Register to reply

King of the Nerds... exploitative or genuine?

by Jack21222
Tags: exploitative, genuine, king, nerds
Share this thread:
Jack21222
#1
Jan15-13, 10:58 AM
P: 772
So TBS is starting a new show this week called King of the Nerds. I am very guarded about this show, because I'm afraid the show will be designed to exploit rather than explore nerd culture. I'm afraid that instead of presenting the contestants as they really are, TBS will present them as caricatures to be laughed at.

The Big Bang Theory gets a lot of criticism about that, but I enjoy the show for 2 reasons.

1) I think it's a genuinely funny show. I'm not a big fan of sitcoms, but the unique theme has allowed them to use situations that other sitcoms haven't been able to do so. There are only so many ways sitcoms can make mother-in-law interactions funny, but only the Big Bang Theory can have a scene where a physicist tries to do a biologist's work.

2) Because it's a sitcom, I'm willing to tolerate some level of caricature. The characters are SUPPOSED to be a bit goofy. The guys on the show are a little more awkward than they have to be, and Penny (early on) and her boyfriends are a bit more ditzy than they had to be. This has changed in the later seasons, for what it's worth. The men on the show have been fleshed out and made less awkward, while Penny is less of a ditz.

Since this new King of the Nerds show is a "reality" show, I fear that if the contestants are portrayed to be completely out of touch, nerd culture is going to be laughed at rather than being intriguing. Nerd culture has come a long way in the past 20 years. Comic book movies are now blockbuster hits every year, rather than a rarity. People who aren't otherwise particularly nerdy are calling themselves nerds and trying to dress the part because "geek chic" is in style. I just hope shows like this don't start turning the public against us. I can almost see a situation where people say "Well, I might like the Spiderman movies, but at least I don't LARP!"

I believe that if the producers set it up right, they can use this show to dispel myths and preconceived notions about self-described nerds. I really want them to show the normal human side of the contestants. If they manage to do this, I will probably be a big fan of the show.

By the way, I don't want this to become a discussion on Big Bang Theory; we already have a thread for that. If BBT is a borderline case, I'm afraid that King of the Nerds is going to take a flying leap across the line.

What do you guys think? Have you seen the previews? Will you tune in to watch? I plan to watch it, and I really really hope they don't set this up to exploit nerd culture.
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on Phys.org
New model helps explain how provisions promote or reduce wildlife disease
Stress can make hard-working mongooses less likely to help in the future
Grammatical habits in written English reveal linguistic features of non-native speakers' languages
Ryan_m_b
#2
Jan15-13, 11:01 AM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,401
Personally I'm opposed to the whole idea of "nerd culture" as it perpetuates stereotypes against reality. For instance: the idea that being good at/interested in science means that you're also going to be socially awkward. This show does not look good by any means.
WannabeNewton
#3
Jan15-13, 11:25 AM
C. Spirit
Sci Advisor
Thanks
WannabeNewton's Avatar
P: 5,401
At least it isn't 16, nerdy, and pregnant.

Jack21222
#4
Jan15-13, 11:36 AM
P: 772
King of the Nerds... exploitative or genuine?

Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Personally I'm opposed to the whole idea of "nerd culture" as it perpetuates stereotypes against reality. For instance: the idea that being good at/interested in science means that you're also going to be socially awkward. This show does not look good by any means.
I disagree that claiming an existence of "nerd culture" perpetuates such stereotypes. Sure, it's actually a bunch of different cultures kind of crammed together under one tent, but as a gaming and science nerd, I look upon anime nerds and comic book nerds as brethren. When I go to my local board game store, the culture there is very different from a sports bar. It's much closer to the culture at a video game convention.

There's a reason San Diego Comic-Con does a lot more than comic books. I'd argue that there is a somewhat unified nerd culture that exists, even if it is broken up into a lot of sub-cultures.

