daniel cohen, jason stives and michael dworkis nerd it up …
For this week, as you can see, we have added a third person to our vengeful rebel alliance. Fellow nerd and pro wrestling aficionado Michael Dworkis has joined us as we discuss in this week’s installment: the Misconception of being a Nerd
What is a nerd? Is he the standard pocket-protector wearing Lewis Skolnick type from Revenge Of The Nerds? Are they someone who recites the Green Lantern oath in the shower? Whatever the case may be, there are many types of nerds. I am one of them. But what really gets my double-edged light saber in a knot is when people apply all the nerd stereotypes to me, because there are a lot of unfair ones. Now to be fair, I do fall into some of the basic nerd tropes. For example, I know the name of Jabba the Hutt’s pet lizard (Salacious Crumb), and I like my fair share of ’80s cartoon properties such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ducktales (woo-woo). But I need to vent a little bit on some of the nerd stereotypes I do not fall into.
First of all, I hate when people ask me if I’m going to dress up as such and such for a movie premiere. If people want to dress up, that’s fine, but I’m not one of them. I feel like I would be sweating beyond belief if I wore a storm trooper costume to one of the Star Wars premieres. And I can’t imagine going to the Dark Knight midnight showing in full Joker make-up. I would probably be picking at my face the entire time.
Also, it’s just assumed nerds are experts in all things technology. Whenever some new piece of equipment comes out like an iPad, I get really scared and hide under the bed. I’m the type of person who gets paranoid about sending an email and think I’ve hit ‘Reply All’ or something. So don’t put the technology label on me.
But the stereotype that hurts me the most is the ‘Fanboy’ tag. Now I may be guilty of stereotyping myself here, but ‘Fanboys’ are basically categorized as people who are huge fans of a certain property (most of the time it’s superheroes) and when that property gets adapted to film, they are ready to nit-pick the shit out of it, and are generally never satisfied. Fanboys and nerds are almost always lumped in together. People think that because I’m a superhero nerd, I’m going to complain about a blue dot on Spider-Man’s latest costume being two centimeters off. Not the case! All nerds aren’t that fickle.
I am a proud fan of the nerd culture, but that doesn’t mean I fall into all nerd culture. So please, don’t buy me a Chewbacca costume for Chanukah, alright!
One of the best shows on TV right now, and one of my personal favorites, is The Big Bang Theory. The humor is utterly clever, and for some of the broader geek references, a real riot, but it also paints a very distinct picture of their characters’ model. Being that they love science, they ultimately love comic books and science fiction but they also seem to have too many replica Star Wars props and action figures for their own good, and this is the big fault in the perception of nerd culture.
Look, I’m being frank … I’m also being Jason … but I am a nerd at heart and no bones about that. Do I own two sonic screwdrivers? Yes. Can I recite Back To The Future like an actor reciting Othello? That’s a double yes. Do I know useless geek facts that only come with a cultivation of repeats of certain films (who’s the singer in the Max Rebo band? Sy Snootles, motherfucker!) It’s part of my upbringing, it’s inherently what sets people into geek and nerd culture apart but it doesn’t mean that it’s the basis of living nor does it entail the interest of things considered inherently nerdish.
First, there is the idea that all nerds play Magic The Gathering or Dungeons And Dragons. This is simply not true. In fact, I have never picked up any of those card games in my life. Did I have Pokémon cards in elementary school? Yes, but I couldn’t tell you how to play the game, just that I screwed up and gave away a Charizzard card when I was 10. What a dumbass.
There is also the laughable myth that nerds are allergic to girls and can’t get girlfriends. Okay let’s be honest. By definition, being subjected to our stereotype we ultimately don’t know how to conquer it. Because of that, women seem like exotic creatures to us and we kind of see ourselves as the nomadic version of a dwarf. I knew more than enough people who fall into all the nerd trappings but had girlfriends. Maybe some were not as hot as Mystique of X-Men, but the fact remains contact between two opposing sides of the Force (or genders) can be achieved between people most likely to conduct a Klingon wedding.
The real kicker is the notion that nerds talk about nothing but nerd-related topics. If I did that, I would never get a date in my life — that chip gets turned off the moment I pull out the chair at the restaurant. We do have a standard life, you know? It’s a matter of interests over someone’s life, and yes, some take it to that extreme level. Many nerds like me fall into that category made famous by, I believe, Patton Oswalt, the sophisticated nerd. You know the one. When you go to Comic-Con and you see people like you dressed in costumes, and then respond by saying, “Fucking nerd.” It’s no different than someone who lives and breathes exercising or culinary arts — it’s a makeup of our personality and existence, but it’s not my life.
Four years ago, on a day out with my girlfriend, I wore a TransFormers t-shirt. A plain grey shirt, with the words printed on the front. As a result, the conversation for the day would revolve around my comic books and my enjoyment of cartoons and sci-fi movies, such as Star Wars. She responded by informing me she does not like Star Trek and never will. Where did Star Trek come in?
I asked why she chose this famed television and movie series, to which she replied, “Don’t all geeks like Star Trek? Isn’t that your thing?”
There is a hovering stereotype over comic-geeks, action-figure-dorks, and collectible-nerds. Just because a person likes Star Wars does not mean that same person watches Star Trek. Wearing a T-shirt with a Voltron logo does not mean there is a Power Rangers shirt in the same drawer. Does a World Wrestling Entertainment fan also watch Ultimate Fighter? No. Does a fan of Fraggle Rock also watch The Muppets? No. The notion that a routine buyer of comics or figure dwells in a cave of merchandise is untrue. A collector maybe, but the comic book fan who purchases for recreational reading? No. No geek cave there. These are stereotypes and people love stereotypes. These types of hobbies were once talked about in small circles, never to be spoken aloud for fear of being made fun of. Thanks to implanted imagery of a group of 20-somethings crowded in a dim-lit room hovering over a D&D board, those who partake of such dorkitry opt to keep their games a secret, lest the outside world persecute them for their hobby.
Take into account that comic books have become mainstream in part thanks to animated DVD releases and live-action cinematic productions of well-known superheroes such as Batman and Iron Man, the collective comic-book or sci-fi community is still marked as being that guy living in his mother’s basement surrounded by posters of Aeryn Sun from Farscape and replica props for Stargate SG-1. I do not think the millions and millions who went to the movies to see TransFormers, Batman, Green Lantern, Iron Man, X-Men, and Spider-man are all unemployed and mooching off their parents. Explain Harry Potter to me then. Does this not fall into the same category of nerdiverse? Do not tell me that because it is a best-selling novel, it is exempt from geek status. It is just a new generation of dork. The loyal Star Wars fans that dress up as Stormtroopers and the Potter loyalists who dress up as students of Hogwarts are share the common bond of being loyal to their craft, while the form of entertainment are worlds apart. Throughout the wide nerdiverse of a reality where a man can fly or a far away hidden school trains young and promising wizards, the notion that being a geek in one area instantly makes one a geek in all aspects is simply not true.
Four years ago, my girlfriend questioned my geek-like hobby, and now four years later, as I pick up my monthly TransFormers and Booster Gold comic books, my wife and mother of my twin girls, asks if the newest issue of The Tick has come in. Together, we sit on the couch and enjoy a brief escape into another world.