Is there a Nerd Culture War going on?

Backlash from "cool nerds" taking over hits the Web

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In last week's Portlandia, there was a parody public-service announcement talking about "real nerds" vs. fake nerds, highlighting some of the issues that the "nerd community" is currently facing.

Whether popularized by the current #1 TV show, "The Big Bang Theory", or seen on the Internet from folks like Chris Hardwick (of The Nerdist) or Felicia Day of The Guild, geek/nerd culture has gone pretty mainstream. But this always has some folks bothered, as witnessed by the Portlandia sketch, which features a guy who says that a sexy girl who sees "The Avengers" in its second week is not a nerd - that "a real nerd is ashamed to be called a nerd."

It's definitely sparking some debate amongst people who identify with the "nerd" label. I grew up in the '70s and '80s, and being a nerd was not something that you wore as a badge of honor in those days - you got picked on a lot, and you definitely didn't parade around in costumes all day long. You definitely weren't "sexy" by any stretch of the imagination.

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I think this is what has a lot of people bothered today - are we better off now with mainstream geeks discussing "nerdy" things, in the hopes that we'll be allowed into their club? I have a feeling that the "cool nerds" would certainly exclude the more bizarre types within the community - while there's always talk of "inclusion" within any group, we all know that we'd ostracize those who were really out there.

Maybe that's why a backlash seems to be starting - those of us who went through a lot of pain and suffering at the hands of the "cool kids" are annoyed that those cool kids are "embracing" a lot of the things that we used to escape to - comic books, fantasy novels/movies, video games, etc.

I mean, why can't the "sexy nerds" just be sexy and go back to the way they were before, looking down on us?

Are you a self-proclaimed nerd, and find this annoying, or are you happy that things that you enjoy are finally being mentioned as mainstream entertainment? Let me know in the comments.

Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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