Is “Geek” the New Sexy? But for How Long?
September 6, 2011 1 Comment
Only in the movies (or in my dreams) could an aspiring scifi writer look anything like the absolutely adorable Adam Scott from Parks and Recreation.
In Our Idiot Brother, which I went to see this past weekend, Scott plays Jeremy, the neighbor and best friend of lead character Paul Rudd’s sister Elizabeth Banks. Although in this movie Jeremy describes himself as a “hard” science-fiction writer (think Arthur C. Clarke rather than Ray Bradbury, although YMMV on the accepted definitions of hard vs. soft science fiction), the actor in fact physically resembles no scifi writer I can think of.
Not that there was/is anything wrong with the aforementioned gentlemen, but seriously, neither would ever have been considered movie star material even in their younger days. I can only surmise that the relative hotness of the casting for the writer role in Our Idiot Brother is supposed to be seen as good news for geeks and nerds everywhere.
But has scifi, even hard science scifi, officially broken into the mainstream consciousness as a totally accepted, cool concept? Or does the non scifi-loving population still regard it as just a laughable niche interest for losers? When I was growing up, being a nerd and basing one’s life around intellectual pursuits was clearly seen as inferior to all other lifestyles and pastimes, so I find it hard to believe that this long-established prejudice has really changed that much in the intervening years.
Personally, I have never fit the media’s idea of the stereotypical nerdy scifi fan, as I work in the dynamic field of commercial advertising and not a comic book shop, have never once lived in my parents’ basement, and am (shock, horror!) of the female persuasion. Since I’ve been reading, viewing and sharing my observations about scifi for years but have never made much headway into influencing even my best friends’ opinions about the genre, its writers, or its fans, it seems hilarious to me that the interests I have been derided for having all of my life should suddenly morph into desirable, “hip” qualities onscreen.
Of course, this IS the movies. And when have movies ever represented reality? But “geek” is suddenly being considered sexy even on network television these days, if you take into consideration the popularity of shows like “Big Bang Theory” and “Chuck.” Not that this trend is a bad thing, but I have to wonder at its potential longevity. Despite the proliferation of websites showering us with tips on How To Look Like A Sexy Nerd and suggesting the best sites to buy geeky gifts (I heart you, ThinkGeek!), I must wonder if the general population really accepts geeks and nerds, or even sees us as normal.
Will Gen Next continue to embrace geekiness? Is there such a thing as a hot nerd, or is nerd popularity just another short-lived fad, with the eventual nasty backlash lurking just around the corner?
Cross-posted at SciFi4Me.com