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Monday, May 05, 2008

Matt R writes:
Q. You may not remember me... But I'm the cool, young, attractive dude who writes dark/funny/hip television (x2) and film (1) scripts.

So, my question is: is there a place for a Cool, good-looking dude amongst the Geeks?
I'm not sure I understand your question. Is it that you think you're too handsome and attractive to be a TV writer?
Q. No, I mean because I'm not a geek. Are there many non-geeks out there in Canadian (and American) television?

Please trust that this is not tongue-in-cheek, but do you think I would be discriminated against for being a cool, good-looking, heterosexual dude?
Um. ... No. You'll probably want to have written more than three scripts in your life before you worry about being discriminated against. But I would say that the average TV writer is more attractive than the average, say, car salesman.

Not only does creative fulfillment does a lot for a person's attractiveness. But there's a lot of selection going on. If you're not a smart, funny, attractive person, you're probably not going to be too busy in the TV world.

Bear in mind that our standards are skewed by working alongside actors, who have unnatural levels of charisma and beauty and coolness. So we call ourselves "geeky" in a sly, self-deprecating way in order not to feel embarrassed. But it's a front, just as TV writers tend to affect extremely casual dress, but it's all carefully thought out. All show people tend to burn just a little brighter.

Real nerds rarely make it in the biz. You can have a successful computer programming career without social skills. You can live in a treehouse and email in your work. Show business is just as much about the show off the screen as it is about the show on the screen.

The rest of the response is left as an exercise.



Matt R, if you're able to write that question seriously, then you probably don't have the introspective depth necessary to be a successful writer. Or at least, not a good one. It sounds like you're fresh from (or still in) high school and still carry the nerds vs. jocks mentality.

I mean, really. How exactly could you be too good looking/non-geeky to be a tv writer? Because you can't concentrate near mirrors? The crew has a tendency to fall in love with you? You're late everyday because you take four hours to condition your hair? You're too busy modelling?

Saying that, I think to be good at anything you have to be a "geek" for that particular thing. Meaning, it has to be an obsession, an overriding passion, or you'll never make it. And if you are that obsessed, and you'll keep writing no matter what, then I'm afraid to tell you that you ARE a geek.

By Blogger Trevor Finn, at 5:27 PM  


For a second there I thought I would have to start watching BSG... Or other stuff with lazers - oops - wait a second, that's hipster territory.

By Blogger The UPbeat Down, at 5:28 PM  

I'm a geek and I'm attractive. Plus I'm Jewish and from New York! If only I'd gone to Harvard, I could've been a showrunner on the Simpsons.

By Blogger Dan Abrams, at 5:45 PM  

It's going to be awful hard getting an agent or taking a meeting if you can't get your head through the door.

By Blogger Cunningham, at 5:50 PM  

Great shows and movies are created by geeks.

Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, etc.

But they are story geeks. Not WoW geeks, or insect biology geeks, or physics geeks.
Many are sci-fi geeks, too. Damon Lindelof met J.J Abrams during a Lost meeting while casually wearing a Star Wars t-shirt.
He got the job.

By Blogger Carlo Conda, at 5:54 PM  

don't be too hard on Matt r. Congradulate him on finding the love of his life: himself.

I am sure he was asking an honest question. If he was really arrogant I don't believe he would ask for Alex's advice at all.

By Blogger jakob, at 6:02 PM  

This is why I read Alex's blog. He will make an effort to answer outsider questions, no matter how ridiculous. Thank you, Alex.

By Blogger Jud, at 6:28 PM  

I dunno, Alex. Maybe Matt should post his photo and we should vote on whether he's too hot or not.

By Blogger Lisa Hunter, at 6:34 PM  


Dan Abrams Wins - the rest of you are just mean ;(

By Blogger The UPbeat Down, at 8:48 PM  

I would discriminate against this dude for being a massive douchenozzle.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 12:22 PM  

I have another format question for you Alex. I would comment on this question, but the very silliness of it goes me to ignore it completely. You get the best email questions!!!!

How would you handle a conversation that switches between two characters without changing descriptions? The scene headings would be the same, but would you even add a body under that when switching back and forth?


By Blogger John, at 9:05 PM  

Great answer, Trevor Finn.

It makes me sad that we live in a society that humiliates and denigrates young people for having intellect, passion and curiosity about the world. I've lived most of my life in North America and I still don't get that aspect of the culture. Can someone please explain it to me? Why is it shameful to be smart?

By Blogger Eme Kah, at 9:50 AM  

Smart isn't the issue, shallow would be what is being slammed here.

I love movies and storytelling more than anything in the world and will talk until the end of time with someone curious about all of the elements involved.

I won't accept, nor discuss with someone the idea that they may be too good looking for the room. This sort of stupid and this is stupid, idea doesn't deserve the breath wasted on it. To ask such a question shows that this person doesn't have the depth (at this point) to get into the skin of his character and make them breath on paper. This person has a world to explore and some growing up to do when they have this sort of question.

A writer writes because he can do nothing else. His stories fight to be told. It doesn't matter if you are George Clooney or Steve Buscemi - the story is what matters.

I have not been in a writer's room, but I can't believe that this person (at this time) would survive two and a half minutes without the wolves ripping him to shreds.

Yes, these comments have been tough. The question deserves tough answers. Armor-like skin is the only thing that keeps you sane in the writing field (or any field where you face constant rejection). Here is where he wipes his bloody nose and decides whether he learns from the situation.


By Blogger John, at 10:43 AM  

"Smart isn't the issue, shallow would be what is being slammed here."

I'm confused bc my post was not criticizing the responses here but rather the fact that the question was posed to begin with. If someone asks a question like that about "geeks" vs. good looks, it's partly bc the culture doesn't appreciate intelligence and curiosity in and of itself.

I always get frustrated with myself when I'm not clear...

By Blogger Eme Kah, at 11:19 AM  

I don't see many people being made fun of for being geeks. Maybe in highschool, but after that, most people grow up.

Being a geek has nothing to do with being 'smart'. Being a geek means you are heavily interested, invested, or involved with a certain thing that you really like.
For example, you can be a Lost geek. Some people are WoW geeks. Some people are Star Wars geeks.
Most of us here are screenwriting geeks (though this sounds strange because writing is a career skill, not a hobby).

However, these people are nt nerds. Geeks are fans, while nerds are so adept at, say, math that it usually comes through a little to much in their appearance and behavioiur.

You can be good at math and science without being a "nerd". What usually makes someone a nerd is being a loner and not presenting themselves well. Yeah, people can usually get picked on if they're a nerd and aren't very social. It's a part of highschool. I cannot imagine this happens at any similar level after you hit 20, though.
Also, one can be a nerd and not get picked on. Remember that guy in computer programming/math/science class who helped everyone with their work and was really funny? Everyone liked him, except people who didn't know him, or bullies.

Calling someone a nerd is offensive when you're in highschool. If someone calls you a nerd after highschool, however, you are pretty much allowed to punch them in the face for being stupid.
You can call people "geeks" too ("you're such a geek!") but it's usually not offensive - it can usually be translatd into "silly" or "goofball".
No face punching needs to be done to people who call you geeks.

By Blogger Carlo Conda, at 1:55 PM  

But yeah, forget nerd and geek - this guy is basically a loser.

By Blogger Carlo Conda, at 1:56 PM  

I'm glad this guy is in Canada. Please don't recommend he move to LA, Alex. We've got plenty of these people here already; They're called actors (most of them think they can write, too!).

By Blogger aldentre, at 4:38 PM  

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