What nerds look like (or wish they looked like)

By Bob Morshidi

Every summer in the northern atmosphere (bar this year because, let’s face it, we’d all love to forget 2020), movies compete for the crown of highest-grossing movie of the year. Unlike movies that appear at the beginning of the year which all vie for awards given to them by a privileged band of juries, the summer movies are those that always bring in the crowd, and would make companies like Disney and Warner Brothers billions in revenue.

In 2019, unarguably the biggest movie in the world came out to a worldwide gross of $2.798 Billion (Box Office Mojo – Top Lifetime Grosses); Avengers: Endgame.

The perfect gift for a nerd, earbuds with Iron Man all over it. As Tony Stark famously said in Endgame: I Love You 3000 – Photo credit: Bob Morshidi

A story about the universes’ mightiest heroes in a battle against a cross between Space Hitler and Barney the Purple Dinosaur (Barney is terrifying if you think about it), the movie was loved all over the world. Critics and fans alike who had spent years enthralled since the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, finally got to say goodbye to Iron Man, Captain America and the Black Widow.

The Golden Age Of The Nerd

However, this movie should have never worked, both from a storyline point of view and a mass appeal point of view. If you were to go into this movie without having seen any of the Marvel movies prior to this, it’d still be an enjoyable film in terms of visuals, but in no way would you be able to understand what’s going on story wise.

This movie somehow did, and looking at the biggest movies of the past two decades, the Golden Age of the Nerd has truly come to light with Endgame being it’s crowning glory. People gladly wear Star Trek T-Shirts wherever they go. People quote Doctor Who on the streets and Star Wars in the sheets. You’re allowed to both be a fan of rugby and a fan of Spiderman, without one being mutually exclusive to the other.

This three-part series looks at the emergence of nerdery and fandom to what it is today, and how Malaysians can embrace it to enhance us culturally and economically.

The Stereotype of a Nerd. Photo credit: Photobetty

The Year 2000

Justin Timberlake was actually in a band, Monica Lewinsky jokes, sexist and lewd in hindsight, were still considered funny, and people were still singing that song with Celine Dion on a boat. Fashion was both conservative and extremely sexy, and my beloved Manchester United were on top of the world.

Meanwhile, a young, overweight student who excelled at bowling and was a sub-par goalkeeper for his local football team was in his class in Subang Jaya, in a Life Skills (Kemahiran Hidup) classroom that was converted to a proper classroom because his school didn’t anticipate that there would be more students enrolling than there were seating allocations. (The fact that I’m a teacher right now gives me the right to say that this problem is still not solved, 20 years later. In fact, I reckon it’s gotten worse).

This student, who’d grown up to be the dashing writer, Bob, whose words you are reading now, came into class with his latest most prized possession, a second-hand copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. There I was, reading about how Professor Moody had turned Draco Malfoy into a ferret, when the book got snatched from my hand. A fellow student made fun of me reading it, saying that he agreed with the idea that books that supported witchcraft should be burned for being ‘Haram’ and that I should spend time working on my goalkeeping skills instead.

What nerds look like (or wish they looked like). Photo redit: Pxfuel

Times were hard for nerds everywhere. The stereotypes of nerds being bespectacled anxiety-ridden and socially awkward were obviously not true regardless of how much the American Pie movies made them out to be so, However, you could not loudly and proudly admit you were a fan of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or the Matrix movies. You were not allowed to talk about the joys of gaming with beautiful narrative-driven creations like Zelda or Mario, but could only talk about the cool ones people played like Counter-Strike and FIFA.

The great thing is, with the advent of the internet in everyone’s home and the need to not actually pay for every minute online (that’s right kids. You used to have to pay for the internet BY THE MINUTE), nerds all around the world started taking to each other in their own little fandoms, and surely, to paraphrase the great Thanos: It was inevitable!

About the writer: Bob Morshidi is a drama teacher, freelance writer and satirist with a love for absurd comedy, popular culture and the lighter side of the seriousness of life. Follow his Instagram @bearmanwrites

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