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These guys are geeks not nerds
Posted by Seattle14 on January 21, 2013 at 12:53 PM · Report this
jnmend 2

I'd have like, 10,000% less issue with this if they hadn't divided the genders the way they did. If they'd had ONE WOMAN in the "real nerd' group or one dude in the fake group, I wouldn't have the main issue I have with this (the reinforcement of the fake geek girl meme).

I also take issue with the idea that liking nerdy things and having social skills are mutually exclusive. They aren't.

I don't know. I can't believe a short sketch like this is making me feel this many things.
Posted by jnmend on January 21, 2013 at 12:54 PM · Report this
I'm not saying that misogyny doesn't underlie some of the nerd-culture backlash against the mainstreaming of nerd culture, but I think a certain population within nerd culture feels as they are being squeezed out of what they built as a safe-haven in response to being social pariahs. This conceptual space was, at one point, a space in which nerds didn't feel like second-class citizens. WIth the invasion of nerd culture by those who aren't largely considered weird or socially awkward, these "traditional" nerds are again feeling like second-class citizens within their own cultural home. It certainly doesn't legitimize rampant misogyny (and again, there is a lot of it in the way nerd culture is responding to "sexy nerds"), but it does warrant a degree of backlash against people who really are "fake nerds" (i.e. people who are socially attractive and aren't socially awkward).
Posted by Faber on January 21, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
His criteria is whether a "sexy girl" saw "The Avengers" after it had been out for 2 weeks?
I think you've hit "misogynistic" rather than "nerd".
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on January 21, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
I totally agree. Grr, argh. It unfortunately perpetuated that "fake geek girl" meme. Additionally, none of the "real" nerds are women, the inclusion of which could maybe help me give it credit for the broader sentiment you mention.

The Mary Sue had a great post on what's behind this and why it does matter:…

"Some of us grew up hiding our geek identity for one reason or another. Maybe we felt insecure; maybe we got bullied for being “out.” Some of us hid or masked our identities as geeks well until adulthood. For many of us, when we see individuals who appear to have recently joined the community we feel uncomfortable with their different identity development. We had to suffer the bullying! But now that it’s “cool” to be geek, here they come in droves! God, they even look happy. Let’s stop that. That’s a whole lot of projection on people we don’t know. And they don’t deserve it."

I'm a big fan of inclusive geeky culture. I wish Portlandia had shown some of its more sophisticated biting wit with a broader understanding of the phenomenon.
Posted by procne on January 21, 2013 at 1:10 PM · Report this
stinkbug 6
@4: This was a comedy sketch and not a serious solid argument regarding "fake nerds". The Avengers line was supposed to make you laugh at the guy nerd, not agree with him.
Posted by stinkbug on January 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM · Report this
biffp 7
Sometimes you have to push the boundaries out a little, and people in that group may feel threatened. Making fun of how many comic books someone read is microagression? When women are being gang raped in India and shot in Pakistan, doesn't it seem a little self-indulgent to be focusing your energy on something like a microagression?
Posted by biffp on January 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
"The Avengers line was supposed to make you laugh at the guy nerd, not agree with him."

I'm not agreeing with him.
And if that was supposed to be comedy then they need a LOT more work on their material.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on January 21, 2013 at 1:27 PM · Report this
"these "traditional" nerds are again feeling like second-class citizens within their own cultural home."

"none of the "real" nerds are women, the inclusion of which "

"focusing your energy on something like a microagression?"

What, are you all auditioning as upcoming whining, uber-liberal characters in Portlandia? Here's a clue you fit the stereotype: you take yourselves far too seriously.
Posted by Sugartit on January 21, 2013 at 1:28 PM · Report this
Jason Josephes 10
Dude's missing a utilikilt. Otherwise, spot on. Also, not misogynistic, although if we finally end rape and genital mutilation, sure, let's turn our outrage towards a comedy sketch on a show co-created by 1/3 of Sleater-Kinney.
Posted by Jason Josephes on January 21, 2013 at 1:29 PM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 11
I always thought nerds were more semi intelligent makers of obscure shit, not drooling consumers of second tier popular video games and movies.

Losers who solved math problems in their basement for fun or programmed role playing games for an underground community.

Watching Star Trek and playing Skyrim are not nerdy, they ARE mainstream culture.

