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mygif

But but but! Anyone who is not exactly like you and/or geeks out about different things than you can’t possibly be a *real* nerd!!

*Especially* if they make you feel uncomfortable in some way, say by having lady-parts yet expecting you to treat them like a normal non-sexualized person.

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mygif

Look, I’m not going to lie. I understand where this feeling comes from. It’s the “I was beaten up/teased/humiliated/whatever for being a nerd; now these girls/kids/hipsters/whatever are going around calling themselves nerds, and people LIKE THEM for it, and they haven’t even seen the original cut of Star Wars/watched every available episode classic Doctor Who/read an Avengers comic/whatever”. I get that.

But can’t we just drop it? People like things. People like things that used to be considered super-nerdy. Hell, computers used to be geeks only stuff. And, more importantly, people like things to different degrees, and in different ways. Just let it go, move on.

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mygif

Michael said it really well:

“People like things.”

Than in and of itself says enough, I think.

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Pantsless Pete said on October 13th, 2012 at 2:47 am

Michael hit the heart of it. It’s essentially hipster authenticity arguments in nerd form, touched with more than a little misogyny.

I can also understand it though, it’s also a bit of a backlash to a certain amount of Only Girl In The Room-ism that’s attached to the whole Geek Girl thing which in turn differs from girls who are geeks.

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mygif

I read it a little differently. I instantly thought of a person I’ve known since middle school who spent her school years sucking up to the “mean girls” clique and generally being an unpleasant person. (Since this is the Internet and I know this can’t be taken as a given, I should make it clear that by “mean girls” I mean “girls who actively bullied me and my friends”, not “girls who turned me down when I asked them out”.) Now that nerd culture has become culturally accepted, she’s come out as a huge Star Trek/Stargate/Doctor Who fan, spends a great deal of time liking memes on Facebook, and seeks acceptance among the kind of people that she was so awful to before.

What makes someone a nerd? Is it having certain interests that were once outside of the mainstream, or is it a common experience of social oppression and humiliation that comes from having those interests? I think a case can be made for either definition, but I can understand how people using the latter definition can be offended by people using the former. It goes beyond just hipsterism. It’s not so much an attitude of “I liked it first” as it is an attitude of “Where were you when it mattered?”

However, I agree with Jim’s second point above. The fact that we need to have this conversation is a sign that the comic has issues. It could be making a more nuanced point than, “Girls who like stuff are funny, amirite guize?”, but there’s no way to tell, and that’s… problematic.

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mygif

Morgan, reading your post, I thought of “The Big Bang Theory”. The people you described, who once mocked you and now seek acceptance among you? They are the intended audience for TBBT, and their mindset defines the writing of the show. The four male main characters, the genuine nerds, are all objects of ridicule for their nerdiness. It’s the worst with Sheldon, who is basically portrayed as being autistic, but rather than acknowledge this portrayal of him as such, the show mocks him for it. For a more in-depth analysis of the problems with the Big Bang Theory, check here:
http://butmyopinionisright.tumblr.com/post/31079561065/the-problem-with-the-big-bang-theory

Bringing this back to the main point, the real enemy of nerd culture is not the “impostor” who longs to be part of nerd culture but who doesn’t get it, but rather the “two-face”, who wants to be accepted in nerd culture while also seeking acceptance from those who hate and mock nerd culture.

Incidentally, I rather like the thumbs-up arrows of hers, but they’d be even better if they were thumbs-down arrows. I can see here now, shouting “You’ve been UNFRIENDED!” while shooting down her enemies. Glorious.

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mygif

I guess I fall into the ‘imposter’ group, given I wasn’t a geek until I hit 16, and started buying comic-books. And yet everyone I know tends to view me as ‘the comic-book guy’ in the group.

Essentially, it doesn’t matter how people got to being nerdy, geeky, whatever. Just that they got there, and are wonderful people to communicate with.

Yes, some geeks and nerds are vile people. But that’s true of any cross-populace of people. The best representatives are people who welcome new blood into the mix, and don’t judge them for ‘showing up late.’ From my stance, so long as you’re enthusiastic and pleasant I’ll discuss comics and TV with you 24/7.

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FeepingCreature said on October 13th, 2012 at 9:18 am

I think it partially comes down to the fact that nerds, in general, tend to have an unhealthy love for categorizing people. (It simplifies social interaction and ties in with the rest of their world view). So we don’t _necessarily just_ want to correct the girl because we feel she’s muscling in on our territory, we want to correct her because she’s using the word wrong, damnit, it’s not just a fashion statement but it actually _means_ something specific >_<

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mygif

The mainstream nerdiness is not a recent phenomenon. It’s more than a decade old, at least here in Finland.

I was a computer nerd in junior high in early 1990s, but by the ninth grade, half of the guys in my class were. Heck, we were actually the dominant half. The half that got along with the girls. The rest of the guys formed the “unpopular” block, even though they were more athletic. (Granted, this was not the situation with every class in my school. We had an extraordinary concentration of geeks.)

At the senior high school, the president of our student association was, also, the most gifted programmer we had (and a functionary of the national Linux users’ group) and learning unix was a popular pastime. Even in the Army, the Reserve Officer School was dominated by guys who could discuss the elven culture of Middle Earth while simultaneously compiling a communications plan for an infantry battallion.

Then, in the university, I studied engineering, completely immersed in the world where nerdiness was the mainstream. Even the girls were seriously into it. Today, at work, every single colleague of my age can understand what “42″ stands for. (Granted, my colleagues are engineers, too.)

So, while nerdiness may be fringe, it is the subculture of the successful.

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mygif

I guess I’m the only one who read this not in the context of “what is a real geek anyway” but the context of the weirdly disproportionate animosity people seem to have for women with geeky interests who may or may not be “true geeks” specifically? It seems to be a huge source of shit-stirring and baffling rage.

I’ve never much fathomed that reaction myself.

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Mecha Velma said on October 13th, 2012 at 11:29 am

The only problem I have with this is the image. Usually when you hear some chick say something like this its some ex-cheerleader saying it because she’s doing something totally banal like wearing a large floppy hat or making a goofy face and then claiming she’s “such a nerd”

No. Just No.

Women like that don’t have a god damn clue and it does piss off real nerds. Nerds who could recite Monty Python movies verbatim by the end of High School. The ones that could draw a Species 8472 from memory. The ones that know why you should never forget a towel when travelling.

It does piss us off, and rightfully so, because it trivializes our nerd cred and waters down what it truly means to be a nerd.

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mygif

@Mecha Velma

Not Sure if trolling or genuinely serious.

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SilverHammerMan said on October 13th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I was surprised that DC chose to put that on the back of Batman #13. Seems like the kind of thing to scare away new readers, since they’re literally being insulted.
I get the “imposter” hate though, I really do, and I think we’ve all come to a general consensus, part the misogyny that pervades nerd culture, part hipsterism, and part a sense of perhaps jealousy that these people like what you do and aren’t being ignored/persecuted/whatever like “real” nerds might have been. I think there also might be a general sense of these “imposters” being fair weather fans, “Sure you’re making jokes and watching Doctor Who now, but where were you when the 90′s nearly destroyed comics, huh?”
It’s ugly but it’s understandable, and I hope that we can all move past it eventually.

@Tice with a J
That blog post was great, it articulated what I’ve found subtly about The Big Bang Theory. It also speaker a little to the larger “imposter” culture that we see, and it’s interesting.

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mygif

The whole nerd/jock thing ceases to be relevant post-high school. To the emotionally stable, anyway.

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mygif

The whole imposter thing is a heady mix of oppression fantasy, hipsterism, misogyny, and a tiny bit of ‘okay, this is genuine.’

I’ve seen it fall along two axes; attempts to exclude people who aren’t seen as ‘legit’ being the most common, and ‘this person doesn’t really care about nerd things, but is pretending to do so for some ulterior motive’ being the more rare.

It’s not like the latter doesn’t happen. Big Bang Theory is a good example; Chuck Lorre doesn’t actually care about nerds or celebrating nerd culture, he just wants to claim that mantle and cash in while simultaneously not giving a damn.

But that sort of thing happens at the level of, you know, people in the entertainment industry. More often in real life, it falls along the ‘this person isn’t legit, and we should exclude them’ axes. It often seems to have more to do with cultural signifiers than actual nerdiness. People have argued with a straight face that anyone who can ‘pass’ among the ‘mundanes’ without being an obvious nerd shouldn’t claim the title; if you don’t look and act like Henchman 21 when you go out in public, you don’t qualify no matter HOW many action figures you own.

I’ve also seen anger, like, neck-vein-popping anger, at girl nerds that seems to boil down to ‘you’re pretty and smart and probably have been on dates. Someone passing you on the street might turn to watch you go by. HOW DARE YOU. Why can’t you be like a proper lady, with her neko cap and enormous glasses and Hello Kitty backpack and bad skin and shy voice? You sicken me.’

Now, the STEREOTYPE for the Imposter is someone who pretends to be a nerd and makes sort of a token gesture in that direction but is, in fact, secretly mocking them or trying to take advantage of them. The sorority girls from Revenge of the Nerds, or when other kids in school would ask you condescending, leading questions in tones of superiority in order to gather stuff to mock you with without getting into trouble. But those people don’t really exist in real life beyond the age of 15 or so.

I can see exactly how the development of Imposter Arrow-Girl went, by the way. Something like…

“Well, why don’t we do something, like, one of those girls who is like ‘ohmigod, I’m such a NERD, I’m on facebook, like, all the TIME.’ They’re pretty annoying, right? We could make a villain out of her.”

“Yeah! But how do we animate that. I mean, it would just be a normal girl, right? People like normal girls, and they’re not actually FUNNY.”

“Well, we’d have to supervillain her up some, of course. Like, if she were an ACTUAL imposter, someone trying to infiltrate nerd culture to learn their secrets to use against them.”

“… does that happen?”

“Don’t harsh my process. Listen, we’ll just dress her like a con-goer and give her glasses. And that line about facebook you had, that was great, we put that in her mouth and we’re done.”

“This seems less ‘observational humor’ and more ‘idea that wasn’t used in Fans! because it’s not good enough.’”

“Sorry, I’m already designing our next villain.”

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mygif

Incidentally, I rather like the thumbs-up arrows of hers, but they’d be even better if they were thumbs-down arrows.

I’m pretty sure a thumbs-up arrow becomes a thumbs-down arrow if you turn it upside-down.

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mygif

I do, on some level, understand the idea of frustration with sharing your hobbies and social circles with people who did not need genre interests as a social anchor growing up, and thus coming to suspect that their newfound “nerdiness” is an affectation.

Unfortunately the way this frustration usually manifests itself is the way it always does in small, isolated, homogeneous cliques/communities/countries/etc., that being “I am the final arbiter of who is and isn’t a REAL member of the group, and by the power vested in me by myself, you ain’t it.

And that’s just not acceptable. Worse yet, some people just want that power; they want to recreate the high school they loathed except they’re the ones deciding who sits at the popular kids’ lunchtable now. Meaning they learned nothing from it.

