Jan 21

goofy nerds

There seems to be this misconception that the quieter, more introverted section of our society is somehow the nicest.

While some people may seem polite at face value, or intelligent and innocent, there are many who are the deepest sexists, racists and homophobes when they have the luxury of anonymity and a “safe” setting.

Of course I am referring to the sub-culture of people who we call nerds. Now many of you have not known a good amount of “nerds” in your lifetime–and when I say “a good amount” I am speaking of 10+ different people with different personalities—so let me elaborate on who I am referring to with that nasty four letter word.

Nerds come in a large variety beyond what you’ve seen on shows like The Big Bang Theory; you have your Sci-Fi nerds, your sports geeks, your video game nerds, anime otakus and of course your all-around nerd. Some people dabble in nerd activities but cannot truly be classified as one despite it being the cool meme of the day for popular culture.

Still at face value you will tend to think of these guys as harmlessly adorable, awkward and weird; but you will be surprised at what you find when you dig too deep.

Nerd Tunnel Vision

Much of the way some of my fellows act is due to what I like to call “Nerd Tunnel Vision”, though not exclusive to nerds per se, it is a trait that any human being that limits himself to one type of fellowship will develop. It’s similar to small town syndrome where the lack of exposure to people who look, think, and behave differently can cause you to have a narrow scope on racial tolerance.

Nerds who were outcast as kids (or adults) find solace and comfort either to themselves or with other people who have been treated the same way they have. They will hang out with people who “get them” or share their strange sense of humor, it is human nature after all.

So out of a group of outcast, introverted set of people who look the same, act the same and feel the same, you are bound to get some opinions that don’t vibe well with popular culture. At times these opinions will wow you by the level of ignorance and lack of empathy they hold and at other times they will really disappoint you.

Examples of Nerds being sexist/racist without realizing it

Star Wars should not have female Jedi:
I used to work with a guy who was a big sports geek and Star Wars fan. Being a Star Wars fanboi myself (hell I can tell you all the saber forms and Jedi ranks) he and I would have some good conversations.

One day after Star Wars Episode 2 was released, I asked him how he felt about the movie. To my disappointment he began to tell me how he took issue with the idea of women being Jedis and how it ruined the movie for him. I wanted to ask him if he felt the same about the black Jedi Mace Windu but I left it alone since I was recovering from his earlier blast about the women.

Personally I was excited to finally see Shaak Ti and Luminara in action but this guy would probably scoff at me if I were to share that with him. I guess if you aren’t Aunt Beru mixing up some Blue Milk in the kitchen you have no place in my man’s Star Wars universe… what about Leia, did he miss the part where Luke said he could teach her the ways of the Force? Jackass.

Do not change my all white fantasy world to a multi-cultural one!
When that awful movie Dare-Devil with Ben Affleck came out, I heard many of the comic book purists, as in white purists opine the choice of casting the King Pin as Michael Clarke Duncan. Now a suitable counter for me would have been to point out that the murdering King Pin was a negative character so it wasn’t doing black any favors but I listened and stared as they went on about how much it ruined the movie. How can you argue with guys like this?

The same activity was carried out when one of the Harry Potter characters (Cho Chang) was cast as an Asian girl… yes I’m serious. Nerds dislike change, this above all else is a fact.

White liberal racists and the use of IRONY as a pass for poor taste.
I see this crap all day long all over the internet, clueless racists unaware that they are behaving in a racist manner. To them racists are the loud, confederate flag waving yahoos on the movies, dropping N-bombs and lynching black people. Their snarky remarks made with much irony is meant to show their enlightened viewpoint and since they aren’t “mean”, they deem themselves too educated to be considered racist.

They bemoan being white and oppressed, attribute any kind of black complaint to being a complaint with no base since “black people are the racist ones”. I hate to pick on them since hell everyone hates them, and there are entire sites dedicated to shitting on them daily. Just realize this free spirits, a racist can also be a very nice guy too, calm down on the “Ironic” jokes, they’re not funny.

Black liberal racists and the ever-elusive RACE CHASE.
Remember that guy Kanye West and his little stunt prior to disappearing out of the limelight to preserve what little PR he has left? Well I equate West to a lot of the newer, black, wannabe-freedom fighter, soap-box toting, “I wear my hair natural”, nerds on the internet.

It’s as if the big race war passed them by and they were stuck taking a shit during the melee only to emerge, sword in hand, ready to fight but with little to nothing left to kill and make a name from. While many, many things deserve to be called out and checked for racial undertones, these Kanye-types attack ANYTHING, therefore taking the focus further away from real issues.

