Published on February 26th, 2014 | by Ian Goodwillie


The Bully Kevin Brooker vs. Geekdom & Calgary Expo

Since the inception of The Feedback Society, I’ve written several essays about the good and the bad of geek culture, more often than not focusing on the bad. There are continuing issues with discrimination, diversity, and intolerance that simply must be dealt with for our interests to continue to mature. Unfortunately, there are very few industries or sub-cultures in the world that don’t have the same issues. But we’re working on it. We all are, I hope.

But today, I came across an opinion column in the Calgary Herald by Kevin Brooker directed at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, the guests who attend it, and the fans that flock to it. Suffice it to say that Mr. Brooker is not enamoured with the whole proceeding. To paraphrase, he doesn’t care about science fiction, fantasy, or super heroes in any media form, and cares even less for the people who create them. That’s perfectly fine. Not everybody likes the same kind of things. I’m not exactly big into sports unless a certain green and white CFL team is playing but I certainly don’t look down on people who are. What I take issue with is the essential point of Mr. Brooker’s editorial comments, that he doesn’t get why people would bother with something like the Calgary Expo and seems to be looking down on those that do.

Kevin, that strikes a nerve with geeks.

As members of the Geekdom, we grew up defending our passions from bullies. Period. I don’t know anyone who’s into comics or science fiction or whatever that didn’t have to physically or emotionally defend themselves from bullies who just don’t get it and lashed out rather than trying to figure out why we do. That doesn’t take into account what your home life was like if your father wanted a son who played baseball and instead got one that read comic books or your mother wanted a pretty in pink daughter but got one that played Mario obsessively. Thankfully, I had parents as geeky as I was so there was never a hint of being unhappy with my moving thoroughly into the land of Geekdom.  But not everyone is so lucky.

Make no mistake; Mr. Brooker is a bully. I know little about the man and try to not make assumptions but I can’t shake the feeling he shoved more than a few geeks in lockers back in his halcyon high school days. Columns like this probably help him recapture a little of that lost glory. He masks his bullying mentality in an opinion piece in a newspaper, giving it a sense of fact over fiction. But the unmistakable undertones are there. He doesn’t like what I like so it’s stupid and he’s going to write a snarky opinion piece devoid of any substantive point about it. Because if you don’t have a real point to make, mask it in obnoxious snark and hope no one notices. I’ve been pulling that stunt for years.

Read the column here.

Go ahead. You’ll see quite quickly that the whole point of it is that he doesn’t like what the Calgary Expo stands for and that’s quite literally it. Well, what he perceives the Calgary Expo as, at least, and his perception is sadly limited at best.

What he sees at the Calgary Expo is a pack of star-struck fans looking to touch fame. What he misses is the community. When you spend your day defending yourself and what you love to a pack of jocks looking to mess you up, finding a group of people who get you and care about the same things you do means the world. To be blunt, it keeps you alive. We converge on conventions not as star-struck rubes getting fleeced by out of work actors and suspect creators but as a community of fans saying thank you to people who gave us something that means everything to us. I’ve have seen people break down crying when meeting an actor because they connected through a performance that gave that person hope when they were in a dark, scary place.

Allow me to put this the best way I can, Mr. Brooker, without malice or disrespect meant, but we do live in a culture that encourages differing opinions so I offer you mine. I could not possibly care less about what you think of me, Geekdom, or the Calgary Expo. We learned long ago at the hands of ignorant bullies like you to stop caring about what ignorant bullies like you think. We don’t require your validation to exist or enjoy what you enjoy. And I can virtually guarantee that 90% of the actors and creators you maligned in your column have done more of substance in their careers and personal lives than you have or ever will.

Come down to the Calgary Expo, Mr. Brooker. Check out our Geekdom and see what we’re all about. But I know you won’t because it’s easier for bullies to remain ignorant.

He doesn’t like it.

He doesn’t get it.

He doesn’t want to.

Becoming enlightened and gaining some understanding of the kid you just shoved in a locker comes with guilt. And we can’t have that, can we? I just hope you can continue writing such poorly reasoned snark while being jostled atop your high and mighty horse as we plebeians grovel and cast dollars at the feet of our undeserved heroes.


I’ll be there with my family whether you are or not, and enjoying ourselves in spite of your ignorance. We’ll also be going to the Calgary Zoo. Got a problem with that, too?

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About the Author

Ian Goodwillie

is an established freelance writer, a regular contributor to both Prairie books NOW and The Winnipeg Review. He also writes two blogs that very few people pay attention to, a Twitter feed no one follows, and film scripts that will never see the light of day. He is very fulfilled by his career choice.

One Response to The Bully Kevin Brooker vs. Geekdom & Calgary Expo

  1. Al says:

    Nice rebuttal. I wonder if guys like him ever had any heroes to look up to – or was ever a fan of anyone he thought would be cool to meet. Myself, unfortunately the decision by Calgary Expo to move to online sales only for passes has destroyed the event for me as I can no longer go because I cannot commit so far in advance and by the time I can, the tickets are sold out (so no John Barrowman and Sylvester McCoy last year, no Karen Gillan this year – after waiting a decade for them to start bringing in Doctor Who actors), so had that columnist gone after topics such as Calgary’s jokingly inadequate convention facilities, or that fact that events like Calgary Expo and San Diego Comic Con (which sold out its 2014 tickets in 90 minutes a couple weeks ago) are fast becoming “secret handshake” events where the general public need not bother paying attention to, then he might have had a point worth considering. But Brooker’s opinions of so-called “geekdom” need to be updated for today’s reality.

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