Decade of the Nerd

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Decade of the Nerd

As MovieBob reflects on the past decade, he comes to the conclusion that it was all about the Nerds.

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Beautifully written. Have a happy new year, and may screwattack treat you well bob. :)

A lot of what he said was totally true but some nerds (like myself) are bigger than others.

A lot of people might give Mario Kart a go but once you're playing Dragon Age for three straight days then you've become the biggest nerd in the room and may or may not get shit for it.

On the other hand, nerd culture no longer belongs to us. They take out what makes it appealing to us and still mock us as they did before only we are left with nothing of our own. Thanks to the financial industry people who can do maths have also gone from being seen as weirdos to only slightly less evil than terrorists.

It is sad to see a culture that we "started" spiral so quickly outside our locus of control. I still get the stares, the same ones I used to get in middle and high school, from random folks on the street for sporting something as innocuous as a triforce on my personal belongings (It's a lucky shirt, back off). Yet these same people stroll the halls with cell phones that are a stone's throw (and some RAM) away from the laptop I haul everywhere. I see a plethora of yuppies carting their own technological tether around with them, but when I ask in polite conversation, "So what are you running?", I get the same vapid, spaced-out look that I often give deer on a late-night drive.

As More Fun To Compute said:

More Fun To Compute:
nerd culture no longer belongs to us.

And I, for one, am sick of getting the stigma while everyone else gets the perks without it.

More Fun To Compute:
On the other hand, nerd culture no longer belongs to us. They take out what makes it appealing to us and still mock us as they did before only we are left with nothing of our own. Thanks to the financial industry people who can do maths have also gone from being seen as weirdos to only slightly less evil than terrorists.

Yeah, there still are some things that will get you marked as a "nerd." Most people respond at least semi-interested when someone says "my major is psychology/history/etc." but when I reply with "mathematics" people tend to change the subject pretty fast. So, most of the normal nerdy stuff is no longer nerdy, but if you go to extreme into a nerdy subject then you actually become nerdy again.

You've got a good point at the end, that nerd-dom has seeped through society, and that some degree of nerdism is accepted.

It's a good thing, by the way, a very good thing. Without it becoming more accepted by the general public, movie producers would never be able to garner the budgets to produce the awesome geeky movies most of want to see. For example, if Spiderman would've flopped, I don't think it'd be likely we would've seen the recent X-men movies or Iron Man, just to name something.

Same with videogames. Talk all you want about how 'casual' gaming is becoming, but without the slow acceptance of the masses, would developers really have grown to today's size with it's big budget projects like Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, Bioshock and CoD4? I don't think so.

But still, don't be fooled. The lower ranks on the Ladder of Nerddom might have been integrated into society in the last decade, but the top ranks are still firmly in their shunned and mocked position.

I have to thank the previous decade of fully bringing my nerdy side to bloom, actually. There were always dormant nerdy sides of me (a fascination with old Storm comics and science as a wee lil' lad), but because of the popularisation of more nerdy things, I got exposed to said those elements (notably fantasy thanks to Lords of the Rings and sci-fi thanks to Star Wars Episode 1, yes I like that movie, screw you) and I was able to shoot through the ranks of Nerddom.

More Fun To Compute:
On the other hand, nerd culture no longer belongs to us. They take out what makes it appealing to us and still mock us as they did before only we are left with nothing of our own. Thanks to the financial industry people who can do maths have also gone from being seen as weirdos to only slightly less evil than terrorists.

Frustrating indeed. Because of us diehard nerds (even though I've only fully grown into nerdhood this decade, I was always a nerd deep down inside), nerd culture survived for long enough for it to be popularised. We made that possible, and what did we get for it? Nothing, just more shun and mockery as before.

Yeah we've seen some wonderful fantasies come true thanks to the popularisation of nerd culture, but at the same time, we can only sit and watch as some other of our beloved nerdy things (Transformers) are being butchered.

