The other day in our Facebook Page, while commenting one picture, I realized about something very important: that folks in EU were not understanding me when I was stating that Loki represented a Geek and Thor a Jock. Simply put, I forgot that this is a cultural distinction that is found in US and Canada (and I simply acted as if every single soul in Midgard knows it). A member of the Army from UK pointed out that in EU there are only popular kids and not-so-popular kids (well, the shadows). And that Geeks are creatures that live in basements, are terribly pale and probably just program or are obsessed with technology.
Well, let’s take a look to “Thor the Dark World” Feature/issue 85, ScifiNow, page 39.
Loki represents the Geek and Thor the Jock in the American culture. Loki is pale, has dark hair, is overlooked and has powers that derive from his intellectual superiority. Loki in the first movie is very much like this. Thor, on the other hand, is handsome, blonde, self-aggrandizing, and loved by everyone. Seen like this, Loki is the Geek and Thor is the high school quarterback in Asgard. (ScifiNow, issue 85, p. 39.)
Have you seen The Big Bang Theory? If you have, you will find here, easily geeks, nerds and jocks. Leonard is the Geek, Sheldon the Nerd, and some of Penny’s boyfriends are jocks. This show is highly stereotypical but it is a way to discover the terms I am referring to.
Geeks and Nerds are different. However many people use the words as synonyms or like to call themselves Geek when they are a Nerd, or Nerd when they are a Geek. Geeks tend to be neurotypical while Nerds can be neurotypical or have some type of Austism, like Aspergers or HFA. In this case, we’ll understand Loki as a neurotypical geek.
In the American culture there is a particular stress on looks and athletics. Those who do not meet the standard, are cast aside. Geeks and Nerds are usually introverts, highly intelligent, who have a great desire to achieve or to excel. Some Geeks also need to fit in the group, the larger group in the community. Geeks and nerds tend to choose intellectual endeavors, or things that need brains more than muscles. In this light, we can see that Loki, from childhood, was more about magic and less about being in the gym. In fact, in Asgard, Magic and Science are the same thing!
Geeks social skills are not so good. We can see Loki in Thor as clumsy. However he gets better from the Avengers. He gets better in “manipulating” people, not in having good relationships with them. If you take a look at the character of Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory (I know, he is a nerd with HFA and an extreme example), you can see that he has the tendency to create “models” of behavior of his pears and use that to “manipulate” them at will. And he does so easily with people who have less intellect than he has. In a sense, Loki is doing the same: he observes the patterns of behavior, and then attacks the weaknesses. This is a way to protect yourself, and it is a way you use when you have lots of brains and not much strength (geek speaking so… yup, I’ve been there).
Though geeks can usually be trusted, and are in general terms nice, when you have bitten too much the geek he becomes “mischievous.” We can see this in Loki, in the first movie. He starts as a shadow, trying to get some attention while trying to fit in. Overlooked, he ends up unleashing all his wit in the Avengers. Though he looks more calm in Thor the Dark World, it is fair to say that he is in full control of his own abilities while he seems to be kind of psychopathic, becoming the master of total chaos.
Geeks and nerds also have a tendency for self-loathing and having an incurable heartlessness. Using the brains too much, and closing up feelings within yourself, and knowing that the society out there does not approve o you makes you start self-loathing yourself. A society that promotes feelings, spontaneity and looks will see suspiciously those who do not enter into the stereotyped norm. Thus, those who are outside it might have a tendency for self-loathing. This is what is happening to Loki: he is out of the Asgardian society, and to make things worse: he is the monster Asgardians hate, a Jotun. Self-loathing is just natural to happen in his case.
Thor is, however, the jock. That is the one with feelings, not-so-intelligent, blond and blue-eyed popular guy all girls want to have during high school (usually the captain of the football team). To be a jock doesn’t necessarily mean to be a bully, though many jocks are bullies. In here we can see that Thor is the “pleasant” jock with Loki, the geek. He extends his wings on him, specially in the first movie, but at times he acts like a bully or makes him feel like just a shadow. While confronting King Laufey, Thor told Loki, “know your place brother,” meaning under his rule.
So, can Loki be considered as a Geek? Yeah, I think so. In fact, he is pretty much the Geek God of Mischief. Thanks to the way Tom Hiddleston has made up Loki in the movies, many people has been able to sympathize with his character, and even identify with him. If you’ve been a shadow, a geek in school or high school odds are that you might like Loki. (Besides, he is damn intelligent.) You need also to add that thanks to how the character has been played, fans who did not read the comics are now starting to do so, specially Loki Agent of Asgard. The resemblance of this young Loki to the actor who plays him is cunning and mischievous. Marvel got it right there to appeal to a part of Loki’s Army, the one who didn’t know much about the character before the movies.
When you consider Loki in the movies and in the comics, you have to consider him under the society that created him: the american one. Even though his persona is based on Norse Mythology, the authors who made him shaped him and his peers under the american culture. Because of this we can find modern stereotypes and clues hidden in the movies and the comics.
When exporting this to EU or Asia the original cultural message that the authors wanted or pretended to convey is lost, along with the cues that can be found hidden in symbols, ways of doing or behaviors of the characters. Though we are all under a process of standardization of culture cues through movies and comics, we must remember that local cues will also be strong enough as to change the view or the thoughts about certain characters. This is what happens to Loki and Thor. The next time you watch the movies, try to think about the american society, maybe then you can discover more hidden clues that you didn’t see before.
If you are interested in the topic you might consider reading:
- American Nerd. The Story of My People. Benjamin Nugent.
- I love geeks. The Official handbook. Carrie Tucker.
IF you are still for it, you can also watch Revenge of the Nerds. I know, it is an old movie… but it helps to pick up the stereotypes. Remember: you pick up the stereotypes (for nerds, jocks and for misogyny in the film). That’s all.
The image of geeks/nerds is getting “better”, so you might have the sexy version on the screens. However, even if it is the sexy version of it, you will find out that it has a flaw: or it is evil, or does something evil, or… etc. You get the picture.