By The Nerdling It is that time of year again. Mass buying of pencils, pens, notebooks, and binders […]
Earlier this week, the Collectress addressed the issue of fan appropriation and writer intent in a letter to TPTB. If you haven’t read it, go do so, tweet it, and then come back.
So, we have established that, as members of a fandom, we have the power to interpret textual meaning and those interpretations are no less valid than those of other fans or the writers, producers and actors. What I want to address is parallel to the idea of fan shaming–it is nerd privilege.
The 21st century is proving to be The Time of the Nerd. A steady influx of geek culture into mainstream society in the last few years has given the marginalized a face, a voice and a style that has suddenly become cool. With thick-rimmed glasses all the rage, comic book characters played by gorgeous men and women on the big and small screens, and smart as the new sexy, the “nerd” has been embraced by the media and popular culture. Suddenly, the nerds are at the cool table and, guess what? We are no better than the Mean Girls.
When I was a kid, I loved books and music of all kinds. I spent my time reading and writing, listening to music and trying desperately to fit in. I was one of 5 black kids in my high school graduating class and grew up in a multi-cultural family that tried their damndest to keep me sheltered from racism and sexism, even though I was an overweight black girl raised by a single, white mother. My favorite books, The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables, were filled with people that did not necessarily look like me, but to whom I could relate. I learned to ignore color, gender, age in order to thoroughly enjoy many of the books and films I loved. As I got older, I fell in love with Batman, Star Trek and Indiana Jones and claimed the term “nerd” to help establish myself in a society that makes it difficult for a young, black woman to define her own identity.
This means my biases and cultural codes help create my experience in this particular subculture. I made a choice, like women all over the globe, to infiltrate a sphere typically reserved for (white) men and engage because I genuinely enjoy what is considered “geeky” and because, well, nerds have really awesome stuff.
Even if my story is nothing like yours, the unifying factor within the subculture of “nerd”, as I am to understand it, is the SUB–as in not prominent; having varying POVs, values and experiences than the larger group. Even if the larger group has appropriated our shit, you ask? Even if we can’t tell the real nerds from the hipsters anymore, you ask?
You see, the problem with nerd privilege is us.