If I’m sick of certain groups pretending to own the words “American,” “Christian,” and “Patriot,” just as top-of-my-head examples, I sure don’t want anyone claiming ownership of “nerd” or “geek” or whatever else.

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mygif

Also, when I convince people to try stuff I like and they end up liking it too? I consider it a small triumph. So if I see somebody who’s not fully read-in on the subculture (which, bad fan that I am, is never as important to me as the work itself) I just assume that somebody else has done my job for me.

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mygif

The picture used here muddies the discussion on multiple levels:

* A woman with what’s considered a “conventionally attractive” body, it’s suggested here, can never even like Facebook or Star Wars. However, if she were a BBW, it would probably be more of “a given” that she were a member of a fandom. And if she were a woman of color, that’s a whole other serving of assumptions and privileges coming into play.
* The use of a woman is probably based on the myth that geeky women “just emerged” over the past 2-3 years. FFS, women were the majority at early Star Trek conventions; Frankenstein was written by a women; Doctor Who’s 1st showrunner was a woman. Women have always been in our communities, end of.
* It’s also playing on the philosophy, mostly used by corporate forces, that more widespread monetization equals more acceptance — the criticism of Big Bang Theory applies here; it substitutes wallowing in stereotypes for promoting “acceptance” of geekdom. More to the point, it takes a set of interests that can be part of a good life for a life sentence-as-lifestyle. Is there any doubt that the show will end with Leonard and/or Shelton becoming “normal” because Penny socialized him?

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on October 13th, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Michael P. “The whole nerd/jock thing ceases to be relevant post-high school. To the emotionally stable, anyway.”

BWAHAHAHA! I’m sorry, that made my day. Here, have my bridge for free, I can’t even bother to haggle.

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mygif

Huh. This post threw me for a loop. I didn’t read (and still don’t) any of the misogyny etc. that all of these posts seem to be reading into it.

Part of my confusion comes from being familiar with the artist, Caldwell Tanner. He certainly isn’t unkind to ladies. So I found the collection of said sketches to figure out what the deal was:

http://www.collegehumor.com/article/6795459/the-six-supervillains-of-nerd-culture

Reading them, I get the joke, and I still don’t see the sexism/nerd rage that all of the previous comments indicate. I think part of that is having the rest of the joke actually there, and not cut out and presented sans-context.

Imposters in nerdom are annoying. And it’s not the people just getting into a franchise. And it’s not the people that failed to be bullied over their nerdy passions. It’s the imposters that go around and pretend to like something, without ever watching/experiencing/feeling impassioned over franchise “X”.

My interpretation (and one that I think the context supports) is that this is a person wearing a Star Wars shirt who has never seen Star Wars. And I found this offense to be genderless. Anyone that’s rocking a superhero shirt that has never seen/watched/read that superhero can be annoying.

What’s most interesting is that most of these posts comment that it’s unthinking cartoons like this that help perpetuate shows like TBBT, and this exact comic is illuminating the type of ‘imposter nerds’ that keep that on the air….with this picture.

I’m not saying the other enumerated issues listed here don’t exist. I’m just saying they don’t exist in this comic.

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mygif

Sheli,

I think one reason the gag here is problematic boils down to, why is The Bro not The Imposter? If it’s a non-gender-specific issue, why does he take care to make it so?

Also, to have a woman as The Executive doesn’t seem to reflect gender representation on the studio level.

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FeepingCreature said on October 13th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

THANK YOU, Sheli Hay. Look: I don’t know if people like that actually exist. I’m not socially engaged enough to run into them yet. But I don’t think anybody here is trying to put down people for being _insufficiently_ nerdy as long as they’re genuinely enthusiastic. I think the enthusiasm for a topic is really what’s at the core of nerddom; in fact, the underlying problem here is probably that it’s a confusion of language, in the sense that it’s not about “being a nerd” so much as “doing nerd” – it’s a verb at heart, not a noun. If you’re enthusiastic and informed about a topic beyond the extent that your social environment would consider ‘reasonable’ or ‘normal’, then you’re nerding. This is important because nerds can make for great conversation partners due to their infectious enthusiasm – so when somebody claims to be a nerd (the category) without actually nerding (the excessive enthusiasm for a topic), then they’re plainly using the word wrong for social gain. And since most nerds tend to be serious about the correct use of language, that rankles twice. Also, I don’t see how there’s sexism in that.

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mygif

I think that all of the six supervillians sex is interchangeable. I don’t think imposters *are* female. Just as *bros* don’t have to be dudes. I think there were six slots to fill, and two of them ended up being chicks and the other four dudes.

It’s more about their actions (which are not gender-specific) then it is about their gender.

Of course, this is all interpretation, and maybe the artist does think X supervillain is X gender, but I don’t see that.

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FeepingCreature said on October 13th, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Also clearly the ultimate nerd comedy is QI.

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mygif

Also clearly the ultimate nerd comedy is QI.

This is some new and fascinating use of the word “comedy” that I have not previously seen.

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FeepingCreature said on October 13th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

This is some new and fascinating use of the word “comedy” that I have not previously seen.

Certainly makes me laugh more than TBBT.

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mygif

The funniest thing about Big Bang Theory is when people get super upset about it and liken it to blackface and minstrel shows.

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mygif

I can understand someone being mad if they feel another person is misrepresenting themselves to get into a group. But the thing is, most of the time someone legitimately does that, they have an ulterior motive beyond “I want to be in this group because it seems nice.”

That’s true whether the group is always talking about Star Wars or college football. If a person pushes their way in, talks about how they think UNC could go all the way this season, and then focuses all of their discussion on one man or woman in particular…yeah, that’s probably the real thing they’re interested in. And in that case, resentment is an understandable and reasonable reaction. That doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to act on it, but I wouldn’t blame you if you see them as an imposter. At the same time, as long as they aren’t actively harming the group in some way, either by causing disruptive drama or derailing discussions because they are ignorant of the topic or uncomfortable with it, it’s usually better to live and let live. After all, the person might find themselves really hooked after a while. And if not, they’ll probably wander away on their own, rather than needing to be expelled.

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mygif

“Imposters in nerdom are annoying.”

No they aren’t. Seriously, I don’t even know why this is something somebody would get even the slightest bit bothered about unless they were FANTASTICALLY insecure and possessed of no small amount of pettiness on top of that. Someone might be a FAKE GEEK! Oh no! So what? Who gives a shit?

As far as why people are attributing some sexism to the cartoon in question it might be because of articles like this:

http://geekout.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/24/booth-babes-need-not-apply/

whereby some guy I’ve never heard of prattles on for an entire article about, and I quote, the “growing chorus of frustration in the geek community with – and there’s no other way to put this – pretty girls pretending to be geeks for attention.”

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mygif

The point ‘the imposter’ is trying to get across, I think, is more about those who have begun to misrepresent their interests/themselves now that ‘nerd culture’ has gained more mainstream acceptance. It doesn’t have to be maliciously motivated for it to bug a sub culture who are defined, to me at least, by how earnest they are insofar as their nerdy interests.

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mygif

“The point ‘the imposter’ is trying to get across, I think, is more about those who have begun to misrepresent their interests/themselves now that ‘nerd culture’ has gained more mainstream acceptance. It doesn’t have to be maliciously motivated for it to bug a sub culture who are defined, to me at least, by how earnest they are insofar as their nerdy interests.”

Okay, but again, who gives a shit and why? I mean, I get that some people become really, really invested in the subculture label they use as part of their self-identity, but at the end of the day somebody who is insufficiently nerdy according to the International Nerd Assessment Standards set down by the U.N. is of zero consequence to you. Or at least it should be, because good Christ I can think of about a million things I care more about, speaking as someone who plays Dungeons & Dragons on a regular basis, then whether there are people out there playing nerd poseur or not. The idea that somebody, anybody out there thinks this sort of thing is actually a problem is…well, it’s not actually all that surprising truth be told, just kind of stupid.

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FeepingCreature said on October 13th, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Yeah, because it’s not as if nerds have some sort of thing for getting hung up about people misusing terms. It’s not like it’s one of the characteristic traits of the nerd archetype – I’m just saying, you’re raging against an incredibly special case of a very general trait.

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mygif

“Yeah, because it’s not as if nerds have some sort of thing for getting hung up about people misusing terms. It’s not like it’s one of the characteristic traits of the nerd archetype – I’m just saying, you’re raging against an incredibly special case of a very general trait.”

Then maybe nerds deserve to have their fandom co-opted by people less socially maladjusted than the True Believers.

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mygif

Geez, I actually like Caldwell when he actually hits (not misses). But this is just…blech.

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mygif

@JCHandsom: No, unfortunately MechaVelma has posted around here often enough that I can say that’s genuine “the only arena of life in which I can feel superior to others is by setting myself up as an authority over who is allowed to join the ‘nerd community’, and pretty women automatically don’t qualify because my deep-seated inner self-loathing assumes that anyone who’s capable of being popular or successful in any other area of life would never care about the same stuff I do. So I assume they’re somehow lying about enjoying this stuff for the express purpose of humiliating me, and I heap misogynistic hatred against them for this crime that only exists in my head.”

The picture in the original post is the tl;dr version of that, prettied up with a sort of “Tee-hee, we’re just joking so anyone who finds our picture insultingly sexist should just lighten up, okay?”

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FeepingCreature said on October 14th, 2012 at 1:30 am

I think there’s a lot of room for reasonableness on this topic, but it’s being crushed under the extremes of both sides – frankly, this is being kind of disgusting. Certainly no benefit of the doubt being given that I can see. Let’s all go step away from the keyboard or something before somebody says something they’ll regret in the morning.

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Quite Incensed said on October 14th, 2012 at 1:39 am

Whoa whoa whoa. MGK, Did you just insinuate that QI is not funny? For SHAME.

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mygif

I’m not saying anything I’m going to regret in the morning, or at any point in the future. Even if we discount the entirely reasonable interpretation that this comic is the same sort of dipshittery being espoused in the CNN article I linked to earlier, the question still remains…who cares if people are jumping on the nerd bandwagon? Or, maybe a better question to ask is why should anybody care what a bunch of thin-skinned, whiny nerds have to say about someone’s fandom purity? Seriously FeepingCreature, your argument here seems to boil down to “People are using the term ‘nerd’ incorrectly to score some sort of nebulous social cred, and that’s wrong, and also nerds are enormous, annoying pedants.” Neither of which are a hill I’d be inclined to plant my flag on, but hey, best of luck.

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mygif

And as an addendum, going and reading the entire article this comic is taken from:

http://www.collegehumor.com/article/6795459/the-six-supervillains-of-nerd-culture

is a really weird mixed bag. On the one hand you’ve got The Pervert and The Alpha Nerd who are both genuinely toxic fan elements (namely the guy who has to be a Creepy McCreeperson and the guy who has to be an insufferable prick about everything and won’t keep his mouth shut) along with The Executive which, okay whatever, nerds are still bitter about Firefly, it’s low-hanging fruit but it plays to the audience so why not?

