There's little doubt in my mind that 2005, which will probably go down in history as The Summer Everyone Rushed to Define In the Middle of June, has above all else been The Summer of the Geek. With the possible exception of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, each of the season's blockbusters stem directly from geek culture – and don't tell me that film's gadget porn doesn't do something for the aformentioned demo. On the one hand, you've got a film like Revenge of the Sith, created by geeks/for geeks, manufactured in massive geek labs designed to exclude natural light and nagging women; on the other, a film like Fantastic Four, genetically engineered to exploit the fact that geeks, who build cred amongst themselves based on the items they collect and the cultural experiences on their resume, will spend money on anything. Both work towards the same goal: the promotion and preservation of some kind of massively over-inflated Revenge of the Nerds dialectic. If you don't think that Comic Con is a political event, then you've just not been paying attention.
The 40 Year-old Virgin
taps into the newly-revitalized geek zeitgeist, but it's the first film I'm aware of that essentially intends to puncture the nerd fantasy bubble. Sure, it says – you can spend your entire life playing video games and adding tiny details to obscure collectibles and never opening your action figures – but if you just tone it down a little bit, you could also have sex with girls. More than just a dudecom, The 40 Year-Old Virgin is also a sorely needed geek self-critique.