Silly bob, this is not the end of nerds. Other people might start dabbling with our hobbies, but that does not make us less nerdy. They might buy the Warhammer 40k box set and fight us with the set that comes in it, but that doesn't change that we bought each of our pieces of our army seperately and painted them with painstaking detail. They might own Wii sports and Karaoke revolution, but that doesn't change the fact that we still play A Link to the Past on the SNES and have a closet full of old video game systems. Kids like to play Pokemon and YuGiOh? I was playing magic back in beta and all my cards have protective armor sleeves. I can't think of any possible normal person comparison to playing Dungeons and Dragons, but I know I enjoy playing in second edition best. Anyone can dabble in fantasy/science fiction, but a nerd makes it an art. We surround ourselves with it. We build the models, paint the miniatures, read the books, watch the movies, collect the comic books. Our hard drive has a 1 Gb porn folder and a 200 Gb Anime folder, and most of that porn is anime anyways. I personally have never built a computer, but many of my friends have, and none of us own a mac.

What is it that makes you a nerd? It's degree. Anybody can have a hobby, we just make it a lifestyle.

In short, the people that use to mock us in high school now live in mortal fear of us, the geeks won, we won.

This is the world, now. And in a world where almost everyone is, by some degree, a nerd, is anyone, anymore?

But Nerd-dom has been diminished. Nowadays we have celebrity nerds, reality nerds and catwalk nerds.

We're marketable. We're sold to. We're a recognised market.

That's what leads to things like
image

While once we could take some pride in our anti-culture status, we are now seen as culture itself. And like any fashion trend, you know it's just going to be until the money moves elsewhere.

The core of the nerd movement (T.R.O.N., Transformers, Star Trek, The A-Team) is being remade for the popular audience - usually at the expense of what makes the series work for us...the intelligent writing and the canon. And in it's place are fart jokes, heroin-chic and muscle-beach.

We're being served what we wished for, but like some kind of sick Aladdin's lamp, they're preverted away from what we dreamed of. And we still go to see them because "It's the closest thing they'll get."

Look at Watchmen. Most of us thought it couldn't be done. Even with Terry Gilliam. And then it was done. And it was accurate (ish). Spiderman was accurate (ish). Batman was crap, but Dark Knight worked...

And it was ignored.

You see, we've been allowed in to the party as long as we stay in the kitchen and they get to rifle through our booze. We still have all the nerd-chic (and nerd-chicks) we ever had, but all that's changed is that we're being acknowledged.

Well, almost all...

You see...like a lot of minorities, we've been sneaking people in for some time. Not those trend-hopping freaks like Mugging Fecks, but REAL people like Sir Patrick Stewart, David Tennant, Claudia Black, Sarah Michelle Gellar.

You see, the one thing we nerds can do is solve problems. Maybe we do still forget little things like washing up and other things, but solving things... We're there.

Bill Gates showed what happens to a nerd with power, and we've been sneaking them past the Jock line for some time now.

Vin Diesel? Nerd. Jack Black? Nerd. Charlie Brooker / Stephen Fry / Dara O Briain? Nerdx3

And nerds in power.

We're not letting you take the reins away from us this time. We spent our time learning how to manipulate. Every nerd you chop down, two more respawn in its place.

Jocks. Your time is fast approaching. You ARE on your way to destruction.

All your decades are belong to us.

Well, I'm a nerd by any objective metric, and I say this without regret:

I am ashamed to be a nerd.

This process of taking what nerds found cool in pop culture and making it mainstream has only proved one thing: being a nerd isn't about the hobbies. That was incidental.

Being a nerd, I'm afraid, is about the rather random sense of entitlement. Feeling that real life people and creators somehow betrayed fictional characters; trying to impose a selective, self-indulgent view of culture against common knowledge; believing against all odds that having an outrageous, uncommon opinion is a mark of genius and a solid personality when it's actually trying to compensate for social alienation by coating it in the pretense that it is some kind of self-imposed lone-wolf lifestyle...

In short, the nerdyness is not in the comic books, or the videogames, or the movies. Everybody has finally tried all those things and liked them. The nerdyness is in what's left of the comic book guy in The Simpsons if you take all of that out.

So, as an experiment, I've spent the last few years trying to de-nerd myself. I still like all this stuff. I still value my mind, popular culture and elite culture... I've just discovered that I don't need to act like a nerd to like nerdy things. Because acting like a nerd is kind of obnoxious and isn't really more likely to make you happy.

