The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
Becoming a geek in
just one easy lesson


December 20, 2001
By Franklin Harris

It isn't easy being a geek.

Consider Comedy Central's new quiz show, "Beat the Geeks" (Monday, 6:30 p.m. Central), in which would-be geeks pit their knowledge of movies, television and music against that of four professional geeks.

Even with the playing field tilted in their favor, contestants rarely emerge with their dignity intact.

Being a geek takes hard work, dedication and a willingness to forego dental work to pay for that new "X-Files" DVD set.

So you want to be a geek? Then come, my Padawan. Much training there is.

(Lesson No. 1: A "Padawan" is a Jedi in training in "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.")

Geeks are not nerds. While many aspire to be geeks, no one wants to be a nerd. While you might want to have Bill Gates' money, you don't want to be Bill Gates.

Unlike nerds, geeks have social skills. They just refuse to use them.

And geeks are interested in more than just sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Who do you think is buying those $35 director's edition DVDs of "Almost Famous"?

So, what does it mean to be a geek?

It means paying $10 more for the feature-loaded Criterion Collection DVD of "Monty Python's Life of Brian" instead of buying the wimpy Anchor Bay release from 1999.

It means knowing that Anchor Bay's more recent releases, like the three-disc limited edition of Dario Argento's "Suspiria," are vastly improved.

It means knowing who the heck Dario Argento is.

(Lesson No. 2: Argento is Italy's foremost living horror/suspense filmmaker.)

It means feeling righteous indignation when remembering that the 1933 version of "King Kong" starring Fay Wray is not available on DVD, but the 1976 version starring Jessica Lang is.

True geeks can drop movie dialog into any casual conversation:

Fritz: Hey, Ygor! Did you see the game last night?

Ygor: Ichiro got on base four times. Amazing!

Fritz: Yes. The Force is strong in this one.

(Lesson No. 3: Fritz and Ygor are both hunch-backed lab assistants in Universal's "Frankenstein" films. Lesson No. 4: Dwight Frye played Fritz in 1931's "Frankenstein," and Bela Lugosi played Ygor in two sequels. Both, of course, starred in 1931's "Dracula," as Renfield and Count Dracula, respectively.)

Geeks believe the book is better than the movie and the original is better than the remake.

(Exceptions: "Jaws" the movie is better than "Jaws" the novel, and 1940's "His Girl Friday" is better than 1931's "The Front Page.")

A geek will drive more than 100 miles to see an obscure, foreign film. A geek will forego sleep to experience every minute of the Sci-Fi Channel's annual "Twilight Zone" marathon (while simultaneously videotaping the "Iron Chef" marathon on Food Network).

But being a geek is a lonely business. No two geeks agree on everything. And just when you think you've found that special someone, you learn the horrible truth: Dick Sargent is her favorite Darren.

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