Monday, December 10, 2012

Nerding 101

It was circa 1992. My best friend and I were gearing up to go to the Sheraton Hotel. And by gearing up I refer to a folder with every comic we owned carefully written down on grid paper. Each series written in chronological order with check marks near the ones we've owned and highlights over the ones that we were missing. Both of our lists encased in a hollowed out backgammon case. These were our briefcases. It was time to get our comic book convention on. We were nerds, but we never called ourselves that.

The definition of nerd for us growing up was defined by what movies portrayed them to be. Revenge of the Nerds having been the only movie with the word "nerd" in the title it became what we (and society) considered nerdom at the time: A group of horny outcasts, mostly unattractive, who played video games and were into computers.
As much as we associated with a lot of those attributes, we didn't take to calling ourselves, nerds. It was still something that was frowned upon. How dare we be into computers, video games, books, science, and comics? You're either into sports and girls, or nothing at all. Don't even get me started on trying to fathom the concept of a "nerd girl" back then. You had a better chance of convincing us that unicorns were aliens and used their magic horns to probe humans and that's how humanity was given knowledge. IT'S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!

But something interesting happened along the way, wedgie firmly betwixt buttocks. Someone pulled out the wedgie and saved the world. One of us! Movies like The Last Star Fighter, Real Genius, Goonies, Tron, and War Games showcased a nerd who was not only geeking out over his tech but utilized his awesome to better the world, even save it! And, holy crap! He also ends up with the girl? 1up that shit!
Would you like to insert your floppy into my drive?
Yes, it seems like the 80's tossed away the notion of the nerd not being cool cause he's not a jock, but he's cool because he has a sexy brain.  Only one small problem. In each one of the films I mentioned, there came with it a qualifier. The factioning of the nerds. It was okay to be a nerd, but what kind of nerd? Where as the nerds in Revenge of the Nerds all shared a unity in their inability to be cool in society's eyes; the nerds in the other films had to meet a certain standard. Matthew Broderick was a nerd, but he was good looking. His nerd hacker buddies, on the other hand, not-so-much. In fact, go to Google and type in "war games nerd" and this is what you get.
Fat? Check! Glasses? Check! We got our nerds!
Sure you can be a nerd, but geeks, dweebs, dorks, Homers? Well sir, they're just not allowed.  All of a sudden some nerds were better than others. And movies cemented this idea. Hackers, the nerd mecca of geekdom flicks, no one was cooler than Zero Cool. And Acid Burn made every boy (and girl) want to hack the planet for that quick glimpse of nipple. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. But Joey? The guy who just wants to be part of the crew? Well he's not "el1te", he's too much of a... Nerd.

And there it was. The elitism of nerds. Not all nerds were created equal. Sure, you can be into nerd culture, but if you go to a WhateverCon, you better damn well know which planet Mal was born on (it's Shadow) or what Shepard Book did before he was a priest (SPOILERS! He was a double agent), or else they'll tar and feather you and stick you with the scarlet letter of F for faux nerd. Star Wars geeks' eternal hatred for Star Trek geeks and vice versa. Are you a Browncoat? No? Then you're not allowed to like anything by Joss Whedon until you get in the 'Verse!

And as all things in this world. The second a woman shows interest in it, the knuckle draggers round up their 20 sided dice in fear and exclaim, "How dare you!"

Believe it or not folks, there are nerds of the female variety. In fact, there have been female nerds from the start. But for some very known reason, were dismissed. Never really getting their dues on screen, always the love interest of the main nerd or a lesson to young women to not venture to use their brains. Hell, I think Brenda is still waiting for someone to pick her up in Adventures in Babysitting.
Nerd Alert!
Seems like, if you want to be a nerd girl, you better fit into a PVC outfit, but don't you dare try to grow a brain in that thing and start to like the little nerdfest without knowing every frakkin' thing about it, including where frakkin' comes from.

The faux nerd is quite possibly the most disgusting thing about this newfound outlook of nerds. Mainly because the term is mostly applied to women; pretty women. Yup, now even your looks, the same thing that nerds were judged on to begin with, is used against the folks who are just into certain aspects of nerdology.

Nerdhood has become the Alpha Betas to their own Tri-Lambs. They no longer deserve their revenge, they are Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love. Hating on their own for the same reasons they were hated on. And why? Is it the natural pecking order? Did we learn nothing from the years of torment?

Personally, I think we as nerds have forgotten why we started to like the things we did, why we grouped together around an N64 or Dungeon Master. Because they're excellent.  And as a couple of nerds once said, "Be excellent to each other.  And..."
You know the rest.