But then you have three more “villains,” The Bro, The Imposter, and The Youth, all of which are nothing more than some variation of “Likes the same things you do but for the wrong reasons.” Like, is this meant to be some sort of meta-commentary on nerd fandom and the petty tribalism that permeates it? Because half the article seems sincere enough but then you have the other half and if that part is sincere too then it really does go a long way to explain why “real nerds” are as stigmatized as they are.

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mygif

This reminds me of the complaints about yaoi fangirls “ruining” fandoms by watching shows with the “wrong” perspective in mind, and the kind of gamer girls who insist that they’re *real* gamers because they play TF2 and not The Sims. It’s not only sexist, it’s hypocritical when you consider many of these nerds used to be stigmatized for not being socially correct themselves.

And why is The Executive female? What woman is making these decisions at the top at DC, Marvel, Warner, etc? Is Dolores Umbridge moonlighting? It might not have been intentional, but it seems like she’s female to further emphasize that she doesn’t know anything about the stories she’s insisting on.

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mygif

“And why is The Executive female? What woman is making these decisions at the top at DC, Marvel, Warner, etc?”

Well Bonnie Hammer cancelled MST3K, I guess.

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mygif

I’m not sure which circle would count LOLcats as nerdy, but where I come from, the general consensus is that they passed the point of a mainstream interest something like three years ago at minimum. Sure, maybe spending all day on them might be considered nerdy, but not just knowing what one is.

In more topical areas, I’d say it might go further than just xenophobia or misogyny. I won’t deny that both crop up a lot in this business, but there’s a lot of emotions wrapped up in most nerds, and I see some similar reactions to male comic fans who, say, claim to love Deadpool but couldn’t tell you who Weasel or Death is, or who trumpet their love of RPGs but think Planescape is a browser.

Sure, the insults are different, but the core feels similar – and it’s something I’ve felt more than once, something mostly disconnected from from the twinge of annoyance at finding a bad slash fanfic. (Which, admittedly, I went through a phase of really hating before realizing that I’d love them if they was girl-on-girl and moving to quiet toleration, but even then, it was a very different feeling.)

But anyway, I’ve always felt that food was a good analogy for a lot of topics. So, imagine you’re a cook. You make food all the time and take pride in it. You know other chefs and spend time trading recipes and inventing new ones. You go to cooking websites, you know all the terms and complexities, you watch cooking shows, you love it. Maybe it’s a hobby, maybe it’s your job, but either way, you value it quite a lot.

Now imagine that suddenly, cooking becomes in. Cooking channels become watched by everyone. Recipe books circulate everywhere. Famous chefs offer lessons. It’s in the movies, on the internet, everywhere. And you’re happy, because this means that you’re in, too. Your love has finally been validated.

Now, days later, imagine looking at someone on Facebook declaring unironically that they are “such a great cook lol” because they made ramen noodles and toast – and this isn’t just some random idiot, this is something that regularly happens. You’re seeing shows and magazines that used to teach quality recipes being replaced by ones that give lists of the best microwaveable popcorn or fast food. Your favorite communities to talk about gourmet food or good restaurants are now filled with people who consider grilling hamburger to be a challenge.

You’re (mostly) not annoyed because these people are new; you were new once, after all. You’re annoyed because these people are not only new, but they stay there, take pride in staying there, and try to make the whole profession stay there with them. Cooking offered them a gateway, but all they’ve done is loiter outside it. You were never in after all; they’re just there because it’s cool right now, and they’ll leave it the moment someone comes up with gluing lightbulbs to heads or something equally inconsequential. Because that’s all that you’ve worked with and met friends with and devoted time on is to these people – a fad, something stupid they’ll do for a laugh and forget in a month.

Now take all that indignation and frustration and disgust and disappointment, and multiply it by the pent-up vindictiveness of twelve or so school years of bullying, ostracism, and denigration.

Not a pretty picture. Yeah, maybe it’s rude or selfish or petty, but it does seem a lot more complex than the old nerd chestnuts of misogyny or showing off your power level.

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mygif

There is always the next stage, you know?

There is “So you’ve liked “Avengers” and have read a couple of comics after that, huh”

And then there is the TCJ crowd-esque “So you’re a superhero fan, huh”.

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I have a huge chip on my shoulder about anything related to The Comics Journal because of how the people who hung out on their message boards talked about comics.

There was some really, extremely nerdy elitist crap going on for a few years where it was sort of okay to like early Marvel comics for the art, but otherwise… if you read anything other than black and white autobiographical comics or European comic strip collections, you were definitely not good enough to hang out with them.

We would all be imposters by TCJ standards, just because we spent time reading superhero comics. That crap got old fast.

I don’t understand the outrage over “fake nerds” enough to fully sympathize, but whatever… I’m such a scruffy nerfherder. LOL!

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@Sumguy: But that’s based from a false premise–namely, that enthusiasm for popular culture is a skill, and not a personality trait. I know lots of Doctor Who fans who couldn’t tell you who Robert Holmes is, or who haven’t seen any of the classic series episodes. But they really like the show. Deciding to make a scale of that enthusiasm, solely so that you can belittle and humiliate those who are lower on that scale than you are, is bullying. Full stop.

If someone says they enjoy something you do, that should be a cause for celebration, not a point to play “alpha-geek” in the hopes of catching the other person out as a poseur. It’s mean, it’s nasty, and frankly yes, everyone who points out that it most often happens to women, and that this is sexist, is absolutely fucking right.

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FeepingCreature said on October 14th, 2012 at 10:56 am

I think his point is not enjoyment, the point is a form of Dunning-Kruger, a sort of willful ignorance that basically says, “I invested just enough effort in this to learn a few words that I can use to fake out people who consider this a status symbol for some (to me unfathomable) reason”. And, really without wishing to insult anybody, but I can see how that can be seen as a kind of parasitic behavior.

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As the Joker (among others) has observed, if a joke has to be explained, it’s not funny.
As for oppression being essential to nerdism, I’ve been reading comics since I was six. I’ve never gotten the oppression thing (when I was young I was too shy to talk about myself; when I got over that I had friends who didn’t care). I don’t think that makes me any less nerdy on the topic.

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DistantFred said on October 14th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Ducky: The President of DC Comics has been a woman most of the last 30 years, with the current president, Diane Nelson, being a Warner Brothers executive brought in to replace longtime DC Editor/Publisher Paul Levitz and “is charged with leading DCE’s efforts to fully realize the power and value of the DC Comics brand and characters across all media and platforms, while strategically integrating the DC Comics business, brand and characters deeply into Warner Bros. Entertainment and all its content and distribution businesses.”

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In many walks of life, there are people who have a knowledge of a particular subject that far exceeds the norm. Depending on the subject, some of these people are classified as nerds, some as jocks, and some as hipsters.

The key distinction is how these people use the power they have – this knowledge of a subject they are deeply passionate about and well-versed in.

If they use their power to share their enthusiasm and introduce people to the thing they love, they are using that power for good.

If, on the other hand, they use their power to judge and exclude others for not being knowledgable enough or not being interested “for the right reasons”, they are being dicks.

Don’t be a dick.

Also, QI is indeed funny, but I wouldn’t call it a comedy.

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FeepingCreature said on October 14th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

QI is conflicting because it seems to sell itself as a quiz show, but it’s about as much a quiz show as Whose Line – as the saying goes, the points don’t matter. If we go purely by what it actually does, not what it sells itself as in the TV programs, then QI is, in order, an education program, a comedy program, and only then a quiz show.

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@FeepingCreature: I don’t see how Dunning-Kruger gets involved in this. Any hypothetical person who is consciously faking geekery solely in order to gain social credibility is not going to simultaneously think that they’re more knowledgeable and competent than they really are, because they would know they had (in your own words) “invested just enough effort in this to learn a few words that I can use to fake out people who consider this a status symbol for some (to me unfathomable) reason”. That’s pretty much incompatible with the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Dunning-Kruger is more like an old friend of mine who considered himself an action movie connoisseur but said that ‘The Replacement Killers’ was the best action movie ever made, because he just had no idea that Chow Yun-Fat had ever made movies before he came stateside. He was more confident in his knowledge of action movies than I was (I know there’s a ton of great stuff I’ve never even seen) but less knowledgeable. That’s Dunning-Kruger. Someone who knows they’re faking to appear knowledgeable is, by definition, not victim to Dunning-Kruger.

And again, pointing out that should such a person exist, you can understand how people would find them annoying is a false equivalence, because the number of people actually doing this is untestable. There is no way of knowing the difference between someone who is a legitimate ‘Star Wars’ enthusiast who just doesn’t memorize trivia and someone who is “faking” interest in ‘Star Wars’ to become more popular, and most of the people who claim to be able to do so apply their test based on the logic of, “This person doesn’t fit my mental image of a fan, and they’re failing my tests of knowledge about the subject matter, therefore they’re a fraud.”

Which, again, is reprehensible because usually the mental image in question is of a guy, and the tests of knowledge are repeated hectoring over increasingly trivial and obscure details until the non-white male finally gets something wrong or admits they don’t know something, at which point the tester feels that their already-formed opinion is vindicated. It’s a no-win situation for the “outsider”, because the questioner has already defined “a true fan” as “someone who knows everything I know”, and will continue to set the bar higher and higher until they can “prove” the “outsider” to be what the “true fan” already knows they are.

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FeepingCreature said on October 14th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I did say myself that I don’t know if these people actually exist. I haven’t met any; some people in here seem to claim that they have; I don’t know if that’s true.

You’re right in that this is not a straight-up form of Dunning-Kruger; I mainly brought it up as an example of this form of willful ignorance where somebody denies or ignores that there might be more to learn before they can consider themselves qualified.

I’ve thought about it some more and I think what irks the “true nerds” about this hypothetical person is that they’re still comparing themselves against their existing social environment when deciding how very far “out of the mainstream” they must clearly be. And that is something that they do have in common, if they exist, with Dunning-Kruger people – they compare themselves by looking down, not up.

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I look at this and all I could think was “man, if that wasn’t a drawing of a female, nobody would be fucking talking about this.”

Seriously. It’s like sports aficionados talking about ‘fair weather fans.’ You know, people who only get behind the team once they’re in the play-offs and who wouldn’t be caught dead expressing interest when the team’s on a season-long losing streak.

I mean, we could take it as a jab against band-wagoning since nerd shit is trendy, but nooooo, there’s got to be white knighting!

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Oooh, white knighting! Please go on Andrew, I’ve got so many more spaces on my Internet Bullshit bingo card to fill out!

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djangermouse said on October 14th, 2012 at 5:03 pm

if that wasn’t a drawing of a female, nobody would be fucking talking about this.

Yes, that the drawing specifically singles out women for doing this is in fact the thing we are talking about.

