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Why Being a Geek has Become Mainstream

Selina Leboeuf
Staff Reporter
January 14, 2013

Anyone who has either lived through the 1980’s or has seen a teen flick that was made during that time frame has been exposed to the stereotype of “nerds.” In these movies, they usually took the form of a kid with taped glasses obsessed with comic books—one who gets swirlies from jocks on a daily basis.

Adolescents of today often are baffled by this portrayal, and they usually end up dismissing it as Hollywood making things up for entertainment. What kids our age haven’t really experienced is that these dweebs in the movies used to be real. Kids used to run and hide when people found out about their Star Wars action figures, but nowadays people use the same odd collections as a way to brag. The question is, why? How did we turn these twerps from being seen as losers to being deemed cooler than the old bullies from eighties movies? When did this turn into a trend?

In the past five years or so, the number of users on social networks, blogs, and fan bases online have spiked dramatically. We live in the age of information, where everyone is connected with each other at every moment. 'Back in the day,' comic stores weren’t that easy to find, and there were no cardboard cutouts of your favorite characters sold in FYE at the mall.

An article on Cracked.com titled “5 Things Modern Kids Don't Understand About Being a 'Nerd’” raunchily (yet comically) elaborates more on this subject. Basically though, if you wanted to be a nerd in the past, you would have had to really commit. To some people, it seemed like a bit of a strange thing to commit to. But things have changed over the years.

Nintendo themed Converse sneakers are just an example of nerd style.
                        --Hilltop File Photo

Phenomena such as fanfiction, Etsy, and the ability to be connected with the whole world at any given time have opened up new doors for people who are fans of things.  Once people started confessing to strangers online on their blogs about how much they loved Sci-fi shows and themed lunch boxes, everyone started to reach the conclusion that most people really do like the geeky shows and the dorky shirts and the action thrillers.

Soon, people who sell movie merchandise caught on, and slowly, the odd props and memorabilia made it into the popular stores. As a result, obsessing over a movie series or a book trilogy today is much easier now than it once was. Not to mention, superhero movies are growing ridiculously popular—The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, and The Amazing Spider Man all were released this summer alone. Not only is being a geek easier, but it is also more relevant.

However, this widespread trend of nerd culture has caused many long-time nerds to get territorial, which is an odd concept to most people. After all, who says that only certain people are allowed to like certain movies? What qualifies you as a nerd in the first place?

“There’s a girl I know who came in to school with a Superman t-shirt. She doesn’t know anything about superheroes though! She isn’t allowed to wear it,” said eighth grader Michaela Leboeuf.

When asked why her classmate didn’t deserve to sport a superhero frock, Leboeuf replied, “She isn’t a real nerd, she shouldn’t wear the shirt when she isn’t familiar with it. She probably couldn’t even name all the members of the Justice League.”

This defensive mindset seems silly. But as mentioned earlier, nerds didn’t always have credentials. Obsessive fans used to be outcasts; now that they can come out into the world, they may become bitter when casual fans act as if they love the show more than them. But it is a petty dispute regardless. There really aren’t any rules saying who is allowed to like what, and ostracizing people for 'not being a real fan' makes territorial nerds just as bad as, if not worse than, the bullies that picked them in the old movies.

The bottom line is, if you still think you're weird for wanting to go to the Harry Potter Theme Park or for adding another Star Trek tee to your collection, don’t! Embrace your love of geeky shows, because as far as anyone can tell, the internet isn’t going away; unlike thirty years ago, you have nothing to lose.