Sunday, August 18th marked the Inaugural Geekie Awards at the Avalon in Hollywood, a new awards show organized in order to celebrate the geek genre and its most talented independent creators, artists and filmmakers.
The show brought together a true who’s who of geek royalty, including Magda Apanowicz (Caprica, Continuum, Kyle XY), Ralph Garman (Kevin and Bean show, with the segment Ralph’s Showbiz Beat), Tim Jo (The Neighbors, Castle, Greek), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Grant Imahara (Mythbusters) and Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck), just to name a few.
The show began as the brain child of self-proclaimed uber geek, Kristen Nedopak, and, while slightly narrow in its scope of categories, allowed for some truly genuine moments. For many of the show’s indie winners, it was their first time being recognized for their work on such a scale. A supportive crowd of peers received the heartfelt acceptance speeches well, listening intently until, in true geek fashion, wordier recipients were played off by the Star Wars Cantina song.
The show was hosted by Alison Haislip (Battleground, Nerdist) and followed the traditional Oscar template, adding in a collection of captivating, genre-related skits and videos. The proceedings at the Avalon were also streamed live throughUstream, so the celebration of all things nerd would be shared with any and all who would enjoy it.
The venue was protected from a dangerous ectoplasmic, cryptozoological threat by the League of S.T.E.A.M., which stands for Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management (think the Ghostbusters before the dawn of electricity). Unfortunately, the Southern California cosplaying troupe could not protect themselves from a few minor technical difficulties and a few moments of bad nerd innuendo.
References to geeky staples such as Firefly, Watchmen and Doctor Who flowed in abundance, providing the show with a sense of community through shared jokes that would be lost on those who had not put in enough hours at the comic book store or in front of a television watching certain, prerequisite television series.
Each award category was introduced by brief videos ranging from scenes like a battle royal between Indiana Jones, members of The Avengers, Metal Gear’s Solid Snake and Spaceballs’ Dark Helmet over a briefcase containing a geekie award, to a scene of speed dating with comic book heroes, all of which were thoroughly entertaining. Imagine Aquaman, widely regarded as everyone’s least favorite superhero, getting comically shot by the ladies.
The night’s proceedings began with comic king and high priest of the Marvel “true believers,” Stan Lee accepting a lifetime achievement award.
“Stan’s work has affected the lives of every single person in this room in one way or another,” said Seth Green, who was proud to present the award to Stan, a long time “hero” of his. This sentiment was greeted with roaring applause that seemingly filled the hall, only to have the building’s true applause capacity tested as Stan himself stepped on stage to receive the award.
Now 90, Lee, the legendary founder of POW! Entertainment, wore a soft yellow cardigan and khaki pants, typical for a man of his age. Yet, the electricity in his voice and his youthful grin were enough to lead the audience to still wonder if maybe, just maybe, a costumed hero lay deceptively underneath.
Lee held the ray-gun statuette award proudly to his heart, much like a child would a cherished toy, only stopping to mime vaporizing the front row. He expressed his gratitude for the honor in song, having written a “psalm, or rather, an ode to all things geek” to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” Stan claimed to not know what the true definition of geek was, but was proud to be associated with the people he saw before him, vowing in his anthem to nerd-dom to “stay a geek forever.”
He ended his speech with an exclamation of “Excelsior!” An odd phrase and one that would not mean much to those who grew up deprived of comic-fueled dreams of cape-clad heroics. But Stan knew his audience and, with that simple comic catchphrase, took them all back to nights spent under the covers with a flashlight, desperate to see how beloved characters would escape sure death this time.
Geeks, by nature, aren’t too proud a people; devotion to content outside the mainstream doesn’t really mesh well with an urge to appease public opinion. The mid-show behavior of the presenters and recipients served as a testament to this.
From a seat on the balcony, I witnessed multiple honorees rise from their VIP seats on the main floor to visit friends and colleagues in less distinguished sections. Any sense of award show hierarchy was waived, as guests of honor moved about freely, smiling as they stepped over a cosplayer dressed as Black Canary here and a reporter there.
Even from Haislip’s opening monologue, the goal of the night was clear. “We (geeks) rule the box office, the Internet, everything. It’s time we started celebrating us.” And she has a point – as we move into a more and more technologically centered age, it’s time we celebrate the culture behind the people who got us there.
“It’s no longer about biting the heads off of chickens,” joked Seth Green. “To me, being a geek has always meant a passionate interest in things that aren’t necessarily mainstream, but over the last five or so years there’s been this acceptance of all things geek. It’s good times for us man, we’re kind of winning.”