Posted by Andy_Squirrel on January 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
sirkowski 12
@6 Social justice doesn't know the concept of comedy.
Posted by sirkowski on January 21, 2013 at 1:33 PM · Report this
In 2013 nerd just means "extremely enthusiastic about mainstream tastes" it's literally nothing to be proud of or be fighting an integrity turf war about. It's more marketing niche than anything and I wish the entire idea would just fucking die already so the culture could actually move on and produce more new things worth a shit instead of rehashing the same pop-detritus from forty years ago.
Posted by tkc on January 21, 2013 at 1:35 PM · Report this
Zebes 14
Speaking of misappropriation and/or evolution of language, I don't see what any of this has to do with candy at all.
Posted by Zebes on January 21, 2013 at 1:51 PM · Report this
LEE. 15
I finally get's a comedy show that's too good to be funny.
Posted by LEE. on January 21, 2013 at 1:56 PM · Report this
theophrastus 16
ok... since this is being turned into a nerds are misogynists post, i gotta throw in my (bona-fided) straight nerd point of view, which i insist is not misogynist.

i dated particularly nerdly females. females, make the relationship choices, (in my view). the vast majority of these nerdly females ended-up eventually dumping me for distinctly non-nerdy males (often trending jocks). ipso-facto-quatly-quat: females don't tend to stay in the nerd camp. or, said another way, nerds are significantly and perpetually enriched in males.

you may attack this sorry post with: *sampling error*, clearly you don't know how to keep a (nerdly) woman. and to that, i'd have to bow as a possibility or i wouldn't qualify as a nerd (which i certainly do)
Posted by theophrastus on January 21, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Gus 17
@6: "The Avengers line was supposed to make you laugh at the guy nerd, not agree with him."

I'm pretty sure that's not true. I think you were supposed to remember the fake nerd chick with the glasses, and reflect on how horribly transparent a faker she really is, and laugh at her.

Or I'm misreading terrible acting.
Posted by Gus on January 21, 2013 at 2:06 PM · Report this
@16: I'm gonna sampling error on your part.
I'm definitely a nerd (loves high level math, was a chemist, then an EE) and have been married to another nerd (an EE) for decades. Both of us are blind as bats, both anti-social. Both kids are nerds (EE or computer engineering, are hugely into sci-fi, legos and gaming) and both are currently hooked up with other nerds because they all like the same things and have fun together.
Posted by swing state voter on January 21, 2013 at 2:36 PM · Report this
arrgh, and I can't type either.
It should say," I'm going to have to go with sampling error on your part."
Posted by swing state voter on January 21, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
@18 us too, just no kids yet. We have no idea what we will do if they want to be writers.
Posted by wxPDX on January 21, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
theophrastus 21
@18: yep, probably dated you long enough to have you dump me for your engineer partner. y'see, Dilbert regardless, engineers tend to be border-line nerds at best. doubt this? go see where all the young republicans hang out on campus. still i wish you well in your happy faux-nerd life [wink]
Posted by theophrastus on January 21, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this
To give hope to #16, my teenage daughter (who probably qualifies as a "sexy nerd", although she would never want to be labeled in that, or any, way) is contemplating dumping her good-looking, jocky boyfriend, because he's "not that smart", won't play Skyrim with her, and never wants to go to horror movies. She'e gradually learning that it might be better to have someone you can talk and hang out with, even if he's not the cutest guy in school.
Posted by alexandria on January 21, 2013 at 2:58 PM · Report this
fletc3her 23
I think I qualify as a nerd. I have probably never been on an actual date. I enjoy board games, but am perhaps too socially awkward to go to Raygun. I spent last night building a Lego helicopter (yes, I know it's LEGO, but I refuse to spell it that way) and watching "classic" Dr. Who episodes with Hartnel, Troughton, and Pertwee (admittedly just the one story of each they have on Netflix streaming).

I know lady nerds, I know nerds who have married (watching nerds court is amazingly cute), and I know people into all manner of nerdly things who may have been nerds in high school but became a lot more easy going in college. I don't think you can be socially outgoing and a nerd. If you're at a bar chatting people up you are simply not a nerd.

I thought it was a cute bit.
Posted by fletc3her on January 21, 2013 at 3:28 PM · Report this
@23, I think that's the whole point.

