Gema is a 17-year old from Miami, FL. She is obsessed with writing and reading young adult fiction and hopes to one day be a published author.
Nearly every teen movie makes a reference to the “band geek”. He or she wears unappealing glasses, sometimes braces, snorts when he/she laughs and can’t keep a conversation going without: “this one time, in band camp…” The feeble band geek is pushed into lockers like a rag doll and its instrument is shoved into the most unholy of places. As an only child with immigrant parents, the only resources at my disposal to base my high school predictions on were an abundance of teen movies and television shows. Needless to say, I had a predisposed idea of how kids in the marching band were treated. I imagined my best friends, who had all joined the band the summer before freshman year, being bullied by jocks and cheerleaders via locker stuffing and shoves down the stairs. Some of them were worried but were too in love with their music and the possibility of performing at every football game and competition to care.
Once is school, however, I saw that most of the stereotypes had installed unneeded fears for my friends. The band was more than just accepted in my school, it was praised. The members were congratulated on every win and superior rating and most of the students that went to the inevitable losing football games went to hear the band. These “band geeks” practiced as though their lives depended on it. They had four hour practice after school and twelve hour practices on days off with the occasional weekends. No jocks could compare the amount of laps and push-ups they had accumulated. And better still, they were respected for it.
So why the stereotypes? As a person with friends in the marching band and having been in the colorguard myself for two years, I can tell you that not only are they not bullied but they are far away from their stereotypes. Yes, they are excruciatingly dedicated to the marching band, but they still manage to have lives. They have jobs and homework and friends in other social networks like cheerleaders and class presidents. Some of them even have officer positions in some clubs. Marching band is a huge part of their lives but it has not disabled them from breaking out of the mold. Socially inept, lack of fashion sense and oversexed; these stereotypes are either exaggerated, incorrectly categorized or just plain false. The girls in the band still enjoy shopping for dresses and wearing make up. And surprisingly enough, the boys don’t snort every time they laugh or have frail bodies. Those laps and push-ups actually take a toll in some of them. I think teen movies and television shows have rooted themselves in always enclosing their characters in clique boundaries. I think marching band is just one example that shows that these boundaries no longer exist. Either that or my school is extremely special.