Once upon a time, there was a group of outcasts known as “Geeks.” But that was in another century. In this century, the geeks have won. How do I know? Look at the most popular segment of pop culture: television.
Every network and every cable channel has at least one series that touches on science fiction tropes, often without any explanation. Not because they can’t explain, but because they don’t need to. They just expect the viewers to know what they’re talking about – and the audience does. We accept time travel, robots, aliens, high-tech spy gear, space travel, parallel universes, and the myriad fantastic creatures without a qualm. Forty years ago Uhura flipped open a communicator and we were gosh-wowed. Now, a Gossip Girl flips open a sub-compact cell phone, voice activates a phone call, and we all understand it. The future is here, and there’s a little geek in all of us.
Want another example?
Crime shows are a staple of network television. Have been since the beginning of television – Dragnet debuted in 1951, Jack Lord protected our 50th state in the 70s, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. spent a decade solving crimes for the F.B.I. Every one of those series showed us men with a strong jaw and a strong right hook serving and protecting, and detecting. But all that changed in the last few years, with the rise of the geeks.
Currently, NCIS is the top-rated show on television. Sure, it has Mark Harmon – a fine actor and easy to look at. But it also has a female lead that breaks all those last century molds. Abby Sciuto is the ultimate geek girl. She’s smart and competent and she does (gasp!) science. She’s still a girl, with many “girly” attributes, including her concern and connection with her co-workers, but she’s not some tough guy’s secretary or girlfriend. She’s a strong person all on her own, and she isn’t the only one.
Face it, Geek Girls. We’ve won!