People claiming to be nerds because they think it makes them look quirky or cute. "OMG, I just spent a whole hour on Farmville! I am such a nerd! A total hardcore gamer! I watch Big Bang and I laugh at all the jokes!"
Posted by GermanSausage on January 21, 2013 at 3:35 PM · Report this
biffp 25
If you are a nerd complaining about positive attention, you should be sent back to 1986 on your lawn mower time machine. It wasn't glamorous then, and 'yes' I was wading through 200 pages of Ready Player One over the weekend hoping it would pick up eventually.
Posted by biffp on January 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM · Report this
So, basically this guy is saying that the defining feature of a geek/nerd is unattractiveness?
Posted by ignatz ratzkywatzky on January 21, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
The science correspondent on Huff Post is a fake nerd girl. She's irritating and needs to go. Perhaps replace her with a cast member from The Big Bang Theory.
Posted by Approaching 40 in LA on January 21, 2013 at 5:36 PM · Report this
The backlash makes me groan. Sexy girl nerds are like bisexuals: Sure they exist, but calling yourself one doesn't necessarily make it so.
Posted by RDM on January 21, 2013 at 5:56 PM · Report this
biffp 29
Dressing up as Wonder Woman doesn't make it so Olivia Munn.
Posted by biffp on January 21, 2013 at 6:21 PM · Report this
it seems to me that wanting to self-identify as a member of an arbitrarily defined social group for social cachet or self-esteem or attenition is the real problem. parents and mentors should teach children how to be themselves, to express themselves in lots of ways as an individual, and avoid 'group think' at all costs. no person is all one thing or type. this whole faux nerd/who is a realnerd/nerdmisyogny reeks of invented controversy to drive blog traffic and portlandia ratings.

this faux war on
Posted by Cassette tape fan on January 21, 2013 at 7:20 PM · Report this
The sample size of both of the showcased groups ("fake nerds" and "real nerds") was too small for us to really make a judgment call here. Honestly, as a female feminist "nerd" who loves Star Trek and Skyrim, I was not offended.
Posted by JenziWashington on January 21, 2013 at 7:26 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 32
I've tried so very hard to give a shit about this. I really have. I spent all day trying to care about this issue.

But I just can't.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on January 21, 2013 at 7:35 PM · Report this
@16 try being a gay lady nerd. Things picked up a little bit when someone decided to make a queer girls d&d group on a meetup site, but until then it was kind of unicorn territory for me.
Posted by tal on January 21, 2013 at 9:44 PM · Report this
ams_ 34
As far as I'm concerned, you're not a real nerd unless you have had a bit of a hygiene problem. Almost no "fake nerds" are committed enough for that!
Posted by ams_ on January 21, 2013 at 10:28 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 35
Males always react this way when a female enters what they thought was safe, male space.

There is a reason women were not allowed on ships, or not allowed near crops during their menstrual cycles.

This is just another manifestation of this primitive, male drive. But seriously, count your blessings if this is a big "concern" in your life.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on January 22, 2013 at 6:18 AM · Report this
Bonefish 36
I just can't give a shit about "real" vs "fake" nerds. Some of my interests are nerdy, most of them are not. For any group of people who are honest about their real hobbies and interests, there will be some variability on how many of their interests are "nerdy" or not- some will be entirely so, some mostly so, and so on. There will also be variability in how intensely people express their enjoyment of something- a person might genuinely like Harry Potter without memorizing the names of every bartender and death eater in the series.