That, as you correctly note, this stereotype specifically and consistently singles out women, with no comparable level of anger expressed towards the notion of males engaging in this sort of behavior, is exactly what illustrates the irrational devotion of so many people to excluding women from ‘nerd culture’.

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Now see, if nerds were as smart as they liked to tell everybody they were then they wouldn’t NEED people to explain to them why continuing to reinforce the stereotype that “attractive women who express interest in nerdy things are probably lying about it in order to garner attention” is demeaning and problematic. You’d think that people who so often like to brag about their intellectual acumen would recognize that it is, in fact, a big bunch of sexist bullshit, and that things like that are QUITE POSSIBLY one of the many reasons that “TRUE nerds” have such a shitty rap as unpleasant, narrow-minded people with poor social skills.

But as it turns out, that isn’t really the case at all.

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FeepingCreature said on October 14th, 2012 at 6:21 pm

That kind of seems like a strawman.

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Now see, if nerds were as smart as they liked to tell everybody they were then they wouldn’t NEED people to explain to them why continuing to reinforce the stereotype that “attractive women who express interest in nerdy things are probably lying about it in order to garner attention” is demeaning and problematic.

Kai makes a good point. But it’s also important to consider the source of those stereotypes.

Thinking about this with the help of John’s analysis, which I really enjoyed, I keep coming back to the thought that the issue isn’t so much individual fans as it is the forces driving our fandom economy. I don’t think the analogy of the “fair-weather fan” is the best way to look at this.

Instead I think of musical genre-driven communities like punk, hip-hop and disco. Even if we factor in the idea of bullying as a non-absolute (though telling someone “get over it” is victim-blaming, as recent events have reminded us), one common thread here is that each one began to exist as a safe space. The Rocky Horror community, which I am a part of, exists to this day in large part because of this function. I’m sure each of us can point to a fandom that’s provided this outlet for somebody.

And just like those musical communities, we’ve seen fandom — or, at least, the properties inside them — become more marketable. With that comes the corporate re-definition of what makes them “chic.” And in the particular case of geek-related media, that is indeed a sort-of reversal of course. Let’s consider BBT again: it’s asking us to “celebrate” that there are geeks being portrayed on television while wallowing in the same stereotypes that have permeated pop culture for decades — some of which that arguably helped fuel bullying people have reported in their own lives.

I don’t support shaming any person for liking whatever they want to like. But I do feel it’s fair to question the privileges afforded to them by the larger systems in play. As I said earlier in the thread, it’s wrong that the woman in the “Imposter” pic is defined as one — but it’s also wrong that, for a large amount of people, her fandom will be treated as being forward-thinking, while a woman of a different body type is assumed to be one, in a prejorative sense.

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On the bullying digression: I don’t think telling someone to “get over it” is especially helpful, no, particularly to someone actually in high school. You’ll get no argument from me there.

But a lot of the “nerds” under discussion here aren’t in high school, they’re college age and older. And I am willing to say that if you’re in your 30s and you’re letting what happened to you in high school continue to effect how you interact with other people then you do kinda need to get over it, even if getting over it requires getting some professional help. Not every woman who expresses an interest in your hobby but can’t rattle off Dr. Who trivia like an IMDB cyborg is the head cheerleader looking for an excuse to humiliate you in front of everybody between classes, and to treat them like they are is, I’m sorry, pretty much bullshit.

On The Big Bang Theory: Not liking The Big Bang Theory is fine. I, personally, don’t like the show, but I dislike it because I think the writing is subpar and the characters unengaging. Where a lot of people cluelessly cross the line is when they start talking about TBBT as “Blackface for nerds,” thus trying to compare it to something that was symptomatic of actual institutionalized prejudice and marginalization of a harmful nature.

Basically, a lot of nerds really, really want to cast themselves as a kind of persecuted minority. And to be completely fair, nerds aren’t the only ones who seem to yearn for the allure and social cachet of persecution. Like otherkin, for instance. You want to claim that you used to be an elf in a previous life? Hey, no skin off my nose, whatever turns your crank. If you then, however, want to claim that you are too a persecuted minority because of the Great Elven Holocaust that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and it was soooo much bigger and worse than any silly human holocaust (this is an actual thing I’ve seen someone claim, lest somebody accuse me of hyperbole), then I am going to suggest that you are, in fact, a privileged little shit who wouldn’t know real persecution if it stamped on your face forever.

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@Andrew:

I look at this and all I could think was “man, if that wasn’t a drawing of a female, nobody would be fucking talking about this.”

I take issue with that, because I would be fucking talking about this.

Here’s my point (which I grant is obscured by whatever real or perceived sexism is in the image): It’s ridiculous to suggest people are pretending to be nerds for social favor when the status of being a nerd is not desirable in the first place. Being a nerd is a bad thing, defined not by one’s interests or enthusiasm but by how annoying one is about those interests and enthusiasm. People only call themselves nerds to gently jab themselves and indicate self-awareness of their more obnoxious social habits. The only ones who sincerely embrace the term like some badge of honor are the ones who lack that self-awareness, and think their obnoxiousness is in fact misunderstood charm.

That The Imposter is depicted as a woman is almost entirely beside the point. The point is that the character is ironically inverted–a fake nerd who frankly looks pretty authentic–and so is the premise. (“Oh no, a fake nerd! Someone who won’t talk endlessly about Doctor Who and the Star Wars Expanded Universe! How terrifying!”)

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“That The Imposter is depicted as a woman is almost entirely beside the point.”

Beside your point, perhaps, but the one that everyone else is addressing is important.

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“Beside your point, perhaps, but the one that everyone else is addressing is important.”

I think Jim’s point is valid insofar as even if the picture was of a guy that the comic would still be pretty stupid and worth mentioning as such. The fact that “attractive women can’t possibly be real nerds, they must be after attention/your money/our precious bodily fluids” has been a thing that angry nerds have been espousing for years now (I’ve been hearing variations on this theme long before that CNN article was published) only serves to add an extra layer of problematic associations on top of everything else.

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Not every woman who expresses an interest in your hobby but can’t rattle off Dr. Who trivia like an IMDB cyborg is the head cheerleader looking for an excuse to humiliate you in front of everybody between classes, and to treat them like they are is, I’m sorry, pretty much bullshit.

Agreed, and I don’t believe a reasonable discussion would posit them as such. What I do question — and what shows like Attack Of The Show seem to like to reinforce — is the idea that these kinds of people “validate” fandom or geekdom. Blair Butler takes a backseat to nobody when it comes to comics knowledge – and she’s a good-looking woman in her own right on top of being intelligent and personable – but it’s Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn who were on the bulk of the promotions for the show. That’s a fallacy of G4 as a corporate entity, not of the talent itself (though Pereira was absolutely in a position, for example, to stop Brett Ratner from running Munn’s name through the mud after he left and chose not to do so. That also tells you something about G4′s priorities and chosen constituency.)

You’re also right that the bulk of people in the discussion here are college age and older. But those shows are often pitched to college age and younger. That’s the part of the issue that bugs me, even if the spread of platforms like tumblr and pinterest offset the importance of television as a medium.

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“Agreed, and I don’t believe a reasonable discussion would posit them as such. What I do question — and what shows like Attack Of The Show seem to like to reinforce — is the idea that these kinds of people “validate” fandom or geekdom.”

Serious question…are the nerds in question irate because they think that their fandom doesn’t need validation, or are they upset because people like this do, in fact, make it apparent that you don’t need to possess the negative traits associated with nerddom (poor social skills, bad hygiene, offputting obsessiveness, etc.) in order to partake of the enjoyable aspects? In other words, maybe these sorts of people are validating “nerdiness,” they’re just doing so in a way that makes the “true nerd believers” look worse than they already do when it turns out that an encyclopedic knowledge of Dr. Who trivia does not, in fact, require you to eschew good personal grooming habits and the ability to converse with people about more than Dalek continuity errors.

I mean look, I don’t think any fandom needs validation myself. If you enjoy something then great, it shouldn’t matter to you whether it’s a niche thing or a widespread phenomenon. I do, however, roll my eyes at the idea of people “cheapening” a hobby or fandom by coming into it later, just as I do with people who complain about how they liked such-and-such band before they went mainstream.

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I’m not about to speculate on the motivations of anyone who’s “irate” or not on those terms — my issue lies in that, in purporting to paint geekdom as “chic,” these kinds of shows reinforce existing media tropes related to, for example, body types or spending habits.

I’d be less leery of what shows like AOTS are doing if, for example, it had more representatives from communities of color and/or the LGBT communities and addressed those kinds of discussions sincerely instead of just being about pitching product.

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“It’s ridiculous to suggest people are pretending to be nerds for social favor when the status of being a nerd is not desirable in the first place.”

Honestly, I didn’t read the Imposter as someone who pretends to be a nerd in order to infiltrate nerd society. Rather, I just read it as someone mainstream who devalues the term ‘nerd’ by applying it somewhat overenthusiastically.

I’ve known plenty of folks like that, who might wear a superhero (or star trek) shirt based entirely on that recent movie they liked, or who talk about how they are ‘such a dork’ for enjoying one random tv show – or lolcats, or facebook, or whatever.

Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, by any means. But yeah, I get how some folks get frustrated that their hobbies have gone mainstream, and are occasionally co-opted by the same folks who might give them grief for their interests in the past.

In any case, that’s how I read the cartoon up above. I don’t think it is a veiled attack on female gamers, nor do I think the use of the term ‘villain’ was meant as seriously as Jim seemed to take it.

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WalterKovacs said on October 15th, 2012 at 8:19 am

It’s a mix of:

A – Geek Hipsterdom … I was geek before geek was cool

B – Related to the “there are no girls on the internet” meme … basically a sort of “there are no real girl geeks thing”

C – The whole “geek is cool now” thing sort of redefining what geek is. Just like when something like Punk or Rap went mainstream and there was stuff like Avril Levigne or Vanilla Ice that seemed to be taking advantage of a trend instead of it seeming genuine.

It’s all mostly misplaced repressed feelings and stuff. Most geeks don’t give a crap about “posers”. If they don’t fit into your geek circle they’ll probably just get bounced off like a normal person. Geek is such a wide area that there are different groups of geeks that can’t get along with each other, so it doesn’t mean that, for example, Trekies are the real geeks and Star Wars fans are posers since they claim to be geeks, but can’t keep up with the talks about time paradoxes that Kirk has caused.

The hipster reflex isn’t tied to any specific genre or subculture. It’s just that geeks have the extra “suspicious of women” label there with the various “nice guys complex” dudes that think that the reason they don’t date is that they are a nice guy and women like jerks. So, they project, and make excuses. “I’m a geek, so girls aren’t attracted to me … and that geek girl isn’t attracted to me because she’s just faking being a geek because geek girls are sexy now.”

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FeepingCreature said on October 15th, 2012 at 9:51 am

Kovacs: I think you’re plainly wrong about geeks’ reasoning here.

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JacktheGrin said on October 15th, 2012 at 11:42 am

Smith, are you seriously telling us that you’ve never seen a single picture on the internet of a girl wearing rims minus the lenses, wearing a SW tee and posing with any classic console controller in her mouth, saying that she is “such a nerd lelXD”?