These guys will tell you that a cup of milk is racist for being white, or the white lines on the road is racist for laying all over the black asphalt. When Avatar became the most popular movie of 2009 and every black blogger made it their mission to call it white-guilt, it made me think about this very paragraph right here. This does not include the good blogs who point out real injustices and inform people, just the 99% of the other fodder shooting rubber arrows in hope of them sticking.


So the next time a good friend or family member tells you they’ve met a nice guy/girl but he/she is a bit of a nerd you may want to run for the hills. Okay I am just kidding, but if you didn’t realize it before this article, I would hope you do by now that a silent group does not much equate to a docile or nice group.

The word nerd does not automatically equate smart like it used to back when it was a word of insult. It means many things and you can add closed-minded to the meaning list too. How do I know? Well lets just say I know a nerd or two; now when you read a reply on a gaming or movie blog that makes your blood just boil, just think in regard to who may have written it and it will make sense to you. Catch my drift?

A List of Similar Articles Fighting Back Against The Ignorance:

See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.
  • Phire

    Good article! You’ve summed up like 85% of the staff @ my old job (webhosting provider, etc.), where these young Internet geeks would spout witty racist, misogynist, & homophobic rhetoric like facts! Very disappointing, because they smile and invite you in when you have similar interests… Then slam you with subtle comments that are infuriating. Fortunately, as the pen is mightier than the sword, my ability to expose bullshit while balancing a sunny disposition & insulting folks is legendary!

    • I totally see the sexist thing. But I don’t know about racist. meh. ecitynerds.com

  • In order to create a stereotype about a type of people, you need to better define which people you are speaking of. Are you speaking of the unattractive annoying type of nerd? Or the intelligent nerd?

    If you do speak of the latter, then you are contradicting a thought that most modern-day men believe: Racism is a product of ignorance. Therefore, by definition- a nerd of racist thought is not intelligent and not a nerd at all.

    I think a better classification of these types you speak of is required…. See More

    PS. I agree with you that a black Kingpin did not “ruin” the already god-awful Daredevil film. However, it is not racist for a nerd to be upset with the casting decision. Do not blame the true-believer, blame the writer. Isn’t it more of the artists’ job to create a well-diversified multi-cultural character portfolio? If that’s the case, you’re calling Stan “The Man” Lee a racist and that’s a can of worms you don’t want to open…

    • True you make a good point, I should have pin-pointed exactly who I am referring to, it isn’t so cut and dry though. As with any classification there will be exceptions to the rule, you can have a cultured, intelligent, traveling nerd who still makes hurtful statements and doesn’t realize that he is acting the ass. We believe that racism derives … from ignorance but there are times when on the contrary, a few occurrences here and there, the pressure of family etc. and boom you have some tendencies that just won’t die.

      What prompted the article was a common trend I notice within our nerdy culture especially on message boards and blog commentary. Its become quite popular on anti-racism blogs to point out that nerds (generally) have a really backwards mind-set when it comes to race relations, many barking out the ugliest things just to be defensive over intelligent discourse.

      And Stan Lee… not his fault at all, but you know as well as I do that up until a few years ago the black superhero, villain or heroine was a taboo thing. When Hollywood decided that comic books were cool they looked at some of the classics and probably thought oh shit we can’t cast this, there are no people of color at all! So it’s not Stan, it’s the time period he was in and I am sure he was not the sole controller on such decisions. I can imagine them doing a true Canon Conan The Barbarian movie and watching the backlash it would get due to Robert E. Howard’s depiction of kushites.

    • sassysquatch

      Stan lee was pretty sexist when he started out. Id say that comes from the time in which he grew up. I dont know if his view on women in comics, and how they need to look, has changed much.

  • McGee

    It’s really easy to make the nerds x racism connection when you surf around 4chan (or any local x-chan site). Anti-semitism is some kind of rule (sometimes unspoken, sometimes NOT), calling people “nigger” as an offense is seem as cool, women aren’t well regarded and seem jokingly as a “menace” depending on the board

    “Pure-breed nerds” are sort of becoming, by their own choice, the scum of society. What I’d call (for the lack of a better term) “Hater Culture” is, what happened when nerds who are social outcasts were given voice – everything was turned to negativity.

  • Jim

    Articles about stereotyping people who identify with some aspect of a sub-culture and than trying to analyse the stereotypes they are applying are the worst. How more pretentious could you be?

    The only redeeming and true message in your editorial is to not judge people at face value and that there is more to them. However, this is entirely against the rest of the opinions and anecdotal evidence you include in the text making both the message and the rest of the your diatribe meaningless.

