Nerd. A term that was typically associated with a superb intellect coupled with a superbly lacking set of social skills.
Eventually it came to carry some of that same connotation with the addendum that perhaps you were into Dungeons & Dragons and some comic books.
Now it’s liberally applied to anyone who seems to be passionate about any particular subject, be it punk rock or the Harry Potter series. A few of the biggest films of the past decade have been comic book films (The Avengers, The Dark Knight), so it’s certainly no surprise that the idea of nerd culture has garnered acceptable mainstream status.
I don’t think this comes as news to anyone, so I’m not here to talk about the growing acceptability of nerd culture (although I am here, in this magazine, because I am one big-ass nerd.)
But, while I’m here, I would like to address the backlash against this acceptance, however.
From a young age, whether I self-identified or someone else applied it, I was very much a part of nerd culture. It began with a fascination with the movie Ghostbusters (see page 58) and grew to include things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the varsity level of nerd-dom – werewolves. For me, being a nerd wasn’t about trying to claim a place on the lowest rung of a social ladder or forming interests that would earn me exclusion from the social circles of my small, rural hometown, populated by those who would’ve appreciated the music of The Smiths or the films of Akira Kurosawa about as much as Superman would appreciate a Kryptonite enema.
But I didn’t care, because I perceived being a nerd to mean one thing and one thing only: that I was passionate about the things I loved.
More often than not, people love to complain and criticize, because I think most days we find it easier to be cynical and bitter and shitty. We’re so cool and detached and sarcastic and ironic, and it keeps us from being embracing the nostalgic glee that comes with unabashed nerdery.
And by “we,” I mean the nerds. It’s so much more fulfilling and productive to discuss and praise the things we love, to share them with other people. We get it, every lazy joke writer in existence, Nickelback is not a very good band. Instead of taking pot shots at low-hanging fruit, imagine how much more satisfying it’ll be to write a joke about a band you love, like Jawbreaker or Weezer. As a comedian, I think it’s much better when my jokes come from a place of honesty – when they’re about the things I love as opposed to mean-spirited insult humor. Movies are one of the things I’m most passionate about, and I could talk for hours about the ones I love. Instead of pissing and moaning about how much the Robocop remake sucked (passionate about the integrity of a movie based on a crime-fighting robotic police officer? Nothing nerdy about that…), I’d much rather sit down and share one of my all-time favorite movies with someone who’s never experienced it before, all in the hopes that they’ll like it a fraction as much as I do.
I started a podcast called How Have You Not Seen This? (analyzing movies on Internet radio? NERD.) where I show my comedian and writer friends my favorite movies that they’ve somehow never seen. I get to talk about the things I love, and usually by the end I’ve made my guest a fan of the movie in question.
“I perceived being a nerd to mean one thing and one thing only: that I was passionate about the things I loved.”
There’s a large school of thought which asserts that nerd culture should be selfishly hoarded and kept out of the mainstream’s grubby little hands. The same school of thought demands girls who wear Deadpool T-shirts and and are into cosplay should have to pass some quiz to prove their nerd credibility to us nerd dudes, like we’re the neck-bearded kings of some crumbling empire that’s been given new power over the last decade. I think that’s a load of hot garbage. Pop culture artifacts (nerdy or otherwise) are meant to be shared and enjoyed with as many people as possible.
I think it’s awesome that the rest of the world is coming around on this stuff. I’d rather live in a world where someone sees my Legend of Zelda Triforce tattoo and, instead of getting shoved into a locker, I get a “Hey, that’s a pretty dope tattoo.”
Nerd culture belongs to the world, and I refuse to acknowledge the authority of any so-called geek police.
I’m a nerd, you’re a nerd, he’s a nerd, she’s a nerd, we’re all a bunch of goddamn nerds, and that’s f*cking beautiful.
Hey Nerd! Read more about your kind below: