We don’t talk politics here at Northern Gentleman and we’re not going to start now, but we are going to talk about Justin Trudeau – the man, the myth, the geek, the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada.
Who he is…
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, we had an election here in Canada a while back. The result of that election was that Justin Trudeau, son of the 15th Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau (who had just become the PM when I was born), became our 23rd Prime Minister. But I’m not here to talk about his politics and whether I support them or not (and frankly, I don’t care if you do or don’t either). I’m here to talk about the man and what he means to guys like me.
Who I was…
Growing up, I was into video games, Star Wars, Star Trek and everything thing else that made me a “nerd”. I had a few friends, but we didn’t get invited to many parties, we got bullied a fair bit at school, and were kind of left alone, out on the Island of Misfit Toys. Once I got into university, I put all my nerdery into the closet and became the boisterous, charismatic party boy. People liked me, but they only knew one side of me. They didn’t know that I secretly watched Stargate: SG1 in my dorm room or that, far in the back of my closet, I had a silk tie with the cast of the original Star Trek’s faces on it. I finished university and entered the workforce, staying in my charismatic persona and hiding my geekdom from most people.
Years went by and I started to hear about this part-boy Member of Parliament, a guy not much older than I was, the son of the former PM. Having been friends with a Senator’s son through three years at university, I immediately wrote this guy off as just another entitled, silver spoon waving example of nepotism at work. A few more years went by and then he decided to run for the highest office…
I added him to my Twitter feed and followed his Facebook page, just like I did for the other party leaders. Just following them to get the latest updates on the campaign, not expecting much out of them. That’s when I saw it… a picture of Justin Trudeau posing with a couple people dressed up as Spaceballs characters at Montreal Comic-Con back in 2012. Searching further back through the Twitter-verse I found more pictures, in one, he’s being held by Imperial troops from Star Wars.
“Who is this guy?” I thought “Is he the party-boy MP I heard about in the news a few years ago, or is he a geek? Is it possible that he’s both??”
How he helped me…
If he can be a public geek and still be a charismatic, fun, and popular guy, could I make that leap too? Could I open myself up and get past the social anxiety I’d had for the past 25+ years about being ridiculed and laughed at for liking comics, Sci-Fi shows and video games? Is this what they mean when they say that now is the age of the geek?
The day Justin Trudeau was sworn into office, I moved into my new home in the Ottawa area after transferring to the capitol from my old job in Toronto. I took this as an opportunity to “embrace the weird” as one friend told me to do, and stopped hiding my incredible level of nerdom from my friends and coworkers. My wife was already well aware that I was a closet super-nerd – I’d got her hooked on SG-1 and we’ve watched ST:TNG from beginning to end. My kids (7 and 10) had always thought it was pretty cool that I could play “name that Pokemon” or talk about the latest video games with them.
But letting everyone at work know how massive a geek I was, that was scary. On November 5th, 2015, I bit the bullet and let my weird out. Yes, I love Doctor Who. I even have an autographed picture of Tom Baker to prove it. My father and I once sat in a comic store in London, England and had a casual, 30 minute chat with Nicholas Courtney (he played Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who from 1968 – 89) . At last count, I have 23 Funko Pop! Figurines on my desk at work which run the gamut from Star Trek to Doctor Who to Supernatural to characters from the Fallout series of PC games, and the Avengers of recent Marvel movie fame. In my home office I have my original Atari 2600 and 1985, Generation 1 NES displayed proudly on shelves. As I write this, I’m listening to the soundtrack from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King which I got for buying the collector’s edition (which I stood in line with a few dozen other WoWHeads at midnight in mid-November of 2008 to get on release day).
You know what? I wasn’t ridiculed. Nobody made fun of me or called me a nerd or a geek, at least not in any derogatory sense. The most offensive thing someone said to me once I put my nerdery on display was “I don’t think you have the right Police Box, the Doctor Who has a red box, I’m pretty sure.”, when examining the scale model of the TARDIS (which is and always has been blue) on my desk at work. The stigma of being a fan of Battlestar Gallactica is gone. The Age of the Geek really is here. A guy a few cubicles down from me came in last week and plastered his walls with artwork from Warcraft and Warhammer. I hear coworkers talk about raiding Hellfire Keep (Warcraft) in the lunchroom. I talk to my coworkers about important things like whether the Deadpool movie stayed true to the comic character and why Fallout 4 is a better game than Skyrim.
I know this isn’t all a result of Justin Trudeau being elected. This is partly due to the geeks growing up and becoming the senior people in business and government, the rise of the personal computer, the expansion of the internet, and the beginning of the Millennials entering the workforce. But for me, and probably a few other people out there too, it was seeing Justin Trudeau standing there with Dark Helmet that made me think that I didn’t have to hide my Trek tie anymore.
So, regardless of where his leadership takes us politically, I’ll always think of him as the guy who showed me that it was OK to be a geek. He gave me the courage to push through my anxiety and feel comfortable being who I was, the whole me, not just who I thought I needed to be to avoid being called weird.