    Also how do you have the audacity to complain about certain people who identify with a group discriminating other groups? You are doing the exact same thing by stereotyping a sub-culture.

    Grow up and learn to apply your own ideals to yourself.

    Also invest in a copy editor.

    • >> and than trying
      >> also invest in a copy editor.

      your trolling is almost poetic. 🙂

      • 38 Years Later

        >implying that everything he said was not correct

  • walter

    oi. seriously dude. the nerd core is racist and sexist. how is that. everyone is racist everyone. in every form. now people are hardcore running around screaming the n word but everyone makes little judgments about people and who they are by there apearence.(ie color of skin, clothing, attitude, dialect) its just a fact. this is outlined greatly in phsycology, myers 9th edition in ch 16. today people are just less racist its a fact. i live with my aunt and uncle and my aunts side of the family flys the rebel flag and say the nword. but are you saying that because i am a star wars nerd i like this form or racism. personally as a white man it offends me when people use that word. but i love the word cunt. its a great word. but thats all it is. a word. if you give words power then you give them meaning. penn and teller mad a great point on there show bullshit. in the profanity episode they point out that the word bolderdash was used during the time as if it was the word bull shit. it wasnt a nice word and was very offensive. but today it is a silly word. proving the point that its all how people persive the word. my point to that by the way is that the n word really bothers me because it is a word used for hate. infortunitly i have to respect there desicion to use the nword because the first amendment protects there speach and what they say.

  • Yeah that explains why I’m not the biggest fan of nerds. Sure they may be academically intelligent, but most aren’t socially adept and don’t bother to leave their basements long enough to realize that the world is more than stock stereotypes.

    • Have you seen the latest foolishness with white nerd central going ape shit over Idris Elba playing a Norse God in the upcoming Thor? It makes comments like walter’s and Jim’s above mine look exactly like what they are, blind opinions from a privileged set of people. Game of Thrones coming out on HBO seems to be 100% lily white and I am okay with it, I’ll watch it and review it as another Lord of The Rings European myth. If Game of Thrones has a black person in it, hell even a captured black servant, you can 100% rely on these same nerds to catch a fit.

      You’re right it’s completely social retardation that leads to opinions like this and it is why I feel very comfortable in calling them out whenever I see it. The funny thing is that they cannot see it themselves and look at me as if I am a cyber bully.

      Not all of em are academically intelligent btw, I know cool guys who drink, talk to women and hold their racism in check that can blow some of these guys out of the water academically. It’s a closeted sub-culture and like every other sub-culture there are smart ones and dumb ones in every facet of life.

    • sassysquatch

      Not all of them are academically intelligent.

  • walter

    see the problem is greg is that i dont care about that hard core stuff. i could give a shit about who is playing what character. i personally think that donald glover should play both mayer goldy wilson and spiderman. but the problem that i have is that people dont understand that every one is racist. its just a fact that we as a society have to deal with. its just like shitting every one shits. some people shit is worse then others. …….ill be back to finish this in a hour.

    • I’m not disagreeing with your assertion that everyone has prejudicial tendencies (we’re misusing the word racist and lessening it’s meaning). It’s human to get around a bunch of people who act and look like you then push outsiders away. We see it with class – lots of borgee black people talk down on low income people and vice versa, we see it in history (in several cultures) and it continues today. My main point in this article was to point out that nerds aren’t an innocent collective of smart, misunderstood, outcasts as Hollywood would have us believe, nerds are just as flawed as everyone else.

      I get your point on having racist family members and not being a bad person but you are accepting responsibility for others who may not see things your way. I work in the IT field, I play games heavily, been in MMO guilds, been on message boards, whatever – my nerd resume is extensive. But as a man of color I see and hear things daily that makes me thing that the nerd sub-culture is very insensitive to things that popular society is getting past.

      Even Kotaku showcases articles on nerds being neanderthals on video games to women and anybody that isn’t a white male. I challenge you to prove me wrong on that aspect and if you can’t then we are derailing the meaning of this post. A racist family, racist politicians and racist humanity is a large scale argument and this article was meant to pinpoint a small segment of all that, nerds.

      I’m not crazy enough to assert that ALL nerds are racially insensitive but I can honestly say that a great number of very vocal nerds on the internet are.

  • Nerd War!

  • Gaming site Kotaku.com has been going HAM on racist/sexist nerds since the beginning of the year and I really appreciate them joining the expose escpecially since so many people act as if I sat, squat and shit this opinion out of nowhere. The links below are to articles detailing experiences that gamers have had with this open-minded nerd culture of ours:


    • VeryCreative


  • pachyderm

    Great article. I’m a nerd myself. I see what you mentioned all the time. It’s disappointing, since these are the people I have most interests in common with.