If anything, the REAL nerd culture actually defies the stereotypes like being socially awkward. If you go to a big convention, it's clear that the attendees are not at all socially awkward as a rule (sure, there are some exceptions).
Ryan_m_b
#5
Jan15-13, 11:47 AM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,401
Quote Quote by Jack21222 View Post
I disagree that claiming an existence of "nerd culture" perpetuates such stereotypes.
Are you attempting to redefine the word nerd to something like enthusiast? Because that's what I'm getting from your post.

Edit: to expand further, what exactly do you mean by nerd? If its simply someone who likes science and/or games, comics etc then is there really sufficient justification to have one encompassing term? How does that not perpetuate stereotypes e.g. "You're into science so you must like gaming".
Jack21222
#6
Jan15-13, 12:33 PM
P: 772
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Are you attempting to redefine the word nerd to something like enthusiast? Because that's what I'm getting from your post.
RE-define?

Ok, let's hear how YOU define the word "nerd." Maybe it's an issue of American vs British English, but the way I use it is the way it's generally used in this country.

I'd define "nerd" as anybody with a strong interest in non-mainstream activities or academics. I use the term interchangeably with the word "geek."
Whovian
#7
Jan15-13, 12:39 PM
P: 642
Interesting concept. I've always thought of "nerd" as meaning "enthusiast of something society considers nerdy." Or, in some cases, when used (very) loosely (almost jokingly,) just "enthusiast."

I'll refrain from judging until I see an episode. The commercials I've seen don't seem to relate "nerd" to "cleverness," but, again, I'll refrain from judging.
Jack21222
#8
Jan15-13, 12:47 PM
P: 772
To get to the point a little better, I think it is fairly obvious, at least to me, that there exists a certain culture epitomized by those who attend San Diego Comic Con and similar conventions (and this spills over into people who don't go, but would like to). You can name that culture whatever you want, but it's silly to pretend that it doesn't exist. I happen to call it "nerd culture" or "geek culture." You're free to call it "enthusiast culture," but that is not the point of this thread.
Ryan_m_b
#9
Jan15-13, 12:49 PM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,401
Quote Quote by Jack21222 View Post
RE-define?

Ok, let's hear how YOU define the word "nerd." Maybe it's an issue of American vs British English, but the way I use it is the way it's generally used in this country.

I'd define "nerd" as anybody with a strong interest in non-mainstream activities or academics. I use the term interchangeably with the word "geek."
Are you saying that nerd is no longer used as an insult to mean an individual who is academically talented yet possesses unpopular hobbies, lacks social skills, is physically weak and unattractive?

I'm aware of other uses of course but this is the main one I hear people use and when I hear it used in contexts like this I don't think it's a good thing.

Edit: rather than getting bogged down in this I'll simply ask: is the use of the term nerd in this show in any way pejorative?
Jack21222
#10
Jan15-13, 01:12 PM
P: 772
Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Edit: rather than getting bogged down in this I'll simply ask: is the use of the term nerd in this show pejorative?
I guess that's a good way to summarize what makes me nervous about this show. Historically, the word "nerd" has been a pejorative. However, recently the word "nerd" has been somewhat embraced by people and it's more socially acceptable to be "nerdy." I refer to myself as a nerd fairly often, though "geek" might be just as appropriate. So when I use the word, it isn't as a pejorative. In the video bios of the contestants, they refer themselves to nerds.

However, I am nervous that this show IS subtly using it as a pejorative. This show will either reinforce the old "nerd" stereotypes, or it will show that those that self-identify as nerds have depth and are worthy of respect.
Ryan_m_b
#11
Jan15-13, 01:18 PM
Mentor
Ryan_m_b's Avatar
P: 5,401
I completely agree Jack. I've used the words in the same way as you too but when I see it used in a wider context like this show I see it as reinforcing negative stereotypes. The worst of which being that being classed as a nerd or having nerdish qualities is not normal.
lisab
#12
Jan15-13, 09:34 PM
Mentor
lisab's Avatar
P: 2,972
One reason I really despise the wacky, goofy-dude stereotype scientist: I can't think of a more efficient way to scare off middle school kids from science. Especially the girls.
Mentalist
#13
Jan15-13, 09:56 PM
P: 32
I don't consider myself a nerd nor do I watch BB Theory. So more than likely I'll skip the show. Like someone mentioned before, it just further adds to the stereotype.

