Saturday, August 1, 2015

Revisiting '80s Nerds

One of the things I remember most fondly about the '80s were the trend of nerd films: films like Revenge of the NerdsWeird Science, and my fave, Real Genius where oddball, brainy outsiders were the heroes.  This set the stage for the growth of Nerd and Geek culture, and the changes which made being intelligent and quirky a cool thing.

As noted in this 1998 article in the online magazine Slate:

                  But the popular understanding of nerdiness--that a nerd 
                  is an uncool person--doesn't stand the test of time. In particular, 
                  it doesn't survive the 1980s, an era the New York Times 
                  deemed was characterized by "nerd chic." By the middle of 
                  the go-go decade, fashion magazines touted the popularity 
                  of nerd couture--plaid plants, horn rims, and oxford shirts 
                  buttoned all the way to the top. Further, witness the 
                  proliferation of '80s teen movies valorizing nerds: Revenge of 
                  the Nerds, Weird Science, and Real Genius, to name a few.
                 Underlying this transformation of the nerd's image was a                                transformation of the nerd's economic status. With their 
                  entry into new high-tech industries, many nerds suddenly 
                  became millionerds.

The end sequence of Revenge of the Nerds, culminating in an inspiring speech, is a classic. Its really about misfits and oddballs and people who just don't fit in finding their place in society and standing up for who they are.  Its a message which should resonate with anyone who has ever felt different, regardless  of whether one considers oneself a "nerd" or "geek" or "freak" or any other category.

Another memorable scene was the very '80s-esque performance of the nerds during the college talent show competition. This performance is very, very '80s. Its got new wavish syth music, Devo-ish hair styles, and Michael Jackson imitators doing the Moonwalk. Admittedly, the Lamar character (in the Michael Jackson jacket doing the "rap") is a bit much, but check out the computer toting nerd dudes sporting the '80s styles!!  

This post includes revised portions of two prior posts, along with new material.