    One thing though, Harry Potter people did get upset when the Indian (South Asian) twins were actually cast Indian, and Cho Chang cast East Asian but I don’t understand why. Cho and Chang are clearly East Asian names. As for Padma and Parvati Patil, Seriously? Again, 100% Indian names. Rowling did make a more racially diverse world, and she coded those people’s races via their names. Picking quite stereotypical and common ones if I do say so myself.

    White people often assume everything is about them, and don’t know enough about other cultures to even recognize those names as not white in the first place. So, they never caught that was intended from the very beginning. It amazes me really.

    • “White people often assume everything is about them…”

      I deal with this daily in the IT field when arguing points about racism that should be common sense. It’s pretty futile really (with the exception of the people who actually listen) but fun to point out in articles such as this one.

      Thank you very much for your comment pachyderm.

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  • Steve

    While I agree with what you’re saying, this article was so poorly written I struggled to get all the way through it.

    • bryna

      Maybe you just can’t read…hmmmm

  • bob

    oh look the author is upset about some nerd being sexist so she stereotyped them all that way. the irony is to much.

    • CPB

      The author is male, dummy.

    • bryna

      God your dumb…

  • 38 Years Later

    I find it hilariously ironic that the person complaining about discrimination usually doesn’t even belong to the group being prejudged. It’s also funny that the complainer is usually being a discriminatory idiot them self (see: ENTIRE ARTICLE CALLING GAMERS OUT AS “RACISTS” AND “SEXISTS”).

    • 38 Years Later

      Whoops, I meant to say “nerds” instead of “gamers.” My point still stands.

    • 38 Years Later :

      I find it hilariously ironic that the person complaining about discrimination usually doesn’t even belong to the group being prejudged. It’s also funny that the complainer is usually being a discriminatory idiot them self (see: ENTIRE ARTICLE CALLING GAMERS OUT AS “RACISTS” AND “SEXISTS”).

      Wrong on all counts but thanks for reading. Maybe the next time you send out a racist or sexist email online when you get run by someone on a video game, you’ll remember my little article showing the world that you exist. See I can make assumptions too :).


    wow seriously you know one nerd or two? I am a nerd and I am neither racist or sexist and as a tournement player I have met many others gamer and I can tell you that most of them are realy open minded people. Also it’s kind of funny how you are sterotyping the nerds because of the few nerds you know, you are just as bad as those people you are reffering to. Now you should do the world a favor and never write anything so ignorant and stupid again.

    I am probably gonna get replies about my bad english if I dont write this so sorry for the typos english is not my main language

    • Did you bother to read the article? I would be willing to put money on it that half of you guys trolling didn’t but apparently the title has touched a nerve as it should if you exercise the behavior that I have detailed in it.

      Let me explain something to you and “38 Years Later” I have tournament gamed, I actually main Chun-Li in Street Fighter 4 and Super – The Hall has a sister site http://3godkings.com dedicated to that area of my life so your attempt to pull my nerd card as it were is silly. I see this stuff everyday, I work in the IT field and I am on the internet in a very strong way. I am calling things the way I see it and unless you yourself are a part of the group that is victimized by this then you are posting from a place of privilege.

      Anyway thanks for flooding my article with doubt, any publicity is good publicity and this article needs to be read and taken seriously by the so-called nerd world.

  • ZC

    This is a really weird article, more of a rant (your website, by all means) but a few bad apple nerdz0rz can’t spoil it for the rest of us. I’m a game playing, Flash movie watching, 8-bit listening Nerd. I like to read about science and the like…I know html code and how to rip down a comp and use DOS….but I also am a Glazing Contractor in Florida and do real man heavy work every day of my life. And I voted for Obama. So I realize you weren’t talking about us non-racist liberals but c’mon, is this really the place to nerdrage yourself?

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  • anonymous

    You should be ashamed of yourself for lying about all nerds and disrespecting them. For your information, NOT ALL NERDS ARE RACIST AND SEXIST!!! In other words, everyone’s different. Just because somebody has a specific personality, it doesn’t exactly mean that other who are similar to him or her have that personality as well.

    Stereotypical jocks are the ones who are racist and sexist.

    • bryna

      Everyday reality disagrees with you…

    • ORLY


  • http://www.destructoid.com/have-you-ever-been-offended-by-something-in-a-videogame–213168.phtml

    Check out the commentary on the above link which further confirms my assertion on gamer nerds being what they are – racist, sexist and a bit clueless socially.

