As some of you hopefully know, Jimmy and I conduct weekly chats to cover Batman the Animated Series, and this week we had a mild disagreement. I won’t get into the whats and whys because, well, I want you to read that column too, and since it’s coming out later this week, why should I spoil it even a little bit?
The gist of the conversation was that Jimmy and I disagreed over the quality of one episode, with me enjoying it more than Jimmy did. Jimmy’s contention was that Batman should not have had as hard a time as he did with that particular villain. I didn’t mind so much. After throwing a few punches, which is hard considering we live in different countries, we calmed down and realized that the problem isn’t so much the episode being good or bad but that, for Jimmy, there was a violation of what Batman is for this episode, and I had less of a problem with that.
But man, Geeks sure can be possessive.
OK, so, let’s forget for a moment that sometimes this Geek possession can get really ugly. I’m talking the people who immediately react in ways that sound, to put it bluntly, racist or sexist or whatever ist that might come out of someone’s mouth. That’s the worst-case-scenario of what this sort of phenomena can be.
But getting back to the above idea, it struck Jimmy and myself that even though DC Comics and Warner Brothers Entertainment actually own Batman, Batman is a universal property. Every Batman fan, whether it be through comics, cartoons, movies, or whatever, has an idea of who and what Batman is. Batman can be Adam West, Michael Keaton, or Christian Bale. Batman can be drawn by Neil Adams, Brian Bolland, or Frank Miller. For every Batman fan, there’s a definitive Batman. When some creator, who probably has his or her own idea of who and what Batman is, does something different from what an individual fan’s idea is, many such fans will not react well to that.
I don’t claim to be immune to that. It took me a few episodes of Batman The Brave and the Bold to get into the more light-hearted, humorous take on the Caped Crusader.
To use a non-Batman example, I went to see Inside Out recently, and while passing through the hallway to my theater, I saw one of those giant-sized Fantastic Four posters, and the one thing that struck me about one of the foursome was that Reed Richards looked like the most generic twentysomething pretty boy I could have imagined. Now, maybe it was because they couldn’t show him using his powers in the poster like Sue and Johnny or just being the rocky whateverheis that Ben Grimm does just by being there, but I was completely nonplussed by the poster. And I’m not that big a Fantastic Four fan.
This is why Geeks can go nuts. Not because we enjoy hating, but because we love the things making us mad and want them to be better.
We don’t enjoy hating! We think these characters belong to us too!
Because we sorta do. Not in the legal sense, but in the sense of shared ownership that comes from being in a culture and community with certain values that includes guys in capes punching out clowns.
When things deviate from our visions, it takes a very openminded person to say, “Let’s see how it turns out first.”
And if there’s one thing human beings can be, it’s not very openminded.
Besides, so long as it avoids the uglier areas (such as how some people react to the very idea that, say, James Bond or Spider-Man can be black), Geek Rage is rather harmless. In the grand scheme of things, does it matter if Superman killed a guy and showed very little remorse at the end of Man of Steel? Not really. The real world has enough problems. If that’s the worst thing that can happen to someone, we should consider ourselves lucky.
Let Geeks nitpick. It’s what made us what we are to begin with. We just really care.