Why I’m Not A Nerd, And You Probably Aren’t Either

Not long ago I was walking with a friend. Actually, not a friend. Technically, this is a person that I hate passionately but to whom I am nonetheless bound by the codes of mutual friendship, and the fact that we spend 80% of our time on the same university campus. Anyway, as I was walking with this Friend-of-a-Friend, I tried to keep the conversation as neutral as possible. And since pop culture is the only topic in which I’m remotely conversant, we mostly talked about TV. It went thusly:

I’d mention a show-

-And she’d jump in with how much she was obsessed with that show. Because, you know (*sheepish, with the slightest hint of shame) she’s just such a nerd.

Cool. I really dig it, too-

-Yeah, but I mean, not the same way she loves it. She used to watch the original series with her dad. So it’s just more special for her.

Sure.

I’d bring up a movie I recently saw-

-And she (excuse her, she didn’t mean to interrupt) couldn’t contain herself, just had to tell me about all the merch she’d gotten from that franchise. It was a lot of money, but, you know, (*still sheepish, now slightly over-selling the shame) she’s just such a nerd.

Thanks. Got it.

The appropriation of nerd culture into the mainstream has created a perfect niche for people like this girl. It allows her to feel cool and relevant, with the added thrill of feeling special, because what is Nerdom, if not a counter-culture that thrives on it’s own self-imposed exclusivity?

I not saying that I don’t love nerds. I really, really do. I admire anyone that is passionate about something, and who finds genuine joy in that passion. But like anything, there are two sides to Nerd culture. The first side loves something with so much of itself that it wants to share it with feature-kate.jpgeveryone. It wants other people to share and experience the thing that means so much to it. But once that thing is out there, is made accessible to everyone, we see the other side of Nerd mentality. It circles the wagons. It realizes that what was once it’s thing now belongs to many, and it resents this perceived loss.

For a while I thought that the popularization of nerd culture would make things more inclusive, and in some ways it has. It’s safe to say that people now feel more able to express themselves and their allegiance to their fandoms like never before. In other ways, it’s also made things more esoteric. I don’t live and breathe for the original Star Wars Trilogy, so my love for The Force Awakens must not run as deep as a real fan’s, right?

The truth is, however much you may wish it were otherwise, you are probably not a nerd. You’re probably not Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science. You’re probably not David Krumholtz in Ten Things I Hate About You. And that’s totally fine. Do you know why?

Because it’s more likely that what you really are is a well-rounded, multi-denominational person who happens to be passionate about something, or more likely many things. You don’t need to be a nerd. You are allowed to like what you like, without trying to tailor yourself to the specifications of one group or another. Because labels, even the ones we assign to ourselves, are ultimately damaging and self limiting.

Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said “If you label me, you negate me”?

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Whitney Weldon

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Choice Picks: If You Don’t Like These Movies, We Probably Can’t be Friends

Making friends as an adult can be fraught with drama and disappointment. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten excited about a burgeoning friendship, only to find that the person’s favorite show is Criminal Minds or (heaven forbid)  Angel. It’s a struggle to which we can all relate. So to guard myself from forming platonic attachments I’d live to regret, I developed this friendship litmus test. The idea is that I expose this potential pal to the movies that are, essentially, celluloid chunks of my very soul, and if their response is less than enthusiastic, I cut ’em loose. It sounds mean, but I’m really just saving everyone’s time. Let’s dig in.

super-85. Super 8 (2011)

Super 8 is pretty much everything I ever wanted in a movie: 70’s nostalgia, aliens, Kyle Chandler being a dad, 12-year-olds swearing. This movie came out during the same summer that brought us Bridesmaids, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and X-Men: First Class, and for me, it eclipsed all of them. When I FORCE a friend to watch this movie, I pay close attention to their face during the scene where Joel Courtney sacrifices his dead mother’s locket to help a wayward alien get back home; if they are not weeping without restraint, I don’t see much of a future for us.

4. Wayne’s Worldwaynes-world-2-20090512040018349-000

Approximately 90 percent of everything that comes out of my mouth is a direct quote from this movie. Last Christmas, my mother handed me a gift and my knee-jerk response was “If this is a severed head, I’m going to be very upset”. That is a true story. So I’m not saying that people who don’t like this movie aren’t cool (out loud), but if you don’t know this film inside and out, there will probably be an insurmountable language barrier between us. Alas.

1450660-7_evil_ex_boyfriends_scott_pilgrim_vs_the_world3. Scott Pilgrim V. The World

This is a fairly recent addition to the list. I coerced a friend into watching this only last February and TO MY HORROR this schlemiel fell asleep half way through. When questioned, their response was “it was kind of stupid”. I have never been so personally offended by a critique of another persons work in my life. Too irate for words. Scott Pilgrim is a lot of things, and stupid is not one of them. This is one of the densest scripts ever to be committed to film; the jokes are so smart and packed in so tightly that most of them are missed on the first viewing. Haters can kindly step to the left. Right off a cliff.