    • What the heck man? Are you seriously slamming an entire swathe of society off the idiots who happen to post comments online (soapbox seekers) or be vocal at an event (hecklers) and simultaneously instructing them not to generalise or stereotype?

      For the sake of keeping this brief, I’m going to only respond to your less carefully manicured comments section, where you have exclusively equated nerd with game enthusiast.

      So, with that basis out of the way, let’s consider a different medium to games shall we? Say, video. Go to YouTube, take a look at 11 random videos, read the top 11 comments on each and pass judgement on everyone who watches videos of any sort based on that. “Ok, so you like Hitchcock’s filmography? I heard you people all thought the moon landing was faked and say LOL a lot.”

      Now, you’ve probably noticed a key thread between my example and your assertations. The internet. And this is the crux of the problem. The problem you describe is not endemic of a subculture, it is endemic of anonymity. The heckler in the crowd was just that, in a crowd, the idiot online hid behind a handle. I see people acting like idiots all the time on the street because they know they’ll likely not be recognised as they vanish into a crowd. That’s anonymity.

      Instead of tackling a real issue, you’ve used it as an excuse to open fire on an easy target. I fail to see how this is any more constructive than the negativity you seem to critique.

      • Thanks for your reply and while I do agree that the internet is the place where foolishness explodes, all of the examples within my article were real life example. I’ve worked with a couple guys who are not feeling women in the Star Wars universe (I worked in IT), I’ve been around the race-chasing neo Malcolm X types who wanted to chase ghosts so badly that they started to imagine them and I have heard more than twice the vocal disappointment when a white villain or superhero goes dark in Hollywood – Heimdall is a fine example.

        While I think some people who come here do read the article and see my point, I know for a fact that most of you read the title, maybe half of the first paragraph and take it personally. I consider myself a nerd as much as anybody else and I can easily do another article like this because it is a conversation that needs to be had. I didn’t pull it out of my butt, it’s a genuine concern that myself and others have shared for years.

  • Anonymous

    Is Nerd culture the embodiment of racist, and sexist attitudes?

    Answer: NO…but the Homosexual community definitely is!

  • Tony

    An interesting take on this, at least the sexist portion in the gaming subculture was the #1reasonwhy movement on Twitter this past week. There are so many underlying factors.

  • Anon Scandinavian

    You are right, but you are also a bit wrong. You seem to think the problem is nerds or gamers. I wish that was the problem but it is much bigger. The truth is that general racism in average teenage-boys(the largest part of gamers) are very high. Off course a lot of factors weigh in such as location (if you live in a multicultural area with lots of diffrent nationalites in your school, it is less likely to be a racist) But if you never have had a friend who has a diffrent skincolor the sad thing is that teengage-boys hangs out in small groups of 3-4 good friends and look at other groups as “them” like they are any diffrent. (So do ANY skincolor in a group doesn’t matter if they are blue or green.. the green look at the blue diffrent and so do they green if they have been segregated by sociaty-factors (MONEY!)
    And ignorant people is more scared of the unknown.

    My experience in the nerd/gaming-culture is in fact that most people are white and therefor those racist people think it’s fun to say racist comments and jokes. To impress or just to be funny. Some people do it to troll as well ofc but I have seen racist comments when it’s just been a group of friends playing. Everytime I react people get suprised because I’m supposed to be white and one of them and why would I care if they said anything bad about another skincolor?
    The reason I have been reacting to this is in my teenage-years is in fact that I have had friends since I was very small of all nationalites and it piss me off when anyone tries to bring them down like they aren’t as good as them.
    In my neighbourhood racist was the ugliest thing you could think off.

    Anyway I was going to say that I’m sure that a lot of light-racism that they think is light, is going on all the time when you can’t hear and see.

    Whenever 4-5 white male thats not really highly educated from a area that’s not multicultural you gonna hear loads of sexist and racist comments.

    If you wanna find a reason and a way to stop this, it is is the same way to stop any kind of racism. More blending, less segration, less gaps in the sociaty I couldn’t belive how big gaps between rich and poor there were in the US when I visited… Really horrible.

    That said you have to remember that we have selective memory and we remember things that effect us emotionally. So I have for example talked to thousands of nerds/gamers through my years but only a small percentage of them were idiots and only one of them have been a pure racist.
    Peace out from Europe.

    • Thanks for your comment Anon; great to hear the opinion of someone offshore and you are 100% right, it is due to lac of exposure and segregation that a lot of off-color jokes and statements are made by people. The friends I have are from different backgrounds, identify as nerd and act nothing like the ones in this article but like you said its because they are smart, grew up with different races and don’t feel the need to resort to foolishness.