But also, I dislike the culture as it is because of the stereotype and now being considered more of a "trend" now. People being "nerds" because being smart is now cool. But this trend doesn't take into account the hard work these 'nerds' have to go through. A person toiling away at math/physics/biology/psychology and is very knowledgeable of the subject just didn't have the knowledge or consume it via lecture hall, that person worked hard to understand it and apply it. "Other" people misconstrue it as it being something inherent, etc..., so they refuse the hard work and just attempt to be perceived as someone smart by saying all the usual things.

All in all, I see it too many times at my university.
Jack21222
#14
Jan15-13, 10:11 PM
P: 772
Quote Quote by Mentalist View Post
But also, I dislike the culture as it is because of the stereotype and now being considered more of a "trend" now.
Every culture has its stereotypes. I don't think you should dislike a culture because of stereotypes. In fact, that's the exact WRONG reason to dislike a culture.
Evo
#15
Jan15-13, 10:56 PM
Mentor
Evo's Avatar
P: 26,415
Quote Quote by Jack21222 View Post
Every culture has its stereotypes. I don't think you should dislike a culture because of stereotypes. In fact, that's the exact WRONG reason to dislike a culture.
But aren't the stereotypes part of the culture? How can you dismiss them?
zoobyshoe
#16
Jan15-13, 10:58 PM
zoobyshoe's Avatar
P: 5,625
Quote Quote by lisab View Post
One reason I really despise the wacky, goofy-dude stereotype scientist: I can't think of a more efficient way to scare off middle school kids from science. Especially the girls.
Jack21222
#17
Jan16-13, 12:47 AM
P: 772
Quote Quote by Evo View Post
But aren't the stereotypes part of the culture? How can you dismiss them?
Stereotypes tend to have a bit of truth in them, but they tend to be quite exaggerated. Sure, while it's true that geeks don't tend to have the same circle of friends as the "popular" kids in school, they do indeed have friends. (The stereotype casts the geek as a loner).

As an example, check out what Marketing Week had to say about nerds:

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/nerds...011321.article

Astonishingly, the survey shows that "87 per cent of geeks say that friends come to them for their opinions". The Diary has checked and rechecked, and that is not a misprint. "Friends" is indeed used in the plural.
Bolding mine.

So, that's the stereotype that some people have in their mind. It's very easy for me to dismiss that stereotype. When I go to the local game shop, I do NOT see a bunch of people huddled apart from each other in various corners. Sure, if you put half of these people in a night club, they'd look socially awkward, but in this setting, they're friendly and outgoing.

Sorry if this post doesn't make much sense, I'm half asleep, it's about 2am. I guess my point is that exaggerated stereotypes aren't a part of any culture, but rather something imposed upon them from the outside.

Quote Quote by Aero51 View Post
I have trouble meeting women because of my degree title alone (no its not in rapeology) - so I just dumb it down and say I am a writer or artist...
And with all due respect, I don't believe you.
Pythagorean
#18
Jan16-13, 06:51 AM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,262
Yup, nerd is in limbo between the perjorative and the recent reaction to the perjorative. It's going to be used differently by people in different ways for different contexts.

But "over-enthusiast" (to the point of neglecting social nicities like mannerisms and dress) is sometimes a perjorative too. For instance, making a pedantic point or correcting someone in casual conversation on a date might lose favor with your date.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
'Genuine Decoherence' and Macroscopic Superposition Quantum Physics 0
Is John Edward Genuine? General Discussion 35
Do you think that Fermat had a genuine proof for his last theorem? General Discussion 16
Are these figures genuine? General Physics 2