So let the flaming begin, if you must, but I believe I'm onto something here.

dont we kick ass?

I was a born nerd and to be honest, it has brought nothing but trouble.

Noelveiga:
snip

So let the flaming begin, if you must, but I believe I'm onto something here.

Hm...You might be, at that. I think it's really just a question of what terminology you want to use, but your core point is valid. We ("we" being nerds, in this case) do act entitled and superior, likely as overcompensation for our ostracization, but is that really what makes us nerds? I'm certain that there's more to it than the stereotype (i.e, we aren't nerds because we like what we like), that's almost more of a biproduct. Food for thought, that.

If you look back into the past century the main stream culture has always been, what I refer to as, the Leech culture. It has all ways fed off of the various sub-cultures, taking what it needs, and gives nothing back. This decade it just happened to be the nerd culture. Eventually the main stream will get its fill and move on to the next thing, leaving the nerd culture will all the left overs that it will have to build back on.

orannis62:
Hm...You might be, at that. I think it's really just a question of what terminology you want to use, but your core point is valid. We ("we" being nerds, in this case) do act entitled and superior, likely as overcompensation for our ostracization, but is that really what makes us nerds? I'm certain that there's more to it than the stereotype (i.e, we aren't nerds because we like what we like), that's almost more of a biproduct. Food for thought, that.

Like so many social things this is a self-reinforcing cycle. You like some things, which makes you socially awkward, which leads to you trying to reaffirm your personality by becoming a nerd-jerk, which in turn makes you focus more on the stuff you like that others don't.

The cycle can start at any link. It could start with you being tiny and not liking sports, it could start with you getting glasses when you're really young, or with you being a self-entitled jerk in the first place.

I'm just saying it may be a good thing to try to break the cycle at the "being a self-entitled jerk" link, no matter where it started for each individual.

It is a nice surprise to laugh at the person who hadn't seen Star Trek and laugh at those who didn't like it and call them the nerds.

But yeah, there is still a strong opposition against us.

It isn't about who is the nerd, it's about what degree of nerd you are now.

yeah I noticed this as well. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and much that was only nerd activities back then is main stream now. Back in the pre-PlayStation if you played video games, you were a nerd, it was as simple as that. I mad a topic about it at one point and one of the replies was along the lines of "Why would someone call me a nerd because I play video games". It reminded me that a lot of the younger forum goers can't remember the days when saying you played video games was a good way to get picked on.

Well at least we still have DnD.

Sephiwind:
If you look back into the past century the main stream culture has always been, what I refer to as, the Leech culture. It has all ways fed off of the various sub-cultures, taking what it needs, and gives nothing back. This decade it just happened to be the nerd culture. Eventually the main stream will get its fill and move on to the next thing, leaving the nerd culture will all the left overs that it will have to build back on.

So we all going to get fuck!? No, snatch that, we already been fucked...but we going to get screw moar.

I hate these idiots today. If this was tv tropes I filter it under the 'Fan dumb' and 'Cowboy Bebop at his computer' tropes.

That was lovely written, but I think we'll still be able to tell a true nerd from not...But I'm a teenager where it seems social standing is still very broken into groups, since every other kid is an arrogant non-accepting dickhead...But anyway, I loved the article, was a great read.

Very insightful. I agree with Noelveiga, above, though -

Noelveiga:
This process of taking what nerds found cool in pop culture and making it mainstream has only proved one thing: being a nerd isn't about the hobbies. That was incidental.

The more mainstream my "nerdy" hobbies get, the more I notice a social divide among those who partake of them with me. I guess previously we just didn't realize it existed, since the hobbies only attracted those with what I agree can best be called a bizarre sense of entitlement.

