Pop Culture and Man World

I’m a tumblr person. For those who don’t know what that means, I could surpass this week’s quota for quoting (hehe. Clever.) Louis Armstrong and say “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Instead, I will try and explain, because that is just how I roll. Yo.

Tumblr primarily consists of nerdy obsession. Let me clarify – by nerdy obsession I mean a singular and unimpeached devotion towards certain subjects, people, things, shows, books, whatever floats your bong. So this includes sites devoted to pictures of people engaged in passionate coitus (though with tumblr these pictures have a tendency to be more graphic, HD, well lit, well shot and unprecedentedly enjoyable) to gifs of one-liners from the Ian McKellan show Vicious to gifs of people having sex to links and diagrams about science and feminism. You can like anything, you can explain your dislike for anything in an articulate manner, and practically anything goes. The only rule is that your face should automatically crumple up and your genitalia should tense up every time Benedict Cumberbatch appears on your dash, no matter what your gender or sexual orientation. And Benedict Cumberbatch will appear on your dash every two to three posts. I’m pretty sure there’s a clause against Benedict Cumberbatch bashing in the tumblr terms of agreement.

And tumblr has sort of helped me diagnose a certain… thing I have. I haven’t considered myself an introvert since I came out as a fully functional person in 10th grade. I’m not shy or rude or dismissive of people I meet. I suspect that despite my very deep and hidden discomfort in social groups I’m not familiar with, I often either leave no impression or leave a good one. However, as people get to know me more, it becomes pretty clear that I’m not entirely… nice.

I can socialize with people well enough, for a few hours. After that, I feel the need to scratch my face, wash it, chew my tongue incessantly and finally make up an excuse to leave. According to tumblr, this is a symptom of being an introvert. This, when combined with my … lack of feelings can be a bit troublesome, not really for other people, but for me.

For instance, I am often confounded and intensely uncomfortable when people seem to behave in irrational and weirdly emotional ways. Especially if they behave like that over people they just met. I don’t understand how people in my new college are able to have secrets and fights and intense discussions. How can they possibly fight over stupid things with people they just met a few month ago? The only people I fight with, or have painful discussions with, or sexually charged intense conversations with, are those I have known for at least a year. So I am confounded. Which is alright – that brings me to about Abed level of confusion.

However, when this confoundedness interacts with the previously mentioned need to be rid of human company after a few solid hours of getting-to-know-you camaraderie, it inevitable results in Evil Abed, and Sherlock.

Evil Abed in Action

Sherlock Holmes was and still remains a huge part of who I have come to accept myself as. I had read every single piece of Sherlock Homes literature before I was 14. To put it in real cheesy terms, it opened up a world to me. See, I had by that time learnt to disregard feelings unless they were productive or at the least not unproductive. If feelings got in the way of anything else in my life, including my peace of mind, I didn’t pay attention to them. This is a not oft spoken of fact about human affection – if you don’t water it, it eventually withers and dies, especially if the feelings are regarding someone who’s not a big part of your life. If they are a big part of your life, the feelings can hang around in the background, maybe even manifest itself at times, but eventually die out as well. Human feelings are beautiful but fickle. They are the opposite of cacti.

When I read Sherlock at thirteen, you can imagine my… exhilaration at knowing that there were others like me. That there are people who are stable and functional and able to have lives and friends and love without going bonkers about every crush, every emotion and every single thing that has no value in practical terms. I’m not saying I have never been a teenage girl, or never over-reacted to anything, even past eighteen. I have. But only when it seemed lie there was a logical reason for doing so.

The first time I perceived proper friendship for unemotional people was with Sherlock and Watson. I remember the Adventure of the Three Garridebs for this. Watson got shot in it and the Sherlock Holmes did this.

‘You’re not hurt, Watson? For god’s sake tell me you’re not hurt!’

It was worth a wound— it was with many wounds— to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation… His face set like flint as he glared at our prisoner, who was sitting up with a dazed face.

‘By the Lord it is well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive.’

While a lot of people love this sort of stuff on television because it’s amusing and interesting to see a character behave out of character (which is understandable – it is amusing), I find it beautiful because I always think of it as very much in character. I like knowing that there are others like me, who don’t like telling people about our feelings till it matters. That it’s possible to be intimate with someone at times without losing our whole personality. I would hate to be addressed as “sensitive” or “hyper-emotional” or “a changed, more open person” just because I nearly cried once in the metro when an old friend returned my long and rambling letter with his own long and rambling letter. Ok fine, that was today. But the point is, I didn’t suddenly become less myself just because I felt something and admitted it. I refuse to be less badass just because I may in the future, fall completely head over heels in love with someone.

And I love geekdom and tumblr for this – that I can get excited about minute details in stories and movies and it would be accepted and appreciated. However, I have also noticed that geekdom doesn’t seem to be very comfortable with girls, even if we have the same neuroses and social problems and confusions as your favorite characters. And this is where we segues uncomfortably into Deep Space Fandom Feminism (you’ll get the joke or you won’t, shitheads) area.

I have started to get the feeling that guys spend way too much time with each other. I remember a term we used for groups of people who seemed to become their worst selves the more time they spent with each other – toxic groups.

I have nothing against men having sleepovers and talking about sports and touching each others muscles, drinking their ales, plundering tropic isles or whatever they do when they’re alone with each other. I do however have a problem with men who get so used to hanging out with just men that they forget that the world of women is not a separate one. That sometimes, women exist inside the little cocoon world you created for yourself, and not in another dimension which you can travel to via portal every time you need a mother’s hug or a vagina to do things with.

One of my friends had a theory once that men who live together with other men at a young age tend to be misogynistic at some level. And that especially in boy’s hostels, the rhetoric about women, including individual women they are acquainted with, is often restricted to a sexual sphere with very few exceptions. This means that there is automatically a struggle between what you think of as the rest of your life, and your life when it comes to girlfriends, friends who are girls, etc.

Consequently, as per rhetoric, Spock being friends (or more) with Kirk (who by the way is as emotionally expressive and demanding and utterly disregarding of regulations and logic as any stereotypical woman) is beautiful and amazing and a testament to human-vulcan attachment; while Spock being in love with Uhura, a woman (who on the other hand is actually very emotionally reticent, and is openly demonstrative on very few occasions, and only when it’s something that matters), is termed as improbable, unbelievable and entirely out of character. How is it that male friendship is somehow seen as the norm that is beautiful, while a healthy relationship involving a woman is somehow less believable for the current generation of nerds? And don’t even get me started on the slash fiction between the two. I have nothing against a widespread acceptance of homosexuality, but not to the exclusion of women.

One of the reasons I seriously loved A Scandal in Belgravia in Sherlock was for this reason. Yes, I really think they could have developed Adler’s character a lot more. And yes, that whole Sherlocked bit seemed way too cheesy (not because she was a woman, but because she was a person), but at no point is there a diminishing of the dynamics between her and Sherlock just because she is a woman. What I find particularly interesting and beautiful is that while Sherlock remains the eternal asexual in many ways (though there are of course doubts about that), his regard for her, as well as his willingness to go out of his way to help her is in no way diminished because she’s a woman and a possible love interest. He does the same things for her as he would do for John. Arguably, not enough time is given to her personality in order for the dynamic between the two to grow on us the way Sherlock and John’s has, but unfortunately the show is about Sherlock and Watson. Every other character cannot really be given as much time as those two (same goes for Mycroft and Lestrade).

But here’s the problem, for every Sherlock and Sheldon and Spock making their tentative steps into the social world, which for them is not divided into that of men and women; there are a bunch of friends and TV shows and video games and everyday language and rhetoric that excludes women from the presence of men categorically and purposely. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if and when Sherlock and Spock and any number of geeky, smart, iconic characters seem to have an intense romantic connection or even a primary friendship with a female character, it is seen as betrayal, not by the characters, but by the writers – how could the writers “sell out” and have our awesome male character who is happy without any annoying nagging girlfriend suddenly feel attached to a girl? I would in fact further argue that this is largely based on a misplaced, and rather ignorant sense of victimization about the way the world and women treats them.

I’m tempted to say it’s probably also got something to do with anger – Spock or Sherlock or Sheldon or The Doctor was supposed to be my single bro friends. How did he get a girl? Well, honey, he got a girl because he wasn’t a dick to her and he acted like she was a person and not just something to come back to at the end of a day.

There is nothing I hate more than when people (I say people because both men and women do this) try to equate every slight problem that a guy has to go through to the systemic and ingrained prejudice, harassment and violence that women go through. It is inevitably a way to nip any mildly feminist thought at the bud. “Yes, I may be following you around and harassing you online and at work, but you don’t have to be such a bitch to me and friendzone me. You’re probably doing it cause you’re superficial and don’t think I’m handsome and you don’t understand true love.”

This was actually addressed in a movie which I have no particular feelings for – The Social Network.

Social Network 1

Social Network 2

Social Network 3

Social Network 4

Social Network 5

You know what sucks? I have seen so many tumblr posts where they just post the one gif with his face crumpling at the words “because you’re a nerd”, as though the people who are posting don’t want to even consider what the scene was actually saying – you don’t get to act like an arrogant prick, whether you’re a jock or a nerd or a porn star, and get to keep the girl. You can’t blame someone for leaving you when you’ve been a dick, and when you don’t treat the other person with kindness and consideration.

And so, even with all the signs (Ted, Scrubs, Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory, New Girl, Sherlock, any number of other shows and movies) pointing in the right direction – hey, if you can just get up the guts to consider women as an equal part of not just society, but the world you inhabit, whether that’s geek world, pop culture world, corporate world or Disney world, you could have a more productive and romantically and sexually fulfilling life, and you’ll probably be less frustrated – geeky guys will complain about all the girls (read “whores” and “sluts”) in pop culture who distract from the awesomeness of male bonding.

Because the world of women, as mentioned previously is ventured into only for the sake of motherly comfort, emotional diarrhea that one would never admit to one’s male friends, and sex. There seems to be very little room for arguments about the relationship without accusations of “too sensitive” or “hyper-emotional” or “overly attached”, and there is no room for talking about anything that is the sacrosanct area of “man talk” – sports, pop culture (this is where the fake geek girl meme really gets to me), and quite awfully, politics and social situations.

It sucks because the geek guys were the ones I sort of rested my faith in mankind on…. since most other guys were very obviously dicks to begin with.

There are exceptions though – some guys in college, Wil Wheaton, the vlogbrothers, Charlie McDonnell probably….

Oh well.

Oh and embarrassing secret cause I took too long to finish writing this – I sort of really teared up in the metro yesterday because I reconnected with a friend over facebook. I found out in the metro because I have a 21st century phone now, which has email services. But yeah, I was all teary and shit. This is the downside to 21st century communication I guess.

– Billy

P.S. – I wanted to give you guys this, in honor of my finding it on the interwebs

It's Leonard Nimoy!! As a handsome human person who smiles and dances with his mouth near a woman's ear!! Gah!!
It’s Leonard Nimoy!! As a handsome human person who smiles and dances with his mouth near a woman’s ear!! Gah!!
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