This fair maiden does not need you to rescue her.

“She seems nice.” Yeah, maybe you have a chance. Go for it.

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The glasses without lenses seems to suggest that this is all about authenticity, that her glasses are a aesthetic choice, not a necessity. I mean, I wear glasses to see, I don’t have the option to remove them if they don’t match my outfit. Hell, I’m legally required to wear them to drive.

But who cares? Liking Star Wars or Dr. Who in not a necessity, but is ALSO an aesthetic choice. (Digression: I don’t think a star wars t-shit is particularly nerdy, or at least I don’t think it’s not mainstream. They sell those things at Target.)

No one is superior for enjoying Dr. Who because they started watching Tom Baker on PBS than someone started watching Dr. Who because they thought David Tennant was cute. At the end of the day aesthetic choices are not moral choices, and no one is morally superior for those choices.

I mean, I’ve got a friend who matches this description. She’s a 6 foot tall blond blue eyed Pilates instructor. She got into Who because she thought Tennant was sexy. She’s never seen any of the pre-reboot series. She like the V for Vendetta movie, but was only lukewarm on the comics that I loaned her. She’s not a dyed-in-the-wool nerd. She didn’t spend her high school lunch period reading Pern books.

But who cares? We talk about nerdy stuff. I occasionally buy her comics I think she’ll like. And last year for my birthday she bought me a replica Sonic Screwdriver. If that’s the logical endpoint for, say, 5% of ‘the Imposter’ category, I think that’s a good thing for nerd culture (whatever that is).

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This isn’t about sexism, it’s about a co-opting of “things that once got you beat up” by “people who didn’t mind that you would get beaten up but now see this as a ripe social opportunity”.

Then you can also add in the natural resentment that a lot of people will carry over things like the correlation between physical beauty and social standing and there you have it.

Of course, I doubt there’s any sort of “plan” in place by any of the parties involved, but I don’t see why people shouldn’t “get” to be outraged/angry/annoyed about things like these. In fact, it bothers me a lot more the, frankly, huge amount of “defenders” of the would-be-offenders of nerd culture. Just let people be outraged. A lot of them WERE cruelly bullied by the same guys now wearing captain america t-shirts, imposing our own “get over it” sensitivities shows a frankly worrisome preference for “having the moral high ground” over “basic human empathy”. It’s not like the whiners will manage to even dent the popularization of things-once-nerdy.

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@JacktheGrin: Yes, I have. They’re all photoshops put together by angry guys insisting that this is what women are really like. :)

@FeepingCreature: See above, to some extent; I really think that the “woman who does something mildly geeky while saying ‘I am such a nerd, ha ha’” meme is one really more talked about than displayed. But to the extent that it is true, it doesn’t matter because anyone engaged in “competitive geekery” has someone looking down on them and thinking, “You’re a total lightweight.” If you make a post saying, “I just spent the entire weekend watching ‘Babylon 5′, I’m such a nerd,” there’s someone who’s watching bootlegs of the ‘Logan’s Run’ TV series while beating every Infocom game ever made (because games with graphics are so mainstream) while thinking you’re nothing but a poseur. And that person? They’re being looked down on by the person who rented a cabin in Portmeiron, Wales just so that they can watch every single episode of ‘The Prisoner’ while living in the house he actually lived in. It’s the whole idea that you can ‘beat’ someone at being nerdy that needs to die, not the people who are less nerdy than any given person’s personal bar for how nerdy someone should be. Because by sheerest coincidence, that bar is always going to be set at ‘no less nerdy than me because that person is an imposter, and no more nerdy than me because that person is a loser with no life.’ :)

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JacktheGrin said on October 15th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

@Seavey: You funny guy.

But seriously, I feel the comments of this post, and even the post itself, are largely missing the point of the image. I do think the discussion is worthwhile, though, it’s just hugely missing the point.

It isn’t the hierarchy of nerd competition, it’s the easy mode of attention whoring (a term I use in the classic, gender neutral, sense). It doesn’t happen with just “nerdy” things, it happens with sports teams, guns, cars, etc., and it’s really using the thing to display the person doing the displaying.

An absurd example: the imposter comments about “Nyarlathotep is teh s3xxy, lol i iz a nurd” not to give any sort of appreciation for Lovecraft and his maddeningly unknowable creations, but to receive appreciation for his or herself. A more authentic purveyor of the Great Old Ones would see this comment and ask, “Hey, what HPL story are you reading?” and might suggest some of his other work or similar writers. Sexxynyarlofan1995 would respond “What are you talking about? i block u”.

It’s fashion, not genuine interest.

It kind of does a disservice to someone that is genuinely an entry level fan or nerd.

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“Sexxynyarlofan1995″

Toootally gender-neutral here, yup.

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SexxxxySilverHammerMan said on October 15th, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Of course it’s gender-neutral.

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Halloween Jack said on October 15th, 2012 at 5:32 pm

In general, the labeling of nerd girls as impostors is probably one or both of the following: simple one-upmanship (see the “Alpha Nerd) with a healthy dollop of misogyny on top, and/or bitterness either on the part of old nerds who couldn’t get a date back in the day to save their lives, or on the part of young nerds who still can’t get a date.

And as an old nerd who couldn’t get a date back in the day to save his life, I can finally reveal my shameful secret: even though I yearned for a woman who shared my interests to even the slightest degree, when someone in my dorm volunteered that she too read comics, I froze rock-solid, like an android in Star Trek TOS who gets deliberately fed a logical paradox. It just didn’t fucking compute, and she walked out of my life. What if, man, what motherfucking if. If I could travel back in time, I’d tell my past self 1) it’s cool if you’re having second thoughts about making it with yourself because I’m old and gross, and 2) fucking go for it with this chick, or else I will kill you, continuum-destroying paradox or no. (Plus the usual stuff about lottery numbers and buying Apple stock when it’s dirt cheap.)

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JacktheGrin said on October 15th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Feel free to change it to “KingnYellogotSwag1995″. That should be properly gender neutral, I reckon.

Of course, this is parsley to the steak that was my actual point.

Now I shall sit back and imagine today’s pop culture being obsessed with Lovecraftian lore.

Kanye and Jay-Z -N*ggaz in Arkham. Pickman be Cray

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Alegretto, did you just try to slide the pity the poor MeWoe victim card in there.
I have met plenty of nerds and geeks who were not teenage punching bags. And plenty more including myself who were but got past it. Time to retire this lame excuse in geek culture. It’s not basic human empathy to enable a perpetual whiner child.

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@JacktheGrin: We’re not “missing the point” of the image, we’re saying that the point is wildly inaccurate, exaggerated, and frequently misapplied in an effort to keep fandom ‘pure’, where purity always seems to be defined by the most obnoxiously xenophobic elements. The fact that you had to make up Lovecraftian slash-fic to come up with an example of this supposed trend should tell you something. :)

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Okay, gender neutrality aside. in what universe someone saying something like “Nyarlathotep is teh s3xxy, lol i iz a nurd” can be mistaken for a genuine entry-level fan? By whom?

I get that that’s a reducto ad absurdum, but here is the thing: as soon as you move from such an extreme, the distinction between an ‘honest’ fan and the ‘attention-whorng’ one (for the sake of the argument let’s presume that the second type is a thing, although I have my doubts) becomes really blurry and mostly lays in the eye of the beholder.

Who decides what amount of interest in an object of ‘nerddom’ is enough to pass?
Is it ‘desire to dig deeper and deeper’?
Because then I once again turn to my initial point/example: for someone a shallow comics-fan-in name-only is someone who is only interested in ‘Avengers’-related things, and for others such a fan is someone who has no particular desire to grind through Chester Brown’s 300-pages love letter to prostitution.
No true Scotsman and all.

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JacktheGrin said on October 15th, 2012 at 7:33 pm

slash fic? :/

Ok, forget HPL, let’s switch it to…video games. They’re nerdy enough. (That’s a loaded sentence…) Google “Arrow to the Knee”. Or anything “the cake is a lie” related. You’ll easily find a metric ton of examples of people using these terms in so many ways and it will be pretty obvious that many are using these references without half a clue as to what they actually mean or where they come from. Granted, these are easy examples, but they’re up there with the Avengers movie in popularity.

@Jaelinque: Now I have just purchased Paying for It on Amazon. I took your reference as a recommendation, and I think this is kind of my point re: the nerdiness as fashion. I guess an “authentic” nerd takes discussion and reference as suggestion, whereas “the imposter” would ignore or dismiss, like my absurd and obviously made up example(that has basis in personal experience). I dunno, I’m not really trying to define what is authentic and what isn’t, so much as agree with whomever made the above image that there really are fake fans of things. I can’t imagine anyone here has never heard of fair weather fans.

Just to really put that last nail in the coffin: The whole facebook “I’m such a nerd” thing, it’s real. I’ve seen it used for soooooo many things. Some of them could be called nerdy. Watching cartoons or tv reruns. Reading. Just reading. I’ve seen it used for things that, I would say and many here would agree, are not nerdy. “I’m watching Dancing with the Stars. I’m such a nerd.” I’ve seen this. Dancing with the Stars, it just isn’t nerdy. 99% of television, I would say 100% of network tv, is not nerdy. A few years ago, Lost fans…hell; “Nerdy” shouldn’t really become a catch-all for something it just doesn’t mean. There is some level of depth to it. If everything is nerdy…now I sound like a super villain.

I’m okay with this.

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@Adela: I didn’t try to slide anything in, I just used it.

I’m sorry if you think a simple call for empathy is somehow enabling the terrible scourge in our society that “people judging other people — oh, by the way, this time it’s nerds” but I can’t say that I’m content with treating people who may not have as easy a time with their hardships as I have like dirt under the sole of my very morally righteous shoes.

No blanket-term is allowed anymore, except the one that says that every blanket-term MUST be coming out of the mouth of bigots and assholes. It can’t be that otherwise decent people have quibbles over this or that and happen to agree! “They used some the terms and language from column F in the Bigot index, so this is the proper derogatory term that applies to them/hate group they (in)directly belong to:_______”

I say: Fuck that. I don’t see why you can’t try to be funny about a reality that is apparently common enough that it’s recognizable by a sizable group. Anecdotal evidence may not be suitable for academic studies, but it does just fine for silly humor sites; unless you want to look down from your white horse and make “srs bsns” out of every outlook you don’t agree with. I don’t see “real nerds” harassing “fake nerds” in public, or persecution on the streets, or violence towards them, or even tv shows that make fun of them. There’s just a few memes and silly jokes like these. Like there’s no such thing for sports fans? or film purists? or hipsters? or music fans?

It’s people judging people. It doesn’t *have* to be sexist/racist/whathaveyou. It doesn’t *need* to be denounced.

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“Ok, forget HPL, let’s switch it to…video games. They’re nerdy enough.”