And you know what? I like being able to game with people who aren't nerds. :P

gim73:
Silly bob, this is not the end of nerds. Other people might start dabbling with our hobbies, but that does not make us less nerdy. They might buy the Warhammer 40k box set and fight us with the set that comes in it, but that doesn't change that we bought each of our pieces of our army seperately and painted them with painstaking detail. They might own Wii sports and Karaoke revolution, but that doesn't change the fact that we still play A Link to the Past on the SNES and have a closet full of old video game systems. Kids like to play Pokemon and YuGiOh? I was playing magic back in beta and all my cards have protective armor sleeves. I can't think of any possible normal person comparison to playing Dungeons and Dragons, but I know I enjoy playing in second edition best. Anyone can dabble in fantasy/science fiction, but a nerd makes it an art. We surround ourselves with it. We build the models, paint the miniatures, read the books, watch the movies, collect the comic books. Our hard drive has a 1 Gb porn folder and a 200 Gb Anime folder, and most of that porn is anime anyways. I personally have never built a computer, but many of my friends have, and none of us own a mac.

What is it that makes you a nerd? It's degree. Anybody can have a hobby, we just make it a lifestyle.

That was extremely well written and i applaude you for the message you put forth. I couldn't have written it any better myself.
It makes me proud thinking i share being a nerd with people such as you, and all others like us.

Enjoy these years, for this decade I fear shall be the downfall of the empire of thee nerd...

Freakin' awesome Bob. Freaiin', damn, awesome.

Hurray for the nerds! Not that I'm completely one. I think I'm a bit geek and a smaller percentage of nerd, but I fully appreciate its benefits for development of human society and culture (and entertainment media of course!).

I think there were lots of things that helped nerd come to power, like PC becoming mainstream, good movies like LOTR, interesting series like Lost, the new extremely popular consoles. and cool Marvel movies like Spiderman.

But one thing that made me realize that it's really cool to be nerd nowadays is The Big Bang Theory. Nerds are funny and (oddly) popular at last!

Have a Happy New Nerd, Geek Year!

Nerds love comic books." Been to a movie theater lately? Where moviemakers once needed big-name stars to get a superhero movie made, big-name actors now fight tooth-and-nail for the honor of donning this or that cape and cowl. Batman and Spider-Man turned indie mainstays like Tobey Maguire and Christian Bale into movie stars. Iron Man completed Robert Downey Jr.'s emergence from the wilderness.

"Nerds do videogames." Yeah, they do. So does my grandma. And my parents. Rest homes stage Wii tournaments. What's left of The Beatles were at E3.

"Nerds are obsessed with sci-fi." The biggest motion picture in the world right now is about mecha-pilots fighting blue cat-aliens.

Yeeeeah, but... there's a world of difference between going to see X-Men and buying the comics, you know? Playing Rockband at a party is cool and fun; playing STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl alone at home is significantly less cool and fun. And c'mon, claiming that because a SF movie is popular this is the Decade of the Nerd is like saying the 80s were the Decade of the Nerd because The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Terminator all came out and did well.

I mean, I agree that nerdy things are not as stigmatised, but it's not like, say, skipping a noisy, crowded party to stay at home and play TF2 in comfort is considered totally normal, either.

Noelveiga:
-snip-

Being a nerd, I'm afraid, is about the rather random sense of entitlement. Feeling that real life people and creators somehow betrayed fictional characters; trying to impose a selective, self-indulgent view of culture against common knowledge; believing against all odds that having an outrageous, uncommon opinion is a mark of genius and a solid personality when it's actually trying to compensate for social alienation by coating it in the pretense that it is some kind of self-imposed lone-wolf lifestyle...

-snip-

I kind of agree and kind of don't. In part I think it might be a generational thing; I've met more Comic Book Guys in the 30s and 40s than among even the most hardcore in my age bracket (20-ish). Either way, most of the nerds I have met and know are pretty cool, it's only a couple who really embrace the attitude you describe.

EDIT: Come to think of it, I agree with you more than I thought I did. Some of even the most lovely nerds I know are inordinately proud of being Not Normal and will periodically make bitchy comments about "the mundanes", or try to paint playing tabletop RPGs/building computers/the ability to recite every line of Star Wars from memory as proof of their special snowflake-hood.

Well, geek chic had a big part in this last decade. After all we're the new leaders of the world.

