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Spotty fatsos queue alongside sleek jocks at the
opening for the latest fantasy epic.
The lines indicating what makes a nerd
have blurred. Über-jocks, like Rugby League
mastodons and F1 racers, confess to loving sci-fi.
Twenty years ago this would have guaranteed a
post-g ame head flushing.
In music, the popularity of heavy metal – the
choice of astrophysicists the world over – has
waned in recent years. But the 100 million-selling
Metallica is today rivalled by meg a artists in equally
geeky, but less testosteronic genres.
And they actually attract girls. Goths, emos,
slackers, or horn-rimmed glasses-wearing hipster
doofuses all buy into a version of g eek-rock.
Think Good Charlotte, My Chemical Romance,
even Coldplay. Now everybody wants to wear
eyeliner. There’s even a g enre called ‘Math Rock’.
It goes on and on. Glasses are cool, the dorkier
the better. Ditto weirdy beards, 1920s cowlicked
hairdos, corduroy and bow ties. Video game
sputniks are now the stars of the US Military,
thanks to drone technology. Seth Rogen is
considered a romantic lead, for crying out loud!
“So, what’s the problem?” you ask, perhaps
remembering a lonely summer of cystic acne.
“These poor saps have been wedgied, flushed
and bashed around playgrounds and boardrooms
since Korg smacked Ookpik upside of the head
because his cave painted stick figure wore a cape.
Live and let live, Murphy, you arsehole!”
And you’re right, of course. Except for
two things. Firstly: tech journos. Instead of
starving to death as they would have in ancient
times – after being abandoned on the side of
a Spartan mountain by embarrassed parents –
the standard technolog y journalist has found
himself a beautiful niche. Following lives of
playground drudgery, they find themselves in a
unique position. They interpret the work of more
successful nerds for the brick-headed arses who
used to snap rubber bands on the backs of their
necks in French clas s.
On blogs and in print, the journerds rate
gadgetry for the canny-but-technologically
callow shopper. This gives the tech journo divine
purpose. They are prophets and teachers, acting
without fear or favour.
As a result, they are something of a snarky
lot, who comport themselves with an acute
sense of entitlement. This can make for a long
conference, albeit punctuated by tidbits of
unexpected choiceness. Like the moment we
have paused: the two chaps from HP looking
at one another with a unique blend of surprise,
alarm and distaste, as if the porn question was
floating above the throng like a speech bubble
made from a used condom.
Secondly: it’s personal. What the two days in
Honkers showed was that I was no longer a –
gasp – fellow feeb. I had always felt at home in the
company of nerds. I was one of the Brotherhood
in Shamefaced Acquiescence to the Bullies.
A secret devourer of European comic books in
the library at lunchtime. A competitor in Dungeons
and Dragons tournaments – official tournaments!
I spent months of every year traversing the
imaginary landscapes of J.R.R . Tolkien, Stephen
Donaldson, Julian May and Robert Heinlein. I
longed for the moment when the world would
throw down its arms, build megaships and go
explore the universe tog ether (to the soundtrack
of Iron Maiden’s R un To The Hills).
I suppose I wasn’t a complete awkward mess
as a teenager and I played sport, surfed a bit and
wasn’t too off the mark with girls, but many of my
pals were archetypal dweebs. And now it appears
I’ve lost touch with them. Which is... kind of sad.
We’ve both gained confidence over time – me
and the nerds – but where my interests have lead
one way, theirs have g one another. More g alling
is the unmistakable fact their time in the sun has
finally arrived – well, metaphorically – and all I can
do is obser ve and snipe and wonder why the hell
they need to print their porn.
Daniel Murphy is the Deputy Editor for FHM. In 1985, his
Dungeons and Drag ons tournament squad was called Rape
and Pillage. At 15, it sounded pretty funny, but the organisers
disagreed and sensitively changed it to Pape and Rillage.
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