      Stay warm on that side and I hope you keep visiting us here on the hall, Peace.

  • I would like to state that Michael Duncan was a better kingpin then the original.

    Also, great article. i’m citing it for a paper I’m writing.

    • Thank you Mackenzie! I hope some of this helps on that paper of yours. I would be curious to see it if you don’t mind sharing it once it’s done.

  • No, Nerd culture is not a haven for racist and sexist. To begin with; The Jedi consists of individuals capable of using the Force. They are the protectors of peace and stability in the galaxy. There’s only been about six Jedi in leading roles in all five movies to date. It’s also reasonable to expect male Jedi to only train other males and females to train other females, to avoid (minimize) any sexual tension in the relationship. So it would be necessary for Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mentors (Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda) and his student (Anakin Skywalker) to be males.
    Three of the twelve-member Jedi Council first seen in The Phantom Menace are females of their respective species–Adi Gallia (dark skin, white headpiece), Depa Billaba (medium skin, two gold bindi) and Yaddle (a female of Yoda’s species). The female Jedi Master Luminara Unduli can be seen in Attack of the Clones (almond eyes, wideGuinan-like hat) and also plays a major role in the book The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster, along with her apprentice Barriss Offee. Shaak Ti also has a role in the movieAttack of the Clones. A Jedi woman named Sylvar, plays a prominent role in several authorized “Star Wars” comic books. In the Expanded Universe, Mara Jade and Jaina Solo are also notable female Jedi.
    There are other but these are just the most visible ones.

    • Hi Anna, thanks for your reply but it has me confused. The article argues to your point that the creators of Star Wars see Jedi coming from different walks of life but the nerd who I was arguing with was upset that the prequels showcased female Jedi like Shaak-Ti, Luminara and more. The article isn’t to whether Sci-Fi is racist, sexist etc. it’s to whether it’s fans tend to be that way.

  • john

    Rememember to check your cis, white, male privilege daily!

  • Guest

    I don’t think the writer of this article understands the concept of a fanboy a very vocal but ultimately small group and the place where the only place they get lots of exposure is on the internet,xbox live(pretty much anywhere that is anonymous and virtual).

  • GenericK

    I believe the writer of this article does not know the term fan boy which is surprising considering the writer of this article identifies as a nerd. Fanboys gather lots of attention on places such as the internet where they can spew hateful comments as fast as they can type. But to say that nerd culture is the embodiment of racist and sexist attitudes is very far from the truth and the majority of nerd culture that people see is sensationalized by the media.

    I have found other social groups that are considered main stream eg sports that have huge racist and sexist attitudes, that nobody picks them apart because they are mainstream.

  • Michael Baytree

    This article may be a few years old now but, in light of the on going post-Zimmerman race conversations, its title piqued my interest. Let me state first that I do not and have not identified myself as a ‘nerd,’ though I admit to indulging interests that are labeled nerdy. Secondly, I agree that the definition of nerd has blurred since being co-opted by hipsters who believe all things uncool, aka non-mainstream or fringe, in the past are now considered cool and trendy.

    Now in your essay you highlighted that much of geek culture originates from an adolescent/young, white, male perspective, but I feel you have misdiagnosed racism, misogyny, and homophobia found therein as the root of ‘nerd’s’ unenlightened states instead of being the symptoms of their cloddish, juvenile natures. A few points I think necessary to re-mention, as covered by other commenters, are that one, many ‘nerds’ are socially inept, two, anonymity facilitates outrageous behavior, and three, nerds have been insulated from the larger society by ostification or self-imposed isolation. Therefore, when they socially interact online there’s a sense of consequence-less freedom via anonymity’s protection, or that they are speaking to their own brethren who won’t be upset by boorish comments; however when engaging in online trash talk the purpose is to provoke their conversational partner with outrageousness so we see racist, sexist, and gay insults. So while I agree this behavior falls outside of the mild, meek nerd stereotype, these behaviors are facets of human nature that we can expect from any member of a particular group, even geeks. Yet, I attribute the high frequency of this callowness to immaturity and a culture that tolerates/encourages obnoxious, rude behavior as a attention getting mechanism. Modern culture abandoned social politeness and decorum since it was deemed too restrictive in being one’s ‘self.’

