Follow Up: More on Un-Universal Nerd Culture

I'd like to follow up with a prior post I made on redefining nerd and geekdom. I don't have much else to add to my point and I stand by what I've said. I just have some more evidence to back up my claims.

Last week, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu appeared on The Daily Show and addressed the emmisions bill coming down the pike. While it's a great interview in general, take note at 5:15.

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The interview begins with Secretary Chu noting Stewart's nerdy attributes. Stewart, in return, talks about Chu's Nobel Prize. But at 5:15, Chu does something that according to prior definitions of geekdom makes him lose credibility. Stewart alludes to Secretary Chu becoming the Incredible Hulk and Chu completely misinterprets the joke and think Stewart is talking about Superman. Stewart tries immediately afterward, as a good comedian should, to clue Chu in on what he's doing and Chu still misunderstands the joke and continues with the Superman joke.

In essence, Nobel laureate and Obama Administration Secretary of Energy Steven Chu does not know comic books. The man has a Nobe Prize for Physics, so he's not not nerdy, he just doesn't know comic books. I would think his awkwardness in this interview, his myriad knowledge of physics, and the work he's done in his life for his Nobel and for government will keep his nerd credibility quite steady. I think we can oblige him this mistake for a much larger purpose.

My other new evidence comes from Esquire Magazine newcomer, S.T. VanAirsdale, who notes pretty much exactly what I said over a week ago: geekdom is not what we like but how much we like what we like. Geekdom is interest and obsession. It's spreading that love for our interests with others. It's opining over the next big thing. It's growing a scraggly beard like House just as much as it's wearing Chucks with a suit like The Doctor (or now that I think about it, like House again).

When boundaries break down as they have, what something is depends a lot on how we feel about it. (Ayn Rand would kill me for saying that, but she would have to have some selfish reason to want to commit murder.)

And if you got that Ayn Rand joke, that's a little nerdy too. If you didn't, don't doubt your nerd cred just yet. Not everyone is going to get everything.

P.S. One last bit of evidence:
Rene Guzman is currently trying to immerse himself in anime in preparation for San Antonio's upcoming 1st Annual anime convention. He's right now "digging Inuyasha." He's new to this and friendly and I don't want to hold this against him, but I'm trying really hard not to.


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