No they aren’t. Not even close. Video games haven’t been nerdy for something approaching 20 years now. If you’re clinging to “video games” as an example of what it means to be nerdy then the definition of what constitutes “nerdiness” is so broad and diffuse as to be utterly meaningless.

““Nerdy” shouldn’t really become a catch-all for something it just doesn’t mean. There is some level of depth to it. If everything is nerdy…now I sound like a super villain.”

No, you just sound like one of those people you were criticizing at the start of your post for parroting overused catchphrases without any real understanding, context, or self-awareness. The entire point of that line is to demonstrate the Syndrome doesn’t get what makes people super, just like a whole lot of people here are demonstrating that they do not, in fact, get what does or doesn’t constitute what makes someone a nerd (not that it’ll stop them from trying really, really hard to do so, mind you).

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@Alegretto: You don’t see “real nerds” harassing “fake nerds” in public because you’re not looking. I’ve been talking about this post with my female friends who are geeky, and every single one of them has said that yes, they do get demands to ‘prove’ that they really enjoy what they say they do, and that yes, it is derogatory and reduces their enjoyment towards spending time in the geek community to some extent. Saying, “Oh, but this individual thing is silly and light-hearted and doesn’t do any harm!” is like saying to a drowning victim, “I don’t see what the big deal is with that drop of water. Or that one. Or that one. And since no individual drop of water could possibly hurt anyone, you must be fine.”

Or, to simplify, yes. It does need to be denounced. Because it really does hurt people. And I’m ashamed on behalf of my community that so many people are surprised by that.

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But John, don’t you get it? It doesn’t really matter because something something white knighting.

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ladypeyton said on October 15th, 2012 at 11:41 pm

“Bringing this back to the main point, the real enemy of nerd culture is not the “impostor” who longs to be part of nerd culture but who doesn’t get it, but rather the “two-face”, who wants to be accepted in nerd culture while also seeking acceptance from those who hate and mock nerd culture.”

My 40something years of experience have led me to believe that the real enemy of nerd culture is nerds themselves. Especially a lot of the ones my age or older who have problems processing the fact that nerd culture has expanded to the point where it’s really just culture. Nerd-dom has won. It’s taken over the world, or at least the North American continent.

Unfortunately, we still have a lot of nerds who either have failed their saving roll in noticing the walls came tumbling down around them a long time ago, or the ones who who have crouched down defensively like an house cat in the back yard freaking out because the ceiling has gone.

From a formerly attractive girl and woman who spent the last 40 years more nerdy than you can shake a stick at; after the whole “Booth Babe” fiasco that cover is offensive.

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JacktheGrin said on October 15th, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Well, I guess I opened myself up to that. Now I just don’t know how nerdy I am. The Poubah hath spoken.

I think I’ve done a pretty good job of demonstrating how self-aware I am of my biases.

Not to say that everything on the internet is inherently truth, but at times it can reflect reality. So…

Google “How to be a Nerd”.

Count the number of times video games comes up. But, hey, I am told, quite often on the internet, how and why I am wrong. I can deal.

@Seavey: This is sort of what I meant re: nerdiness as fashion being a disservice, and I agree, it is too often towards women. They don’t really need any apology on behalf of all assholes, though, regardless of whether they’re nerds or not.

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What does it for me is the dialogue; the picture aside, I see guys and girls saying crap like this all the time. They think because they saw the Avengers movie, own a Green lantern t-shit (“because it looks cool and Sheldon is funny”) and suddenly they have a ton of stuff in common with people like me.

It’s like when Mitt Romney did one of those pandering politician speeches in my home state of Michigan and literally said stuff like “I like Michigan. I drive cars, I like the lakes, the trees are nice! Vote for me, I’m just like one of you guys!” It’s just… patronizing.

I think the picture does say a lot though about the sex life of the people who put the ad together, about the hipster nerd girls they thought were hawt but wouldn’t go out with them, so they’re bad people.

I can agree with the sentiment of the dialogue bubble, but the ad as a whole is offensive.

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“Google “How to be a Nerd”.

Count the number of times video games comes up. But, hey, I am told, quite often on the internet, how and why I am wrong. I can deal.”

Look, once upon a time video games were, in fact, pretty nerdy. They occupied this weird little niche somewhere between “spending a lot of time with those newfangled personal computers” and “continuing to play with kids toys after you’d grown out of the age where that was generally accepted without comment.”

Then one day, and while people might quibble about the exact time this happened and even I’m not entirely sure I have it right but I’m willing to take a stab at it and suggest that this was around the time of the Playstation 1 so 1994 or so, video game companies really started to figure out that video games could be more than a thing pitched towards kids and nerds. That they could, in fact, market video games towards a mainstream audience. And so they did and it turned out to succeed beyond their wildest dreams and they all lived happily ever after, except for the people bitching about how consoles have ruined video games by dumbing things down for casuals or how games these days have no soul, man, or whatever the latest thing grognards like to bellyache about is.

Seriously, video games are as mainstream as it gets these days. Skyrim? Portal? Those aren’t “nerd” games, those are mainstream titles being released by triple-A production studios. These are games that cost as much as major motion pictures and make enough money that Hollywood feels threatened by them. Do nerds, for certain definitions thereof, love video games? Sure, but so do lots and lots of other people, many of whom do not in any shape or form fit the traditional definition of nerdhood to the point where trying to suggest that video games are somehow still primarily the province of nerds is kind of ridiculous.

Which is, of course, largely why the cartoon that Jim Smith is talking about is bullshit. I mean, it’s bullshit on a number of levels, don’t get me wrong, but stripping away the sexist connotations what you have is somebody trying to suggest that these sorts of people are shallow pretenders to the true depth and richness of nerd culture when, as ladypeyton has pointed out, the truth of the matter is that these sorts of things…video games, messing around on computers, Star Wars, superheroes…this is stuff that can still be nerdy if you work at it but has been increasingly mainstream for a while now, to the point where trying to draw some line around them and label them as “nerdy pastimes” basically just comes across as a serious case of denial and/or clinging to the past.

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Some people may have been burn by the ‘fake nerds’.

Me, I have been burnt by the real ones. I’ve spent too much time proving to these guys that I, a woman that, let’s say, they generally agreed was attractive, was genuinely interested in the things I was interested in(comics, if somebody hasn’t already guessed). Went all the way from ‘she’s hot, not a geek though, probably somebody’s girlfriend’ to ‘yeah, but let’s face it: as soon as you find a good boyfriend or husband, you’ll stop caring about it’, with a lot of ‘ no disrespect to J but other chicks are in it for cosplay and slash fiction, they don’t really care about comics’.

Gave up, went to generally hang out with all those ‘fake nerd’ girls, many of whom (and much more after this summer) are really only in it for slash or something like it. And now I might often be the only person in the crowd wanting or being able to talk about certain things, but having lesser assholes around me makes it totally worth it.

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I don’t understand how anybody claiming to be a nerd can, without a trace of irony, look down their nose at someone for being into something “for the cosplay and slash fiction,” which are both pastimes rooted in nerdiness (for fuck’s sake, slashfic got its start in the Star Trek fandom).

No wait, yes I can. Because the people who say things like that are the sort who are perfectly content to claim that anyone who doesn’t meet their utterly arbitrary standards is a bandwagon-jumper, attention whore, or otherwise No True Nerd, even as the world moves on by without them. And good fucking riddance. The best thing that can happen to any hobby or fandom is for it to leave its most intractable, toxic elements behind.

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Christian Williams said on October 16th, 2012 at 4:06 am

Wow kai, way to miss the point.

I don’t understand how anybody claiming to be a nerd can, without a trace of irony, look down their nose at someone for being into something “for the cosplay and slash fiction,” which are both pastimes rooted in nerdiness (for fuck’s sake, slashfic got its start in the Star Trek fandom).

Actually, it’s not all that hard. I don’t have a problem with cosplay at all, I think it’s great, super imaginative, and some of those people have an amazing ability to create that I can only envy, and admire.

But, I’ll be honest, a rather large amount of slashfic bugs the hell out of me for about a half-dozen reasons, and I make it a point to stay far, far, far, away from it. If I because other people were being fuckwits was left with no choice but to hang out with the slashfic community… I wouldn’t.
No wait, yes I can. Because the people who say things like that are the sort who are perfectly content to claim that anyone who doesn’t meet their utterly arbitrary standards is a bandwagon-jumper, attention whore, or otherwise No True Nerd, even as the world moves on by without them. And good fucking riddance. The best thing that can happen to any hobby or fandom is for it to leave its most intractable, toxic elements behind.

So wait… let me see if I get this straight.
1) Jaelinque expresses her story and mentions she now has to hang out with a group whose interests she doesn’t share.

2) You conflate that statement as her looking down her nose at them, declare her an intractable, toxic element and state good fucking riddance because she’s judging people as not meeting her standards of nerddom.

So… can you explain to me how you’re *not* doing the same thing, calling her ‘No True Nerd’ because she doesn’t like slashfic?

But beyond all of that, can we just put the bullshit aside? There is no minimum level requirement for the nerddom dungeon. The umbrella is plenty large enough for everyone.

You played D&D that one time and it was neat, and you think that makes you a nerd? You’re in.

You’ve spent thirty years developing your homegrown game, with a rich history and it’s own language? You’re in. Hope the papercuts weren’t too bad.

You draw / write your own comics? Dude! Send me some PDFs, I like those things… unless it’s hentai, sorry.

You draw your own hentai? Dude! You’re in, but it’s okay I don’t need the PDFs.

You create elaborate web videos chronicling the tales of your adventuring guild? Nice! You’re in too.

We don’t fucking card at the door, we don’t hand you a trivia quiz, and we don’t make you whip out your geek penis for measuring. Because you know the neat thing? People who think they are geeks? Are Geeks. They may not know a lot of things you know, they may never have read that comic *you* like, they may not have ever seen that other British sci-fi cult show… but once they do they might like it too.

We all seem to forget that at one point we knew nothing beyond our single point of entry too… and someone was there to say ‘Hey kid, if you like that, try this’ and helped us on our way.

At the very top of this thread Michael said it best:
‘People like things’.

I would add:

‘The degree to which they like (or don’t) the things you like doesn’t affect you in the least little bit. If you don’t like them? That’s AWESOME, get the fuck out of the way and let them in the party, there are plenty of geeks/nerds who don’t have their heads up their asses who are more than willing to welcome our new sister & brother nerds. It’s not *your* fucking fandom, it’s ours and it’s theirs too.’

My apologies for the bluntness but it seems like far more eloquent arguments simply aren’t being heard. I generally like that artist’s stuff, I find this series highly disappointing.

By declaring women, the young, the ‘alpha’, and the ‘casual’ nerds all supervillains? He’s pretty much saying we can do without 85% of our community. That seems pretty stupid.

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“1) Jaelinque expresses her story and mentions she now has to hang out with a group whose interests she doesn’t share.

2) You conflate that statement as her looking down her nose at them, declare her an intractable, toxic element and state good fucking riddance because she’s judging people as not meeting her standards of nerddom.”