    Now in regard to the “Do not change my all white fantasy world to a multi-cultural one!” I do take slight umbrage for a couple of reasons. My displeasure does not stem from my Caucasian ethnicity, but emanates from the changing or altering of a story to promote political correctness. In the case of Daredevil or more recently The Avengers, it doesn’t bother me that they changed the ethnicity of the King Pin or Nick Fury, because these were characters I, as the audience, was not emotionally invested in and furthermore, I felt Michael Clark Duncan brought a level of acting talent and physicality that all other actors would fall short of. However when characters the audience has stronger emotive ties to through a history of shared adventures, then I am indeed bothered. It would be like making Superman Asian, or Geordi La Forge, Morpheus, Spawn, Static X white, or changing Aladdin and Snow White to being Eskimo. So when a character is purposely changed for PC reasons you are telling the fans to forget the relationship they and the character have shared, a relationship that may have existed a person’s entire life. This is even more of a egregious act when it is done in a historical tale or a cultural context. Many of these stories originate from a time when the perceived world was smaller and less culturally diverse.

    And in conclusion when it comes to sexism and nerd culture, or culture in general, unlike your anti-female Jedi friend, I see it perfectly plausible for female characters to rival male characters in regards to superpowers and intellect. In modern media, the entertainment industry creates implausible, if not impossible situational outcomes in action movies (which appeal to nerdom) that take away from a story’s believability. Whether it is Legolas sliding down the oliphant’s trunk and killing it with one arrow through the skull in LotR or Spiderman stopping a commuter train with nothing but his webbing and feet, I have found action tales going from ‘well maybe that could happen’ to ‘the down right absurd’ by breaking of every law of physics. Harry Potter and The Matrix allow for this in the rules governing these alternate realms, but when a story is set in our universe I can’t see a 90-120lb. woman taking out 5-10 bad guys in a fight using only her hands. So finally the last type of sexism I mention here, but really don’t mind, is the attractive female character wearing impractical alluring outfits. Now this may make me somewhat hypocritical after my believability rant, but female RPG avatars with armor showing cleavage and/or mid-drift fall into the acceptable category for me.Blame it on my male nerdy perspective but this is a level of innocent sexism that shouldn’t be found offensive, which in a realistic comparison is akin to having a shirtless, ripped barbarian fighting in snow.

    • Excellent commentary Michael, thank you for a well thought out and extremely informed response. I do understand the reason people rage when characters are changed for PC reasons… I was guilty when Conan The Destroyer cast Grace Jones to play the part of Zula who in the comics was a large African man who could almost rival Conan. I was annoyed when they whitened Jessica Alba and gave her blue contacts to play Sue Storm and that Last Air Bender movie was… well we all know how that went.

      I grew up reading Fantasy and Sci-Fi along with watching it and I have been used to seeing all white casts but it really dawned on me what it does to kids coming up now–who come from cosmopolitan towns with cosmopolitan schools–when a movie is shown with all white faces. I don’t think every director has to pander or darken a character who is white in canon but there needs to be a change for more inclusion in fantasy spaces. Sci-Fi has always been fair, this is why Idris Elba can play a badass commander in Pacific Rim and the ambiguously racist trolls can accept it, but comic books have always been terrible at this. Comic books and Fantasy only recently started to be inclusive and so many–hell all except 5 that are jokes–of the super heroes we know are white. Hollywood gets more heat to include people of color so they try to “fix” the all-white comic books by making characters like Heimdal black in order to make money.

      The same thing is going on right now in video games with people of color and women. Most black and brown people accept that video games are normally made by white males so the protagonists reflect that and the ignorant and stereotypical black side characters are a reflection of their dev teams lack of connection to our culture. We get it, we play games, some try to become developers and we move on. Women on the other hand have had enough of the “boys club” angle with games so creatures like Anita Sarkeesian pop up to call the devs out on their patterns and ask that women be presented in a better way (while collecting money at the same time).

      For change to happen it just seems like on a few of these slights our privileged, white nerd brothers and sisters should give us the benefit of the doubt sometimes when we say that we feel slighted. The same way you were able to explain the reason why a black Spiderman would be an issue and I can accept it, more people need to accept that an all white Avengers cast is going to be looked upon as a problem. Until there is ample representation in modern movies to make up for the massive decades of a pure white media, Hollywood is going to feel pressured to do this.

      The good news in all of this is that people like myself are writing and creating books that will eventually become movies that may help to change a lot of what we have problems seeing on the big screen.

    • anna

      “but when a story is set in our universe I can’t see a 90-120lb. woman taking out 5-10 bad guys in a fight using only her hands.”
      Then why isn’t the woman more like >160 lbs of muscle? Because sexism dictates that women have to be small and thin in order to be attractive, and ppl only want to see ‘attractive’ women on the movie screen. That is sexism.

