Nerds are in vogue, or nerd culture, or whatever. It’s been well established (see above), but most of the people who throw around the term, “nerd” are still not really part of what one might consider true nerd culture. I’m talking about people who are all of a sudden saying things like, “OMG This show is just nerdy enough for me to like it,” referring to shows like Bones or The Big Bang Theory, which, sure, feature people who embody everything that a caricature of someone who is super enthusiastic about science would be. (These are the same people who consume Zynga games like it’s their jobs).
But seriously, fuck that. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really, really enjoy Bones. It’s goofy. It tries to be really even-handed when discussing controversial issues. And David Boreanaz is basically just playing Angel all over again. Emily Deschanel’s character, however, degenerates from the first season, in which she’s a super-capable genius forensic anthropologist, into a bumbling, handi-capable, socially inept, detective who sometimes looks at bones. Mostly, she’s the punchline of jokes about how socially inept she is – not entirely unlike Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory (TBBT).
I remember when TBBT first aired. I found it streaming online (on the official site, I swear I don’t do any of the illegal hocus pocus new-fangled magic stuff please don’t arrest me). It was way back in December, 2007, and we were in the midst of THE writer’s strike. No new shows were airing, and I wasn’t bothering with any of my classes (who really needs to learn “stuff”?), so I had some free time (I’d already defeated Guitar Hero 3 on hard mode… the night I bought it. I was a music major gamer, stop looking at me). I’d burned through House, which meant that in a pre-Netflix world, I was purchasing and downloading it on iTunes. Yeah, kids, it was a crazy time. So, I turned to the network sites. I started watching everything they had available. And there it was: A show about people who I could identify with; not in the “Oh look aren’t I such a damaged little girl with daddy issues” way, but more in the “holy shit, they’re playing an MMO and making jokes about video games for people who PLAY VIDEO GAMES?!” way. Remember that opening sequence when one of the guys tabbed out in the middle of a raid to sell a rare drop on ebay? That was awesome.
Remember when that shit BLEW YOUR MIND?! No? Okay, I’ll go back to the article, then.
The fact that a show which used to be for people who live on the internet is no longer available for streaming sums up everything that has changed about it. It’s not “for” the people it’s “about”. (The second set of quotes is sarcastic, only the second ones. I have no idea what the first set is doing, they just showed up at my door with a gun and demanded to be in this article). Instead, it’s become a frightening glimpse into what some TV executive thinks nerds are like. Subsequently, the show makes jokes entirely at the expense of the “nerds” who are on it. Sheldon, who would probably be diagnosed aspergers if he were a real person, is easily the most popular character (with Kaley Cuoco in a close second, because boobs). But I often find myself wondering why Sheldon’s so popular (hint: his character is the only one that isn’t ENTIRELY stereotype).
For some reason, the show just stopped making jokes that existed within “nerd culture” and starting making jokes about it, and about the characters’ social deficits. It’s not just lazy; it’s also offensive. Honestly, it’s the same issue I have with Glee. I was that weird kid who read Lord of the Rings instead of paying attention in class, who destroyed the curve on chemistry tests, and was an active member of theater, musical theater, and an a Capella group. I gave up lunch so that I could be in orchestra AND chorus. Yeah, I was that kid. I was a music geek, to my core and until I dove into that world, I was relentlessly picked on by the “popular kids” I’d previously associated with – even though we were supposedly friends. I suppose Glee at least got the safe-haven-in-the-music-department thing right.
Glee is a complete bastardization of everything else that those experiences were for me. It would probably be offensive for me to use the term cultural appropriation in this context, but it certainly feels like some watered-down version of it. I remember being so excited when I saw the teaser trailer for Glee. Again, it seemed like, maybe, something I could really identify with was going to be on TV. I was wrong. Glee tries, at least, to send a positive message, and I feel comfortable saying, because of that, the show is doing something many shows don’t. Unfortunately, even in its attempt to say the right thing, it still manages to be inconsiderate to the people it’s trying to showcase; but I’m off-message. Returning to my original point, since “nerdy” is suddenly a term which is cool, it’s been hijacked to mean something entirely different from what it used to mean.
Being a nerd used to mean you were one of those anti-social people who would rather stay home on a Friday night playing Alpha Centauri than consider for a second that you may want to watch a bunch of people throw up all over a complete stranger’s sofa. It was a derogatory label, sure, but it was ours. Now it’s just a generic term for anything involving anything remotely intellectual – And it just feels a little insulting to read about, hear, and see the people who used to make me so alienated suddenly claiming to be part of a subculture that was mine.
Figure out what your actual interests are and cultivate them rather than posing for some idiot with a DeviantArt who thinks this is what gamer girls should look like. Then get the hell off of my lawn.