If someone discovers that I like Tolkien and responds by quizzing me on some obscure trivia from the Silmarillion in order to determine if I'm a "true" Tolkien fan, all that tells me is that they're a broken person who has forgotten how to enjoy things in their own way.
Posted by Bonefish on January 22, 2013 at 12:35 PM · Report this
yucca flower 37
Guy nerds are hating on female nerds and calling them "fake" because they no longer can blame their love of gaming, Star Trek, comics, and computers for not getting laid. Before they could point to their "nerdy" entertainment as the reason no woman would look twice at them. But now that's all over with. Women like all those things and have for years. Women date guys who are kind of skinny and gawky (known now as "hipsters"). But these guys are still not getting laid. Why? Because they have crappy personalities. They can't handle a bit of self reflection. They can't handle the fact it's them that drive ladies away and not Light Sabers and x-wings. They can't handle the truth and so whine about "Fake Geek Girls" or "Fake Nerd Girls" because they don't want to accept their personalities suck and their lonely and horny because of the truth.
Posted by yucca flower on January 22, 2013 at 5:52 PM · Report this
I think if you have the time and energy to get upset about this sketch, you probably are at least somewhat of a nerd. My take on it is that just like there are many crossover Indie bands, there are also "crossover" nerds. I think I'm kind of a crossover nerd. In high school, I was a band geek by day and a party-girl on the weekend. Glasses on: band geek who can spell big words, read books and play the flute. Glasses off: party-girl who gets asked out a whole lot by both guys and girls. It might sound stupid, but it's not easy being a hybrid. I don't fit in with the true geeks and their socially clueless dork kingdom where no one ever gets laid, but I don't fit in with the alpha females either. I'm not really a dork, but I'm also not an extrovert. The way I handled it was by living a double-life, where my hot friends had no idea I could read and my dork friends had no idea I got laid a whole lot. Then, I grew up and figured out that labels are stupid and I should just be myself.
Posted by Hybrid Dork on January 22, 2013 at 7:14 PM · Report this
watchout5 39
I don't think everyone sees Portlandia as a period piece but I think over time it will become that. This skit was hands down perfect, it embodied at least a dozen or so kids from my high school, not the looks really, but that attitude, spot the fuck on in so many great ways. Could it be sexist? Could it be just a meme? I don't know, I thought it was entertaining. I thought it was well played. I think also that character would mention something about 'nerd girls', it's who he's supposed to represent. Those misogynist pictures came from somewhere, and it's nerds like this. I don't think it portrayed the comment in the positive light you make it seem, I would expect that a nerd who thinks that way would see a sketch like this and really think about the person they want to become and what those comments really mean in a moment like that and what they look like and sound like doing it. I also don't think it's a contest inherently sexist (either way it comes off sexist so that matters more), boy nerds fight about how nerdy other boys are all the time, and it regularly gets homophobic. It doesn't make either scenario right, but it's part of the culture, even if I've never participated in it, I have ears. :(
Posted by watchout5 on January 23, 2013 at 2:02 AM · Report this
@37 makes some good points, but I'd like to add that many such guys get a B+ for personality and a C- for hygiene. In that, I'm including guys who say that they shower every day, but do not look like they shower every day.
Posted by DRF on January 23, 2013 at 6:03 PM · Report this
@40: Bah! Everyone knows that chicks go for rock stars, so looking like ZZ Top is a good thing! ;)

I generally agree with the video (although I'm certainly not ashamed to be a nerd, and I find it sad that he is ashamed of it). Some of the stuff people are reading into this is pretty bizarre.

"Nerd" is traditionally a hate word for a group of people who are different, like "faggot" or "nigger". Being a "nerd" could get you beaten up, just like being a "faggot" could. So, yeah, privileged people claiming to be "nerds" is annoying. Playing video games doesn't make you a nerd any more than going to Pride Parade would make me GLBTQ. And if I went to Pride Parade and then started calling myself a faggot and claiming I knew everything about your culture, you'd think I was ridiculous, because I would be.

A lot of the issue may be that people seem to have very different definitions of "nerd". Some people seem to be defining "nerd" as "if you play video games, you're a nerd". A lot of people seem to be defining nerds as people who are into what I call "geek culture". When I say I'm a nerd, I mean I have Asperger's. If a woman comes up to me and tells me that she plays XBox and therefore she's a nerd, I'm going to mentally roll my eyes, because playing on the XBox is not actually similar to having Asperger's. That's not a sexist thing: I don't think that playing on the XBox makes a guy a "nerd", either. If the person who plays lots of video games wants to claim that that makes them a "gamer", I totally agree.
Posted by Old Crow on January 23, 2013 at 6:24 PM · Report this
These days, to get made fun of for liking what you like, you pretty much have to be a Twilight fan.
Posted by DRF on January 23, 2013 at 6:30 PM · Report this
BTW, I once showed a Taylor Swift video to a married female nerd friend of mine, and said female nerd friend got really angry at Taylor Swift because she felt Ms. Swift was falsely claiming to be a nerd. So this isn't strictly an issue of male nerds who can't get laid.
Posted by Old Crow on January 23, 2013 at 9:38 PM · Report this
Hm, well it's possible that Ms. Swift is lying. Claiming to be something to sell more albums or tickets isn't new in the celebrity world. Vanilla Ice claimed to be badass or whatever. It's just that claiming to be a nerd never made money before.

Ms. Swift might also be a nerd, but being a beautiful and popular young singer does by itself not mean that someone is a nerd.
Posted by DRF on January 23, 2013 at 10:17 PM · Report this

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