The Force has awakened.
Donna Noble has left the library.
Commander Adama has found Earth.
Felicia Day has proclaimed that no one is weird on the Internet.
Wil Wheaton has boldly gone to tabletop gaming where no celebrity has ever gone before.
Bill Gates is the richest man on the planet; he can totally afford to go wherever he wants today.
And it’s a brave new world of mixed messages regarding that old insult: nerd.
Star Wars was the first movie to treat science fiction as a real genre, not just a trashy joke like Barbarella. Time and time again the franchise has exploded box office records, not just for a particular month or category but for all movies ever made. Five of the seven episodes are listed in the top 100 all time highest grossing movies in the world. (https://goo.gl/zlC153)
Yet as I waited in line recently to attend the newest release, Rogue One, I felt several disturbing ripples in the Force.
“Oh, I can’t wait to see this!” some girl gushed to her boyfriend/husband/man of the moment. “Even though I’m not, you know, nerdy.”
You mean, you’re not a nerd?
That’s still a thing?
As I shivered in the cold, I took a moment for some self reflection.
Have I been called a nerd before?
Oh, you betcha! Before I had contact lenses, I wore glasses. I also earned straight A’s and read more books than probably half of my entire high school graduating class–combined.
But am I a nerd?
Possibly. I do still sometimes wear glasses. My favorite book is Frank Herbert’s Dune. I speak three languages, two fluently and one well enough to find the U.S. Embassy if traveling with James Bond in a foreign country. And I can recite all the dialogue from every seminal science fiction film from the eighties to present day…
…but I’m not good at math.
Even regular how-much-money-is-in-my-account-after-this-check-clears math requires a calculator.
Random Aside: Please, Landscape Guy, please get a Square so I can pay for your services just like I do for coffee and other civilized necessities. The checks are literally killing me.
However, in addition to intellectual pursuits, I do other things. Physical things, like qualifying for a 2nd degree blue belt in taekwondo and boxing at a gym for fun. Sports, even–in college I played rugby and before that I was a solid second stringer soccer player.
So, am I a nerd or not?
I think the character of Hermione as portrayed by Emma Watson did a lot to change the image of nerds in the movies and therefore the public eye. While progress had been made before then on the smaller television screen, the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone really highlighted the benefits of being a smart girl in a scary world. The actress herself is undeniably beautiful, frizzy hair and all, and she presented Miss Granger as unapologetically smart. Hermione is also right there in the mix braving three-headed dogs and fighting to defeat He Who Shall Not Have a Nose.
Merriam Webster’s defines “nerd” as an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially : one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits <computer nerds> (https://goo.gl/hkTxHQ)
So…is Hermione Granger a nerd?
Is that even really the right word to use, anymore?
The fact of the matter is that the Urkles of yesterday are today’s innovators and CEOs, self-made magnates drinking expensive coffee and comparing the roasting techniques of a twenty billion dollar industry while using apps like OpenTable to secure reservations at elite farm to fork dining rooms. They are driving Teslas or Model 3s while carrying reusable bags in the trunk and recycling their plastics in order to reduce their personal carbon footprint. They are conscientious about the world and passionate about their hobbies, and they are forever fueled by dreaming of things that exist just beyond current reality–and then creating them.
I gave the girl waiting in line in front of me a cursory once over, taking in the poor peroxide blonde wash and three inches of bronze foundation that didn’t match her neck. We both held tickets to see the same film, a science fiction “epic space opera”. Yet she felt she needed to qualify her interest about the movie to her boyfriend, whom I saw was proudly wearing a “Han Shot First” tee shirt.
“I’m not nerdy”?
Let’s redefine the word “nerdy” by replacing it with “smart” and see how many people really want to repeat that sentence.
Let’s redefine nerd altogether by recognizing that it takes smart people to change the world.
Sassy, successful, and dare I say I have my sexy moments–damn straight I’m a nerd.