Documentaries benefit from specificity. That’s never been clearer than in Geek Girls, a likeable doco on – you guessed it – geek girls of all stripes. Director Gina Haraszati interviews pro-gamers and programmers, cosplayers and podcasters, enthusiasts and scientists from a range of cultural and racial backgrounds. Her wide-ranging subjects are engaging and articulate, sharing stories of their fandom and the challenges of their self-professed geekdom.
When we touch on the specifics of these women’s stories – the successes and the sexism – the documentary sings. The documentary’s strongest moment is deeply specific to this story, when an interview subject notes that she expects to attract online hate from GamerGaters and their ilk when the film is released.
Unfortunately, Geek Girls smothers its potential by smothering that specificity. Haraszati struggles to tie these disparate stories into a coherent narrative – understandable! – so instead inserts awkward moments of self-reflection that feel disconnected from the film proper. Self-insertion is totally fine in documentaries when appropriate, but it feels unnecessary here. Equally unnecessary is the way the film clumsily leans on platitudes about “acceptance” and “dreams” rather developing real insights into what it’s like being a geek girl in the 2010s; Geek Girls cries out for more specificity.