      “female RPG avatars with armor showing cleavage and/or mid-drift fall
      into the acceptable category for me.Blame it on my male nerdy
      perspective but this is a level of innocent sexism that shouldn’t be
      found offensive, which in a realistic comparison is akin to having a shirtless, ripped barbarian fighting in snow.”
      Except it’s not a realistic comparison, because the scantily clad woman is there just for the purpose of men’s viewing pleasure, while the shirtless barbarian is there to look tough, badass, and inspirational to other men – that is sexism. I don’t think it’s fair for you to decide what should or should not be offensive to others, since the kind of sexism that takes the form of over-sexualization of women can indeed be very toxic and detrimental to women’s self-image and confidence in real life. If this is something you have never thought about before, I encourage you to do so. As a man you really can never know first hand how it feels to always be immediately evaluated on your physical attractiveness by everyone you meet, to be constantly presented with images of what you *should* look like in order to be ‘attractive’ and constantly feel pressure to spend your money in order to achieve this, to know that you are viewed as a sexual object by a large percentage of men, to live in fear that you will suddenly not be ‘attractive enough’, and on a more concrete level, to know that women like you around the world are physically exploited through rape, porn, prostitution, etc as a direct result of the sexual objectification of women. I’m not saying that RPG characters shouldn’t have sexually appealing outfits per se – just that it is not “innocent sexism” – it is a symptom of very real and very serious sexism that impacts every one of us.

  • dyuken

    While I agree with a great deal of your comments here. i am not so in agreement with the “Black Racist”. I am getting a little tired of people not understanding that racism is POWER plus Prejudice putting the RACIST moniker around any other neck than where it belongs here in this country. WHITE PEOPLE. Not all white people are racist because not all white people are bigots You need prejudice to go with that power(unearned privilage base on skin color politics) to be racist. Bigotry is a monsterous evil in and of itself and we can all be bigots but in this country at this time only white people have the power necessary to add to the bigotry to stop any other group of people from living their lives as they see fit.

    • Just so you know, the term racist has changed since we were young (I am assuming you are near my age). The way you describe racism is how I grew up understanding the word but now dictionaries put iton par with bigot… not a systematic process of destroying a people but something lighter like you calling me a name. That to me is frustrating but I just thought I would let you know so you understand why people will counter your argument with the fact that black people can “now” be racist. Google it for yourself “racism”, I was quite surprised when I read it.

  • MisterNegan

    Eh, fuck nerds. I knew there was a good reason they were all getting their asses kicked in high school.

    • BB shark

      I know that this is a two year old comment, but dag nabbit, that made me laugh like crazy!

    • swoopdog

      You realize you are actually a nerd? Look at everything you have ever said on Disqus you are literally a fucking pansy ass cuckold liberal faggot.

  • Mike

    only sexist, since some points of view, in my experience.

  • Matthew

    Racism is the systemic oppression of nonwhites by whites, therefore there is no such thing as a black racist. If you disagree with this statement, you are a racist.

    • nmmatt

      The better term is White Supremacy. Anyone can be racist, and in fact, most people are to some extent. However it’s the political and cultural expression of white racism toward people of color which is the actual problem.

      • Matthew

        No, not anyone can be racist. Anyone can hold a multitude of prejudices, and most of them are unjustified. Retaliatory prejudice is different; hating people because they hate you is not the same as hating people because they’re different from you and it never will be. But only whites, heterosexuals and gentiles can be racist. Racism is the systemic oppression of people of color by whites.

      • nmmatt

        What does sexual orientation have to do with it? Regardless, racism has two definitions according to Webster, neither of which are yours. Now you may feel entitled to reinvent the term, or perhaps you were taught a new definition for it. However, once again, what you are describing has a better description – either “white supremacy” or perhaps “systematic racism against people of color.”

      • Matthew

        “What does sexual orientation have to do with it?”

        Plenty. The same people who imposed systemic racism on people of color also imposed homophobia upon them.

      • G-SANtos

        “But only whites, heterosexuals and gentiles can be racist.”

        Actually, Japan is full of racism against Koreans. There’s also huge discrimination against burakumin (although they are technically a caste, not a race, but the discrimation works the same way), and there are companies that refuse to hire people if they find out they are burakumin.

    • G-SANtos

      “There is no such thing as a black racist.”

      Actually, there is. Black supremacy comes to mind. But I agree they aren’t relevant enough to be brought up in discussions about racism in general.

      • Matthew

        Black supremacy is retaliation for white supremacy.

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