For me being a nerd will always be about escapism and that hasn't changed the past 10 years. Our methods have been picked up by the public, but our mindset hasn't. Being a geek or a nerd is not about playing video games or watching superhero movies, that's just the surface. Being a geek is a way to deal with the shitty parts of everyday life, and I don't think that has changed.

Very well written and very insightful. You have come to the point that, consciously or not, every social movement aims to become obsolete. Why is feminism so rare now? Because the feminist movement was successful and now women have all the rights of men. Therefore there is no longer need for any advocates.

We, as nerds, have come to the point where our culture is finally being accepted and adopted by the masses. While it may be daunting for some of us to lose the identity that being a social outcast has given, it ultimately leads to every other person seeing that we were, and are, visionaries and that our rejection of popular culture has in fact dramatically changed it.

The nerds of today and yesterday are the leaders of tomorrow. It's unavoidable at this point, so reformation has become necessary. As with all social revolutions, those who fight it will become marginalized like we were before them.

Well, you can also make this argument about anime. Anime in the US had for a long time been seen as just cartoons. Even today people try to lump it together with our sad pathetic american cartoons. Cartoons today don't even compare to what anime is in japan. Right now in the US the only decent stuff we get is from pixar and some few good ones (avatar comes to mind). I've loved anime for about 16 years now, and the whole thing has changed alot in those years. The old days of bootlegged tapes and spotty subtitles eventually led to the dubbed era. We got releases in both english and japanese w/subtitles, and we were more than happy to pay 30 bucks for two episodes of tenchi. The standard 26 episode series was usually released in 8 tapes. This is generally based off the tape legnth, with 4 episodes being a long tape. When DVDs started to come out this was an accepted practice for a while as well, with the exception of ADV who liked to pull some crap with 2 or 3 episodes per dvd for a 10 dvd 26 episode series... yeah, bad ADV, you suck! Eventually it became commonplace to get 4-6 episodes on a dvd with a bunch of extras. Sometimes we would get a 26 episode series on 3 dvds, but that was rather rare and usually those series were kinda lame.

Meanwhile fansubbers went from sending tapes around the country to getting the anime raw digitally and putting the subs either in soft or hardsub format. This is where we get back to the decade of the nerd. Fansubs made by nerds pretty much made a WHOLE lotta anime known in the states. For a long time certain series were only known by their fansub version. One Piece went for the LONGEST time without a release in the US, and that was horribly botched. The funimation version that took over is soooooooooo much better. I support my fansub community, but I also buy the anime I like when it comes out here on dvd. I'm an anime fan, but that's only one facet of my nerd persona.

Really, I turned to anime as a natural progression from my love of D&D and fantasy novels. My early anime collection included Slayers, Record of lodoss war and anything else that looked fantasy type. From there I got hooked on the Irresponsible captain tylor, Evangelion, Ramna 1/2, Cowboy Bebop and others. Suddenly I found myself reading science fiction and watching it on tv as well. I found that anime became a gateway drug to broaden my nerd profile.

Hell, even these days I would say that anime is a nessesity in being a nerd. Even though it's not completely accepted by modern society, you find it alot more than you did back in the late nineties. If you were to walk around in Cosplay back then you would definately get alot of stares and maybe police would be sent after you. Today people take pictures and ask you how you got it made. The anime convention has become a mainstream nerd event. Suddenly, male and female nerds are meeting together in real life. The bleak future of idiocracy may actually be averted. That's just my 2 cents.

Exactly, everyone to an extent is a nerd now, but only the exact same amount of people are willing to admit it as before. because think about it, in most senses everyone has seen the Iron Man movie and most non-nerds liked it too, but then that SAME person who loved the Iron Man movie will still shun someone reading a classic Iron Man comic.

I really hope it burns out; even in the nineties when I played lots of videogames I found the whole culture surrounding those sorts of things really repugnant and wished that the two could be divorced somehow.

And I thought you are just a cynical bastard. This article is just great to get into good mood.
Bob, you rule.

Nerd is our version of the "N-word". We can say it to those who share our culture, but it's offensive if a non-nerd says it.

So I'm confused by the end of this article. How is this the end of the great Nerd Empire?

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