Uh, no. You misunderstood me by, like, a lot. I’m not talking about Jaqueline, I’m talking about the people who told her and I quote, “no disrespect to J but other chicks are in it for cosplay and slash fiction, they don’t really care about comics.” Those people are looking down their noses at people who are “only” in the hobby for slashfic and cosplay, which is a stupid and toxic attitude to hold.

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Christian Williams said on October 16th, 2012 at 4:22 am

@JacktheGrin

99% of television, I would say 100% of network tv, is not nerdy. A few years ago, Lost fans…hell; “Nerdy” shouldn’t really become a catch-all for something it just doesn’t mean. There is some level of depth to it. If everything is nerdy…now I sound like a super villain.

For the one: I categorically disagree that 100% of network television isn’t nerdy. Just off the top of my head there have been shows in the last few years that explored:
Aliens coming to the planet to try to peacefully co-exist for at least a moment or two (The Event), Aliens coming to the planet to try to take things over (V), A treatise on Life, Death, and the Afterlife (Lost), A Super Hero Family (No Ordinary Family), A world without electricity (Revolution), and a show that explores what the true meaning of sentience is, whether if you compile enough date you can create intelligence and just who you can trust with that much power (Person of Interest). That’s not touching on the various dead doctor shows that came (Gifted Man, etc) that came and went the last year.

Generally? Shows with sci-fi / super hero / or heavy supernatural elements are considered nerdy. And we haven’t even talked about cable or looked father back than 2 years.

I dunno, I’m not really trying to define what is authentic and what isn’t, so much as agree with whomever made the above image that there really are fake fans of things. I can’t imagine anyone here has never heard of fair weather fans.

No.

There is no such thing as a fake fan, on an espionage mission to steal your secrets. There are fans of things, and there are fans of things who stop liking things. Some people like shows that are good, teams that win, or that musician with the cute hair.. and when those elements leave a show / team / competition, they’re no longer interested. Did that make them a ‘fake’ fan? No.

I am a huge fan of the Stargate Series, I loved SG-1 and Atlantis. I feel that SG-U was absolutely horrible, and I was fairly vocal in discussions about the issues of the show. Did that make me a ‘fair-weather’ fan? No, it made me a fan who was extremely disappointed with the wasted potential.

There’s this attitude as if there is only one kind of ‘true’ fan: one that is slavishly positive to the material, and knows every last thing about it. That’s simply not the case.

George R.R. Martin’s books are coming to life on HBO and winning people into the series and getting a few of them to actually read the books. Are the ones who don’t read the books any less fans of the series? Not really. Same for the Walking Dead, or the novels that gave birth to True Blood and Dexter.

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Christian Williams said on October 16th, 2012 at 4:24 am

@Kai

Uh, no. You misunderstood me by, like, a lot. I’m not talking about Jaqueline, I’m talking about the people who told her and I quote, “no disrespect to J but other chicks are in it for cosplay and slash fiction, they don’t really care about comics.” Those people are looking down their noses at people who are “only” in the hobby for slashfic and cosplay, which is a stupid and toxic attitude to hold.

My apologies for misreading it and miscontruing your point, apparently my parser completely broke down in there somewhere.

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I’m so tired of attractive women pretending to be interested in nerds for our personalities, but really only being interested in our bodies.

It starts out with a little idle chat about Star Wars and then maybe they invite you back to their place to watch Buffy, but before you know it the women are trying to pull down your pants WHILE NOT EVEN OWNING ANYTHING BY JOSS WHEDON AT ALL! But have the full set of “Twilight” – books AND movies!

If they were honest up front I could perhaps understand, but it’s the deceit that hurts the most.

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Like, okay, here’s an example of my own. It’s not quite the same as Jaqueline’s but it brushes against the same phenomenon.

I regularly hang out on RPGnet which is, as you can guess by the name, a big tabletop gaming geek haven. One of the topics of discussion that periodically comes up on a regular basis is “What if some game company made an RPG out of [LICENSED PROPERTY], they could sell a million copies and revitalize the hobby!”

Setting aside the fact that licensed RPGs in general don’t sell all that well and certainly aren’t going to revitalize the hobby like they’re hoping they will, back around the time that Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series was sweeping the internet somebody on the forums there said “Hey, what if someone were to make a Twilight RPG? That’s a super-hot property right now, and there’s a huge untapped niche to explore in terms of RPGs that aren’t all about fantasy dungeon-crawls or spaceships-and-rayguns.”

And what ensued was a whole bunch of gamer nerds getting up in arms about the idea of having to share their hobby with a bunch of “squealing fangirls” who think that vampires, ugh, sparkle. There was a vituperative amount of backlash that delved into some fairly insulting and, yes, misogynistic waters, all over the idea that Twilight fans might get their sparklepire cooties all over the sacred hobby that is sitting around a table pretending to be an elf.

Now look, I, personally, have no interest in a Twilight RPG. At all. And personally I don’t think a Twilight RPG would actually do all that well for reasons I’ll get into in a moment, but understand that the same people bitching and moaning over the thought of a Twilight RPG “contaminating” their hobby will then turn around and ask, with nary a shred of self-awarness to be found, “Gosh, why does our hobby keep shrinking? What can we do to get more people into RPGs?” When, of course, what they really mean is “How can we get more people with my exact same tastes and preferences and attitudes into the things that I like, not those icky Other Fans with their other things.” Which is an understandable attitude on a certain level, but on the other hand the people espousing it seem oblivious to just how offputting they come across as and how much that attitude acts as a barrier to attracting new members of a hobby or subculture (though to some of them that’s entirely the point).

And the truly hilarious part about all of this is? Twilight fans probably wouldn’t be interested in a Twilight RPG because any of them interested in roleplaying are far more likely to get involved in some sort of freeform Livejournal RPG which is A). free of charge and B). doesn’t require sitting around a table for six hours at a stretch rolling dice. Put bluntly, the Twilight fandom has no real reason to want the tabletop RPG fandom to join them.

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FeepingCreature said on October 16th, 2012 at 7:29 am

You know what? Let me just give a slightly different example here.

“Just logged into facebook, LOL I’m such a hacker”

Like “geek”, “hacker” is a word with a well-defined meaning that does not admit arbitrary redefinition. Unlike “geek”, it is not being coopted in the mainstream yet (movies and definition quibbles over hacker/cracker aside). But let me give you an example from my childhood.

When I was a kid, there was a bookshop and they had a new-fangled computer thing where you could pick software to buy and burn onto a CDs. As I was hanging around the shop because I’d just burnt myself a Linux distro (ah, cherished memories), some guys came up to the computer and said “Hey, let’s hack this. ”

They then proceeded to randomly hammer the keyboard with their hands until an employee threw them out.

I somewhat feel about the girl in the picture the same way as I feel about these people (though not as severely). No, calling yourself a nerd is not sufficient to be a nerd. Let’s please not rob the term of any and all meaning and reduce it to a pure self-definition tag. Wikipedia, in their definition of “nerd”, uses three terms: “overly intellectual”, “obsessive” and “socially impaired”. I don’t think you qualify as nerd unless you have some points in each category, but honestly, that just exposes the deeper problem.

The deeper problem is: Our culture mixes cultural fashion/ingroup identifiers and factual descriptors.

Any descriptive noun can also be used as a sign you “belong”.

This is a problem for those who care about descriptive nouns not being coopted as group markers. It’s also why I recommended expressing it as a verb (verbs are much harder to coopt into ingroup/outgroup duty).

I see two sides here. Side One says “nerd” has a defined meaning and this girl plainly doesn’t fit it. Side Two says “excluding people from social groups for stupid reasons is bad”. Both sides are correct. Neither of them is disagreeing with the other. The underlying problem is the conflation of social groups and factual groups.

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FeepingCreature said on October 16th, 2012 at 7:30 am

Excuse me, s/geek/nerd/g

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“Like “geek”, “hacker” is a word with a well-defined meaning that does not admit arbitrary redefinition.”

Hahaha, since when? Man, every example you bring up is someone directly engineered to subvert your own point moreso than the last one. Seriously, I’ve seen just as many people argue over the “true definition” of what it means to be a hacker as I have over what it means to be a nerd.

Protip: there is no “well-defined meaning” for subcultures and hobbies like what you’re trying to suggest. You won’t ever be able to point to one, and only one set of traits, attitudes, and practices and say “THIS is what it truly means to be a nerd/hacker/sports fan/whatever” that people will agree with you on. Maybe people should stop trying to do that so much. The underlying problem isn’t conflation of opinion and fact, the underlying problem is people trying to pass off opinion as fact. I refute the assertion that you need to be obsessive and/or socially impaired to be a nerd. That sounds to me like the sort of thing a bunch of obsessive, socially-impaired people would say to try and keep people less socially maladjusted out of their super secret clubhouse, and anybody who earnestly believes that can go right on fuming.

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“Our culture mixes cultural fashion/ingroup identifiers and factual descriptors.”

““overly intellectual”, “obsessive” and “socially impaired”” – all factual descriptions, no value judgements here, nope, none at all. Totally clear and discernible traits easy to identify in oneself.

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FeepingCreature said on October 16th, 2012 at 7:55 am

Hey, blame Wikipedia. And yeah, I’m gonna fight for “literal” too.

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Point is, this aren’t factual descriptions, and if you argue that ‘nerd’ is, that you’ve got to, at the very least, find a better definition.

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Coming back to this I do want to clarify my earlier post, in that I didn’t see this image and go “ARTIST HATE WOMEN HULK SMASH RAR”…I’ve just seen enough similar jokes to assume “Look at this frakking geek girl, shyeah right” was meant to be the joke here, since it usually is when I see a cartoon like this.

And then went off and thought about everything else in the world.

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While I’m for the idea of nerddom being more inclusive and not being so dickish about who is and who isn’t a nerd, we as nerds do need to do a LITTLE bit of policing our community.

Noah Antwiler said it best on his Spoony site when he said that if the Anime/JRPG community doesn’t start doing a better job of this, they will end up with a reputation and being remembered for being a bunch of people who do creepy cosplay (because the creepier stuff people cosplay as is more memorable than reasonable people just wearing Cloud and Sephiroth) and create disturbing fanmade porn.

Yes, we need to make sure people don’t associate us with fans like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, people who look down their nose at “non-nerds,” who don’t know the right amount of continuity, the n00bs, etc. because they have a chip on their shoulder from when society used to frown upon our particular entertainment of choice.

But we also don’t need the patronizing people who find the most tenuous links to us because they HAVE to be liked by everyone that’s around them and thus they need their nerd friends to feel like they’re one of them (like a politician pandering for votes).

I have friends who aren’t nerds, but some of them do have moments where they say stuff like what’s in this ad, and I’m thinking, “Dude, 90% of your day revolves around ESPN and COD. It’s nice you want to make me feel like less of an outsider, but telling me about how you play COD doesn’t make you just like me because you don’t deal with any of the admittedly small stigmata I do for liking what I like.”

