#2. We Turned It into Fashion
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I am not a pop culture expert -- not even close. But if there's one thing I've picked up over the years, it's that the second a movement becomes fashion, it's dead. It happened with hippies when tie-dye T-shirts started appearing in department stores. With punk when clothes were sold pre-torn. With grunge when flannel shirts skyrocketed to $80 each and models were wearing them down runways.
I call it a "movement" because that's what this whole nerd explosion feels like to me. Like the end of both Airheads and Revenge of the Nerds, where everyone slowly and reluctantly admits that they're secretly nerdy:
The world seems to be acting out a real-life version of this, and though it seems to be loaded with the best of intentions, it still doesn't take away from the fact that they're wearing the term like an accessory. Tiny little dogs peeking from the purses of the Paris Hiltons of the world. Even the classic "jocks vs. geeks" struggle couldn't withstand the tidal pull of a buzzword. Or do you think that LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are just natural nerds?
Via Fox Sports
"Can we make this quick? We have a tabletop RPG starting in 20 minutes."
#1. We Commercialized It
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The only thing that kills a group faster than fashion is commercialization. You can't take gangsta rap seriously if Dr. Dre starts trying to sell you Pop-Tarts. Make Trent Reznor the spokesman for Chuck E. Cheese's, and suddenly goths lose their dark edginess. Have a supermodel make out with a hideous dork, and nerds become fucking cartoon characters. Seriously, check out the disgusted look on her face at the end of that GoDaddy commercial:
That is the most horrifying thing I've ever seen. It makes him look like a Make-A-Wish charity case. When she pulls back and looks at the cam- wait. Oh, shit, I get it now. "If you're a nerd and you use our product, you'll get laid." OK, that makes much more sense. Here's Old Spice doing it:
And here's an extremely bad car dealership advertising company.
I will give them this much: At least they're acknowledging that if you're a nerd and a guy, you're most likely not banging any hot chicks. Again, this isn't just me putting my own definition onto the word. It is literally defined as an "unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person." The commercials are saying, "Yep, we know you're socially fucked. But buy our shit, and we can help you get your dick wet."
But in pushing that image into the mainstream, they're falling into that paradox again, because "nerd" by definition is anti-mainstream. It's like throwing a turd onto my lasagna, calling it cheese, and being shocked when it tastes like shit.
"Well, maybe the next piece won't taste so bad. Only one way to find out."
Look, I'm not bashing on people who call themselves nerds. They're not bad people, and they don't mean any harm by it. But to those of us who grew up avoiding certain school hallways because we didn't want to go home with bruises, it's more than just a word. It tells us that we belong somewhere, even if that place is full of ugly annoying assholes with their underwear wedged firmly into their cracks. So when you get annoyed at someone who is starting a debate over whether a person is a "true nerd" or not, keep in mind, that's what nerds do. We annoy people who live outside of our group. We aren't an all-accepting club, and even if we were, it's not one that people would want to join. And after 2013, it's more like a morgue.