The Importance of a Geek Mentor.



Recently I’ve been thinking about when to introduce my son to certain required works in geek culture.  Which of course brings up a debate on what is required and also how many omissions I have from my own cred.  At some point in the future I may do a geek confessions and perhaps shame will motivate me to remedy some of them.  In the meantime I plan how to bring my son into this four color world.

His four year old cousin comes over a few days during the week to be babysat.  At four he is still a baby but growing into a child every day.  Video games are still too hard but he has mastered Netflix.  I have begun to experiment by showing him some geeky movies and TV shows and learning what to do with my boy based on his reactions.  For example, Hulk is not Hulk.  He is Hulk Smash.  Which is completely understandable for a child to think.  That’s what the Hulk says, that’s what he is told to do (or called in this interpretation).  Totally makes sense.  Then through Hulk we get to the Avengers and Spider-Man and the wealth of Marvel cartoons that are available.  He’s learning names and wants to play as his favorite characters in Lego and Disney Infinity games.  Its been a great gateway.  I’m wondering when to introduce some reading but he beat me to it and brings out Little Golden Books with super heroes then asks me to read to him.  Mission accomplished.

Then there is the Godzilla debacle.  I don’t know if his query, “why doesn’t the giant dinosaur just get a gun and shoot all the bad guys?” says more about him or me or society.  Either way a sad day for all of kaiju and the King of the Monsters is sitting the next couple rounds out.

I end up with two thoughts while doing this.  The first is how much I’m enjoying it.  Today he skipped Avengers and went for Power Rangers.  I never thought of adding this to the must watch list but damn if I didn’t get excited seeing Tommy with a brand new group of teens displaying their Dino Thunder powers.  Star Wars is coming soon.  The Super Mario Brothers Super Show has made appearances.  What a great gateway to not only classic video games but professional wrestling as well.  Sgt Slaughter comes out and stands chin to rubber band with Captain Lou.  I’ll just leave this GI Joe DVD sitting right here too.

The other thought is how much easier it will be for the next generation in my family.  Not only because of the internet and streaming media.  But because creating a love of these things is important to me.  My brother loves seeing his son watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I have friends who have bonded with their kids over Star Wars and the Punisher and My Little Pony.  While this obsession with pop culture wasn’t as pronounced with my parents generation.  Comic book readers were basement dwellers.  People who had film or early VHS were strange.  Even worse was an adult who liked watching kids stuff.  Is he stunted?  Is he a pervert?  Thankfully most of society has come around to understand there’s not much difference between remembering all of the Transformers and remembering who played on the 77 Yankees.

But wouldn’t it be so much more fun and more interesting with a guide?  I think of things I missed out on because I didn’t understand them at the time because no one showed me.  I know there were late night horror movie hosts.  Karate and giant monster movies on the weekends. Famous Monsters and Fangoria.  Hell, even understanding the difference between Meet the Beatles and Sgt Pepper’s.  I was alone on all of this.

I liked to read so I bought a comic.  It was good so I bought another, and then more.   I liked to read so I read the TV Guide and was very mad when Avengers on A&E did not mean Captain America.  I had no guide to ease me in slowly so I thought all horror and sci fi were scary, and too awful for a good Christian boy like myself.  There is a difference between an alien from a 1950s Drive In film and Alien.  Yet it was all the same to me because I had no way to learn how to geek walk before I geek ran.

If you have a child, start preparing.  If there’s a kid in your family go ahead and let him/her discover.  “Forget” to put away that Spider-Man DVD.  Leave some all ages comics out.  Find your local channels and one of them should have some good ridiculous Saturday afternoon movies.  Make some popcorn and make some memories.  Sure, the kid could grow up to be a jock.  But dammit that jock will have some cherished geek memories.

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