen as the “kidult” one, just because I go to Cons and gigs on a regular basis and spend half a wage on comics? I’ve lost count. While it’s sometimes pretty fun (some of your friends, the ones with babies/a mortgage/a genuine interest in all things practical, say you are “refreshing”, your colleagues happily talk about Skyrim with you), it can lead to some disheartening revelations (same friends and/or love interests only see a teenage version of themselves in you, the entire staff refers to you as “The Geek” during meetings). No, I don’t want to live my teenage years over and over, thank you very much, and yes, The Geek Culture has so much more to offer than a Trekkie T-shirt and a RPG board. Here’s why:

Comics and fantasy/sci-fi writers  are not teenagers (surprisingly enough), and there are loads of artists over here, sometimes happily married and/or parents, who still spend their time on the road, playing and writing or reading for people around the world. You would actually be surprised. Not all comic readers still live with their parents when they turn 30 (and what if they do?), they have a job (sometimes said-job is a cover to help them create, hello harsh modern-day economy), they even have friends. [You surely have this image in mind: the lonely sci-fi guy in a black tee at a party looking sad and awkward? These days are over folks. Thanks to the mainstream gods who thought we’d be something “sellable” one day, Geek = friendly. More than that: Geek = cool. Geek = sexy. Geek = doable. “Rejoice, Dungeons & Dragons lovers, everything’s not lost!” the crowd screams! See : http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRkpvQREdJC6jZ5BTGeeyMDHolEIafZq_-GEdgr_3-hUqI1UaPlAxJdwDIs Sorry, I’ve lost track for a minute.].

(While I’m at it, going to a pop-culture-related Convention doesn’t mean you’re a loser.)

Right. Now we’re comfortable around each other, let’s kill that old common “Comics aren’t *serious* art” thought. Actually they are. It’s the 9th art, and people who work/go to The Angoulême International Comics Festival, Kapow!, the San Diego Comic-Con International, or Les Utopiales would probably give you the evil eye if you voiced those thoughts out loud. Or maybe they wouldn’t, because they’re generally lovely people, but still. I would. Much darker and more complex than “he’s a superhero and helps the lady and fights the villain”, the universe of comics is full of surprises… See that good ol’ Batman for example: he’s the perfect picture of the tormented, neurotic guy, and his companions are no better: Catwoman is a kleptomaniac, the Birds of Prey are the answer to several traumatic experiences, the different Robins suffer the loss of their parents (literally or figuratively speaking)…and don’t get me started on Wayne’s nemesis: the human soul at its worst, monstrous faces of a world that no longer decides on the good or bad side. Gotham City is not only a town plagued by bad luck (to say the least), it’s a reflection of the human condition, waiting for a redemption that never happens. And come on, if Nolan directed a trilogy about it, there must be something complex in there, right?

I am not saying kidulthood doesn’t exist: My generation is a grown-up in the making; we’re crushed between our parents’ expectations and this burning desire to be free, to be ourselves. The world claims we should live young forever and then urges us to settle in for good. Society seems to have embraced this paradigm of the responsible adult with a job, and a family to provide for, and a couple of staggeringly ordinary hobbies on the side. Basically, being a kid is fun, but growing up is serious business. Don’t mess with this, guys. (hey, you can, actually)

I can manage to be passionate about everything Joss Whedon and yet be able to pay the bills, to support myself (living alone since my 18th birthday, hell yeah), to be romantically involved with someone who does or doesn’t share my passion for Poison Ivy and to get some nice regular jobs with responsibilities and to take some holidays to go on tour…Is it okay? Do I hit the “regular adult” points?

“Books records, films. These things matter”. Raise your hand if you agree with Rob Fleming, the broken-hearted thirty-something in “High Fidelity”. Just like Rob, I put my life in music, books and movies. We are dreamers. Not (always) immature, no. We can handle a life with decisions and bad news, as long as we have words and stories to keep us going. As long as we can spend a gig feeling emotions through a singer’s voice. As long as we’re moved by drawings and what they tell us. It’s not a matter of strength or reason; it’s just about absolute balance, in everything. And to be honest, I don’t see any difference between people spending money on vinyls, or home decoration or movies, or on that pretty rare Alien sculpture they found on Ebay. They’re all passionate. We’re all alive.

Ultimately, the real question is: what does the word “adult” mean now? I am a firm believer in growing up being an experience that lasts an entire life. You keep learning, you keep making mistakes, and you never cease to think differently. Dreaming shouldn’t be forbidden when you’re over twenty-one.

So…Shall we play a game?

3 thoughts on “In Defense Of The Genre: on the Geek culture and the Kidulthood “myth”.

  1. Il est très bien ce post. La personne qui t’a dit qu’il fallait grandir parce que tu lis des comics doit quand même être assez chiante dans la vie de tous les jours, non ? (entre nous^^)

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