Given that at least some denizens of the internet assume that I (like all my comrades in academia, especially at a public university system in California) must be a card-carrying Communist, public self-criticism may become a semi-regular blog feature here. (Verily, given how judgmental all that grading makes me, I ought to use some of it on myself.)
Anyway, the other night I was mulling over whether I wanted to watch the documentary film Helvetica, a film that explores the typographical font of the same name. I've spoken to people who have seen it and have really enjoyed it, and yet, I found myself resistant.
On the surface, at least, I put down my resistance to my impression that Helvetica is maybe a documentary best appreciated by font-geeks. While I appreciate a well-balanced font as much as the next producer or consumer of written language, I am not a font-geek.
At least, I'm not a font-geek at present. Maybe my hesitance to watch Helvetica was really a matter of fear -- fear that the film might turn me into a font-geek. Not that there's anything objectively wrong with being a font-geek, but I have lots of other kinds of geekery on my plate at the moment, and I worry that adding one more might be a geek too far. Also, I'm not sure I want to find myself staying up late switching the fonts on all my old web pages, handouts, and manuscripts (which is maybe something that a serious font-geek might do).
But, if I'm worrying that the activation energy to turn me into a font-geek is sufficiently low that an 80 minute movie could push me over it, maybe there's an uglier side to my resistance.
I must acknowledge the possibility that what I really fear is that watching Helvetica will turn me into one of them (i.e., a font-geek), and that my real problem, should this outcome occur, is not that it will be time consuming to indulge in this additional geekery, nor that it will displace some existing geekery in which I currently partake. Rather, maybe I'd have a problem with letting go of my disdain for this other sort of geek that I am not, with their strange ways and odd interests. The emotional distance is similar to what I imagine a non-Trekkie would feel toward Trekkies when watching the documentary Trekkies.*
Am I a person who needs to hold on to disdain for others, even to the point of disdaining myself if I should find myself like those others in my appreciation of the aesthetic qualities of typographical fonts? I hope not.
Having recognized my error in resisting Helvetica and my own potential membership in the fellowship of font-geeks, I affirm my willingness to watch the film, as well as my commitment to hold no other geeks in disdain for the focus of their geekery.
* I haven't actually watched Trekkies, either. I don't dress up in Federation uniforms or go to cons, and I never got too immersed in the shows in the Star Trek franchise that came after the original series, but I acknowledge that I'm at least a low-level Trekkie.