My friends, I must warn you of a protracted and nefarious scheme to deprive us of all possible enjoyment of our geekish pursuits. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain:
When I was a lad, I read hungrily any science fiction paperback I could lay hands upon. The stories weren’t always very good, but they always brought me (I now recognize) a delicious, illicit pleasure. Everything about the book, from the breezy narration to the hard-boiled dialog to the lurid cover art whispered reassuringly to the reader: “Don’t worry. You’re not being educated, or enlightened, or validated. You’re only being entertained. Shhh! Don’t let your parents know!”
But somewhere a dastardly plan was hatched to make science-fiction respectable. First there came a spate of so-called literary science fiction books that made reprise of every college Freshman Lit. syllabus from Homer to Dickens. Then there came the Academy’s embrace of Science Fiction Studies; suddenly it was possible to take a course in the oeuvre of P.K. Dick at Ivy League colleges! Now we have serious discussion of comic book popcorn flicks in the highbrow news magazines that cater exclusively to the tastes of aging Boomers and yuppie DINKs. We have arrived at a moment when young suits on the subway feel no need to conceal their manga behind a well-creased copy of the Wall Street Journal. O tempora o mores!
I ask you, how am I supposed to enjoy a guilty pleasure when there’s no guilt in it? There’s no getting around it: this is mainstream entertainment now. But if everyone’s a geek, nobody is.