Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fan, Or Geek?

Yesterday I was speaking with someone who said, “Shakespeare fans, or as you call them, geeks.”
I don’t think it’s quite that easy.  I think there’s a difference, I’m just not sure I can explain it.   I know plenty of Red Sox fans, for example, but I’ve never heard some one call themselves a Red Sox Geek.
From where I sit it goes something like this.  A Shakespeare fan knows that there’s Shakespeare on Boston Common, so he goes to see the show.  Likes it, maybe talks about it over dinner with the friends that came with.  A geek wears his Shakespeare t-shirt with a joke very few people will get, live tweets the show, looks for other “geeks” in the audience to bond with (like those that brought Othello to Othello?), and goes home afterward to get on the blogs and talk about the show, and any other topics that come up tangentially, as long as the conversation will continue.
Maybe the distinction lies there, in social circle?  I could be a Shakespeare fan entirely by myself.  I don’t need to hang out with other Shakespeare fans.  I can just read it, see it, like it.  Done.  But I’m not like that, I’m a geek about it.  I needed an outlet for my love of the subject, and when I couldn’t find one, I made one.  And what I’ve found in the intervening years is that fellow geeks have flocked here for the same reasons.
Or, getting back to the sports thing I mentioned earlier, perhaps there is still some level of academic association with the term, confused so often with “nerd” as it is.  Star Wars geek, math geek, theatre geek.  Since I’m clearly on this side o the line I can’t really speak to the other side – anybody want to step up and proclaim themselves a marathon geek or a weightlifting geek?
What do you folks think?  When asked, in the real world, are you a fan or a geek? How would you explain it?

8 comments:

Garrett said...

I appreciate this distinction you made. I think what separates a 'fan' from a 'geek' definitely has something to do with the social aspects; or, at least it certainly applies to my personal 'geekiness.' I think there is also something about a geek which is comically over-the-top, whether self-consciously or not. I once saw somebody wearing a t-shirt that said, "I'm impossible to date. Like Beowulf" (which I later figured out is sold on Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog); this sort of exorbitance, at least to me, is the clear mark of the geek-- a group I certainly don't mind identification with, at least when it comes to Shakespeare (or, I suppose, Beowulf).

Sarah said...

Hi, in Staunton, where I work for the American Shakespeare Center, and where I earned two Masters in Shakespeare (geekdom, one could say) we define the "geek" as one who doesn't even need a show (social aspect) to geek out. At "parties" here (that would be: interactions with the other grad students AND the actors at ASC which may or may not involve food and beverage) the conversation turns to the rhetoric Othello uses after Iago poisons his mind. Or the effect of tetrameter on the Macbeth and Midsummer scenes. Ultimately, as the grads are welcome to attend the plays (at ASC) gratis throughout their graduate studies, the conversation will turn to a particular line reading(ie, metrical interpretation) and end in a heated argument, but, hm, its always fun. As I consider what I (get to) do for a living, I delight in the number of people Shakespeare still employs--fiscally and geekily. Come see us. I'll tell you where to find those conversations.

Ren du Braque said...

I admire, love, appreciate, adore, worship (sometimes), praise, extol, moonbeam Shakespeare. I am dazzled, amazed, and awed by his works. I'm not sure what I am. :)

ActorFriend said...

Haha! I think you are a geek Ren du Braque. ;)But maybe at the same time a huge fan.

catkins said...

Wikipedia has a nice article on the word geek and lists lots of types, including "literature geek" but, alas, not specifically, "Shakespeare geek." I think in this context, obsessiveness is definitely key.
--Carl

Katja said...

Today it suddenly hit me: I am a Shakespeare Groupie!
I adore him, sometimes without even knowing exactly why; I defend him when other people talk badly about him; I can talk about him for hours; and most importantly: I buy every unnecessary merchandising stuff I can find... (If you need evidence, then you're welcome to have a look at my fridge which is covered all over with pink Shakespearean love quote magnets ;)

Duane said...

I don't know how much if it's a language thing, Katja, but "groupie" does bring with it some sexual connotations you might not be implying :)

Oh, and have you see my unnecessary merchandising efforts?

http://www.zazzle.com/shakespearegeek

:)!

Katja said...

I was aware of it and meant it more like a joke :)

And of course I have seen your merchandising page and it's so hard to resist but unfortunately it's rather expensive having it sent to Germany.