So I’ve been meaning to comment on this whole phenomenon for a minute, but I haven’t had the time. Not to cast dispersion on NaughtyNerdy for posting it, but I am gonna take this opportunity to rap about this “Nerd” phenomenon and it’s “Nerd Girl” component.
I felt a way about it, because I don’t hesitate to consume the images that proliferate the internet under the guise of nerd girl images. I’m into images of girls regardless. I have, however, never assumed that the images I am consuming are images of nerds. Not to say that they are not images of nerds, but the fact is, how would I know? That is because I don’t believe I can tell who is a Nerd by an image.
…so unless the little icon on the left of the copy was supposed to indicate that this is some sort of wit or extreme sarcasm that I didn’t get, here’s why I call bullshit on the nerd girl phenomenon, yes the very same nerd girl phenomenon whose images I consume regularly.
To start, what is a nerd? Is a nerd a person who wears glasses?
Originally, I believe “nerd” was an epithet created by one group to describe a group of intellectual, non-athletic “squares”. I propose that what the term nerd has become is a term of endearment used among consumers who recognize each other as supporting the nerd brand of consumer culture; this is usually achieved by displaying acceptable Nerd consumer products. So nerd culture is a subset of consumer culture/popular culture. A group that identifies itself with a counter culture that was previously maligned but currently is a driving force in pop culture.
The original pop cultural image of the nerd as can be seen in Revenge of the Nerds, Goonies, Weird Science or whatever John Hughes movie was one of an individual who valued substance and practicality over appearance. They were individuals who got their identity as a nerd by denying mainstream mid 20th century American culture’s identity values for values that placed hard work, rarified intellectual and artistic pursuits above appearance or wide spread acceptance. The antithesis to the Nerd in this faulty paradigm (sorry, but it works) was the “Jock”. While the Jocks also valued action and hard work, they tended to judge the appearance of the nerds as an indication that the nerds failed at finding a place within mainstream culture.
My main problem with contemporary Nerd culture and the meems associated with it is that it reinforces these identity paradigms that are unhealthy. In the end asserting your identity as a nerd or nerd girl based on the products you consume or display is as ridiculous as thinking wearing a tattoo makes one a sailor. One can’t buy an identity and in contemporary consumer culture appearance is rarely indicative of one’s identity or culture* anyway. So I call bullshit on the image above because you can’t assume someone’s identity you can only judge their appearance. So of course they are likely to falsely judge your character by appearance and you would be foolish to think that they wouldn’t.
The “jocks” and “nerds” are both judging this “Nerd Girl” as a commodity. The nerd is judging wether you are an authentic commodity and the jock, in this case has decided that the branding is attractive**. Either way they are not viewing the subject completely as a human being. By accepting the label nerd and accepting that it is something that can be deciphered by your appearance you are accepting your identity as commodity.
Why even appropriate the nerd/jock paradigm. Why not refuse to play the game? By accepting the rules you are playing into the same system that punished and separated people into groups to begin with.
…so yeah, I’ll get into the whole AfroPunk thing in another post…
*unless we are referring to consumer culture.
**in this case I wouldn’t even judge the “jocky guy’s” response as being as absurd as that of the “nerd guy” as he is simply expressing his opinion on the appearance of something based on it’s appearance. If this opinion wasn’t informed by some fucked up paradigm and reinforced by the commodification of the women into multi-flavored consumables with no value outside of that consumption it would be totally legit. And sure, he could and should keep that information to himself regardless.
But you know… hollar back, am I bugging?