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Anticorium said on October 16th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

“hacker” is a word with a well-defined meaning that does not admit arbitrary redefinition

Of course it doesn’t. The word means the same thing that it did the day it was coined: college pranksters who really, really like model trains.

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Christian Williams said on October 16th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

But we also don’t need the patronizing people who find the most tenuous links to us because they HAVE to be liked by everyone that’s around them and thus they need their nerd friends to feel like they’re one of them (like a politician pandering for votes).

And …. why?

What about someone saying they’re a nerd, because: “I think it was cool that time when Kirk said, ‘What does Khan need with a starship.’ In Star Wars VI.”; in any way shape or form affects your nerdom to the point that they have to be ‘policed’?

We don’t need them, because they’re just ‘pretending’ to like it so that their nerd friends like them?

Really?

Yes, yes we do.

Because they *are* us.

Maybe they will never go to a Star Trek Convention with their own homemade uniform. Maybe they’ll never do the homework it takes to get their I.D.I.C. badge.. but they’re still us.

I am far happier with people expressing a connection to the fanbase, however tenuous, to people disregarding it, dismissing it, and deriding it. That you think it’s a problem, to be honest, confuses the fuck out of me.

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And …. why?

Uh, because I just said it was patronizing, which also tends to be insulting. For one, while I’d say a large part of my life is comics, I wouldn’t say comics define me. They’re just one aspect of who I am. So when someone who is trying to get me to like them sizes me up and decides that “nerd” is what’s most important about me and tries to throw me a bone based on their stereotypes, I get annoyed. Just be nice to me and don’t judge me for what I happen to like; you are not just like me because you checked out the first volume of Scott Pilgrim from the library to see what all the hype was about the movie, so please don’t pretend that you are when we both know better.

I say we need to keep some kind of standard for what it takes to be a nerd; now, I’d say the entry bar should be much lower than, say, Comic Book Guy would set it, but lets not completely get rid of the bar.

Basically, anybody can be a nerd, you are just a nerd for something specific, not a nerd in general (which is the use of the word we should get rid of, since it’s essentially obsolete). As my dad says, everyone has some kind of hobby they’re obsessed with beyond what most people would say is normal. It can be sports, music, comics, video games, movies, television, etc.

Someone who owns an issue of Shonen Jump is not suddenly a comic nerd because they enjoyed that issue when it came out two years ago. You have a passing interest in comics, sure, but you are not a nerd for comics. I may like Star Wars a lot, but I wouldn’t say I’m a sci-fi nerd since Star Wars is about the only real sci-fi movie I really love, and it’s more fantasy than sci-fi.

If I was talking to a girl and she was in love with the Scott Pilgrim books and it got her reading some other comics, she’s definitely a comic nerd because she gets a similar level of enjoyment out of comics that I do; I love the X-Men, she loves Scott Pilgrim, but we both really like comics in general. However, you are going to have the misogynistic douche-bag “real nerds” who say Scott Pilgrim is for fan-girl wannabes and they aren’t really one of “us” because of that. This is the kind of person who should be vote-kicked from the comic nerd community because they don’t pass the bar either because of their intensely judgmental personality.

So here’s my point about policing: “nerd” shouldn’t be a catch-all for people like us and something you have to “earn” in our eyes. It’s something that anyone can be, what’s important is the adjective that describes the noun. Basically, you’re someone who likes a particular thing a lot, and where we should have standards is in regards to how much do you have to like something to “like it a lot.” Because this is a hard thing to determine, err on the side of the n00b and keep the bar low. Just don’t get rid of it.

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Patrick Rawley said on October 16th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

There’s a fan hierarchy. Of course there is. But it goes down, not up.

“I like the show (or saw the movie, read the comic, played the game) but at least I don’t go to conventions.”
“I go to conventions but at least I don’t dress up like my favorite character.”
“I go to conventions and dress up as my favorite character but at least I don’t write fan fiction.”
And then “erotic fan fiction”. And then it gets a little weird for awhile and ends up with you thinking you’re a cat.

Listen. I really like lingerie. I just got into it and I like it and I want to know more about it. But everytime I walk into a lingerie store, all I get are funny looks and an unhelpful attitude. I get it, I’m a man, what am I doing in a lingerie store? Even if it’s not “weird”, it may kinda creep people out. But don’t I have a right to be there, if I’m an enthusiast? I’m not bothering anyone, I’m just taking an interest in a new-found hobby. I wasn’t into it when I was twelve, I was too busy reading comic books.

Being a geek is like being a London cabdriver. You gotta have The Knowledge, mate. You gotta know how to Get There. When you’re new, you need to study or you need someone to show you the way. Ain’t no sense in making fun of someone who doesn’t know something.

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“Hey, blame Wikipedia. And yeah, I’m gonna fight for “literal” too.”

Nah, I’ll blame people like you who look at a Wikipedia definition and think that means they know authoritatively how to judge whether someone is sufficiently nerdy or not.

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@Anonymous: So basically, if you start talking about your love of comics with someone, and they respond back by talking about comics they like, your response is, “Screw you for trying to discuss a common interest with me! Your attempts to make conversation display your ignorance of my favorite subject! I suspect that far from being genuinely passionate about comics, you’re just expressing interest in me as a person by trying to find out what I enjoy!”

…something tells me this is not going to catch on.

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Christian Williams said on October 16th, 2012 at 6:05 pm

@John Seavey.

Thank you. Saved me a much longer post, and was funnier to boot. :)

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John, wow, that was not what I was saying at all. Way to completely miss the point. That post might have actually been funny if it had anything to do with what I was saying.

My point is don’t patronize me. I can tell when someone is taking a genuine interest in what I have to say and when they’re being patronizing or trying to get my attention in an insincere way. So don’t do it.

Let’s say someone asks me about my interests, and makes a genuine attempt at discourse with me about comics; I’m going to get along with them because they actually give a fuck about what is coming out of my mouth, and that’s hard to fake. If they try to pigeon-hole me with stereotypes, telling me the things they think I want to hear to get the conversation over with, it’s not going to be hard to figure out what they’re doing and I am going to be insulted. Part of having social skills is being able to pick up on this shit.

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Can’t speak for all stores, but my local Victoria’s Secret is always helpful if/when they get male customers. The women who work there are super nice and not about to look down on anyone for their lifestyle choices.

Just throwing that out there.

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thatweirdguy said on October 17th, 2012 at 9:24 am

put it this way:
I like a lot of k-pop, have for a while, but now that psy has hit it big, there are a lot of people who are acting like its cool.
what if much like comic book movies are now considered ‘cool’, all of a sudden k pop was popular not because you liked the music, but because media saturation was so huge.

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Anticorium said on October 17th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

all of a sudden k pop was popular not because you liked the music, but because media saturation was so huge

It takes a lot of effort for me to imagine millions of people going around saturating themselves with things they hate just because a view counter on YouTube told them to.

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Ask yourself, do you really want to be the guy saying, essentially, “Well I liked [THING] before it was cool”? Really? The sort of person who exists only as a mockable stereotype of elitist fans whose love for something is so fickle that it can’t survive contact with other fans? Because that’s essentially what you’re saying, thatweirdguy. If superhero movies are “cool” now it’s not because the subliminal messages Big Media encoded into all those TV commercials said so, it’s because Marvel figured out how to reliably make decent-to-excellent superhero movies with appeal that extends beyond the fanboy threshold which, believe me, is what every purveyor of “nerd media” wishes they could do.

“Well now that superhero movies are mainstream people are acting like it’s cool.” Hey, y’know what? Maybe it’s because they are cool. Cooler than comics at any rate. If people seem to think that the Marvel movies are awesome but don’t care much about the comics, it might have something to do with the current state of American superhero comics being more than a bit shit.

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@Anonymous: Oh, I see! You don’t dislike people who share interests with you, you dislike being patronized! Then you, much like many of the women who have been posting in this thread, must really hate it when some alpha-geek asshole insinuates that you don’t really enjoy the things you enjoy because you don’t have an instant and total command of the trivia associated with it.

Face it, patronizing behavior is far more likely to come from those geekier-than-thou than it is from people who don’t know or care much about the subject. If there’s something that needs “policing”, it’s that. Because that’s what keeps people from getting into nerdy pursuits, the feeling that if you don’t have an instant and total commitment to the subject, you’re a bad person and should shut up. And that’s not something that casual nerds are contributing to.

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highlyverbal said on October 18th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

@John Seavey: “So basically, if you start talking about your love of comics with someone, and they respond back by talking about comics they like, your response is, “Screw you for trying to discuss a common interest with me!”

Replace “comics” with “empirics” in that sentence.

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@highlyverbal: Your complaint that this conversation is insufficiently about you can be addressed another time. :)

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highlyverbal said on October 21st, 2012 at 1:23 pm

It is so revealing that your inconsistencies are mentally filed as “about” others. How internet-comment-thread of you.

(And if I wanted it to be about me, this low hanging fruit was so tasty and tempting:

@ aboynamedart: “[Big Bang Theory] substitutes wallowing in stereotypes for promoting “acceptance” of geekdom. More to the point, it takes a set of interests that can be part of a good life for a life sentence-as-lifestyle. Is there any doubt that the show will end with Leonard and/or Shelton becoming “normal” because Penny socialized him?”

YOU can be my Penny, bro!)

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@highlyverbal: Your continuing complaint that this conversation is insufficiently about you can be addressed another time. :)

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All anyone proves by getting twisted over this one ad is that one: they love to jump on the armchair activist social justice bandwagon and get the automatic kudos that come from that, and two: they don’t understand how to take a joke that might, MIGHT hit close to home. Can’t you just learn to deal with it? You should just learn to deal with it.

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@Wow: I would counter that by pointing out that it can all be applied just as well if not better to the people defending the “joke”. You apparently can’t even take criticism of total strangers who say things you find funny, let alone criticisms of your personal beliefs about women.

As to the “armchair activist social justice bandwagon” and the “automatic kudos”…you apparently don’t notice that every time a post like this pops up about treating women like they were human beings, within a few days people start showing up to insult the person who made it by saying things like, “they love to jump on the armchair activist social justice bandwagon and get the automatic kudos that come from that”. Which is a pretty impressive thing not to notice, given that you’re right there at the time. :) Standing up for feminism, even in the simplest and most basic way like blogging about it, brings its share of nastiness. It’s not something you do if you want to hear nice things said about you all the time.

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I was shocked and more than a bit up set when they put this on the back of Batwoman #13 you know when she teams up with a little know sissy girl called, what’s her name again? oh yeah, FUCKING WONDER WOMAN! The Batwomen readership is mostly girls, whom I’m sure are being told that they’re faking it for male attention as well. Here is a comic that girls of any sexual orientation can look at and think wow, bad ass! Then you get to the adds making fun of us. Yeah….. uh sweet I feel really great about buying your product now.
So way to go DC, for making us feel that we have to justify even being able to like the products that you produce. A solid business model if I’ve ever seen one.

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