to eleven

Thank you for buying Nerd(R) brand. by jason

PART I: NERD-BRANDED POP MUSIC, in which I lose a lot of friends and make some enemies.

Before I start this off, let me say that a lot of my friends are nerdy-and-proud. I often get lumped in with them, though I consider myself more of a geek, not having done as well as I could have in school. However, for the sake of this argument, I am a nerd. I read comic books. I play Dungeons & Dragons. I even have…wait for it…Action Figures.

There was a time when this would have made sure I never saw a naked woman outside of the internet. Luckily for me and my ilk, times have changed, and geekdom (or nerdom) is acceptable. Celebrated, even, judging the success of The Big-Bang Theory. The nerds are having their revenge. After being ostracized, humiliated, and abused, we are now the mainstream. Unfortunately, this also means we are a target demographic.

Here’s the thing…the Nerds are used to being alone. We are used to not belonging. We like to read, write fan fiction, and do other solitary things. We are also, supposedly, smarter than everyone else. Which is why I cannot for the life of me understand why wy seem to let ourselves be lumped together and fall for nerd-branding.

That’s right. I said it. Nerd-branding. Here’s how this works:
Take a box of Wheat Chex. Take a box with the exact same contents of the first box, throw a zombie on it, and charge a dollar more. The nerd will buy the zombie box because everything is better with zombies! Or pirates. Or whatever the nerd trend of the week happens to be.

It works for classic literatue as well, and that was already pretty nerdy.

It’s happening in music, too. Case in point:

Everything about this song, including the cover of the album it comes from, is designed to make nerds around the world wide web “squee” or whatever it is that we supposedly do. And we should all be smarter than that. It is obviously pandering, and you know what? The song is not that good. The whole album kind of sucks. There is no artistic merit to it. Everything about it is marketed to say “Buy this! You can relate to it! We’re nerds, just like you!”


I obviously put a lot of the blame on bringing this to music on Weezer’s shoulders, but lots of groups pander to the geeks. Remember this one?

Go back and count the geeky things mentioned in that song. Yeaaaahhhhh.

This is not to say that you have to be cool and sing about cool things in order to have artistic merit. They Might Be Giants have always been a little nerdy.

Or a lot nerdy.

But they were doing it before it was a marketable demographic. They weren’t pandering. Same with Devo and the Talking Heads. Nerds, yes. But Nerds staying true to themselves and not just trying to write what the Nerds will buy.

So what am I trying to say here? I’m saying “Aw, man…why you gotta go a thing?” There’s nothing wrong with being a nerd or a geek. I am one, and I’m fine with it. But that doesn’t mean I go out looking for things that are exclusively geeky. I’m asking all of you to look at things objectively and ask “Do I like this because it’s good, or because it is marketed towards me?” I don’t know why nerd pride has to turn into bad taste. What I’m trying to tell you is you can support nerds and still listen to good music.

As long as you listen to these guys.



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