I Am A Nerd
Acceptance Is The First Step
By: Gabriel Silva
So I’ve always had a problem with the term “Nerd”. For as long as I’ve known it, I’ve stood defiantly against it, refusing to be labelled one, especially not by me. If you read the write-up about why we have a Nerd section here at Good Read Mag, you'll see that the term is not without its negative connotations. A quick perusal of the Nerd entry in the ever-accurate-and-reliable Urban Dictionary will illustrate my point:
"An 'individual'. i.e. a person who does not conform to society's beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do. Often highly intelligent but socially rejected because of their obsession with a given subject, usually computers. Unfortunately, nerds seem to have problems breeding, to the detriment of mankind as a whole."
Intelligence aside, who would want to align themselves with that assessment of their impact on humanity?
Here's the thing though, my whole life I have been obsessed with Asian culture, and I have always felt iffy about conforming and following socially acceptable trends. I do have an awful lot of comics and video games, to say nothing of "weird comics and cartoons that have those strange drawings" (Manga/Anime!). I must admit, so far this is all sounding suspiciously close to our definition of a nerd.
I was born in the 80s, and have very fond memories of cartoon shows growing up. The ones that I loved the most were shows like: Voltron, Robotech, and especially Astroboy. But the anime that really woke me up and showed me how deep this genre went was Ninja Scroll.
It was sometime around middle school, and a friend of mine’s family had this projector (which was amazing at the time), that would allow them to show any movie onto a wall of their home.
It was as close to a theatre experience as we could get without having to leave the house. So we decided to watch Ninja Scroll, and from the very first scene I was blown away by how cinematic the imagery was. The fact that an animated movie could feel like someone had taken the time to plot out each and every frame was earth-shattering to me. So impactful was the experience that I recently re-watched the movie to see if it had maybe been the innocence of youth warping my perception the first time around.
It wasn’t; Ninja Scroll was just as incredible as in that first youthful viewing. If anything, now that I understand cinematography better, the pacing, the angles, the mood, the setting – are maybe even more remarkable! The opening scene begins with an ambush on a bridge. The hero, a lone swordsman, is mindfully trying to cross a river enjoying a riceball, when a pack of thugs attack him. They are looking for vengeance. The wind is blowing making way for an eventual storm, and the sky approaches dusk, reflecting the colour of blood that is about to be spilled. Awesome.
So back to being a Nerd in Denial.
Given the “socially rejected” stigma associated with nerdom, you can probably see why at several times through adolescence and adulthood I have struggled to be comfortable with this identity. Do I have to be a nerd? What if I'm just "nerdy"? The irony of all this contemplation is that my reticence to conform to the generally accepted definition of “nerd identity”, is, in itself, quite a nerdy thing to do. Am I therefore a nerd??
WHAT THE F*CK?
Ok so maybe being a nerd isn't so bad. Nerdom has never before seen such acceptance and praise as in the last decade. Ideas such as technology, intelligence, quirkiness, drive, obsession, cosplay, and esports, have become more and more relatable. I'm convinced that the average person even, is probably into some formerly nerd-only activities, maybe without even knowing it.
In this column I will look to explore the depths of my nerdiness; how deep do my obsessions with games, comics, movies, sci-fi, manga, anime and the like go? I'm going to read, watch and learn about topics that are outside my own element – cosplay anyone? I'll look at what it meant to be a nerd in the 80s and 90s, and what it means to be one today.
It is my hope that in doing this inner "nerd-searching" I'll be able to understand why I was so unwilling to accept that I have been a nerd this whole time. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck, right?
My name is Gabriel Silva. I am a Nerd. *facepalm.