Nerds Get Birds

RAYMOND LI examines the reasons behind geeks being chic.

alex guttenplan David Tennant geek chic geeks gok wan iPhone the oc university challenge

Geeks are an oppressed minority. OK, they were never subjected to legal repression unlike women, gays and black people but since the dawn of time they have been treated as social pariahs. Repeatedly humiliated, undermined and, in worst cases, beaten up, it was like society was one ugly playground bully. Or perhaps those were just my school days.

But, society has changed from being a meat-headed jock, and has suddenly turned into the 'good samaritan' at the reunion party. ‘Geek-ism’ has made its impact in the fashion industry, where glasses were regarded as plastic outcasts in a rather plastic world.  However, thanks to certain celebrity endorsement, especially Gok Wan and his incredible technicolor spectacles, they have gradually become a valued addition in that exclusive clique of fashion accessories. This month Vogue had a rare photo story on a host of female geeks, featuring a rare glimpse at women working in the tech industries. In recent years, the use of glasses in some fashion shows catapulted Woody-Allen style spectacles onto the high street. So-called cool kids who would have avoided such things flocked to look like the four-eyed ‘freaks’ that they would have avoided not long ago. Lily Allen and Frankmusic had no qualms with wearing nerdy glasses and even N Dubz was seen wearing glasses at the MOBO awards last year.

Consequently, it has become increasingly acceptable in the media to see geeks as sexy. The OC was one of the few programmes when the side-kick nerd got as much attention as the handsome lead character. In some polls, Seth Cohen managed to get all the votes despite fellow actor Benjamin McKenzie resembling a young Russell Crowe. No-one could resist David Tennant who brought an adorable eccentricity (and great hair) to Doctor Who.  Closer to home, and to real life, University Challenge pin-up Alex Guttenplan has the biggest fan page of admirers than any other student here. Where are the fan pages for the ripped Cambridge Blues?

If that’s not enough to convince you, let me tell why geeks make great partners. In the future, they will become the ultimate handymen, as iPods, iPads and iPhones dominate our lives.  Everyone loves someone who’s good with languages- nerds are proficient in C++, Unix, and HTML, not ideal for dinner party conversation but a life-saver if your laptop crashes (laptops are your best friend. If you don’t believe this I challenge you not to cry after spilling coffee on it). Geeks are typically low-maintenance. They can live solely off red bulls, baked bean toasties and computers for weeks. And, they’re big where it really matters. What’s the biggest sexual organ in the body? The brain. She or he will have the imaginative firepower to fulfil all your romantic/perverted fantasies. Oh you lucky geek lover!

Just like LGBT pride, perhaps one could have a similar event for all the geeks out there. There are Doctor Who and Star Trek conventions but just imagine the parade. Those attending would all be wearing thick glasses as a mark of pride, watching the passing procession of video game characters and geek icons. A Pokémon float would accompany a truck carrying robotic popping dancers wearing masks of Bill Gates. Of course, this would all happen online on Second Life. For nerds at school who might be reading this, there’s no need to feel ashamed.

We’re out, we’re proud and we’re here to stay.