Is blerd the word? The shadiness of blerdiness.
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
But I am sure that comes as no shock. And as a person who lives for show tunes, comic books and Star Wars, it is becoming a tolerable place in some aspects. Unfortunately, there is dissention in our little tribe of overexcited, overindulgent Animaniacs- Nerds now come in skin tones, kids, like Barbie Dolls.
We have progressed culturally to being inclusive in all other areas of our lives except one- the ever feared, ever dreaded nerdom kingdom. In Nerd Narnia, apparently we’re just now arriving at 1950 and if you want to play along, as per the Golden Age rules, you can’t just be American you have to be Blah Blah Blah American. So to follow suit with backward categorization, You can’t be a nerd anymore unless you claim to be blah blah blah kind of skin, nerd.
This would never stand on Fraggle Rock, friends.
Being a part of groups that have historically and systemically been disenfranchised in the United States (Female, heteroflexible, Black) has taught us all that if you are a part of America’s diverse peoples, a point comes in your life where in order to get any kind of support, you have to acknowledge the differences between you and others. Then you must allow people to join up for “the cause.” This way, changes in how you are perceived can permeate the whole.
I find it frustrating, having been nerdy for my entire life, that now I have to say in online forums or other groups that I am a blerd. I’m not just a nerd anymore, people…I apparently have to self-identify even further as a Black nerd. As if being awkward wasn’t already hard enough. I really don’t think Spock would find the logic here.
If you really are a nerd, then you know these things to be true:
We never wanted to be called nerds in the first place.
There haven’t been a lot of portrayals in television or movies of people of color being nerdy because, in my opinion, there just wasn’t enough of a visible market to sell to. However, I never personally felt excluded from the clique of snot-nosed know-it-alls because we always had each other. We sought one another out. Jocks weren’t talking to us, the drama kids ignored us and the cool kids didn’t know that we were even in the same classrooms with them. If you are a nerd, you didn’t discover this in your 20’s. It’s been how you expressed yourself and viewed the world from the very beginning. Being obsessive and alone was forced upon us, because of our scholastic predilections.
Having gone to the SDCC and many other Cons around the country, the most wonderful thing about the experience is that you know as soon as you walk into the convention center, there is no animosity, no frustration, no belittling, no crime, no outsiders. We all belong, regardless of our fandom. It is the most welcoming and relaxing moment in time, to talk Doctor Who minutia or Star Wars Canon with people who look and sound and act nothing like you. You feel right at home.
It’s beautiful. It’s our Woodstock. And no one is walking around the joint saying that we are nerds.
It was used as an insult so we just don’t really describe ourselves that way. Oh but now that there are suddenly more of us, an angrier bolder version of us (supposedly) and they look like me and they want to be acknowledged and seen and recognized and listened to and specifically marketed to (unlike me). Somebody better recognize.
Where were you when I was getting my ass kicked for knowing all of the words to every song from the Sound of Music and having no idea who Sir Mix A Lot was?
If people have called you a nerd to your face with malicious intent, then you understand. We didn’t want to be nerds, we just were. We didn’t want to be different from the others. They made us different because they didn’t understand us. So we embraced it but it was painful, squirrel friends.
So why take a pickaxe to divide up the group of people that nobody liked in the first damn place?
At some point, I don’t know when or where it happened, people who are not fair skinned have had problems with people who are fair skinned about whether or not their nerdiness is valid.
So to combat it, a new subgroup to the subgroup- Blerds.
Jesus Christ fucking Superstar man, really?
If you know nothing inside and out- you’re a fan, not a nerd.
There was always T’challa, Storm, and Luke Cage when I was growing up and loving comics. And of course Lando Calrissian and James Earl Jones as the voice of Lord Vader. I personally did not feel that other people’s acceptance of my skin tone in planet nerd was necessary. We knew our only interactions with the popular posse would only be to help them cheat on exams. I felt safe in my books and musicals and comics- I knew what I loved and actually, I felt sorry for my classmates that they weren’t smart enough to love the things that I loved as much as I still do. They complained about being empty, and I did not.
I get the frustration about under representation. There weren’t a lot of folks out there that looked like me being laughed out of the room for being a nerd– racism was the soup du jour. People who saw me harassed made the right assumption: it was how I looked that they hated –not what I loved. The other nerds that I grew up with, however, sounded like me and had the kind of love that I had for human creativity and expression. We connected in half empty lunch room tables and shared.
I don’t think that when Theodore Geisel came up with the word nerd, that he thought it would be used to describe a group of humans in the first place. I mean it is a fake word. (Poetry is awesome, BTW).
We as a society decided that the people who were called this mean-ass word were socially inept, uncomfortable with normal fashion and cultural cues and extremely intelligent about a particular topic irrelevant to the coolness hierarchy. We, the nerds, simply loved the genius of human invention and we studied it instead of partying and drinking, and used references in our everyday vernacular that could only be explained by another person who was just as much of a die-hard student of the same topic. So if you like Wonder Woman because a Wonder Woman movie is coming out next month but you can’t name one villain from a Wonder Woman comic, you’re a fan darling, not a comic nerd. And that’s okay…. Unless, one day, you have to be called a Blan instead.
Nerds are defined by category, not skin tone.
I was Velma Dinkley last year for Halloween. For me, it’s not an act. And with so much fluidity in gender roles and sexual labeling why does there seem to be a reversal and a strict new defining system when it comes to an overabundance of knowledge about a specific thing in the universe?
If you know every incarnation of The Flash in every timeline, or you know every statistic for every pitcher for the Yankees, or you know every musical that is based off of La Boehme, then you are a Comic, Sport, or Theatre Nerd. But it’s still nerdy because nobody else cares that much about it, not even the creators of it.
Nerds are taking over in entertainment and art right now, and hallelujah. But when did being a loser become a badge of honor? (Hush, Beck).
A lot of the geeky and comic and musical stuff that we have loved our whole lives have become prevalent in pop culture now, and every Tom, Dick Grayson and Harry Potter want to pretend as if they are members of this once untouchable class. But yo, if I’m Polynesian and a nerd, what am I called then?
Or better yet, am I a damn Ferd because I’m a chick? Seems to be overkill. We don’t like you because you like stuff too much so we’re going to label you a nerd.
But now, everybody wants to you to call them out based on their shade instead of their weird fascination with Goku.
It’s too much, guys, seriously. When will it end?
I wish that someone would address the issue of racism and just leave other things out of it until it is resolved. The scientific fact is that we are all human beings. Unfortunately no matter how many parsecs pass, earthlings can’t seem to get over the existence and levels of melanin. Xenomorphs will kill us all, with no remorse, FYI.
Racism is probably one of the reasons that Uhura was like yeah space travel sounds good as fuck, if I’m honest, let’s go!
Be whatever you want but if you live for your thing, whatever it is, you should be able to immerse yourself in that without a label at all (if real nerds had their druthers.) All we ever really wanted to be was equal to everyone else and not shit on because we spent two years learning how to speak Klingon.
Huey Lewis called it. It’s hip to be square. Lamar Latrell wasn’t called a blerd and I won’t be either.
Featured image by c_sherm via Flickr.