Since Alix is jetsetting around the world right now, visiting the Western Wall and camel riding, I’ve been asked to fill in for her section. Being that I have a Y-chromosome, I don’t understand why I was the first choice, but I’m going to err on the side of caution and consider this a compliment. I’m not usually used to writing in this style; it feels extremely informal, and I’m fumbling with the keyboard with every keystroke. But, I will try my best, in hopes of Alix bringing me back something cool from halfway around the world.
I’m supposed to be writing about things that I feel. I admit, I struggled with this concept a bit, since I’m so used to giving my critical opinion on something and not attaching a feeling to it. Dr. T and Cole suggested that I write about something that irks me in the nerd world, something that doesn’t sit right with me that I can rant about. That was our first mistake: giving me a platform for gripes.
I sincerely don’t prefer what networks are marketing out as “nerd shows”. I use the term “prefer” very loosely; I understand that there are people behind the scenes that give these shows their creative all, and I always will shy away from saying that I “hate” a piece of work. These particular shows, though, may border what I think is dislike feels, so I’d like to explore this with you on a deeper level.
I personally feel that shows like The Big Bang Theory and King of the Nerds are setting us back in time, placing our culture in the forefront in a negative light. I have many arguments to support this statement, but I’ll try and limit them to two reasons, for sake of brevity. I mean, diary entries are supposed to be brief, right?
First, when are we ever laughing with the characters, and not at them? The characters on these shows are portrayed at the very least to be quirky and at the very most to be socially crippled. We laugh at Sheldon because he can’t comprehend basic human emotion, or at Raj because he physically can’t speak to women, and the show lends to the idea that this could all be solved through alcohol and not liking what these nerds like. Penny is portrayed as being able to be a functional human being in any social situation; although she may have “stupid” moments at points, the narration is directed towards the idea that the guys are of a lower subculture, so it’s okay to be made fun of them, because you’re better than them. The four men on the show represent four deep insecurities that us as nerds have felt at one point: social confusion, lovesickness, the portrayal of being “creepy” or “weird”, and the inability to speak up for ourselves. Why lift these up on a pedestal for others to laugh at?
Second, these shows only portray what can be inherently “bad” about the activities we love, and never want to highlight how beneficial or amazing they can be. Take the idea of LARPing, for example, which stands for Live-Action Roleplay. King of the Nerds had their contestants cast magical spells by throwing bean bags, but they never showed how hard people can physically train for these fantasy fights. Did you know that you can take broadsword fighting classes for college credit, and most LARP encounters use weaponry that people can make to look like anything they want? Because, I don’t care who you are, that is freaking amazing. This isn’t even mentioning the benefit of exercise, creativity, and the great social aspect of being around people that enjoy an activity as much as you do.
I’m glad that our activities are reaching the mainstream audience, but a lot of people feel like the collective group of nerds have won acceptance. I’m sorry to tell you that while we are making headway, we still have a long way to go. More and more people are being exposed to D&D and video games, while being open and honest about their hobbies, but at the same time, we are now subject to even more scrutiny and laughter. We just have to learn how to wield this double-edged sword together, I guess. I just really hope it’ll be made of foam and duct tape.