Nerd/Geek trope in media

Alter “better” ego:

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In the Spider-Man comics, the main character, Peter Parker, is described as a shy and timid scientific genius. Once he was bit by a spider, he gained super strength, the ability to crawl on walls, and became a popular superhero. In the new Spider-Man movies now more than ever, this depiction of what a nerd is has been highlighted. Peter Parker does well in class, he’s in an academic decathlon, he has a bully and a couple of close friends who also fit his stereotype. Being misunderstood and bullied as a nerd, but eventually praised for their alter ego or when the character makes a big change is part of the nerd trope used in the media. The nerd character is scripted as the underdog and people can’t get enough of this improvement trope. Spider-Man has been one of the most widely known and loved superheroes, he shows there is nothing like being yourself and doing what you are inspired by.

Nerds and humor:

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“Napoleon Dynamite” came out in 2004 and utilizes cult humor, following a trio of highschool students trying to overcome their status as social outcasts. Napoleon is portrayed as a geniune dork and fits the nerd stereotype in the media. He’s angry at the world and is incapable of friendly conversation. In movies, this is a character the audience tends to find comic relief in because it is very exaggerated. This movie aims to be as awkward as possible, and moves past the normal teen movie for larger ideas and different comedic types. The plot is described as a “Random Events plot” and the movie has mixed reactions from the public, people either love or hate Napolean’s character.

Nerd/geek look:

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In the media, nerds are often smaller or less than their bully. They are scrawny, short, and unpopular. The nerd is looking to break out of their social sitution, find love, or become popular and confident. This message has given the viewer the idea that you don’t want to be a geek, it has a negative connotation for teens growing up. However, these characters are widely relatable with teenagers and they can identify with them. The says in an article about this nerd trope, “If we allow everyone to express the geek inside, we all feel slightly less like outcasts—and maybe the nerds will no longer feel the need to exact revenge.”

Nerds in the media include general implications of the way society views gender roles, which is very unpleasant. This weakness and timidness are often characteristics associated with women, therefore to demean men and make a nerdy, laughable character the media shows them not taking part in “manly” things and acting “girly”.



Peter Parker is Still a Nerd

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