2. The OrphanageBest-Movie-Ghosts-Demons-Tomas-The-Orphanage

This movie serves a duel purpose. One, it tells me what kind horror viewer a person is. Do they shriek in my ear? Do they claw at me during the scary parts? Can they conduct themselves with composure befitting a grown-up when the old lady in the goggle glasses pops out of nowhere? Two, is this the kind of person who whines about subtitles? Not that I’m one of those Art-House-Foreign-Film Elitists, but come on. It’s fifth grade level reading. Suck it up.

Unbreakable1. Unbreakable

I caught this movie while channel surfing after school one afternoon and decided, at the tender age of 11, that this was about as good as a movie gets. Its a non-comic based superhero movie about a man (Bruce Willis) who realizes that he can’t be hurt. It’s dark and terse and such a slow burn. If a friend trusts me enough to sit through 45 minutes of character development and backstory to reach this beautiful pay-off, I can see us going the distance. In friendship terms.

Whitney

Summer Movie Chutes and Ladders!

I did not end up seeing very many movies this summer. In part, because I’ve just been way too busy having a fun, sexy, Newport Ad summer…

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…And also because I just haven’t been that spoiled with choice. It’s no ancient Chinese secret that this has just not been the summer for movies. I did see a few, though, so I thought I’d play a game of Cinema Chutes and Ladders with some of this summers releases. 

AmazingSpiderman2-WPChute: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Ok, I’m going to say something that is going to sound kinda mean, but is only meant to be constructive: The entire film felt like a really, outrageously expensive piece of Peter/Gwen fanfic. Oh jeeze, that looks just as mean on paper as it did in my head. But the truth is, when you center the entire script of your Big-Budget Superhero Blockbuster on your leads perpetual game of relationship ping-pong, your story is going to suffer. And suffer it did. Everybody knows that Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield have bananas on/off screen chemistry. Doesn’t mean we want to watch a movie about it.  

Ladder: Edge of Tomorrow

There really are not words to express how little I cared about seeing Tom Cruise’s latest attempt edge-of-tomorrowat career dialysis. I figured it was just another two-hour excuse to eat buttered popcorn, watch Tom gaze steely-eyed into the face of danger, and flirt with his under aged, underwritten leading lady. I’ve probably been more wrong before, but nothing immediately springs to mind. Edge was surprisingly funny, inventive, and (whoa!) kind of female driven. Emily Blunt’s character is allowed to be a hero in her own right, and not just as Cruise’s best girl. Not to mention that this is probably one of my favorite Tom Cruise performances EVER. I mean it. He’s smarmy and self-deprecating, and gives us a compelling hero to root for. 

snowpiercerLadder: Snowpiercer

It’s really is hard for me to put into words how I feel about this movie. If you (understandably) assume that my enthusiasm for this one stems from a longstanding and ever increasing Chris Evans crush, I totally get it. But in reality, once I saw the trailer back in May, I knew I was going to see it one way or another. It just looked so different from anything else we were likely to get this summer. And because I ABSOLUTELY refuse to dole out any spoilers on this one, all I will say is that I walked out of that movie theater shaking. It was disturbing and violent and sad and exciting and (once you got over being disturbed, grossed-out, sad, and excited) pretty funny. Just, go see it. For me. Please. Don’t be a weirdo. Just go. Now. Thank you. 

Ladder: Belle

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This one pretty much has all the makings of a super-cute chick flick: Racism, sexism, capitalism, imperialism. All the isms. Joking (briefly) aside, this movie is balls-to-the-wall wonderful. Also, hey there Sam Reid. We’ve never met before, but I like everything about you. Including, but not limited to, your face, your eyes, your voice, your smile, and your formidable acting chops. The ladies of the American Colonies salute you, sir. 

Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo in "Begin Again"Chute: Begin Again

Oh boy. I guess I know where they were trying to go with this one. I mean, it’s like Once, but in New York, right? I guess you lost me when Kira Knightly announced that Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and that song from Casablanca were her guilty pleasures. No. Those are the songs you pretend are your guilty pleasures when a cute boy is going through your iTunes library. Honestly. You know what’s a pleasure to feel guilty about? “Having Fun” by Britney Spears. The only thing you have to feel guilty about is not fooling anyone. 

Ladder: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Every time I try to think of a way this movie could have been better, I get nothin’. Soup to nuts, one of my new favorite movies of all time. Chris Pratt slays the competition in the Most Boffable Man of the Summer 2014 race. And while I loved B Coop as Rocket the Raccoon, I think I prefer him in his 20 piece suits.                                                                                              

screw-you

Kidding. Love you, Coop. 

What do you think? Did I miss any?

Whitney

Choice Picks: Top Five Fictional Bands I Totally Wish Were Real

I am, by nature, pretty shameless when it comes to my tastes and pop culture preferences. However, I recently had to explain to a 12 year-old why Mouserat was the greatest band ever (which included my own rendition of “5000 Candles in the Wind”) and he managed to make me feel like a total bung-hole in a way only a 12 year-old can. That totally demoralizing conversation forced me to confront the fact that a really disproportionate number of my favorite bands are, umm, not real. To numb the shame, I compiled a list of the best fictional bands, ever.

5) The Electric Dream Machine (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia)

 

4) Crutial Taunt (Wayne’s World)

 

3) The Wonders (That Thing You Do)

 

2) Clash at Demonhead (Scott Pilgrim v. The World)

 

1) Powerline (A Goofy Movie)

-Whitney