Geeks on the cusp of respectability

For 2 seasons, starting in 2001 and concluding the following year, Comedy Central ran a game show called, Beat the Geeks, which featured American otakus packing formidable knowledge on a variety of pop culture topics, facing off against regular contestants who were handicapped, that is, lobbed a lot of softball questions relative to a particular geek, so as to even the playing field between the two. To its credit, this program really challenged its geeky regulars with some hardcore interrogation and is a fascinating look a geeksploitation right before "geek chic" took over the world and elevated a culture of outsiders to the mainstream.

Beat the Geeks featured three primary experts in regular rotation: Mark Edward Heuk (The Movie Geek), Paul Goebel (The TV Geek), and Andy Zax (The Music Geek), but through the show's run they always included a wildcard geek, someone with a more specific obsession, i.e, The Horror Geek, The South Park Geek, The Simpsons Geek, — in the episode I have embedded below, they feature a Michael Jackson Geek.

One of the aspects that I find interesting about the show is the shit talking nature of the geeks. These are not timid wallflowers. These are people with a particular skill set and are not afraid to be extremely arrogant in letting you know they plan to wipe the floor with you for daring to enter into their arena of expertise.

It's been 12 years since the show went off the air but as I revisit it, I wonder if it represents the moment we underwent a major cultural shift, where geeks weren't viewed as losers anymore, but as being the vanguard of a whole new aesthetic of cool.