Well, I’ve got a new favorite song. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love it. 😀
It’s not just the utter geekery of the song (including the lines of random Ray Bradbury facts intoned in a voice that seems to be reminding Ray how frakking awesome he is). It’s the unabashed celebration of female sexuality and sex. It’s meant to play as humorous, but it doesn’t really play as mocking geeky sexy fun times. More like, celebrating geek culture (or co-opting depending on how much of it is gimmick and how much is based on her actual geekery).
It is overtly sexual and plays all the feminine tropes of porn and sexuality (open shirt, schoolgirl uniform, sexy poses, etc). Which opens the video up to discussions about whether this is just another woman utilizing her femininity and sex appeal to take advantage of a niche culture that’s fast becoming popular culture. This sort of thing does happen (although honestly, it’s not something to panic over), and I can’t necessarily say it’s the worst thing in the world.
It makes my inner femgeek kind of bristle with the thought that people who don’t necessarily enjoy the geek culture appropriate it to make a name or career or niche or even just social group for themselves. I guess, in layman’s terms, it’s like if someone forgoes all the hard work of practicing and trying out for an orchestra or football team, then presents their sexiness and gets a fast track to first chair or first string. And starts presenting themselves as an authority or a genuine enthusiast to the public. There’s something just kind of fake about it, even after they start practicing and working to understand and study the culture.
But at the same time, if it’s a matter of combining sexiness with actual geeky interest, then that’s something that happens at cons all over the world all the time. I mean, cosplaying has its fair share of women dressing to make themselves feel beautiful, strong, powerful, and awesome, which should be celebrated and encouraged.
And don’t get me started on the fact that geeks like sex. We like it a lot. All those stereotypes about virgin nerds are so patently ridiculous, it’s amazing that it still holds up in the 21st century at all. Cons and other geeky social gatherings are hotbeds of making out, partying, and hooking up. They’re in freaking hotels 80% of the time. If you think hot-blooded Star Trek and Star Wars fans aren’t duking it out on the convention floor then beaming all that intellectual passion up to a sexy passion in the hotel rooms, then you can’t have realized that geeks are human, too.
And hey, sexiness itself isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s just that geeks, in particular, have been the victims of a culture that places a disproportionately high value on sexiness and beauty. So anything that smacks of taking that societal structure and shifting it over to the geek world just sets off warning bells in some geeks’ brains. Male and female, though mostly female cuz in popular culture guys still get to be funny and not so good looking but the girl’s always got to be good looking, in addition to be geeky or skilled or whatever. Yeah, there are tons of movies where the men are good looking but notice how they aren’t also hooking up with women who are plain but funny, smart, or skilled. How many times does the plain girl get the guy? Right, so find me as many examples of plain woman/handsome man as examples I can think of the trope beautiful woman/plain guy, and I’ll concede that men have something approaching the impossible beauty/sexiness standards that women have.
Anyways, the whole sexiness married to geekiness thing makes some geeks nervous but I think, as with a lot of things, it’s all about intent. So, there’s positive sexiness in geek culture, so it’s possible to integrate the two without having to accuse anyone of being a manslut or whore. And just because someone enters the geek world with sexiness as their tool doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t truly interested in the culture. It’s just the instances where people take advantage of geek culture or put other geeks down in order to make themselves seem cooler or basically, indulge in asshole behavior that are problematic. Nobody likes asshole behavior. No surprise that the geeky community especially doesn’t like being made fun of.
Rachel Bloom’s video doesn’t strike me as particularly making fun of the geeky community. It’s certainly taking advantage of the fact that geekiness plus sexiness is always a humorous and engaging subject that has a built-in audience. And it’s definitely got that hipster vibe of slightly ironic. As in, I’m pretending to be a geek totally in love with Ray Bradbury, but I’m also cool enough to poke fun at it at the same time. It’s humor, so yeah, it’s got that sense of “lookit, I’m being funny!” but at the same time it’s a female comedian celebrating female sexuality and making it funny, relevant, and awesome all at the same time, which for the comedy world is a bajillion steps forward. Between her, Kristen Wiig, Wanda Sykes, and Tina Fey, we’re actually getting some fun female humor that points to the female condition as a human condition without buying into as many tropes and stereotypes as earlier examples.
No, it’s not perfect, but it’s progress. If we keep moving at this rate, we’ll be able to have feminist comedians in about another five hundred years or so.