I am a nerd, by my own proclamation, and by the proclamation of others. I’ve been this way my entire life. I like your stereotypical “nerdy” things, and I tend to have interests that other people find boring. Example: from about ages seven to twelve I used to get in trouble for staying up until midnight writing self-assigned “reports” on different animals. I even had criteria I had to follow and a specific format I used.
So, as you can imagine, I am so very excited that a lot of my “nerdy” interests have been pushed into the mainstream. It’s now cool to like period television shows on PBS, to wait in line for hours to see a movie based on a beloved book, and to buy and read comics. It is exciting that the things I love are becoming evermore popular, but at times it can be disheartening, too. A lot of the time, nerds have such an intense passion for things that we get upset at the “casual fan.” It is a fault that all nerds struggle with (we’re working on it, I promise). Usually you can see this upset occur at a movie premiere, when loyal nerds who have read the book a hundred times all gather outside the theater to dissect the plot and why “the book was better.” Usually in this group there are one or two people who have never read the book, and their super nerdy friend apologizes to the other nerds for them (“Sorry, she read it once in high school, but hasn’t since.”).
It seems that this type of nerd elitism plagues all of us at some point, even if we strive to avoid it. The thing is, nerds are extremely passionate, and we view the things we love as sacred. You may practice religion, but ours consists of Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and World of WarCraft.
This being said, nerds, how do you handle it when your favorite graphic novel gets turned into one of the most popular television shows airing today? How do you deal when your very existence and social abnormalities are turned into a television show that mocks you under the guise of acceptance?
You take a few deep breaths and maybe scream into that Appa pillow pet sitting on your bed.
Really though, we need to learn to deal with it. I have found myself, unfortunately, being that nerd elitist at the theater that giggled at the person who thought X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a good movie. Honestly, you might feel cool for a minute or two, but you’re being a jerk. So when the nerd entitlement starts to show its claws, I try to stop and remember a few things.
The whole reason I got into nerdy things was that it was a safe place where I was accepted.
Nerdy things tend to be odd and quirky, and they provide escape from reality. When I am reading Harry Potter, Hermione and her books save the day. The Doctor saves people using science and clever wit. The Scoobies do research, and Buffy depends on them when fighting the “big bad.” Peter Parker is a sarcastic underdog with some serious intelligence. Frodo and Sam are two tiny Hobbits who have only ever known a quiet life and suddenly they’re Middle Earth’s only hope. Nerds, remember you didn’t always know everything about Batman. So when someone shows an interest in something, welcome them, don’t shun them.
When things we love get more exposure, the people who are involved in creating them get recognized for their brilliance and get better opportunities.
Be happy for the people who create amazing things for you to watch. I remember when Joss Whedon directed The Avengers, so many people shrugged him off as the “Buffy Guy,” and now he’s playing a big role in everything Marvel. The fact is that we should be happy for the people we admire when they get much-deserved recognition. Remember their success could pave the way for our potential careers one day!
More merch, more merch, more merch!
T-shirts, buttons, bags, art, and everything you could possibly want with your favorite characters plastered across the front! I remember when the only way to get anything made with something I liked on it was to print it to an iron-on, or write it on a shirt in puffy paint. Now there are websites and Etsy shops devoted to producing merch with anything you could ever want on it. Supply and demand, my nerds.
It’s OK that what you hold dear is experiencing some time in the mainstream media. It’s too much work to be upset that the things you love are out there for the world to view. Also, if there isn’t that demand from the masses, things get cancelled, and I think we all know what it’s like to find out your favorite show is getting cancelled (cough, Firefly, cough, Veronica Mars). So, be happy when you can talk about Skeletor and people no longer raise an eyebrow at you, but instead say, “Oh, you mean that skeleton guy from the Happy Honda Days commercial?”
Sydney Yalshevec is an Arizona nerd, living and working as a reporter in a small Nebraska town. She likes to craft, paint her nails, and learn about anything and everything. Netflix is her life. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter under the name psydvicious.