Opinion: Dorks unite!

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Eric Naing

A funny thing always happens in American culture. Something – a trend, a group of people, a lifestyle, anything really – once completely reviled and ridiculed will become years later the hottest thing around. Case in point: geekdom. Those who once were known as geeks, nerds or dorks now are known as alternative, goth or even emo. Every facet of geek culture has been assimilated by the Greek/Hollywood crowd. It’s time to put an end to this: Dorks unite! Let’s stop the bastardization of our beloved culture before it’s too late.

Dork fashion has been the first to go. See the picture of the jackass with the deranged smile above this column? See those black-rimmed glasses? At one point, glasses like those led to all manners of grade school torture (Wedgies, swirlies, melvins: You name it, I got it). Thick-rimmed glasses now are all the rage, bridging the noses of such revered and chronically past-their-prime men as Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo.

It hasn’t stopped there. I was fine when mall stores such as Hot Topic started selling Atari shirts and Transformers belt buckles. Lame 13-year-old goth kids have earned their place in geekdom.

But now, the unthinkable has happened. Abercrombie & Fitch, purveyor of all things frat, sterile and overpriced, has started selling Space Invaders T-shirts. This is an outrage. I used to have a Space Invaders T-shirt, but mine came from an iron-on transfer sheet out of a comic book, not the corporate hands of a CEO hoping to attract fad-conscious frat guys.

And speaking of comic books, even this symbol of pimple-faced, asthmatic nerds everywhere has been violated. Movies such as Spider-Man and X-Men have brought spandex-clad superheroes into the mainstream. Even the average bleached-blonde, The O.C.-watching mallrat now knows about Matt Murdoch’s double life as Daredevil (albeit with more of a Ben Affleck flair than I would like). But what’s the problem? Well, to make these movies more accessible, sacred comic book traditions have been violated. With them goes my childhood as well. (Peter Parker has mechanical web shooters, not organic ones! Damn you, Hollywood!)

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Hollywood hasn’t just stopped at comic books; they have struck at the very heart of geekdom: the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This, the geek bible, has been masterfully translated from book to screen by fellow geek Peter Jackson. It, too, has been co-opted by the hipsters of the world. Geek mainstays like Gandalf and Legolas are now cool. Just look at the line to KAM’s – I bet all you’ll see are elf ears and pointy wizard hats (Well, maybe not. I guess pointy wizard hats never will be cool, sigh … ).

Of course, this is nowhere near the end of it. While you’re reading this, frat guys the world over are playing Halo 2 and Grand theft Auto: San Andreas on their X-Boxes and PS2s, respectively.

Cheerleaders are listening to the Lenny Kravitz version of “American Woman,” and not the far-superior original version by The Guess Who. The very essence of dorkiness is being bastardized before our eyes.

Geekdom is under attack, but now that I think about it, there might not be anything we can do. It’s like the Borg in Star Trek or Skynet in the Terminator: Resistance is futile (By the way, have I proven my geek cred yet?).

All you hippies and pirate lovers out there, be forewarned. Someday you, too, will lose your identity to popular culture. Tomorrow, you might go to Clyborne and see someone accessorizing his or her outfit with a tie-dyed bandana and a Hollister-brand smart-aleck parrot. It has happened before and it definitely will happen again.

All it takes is a small spark to get things started. Remember all it took was one 1950s-themed GAP commercial to get the whole nation swing dancing and wearing zoot suits.

Just take a look at the rednecks. If trucker hats and oversized belt buckles can be seen as cool, anything can.

Eric Naing is a junior in LAS. His column runs Wednesdays. He can be reached at [email protected].