Peter came back angry from the Resident Evil 3 panel at the Wondercon convention. One of the key people at the panel was Ali Larter, the actress who is starring in Resident Evil 3, and who also happens to play one of the characters in the comic-book-like TV show Heroes. At the panel, the very first person to ask her a question had probably waited hours in line to have the priviledge of doing so, and as a 30-ish, somewhat overweight man, he looked typical of the sort of person interested in both horror movies and cult television shows.
His question, though, veered straight into insult. As Peter tells me it was something like this: “Heroes is a great show, but your character is the worst one of all. You’re an ok actress, but how come you make the character suck so badly?” The rest of the audience booed him, and took extra care to ask the softball, fawning questions that should be asked of a Hollywood actress reaching out to her fan base.
I think I kind of know where the guy asking the rude question may have been coming from. He was thinking “Ali Larter is so pretty that she will naturally garner adoration and praise; I will stand out from the crowd by not doing so, and demanding that she work harder at her Acting Craft. She’ll be so surprised and impressed that when I approach her afterwards for her autograph, she’ll invite me to have coffee with her and I’ll become one of her best friends and confidants, due to my brilliant insightful questioning alone.”
And yes, that sort of thinking indicates a complete social ineptitude, but that, along with gross obesity and mouth breathing, is part of the geek stereotype, especially for the comic book type. The sad thing is, that while such geeks exist, and exist they do, they stand out so much that they’re the ones that get noticed by the non-geeks, and thus give geeks a bad reputation. These days, the majority of geeks, especially those who had to buy themselves tickets to a comic book convention, have had romantic relationships, lived with roommates, and successfully held down a paying job. They can usually meet your eye and have a polite, coherent conversation. Sure, it’ll go on longer if you happen to know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars, but there are plenty of people who don’t wear the “geek” tag and who could go on all day about their favorite sports team, or the latest fashion trends.
But it’s the freaky fringe of a movement that always gets noticed the most. Sadly, I think Ali Larter will remember Wondercon by the rude geek, and not by all the fans that came afterwards. That was unfair to an actress who’s just trying to build a long-term career, as well as to the relatively normal majority who enjoys her work. And that’s what made Peter, and the rest of the people who booed, so mad.