First, we had Tony Harris complaining about “Fake Nerd Girls.” Now, we have Portlandia with this faux PSA.

Fuck. This. Bullshit.

I’m not sure what you’re point is here, Brian. If the term “nerd” is shameful, why do you care if some random girl at a bar claims the label? Are you trying to save the guy she’s chatting up from an evening of sex? Is she preventing you from talking to the guy at the bar about TNG and Skyrim? Are you afraid that other people will associate you with the girl because she calls herself a nerd?

Are you trying to warn cute girls that if they call themselves nerds they will be ostracized? I mean, seriously, what is the fucking point of this entire fucking thing?

The entire reason you have a TNG to nerd about is because people from all walks of life fell in love with the original Star Trek after years of reruns. If Star Trek TOS nerds kicked everyone else off of their lawn, there would be no TNG. There would be no video game industry if it didn’t appeal to a broad spectrum of gamers so you’d have no Skyrim to nerd over. There would be no Avengers movie if the comic nerds kicked everyone else off of their lawn.

All those things you mentioned in your nerdshaming PSA, all of those things depend on non-nerds spending their money so nerdy things can get made. So really, what’s the point in shaming people away from your toys? Get. Over. Your. Shit.

  • Josh

    I can’t say for sure what these guys were thinking, but I do think
    there’s something to the idea that if you’ve spent your whole life being
    ostracized for being a nerd, it’s sort of annoying when the pretty
    people — who have been doing that ostracizing — when hey decide that
    it’s cute and fun to dress up like you and pretend to be nerds.

    probably a sociology term for when the mainstream/majority culture
    co-opts the fringe/minority culture, because they think it’s so cute and
    adorable, and are completely oblivious to how much it sucks to be on
    the fringe and in the minority.

    That said, I totally agree that
    it’s stupid for the fringe/minority (nerds or otherwise) to try to stake
    out their turf and scare off attempts by anyone else to understand or

    TL;DR: Sure, but tourists are still annoying.

  • Kyle Wright


  • Ned Keitt-Pride

    @Josh the basis of your whole argument is the problem: the assumption that people who aren’t social misfits aren’t “real” nerds or geeks. You want to know what really sucks? Being an outcast because you like to read comics and fantasy novels and watch Star Wars hundreds of times AND ALSO being an outcast because in spite of all that you still like sports and are fairly active and don’t have trouble talking to strangers.

    The problem is that by trying to control the use of the term, you’re actually embracing the outcast/reject identity, instead of being proud of who you are. Basically, this PSA is saying, “I am ashamed of who I am, and have accepted this as my lot in life. So don’t you go trying to take my sad, pathetic existence.” Yuck.

    Personally, it also annoys the crap out of me that these kinds of comments seem to be exclusively aimed at women. Where is the PSA bitching about fake nerd guys with rock hard abs and multiple lovers?

  • Ned Keitt-Pride

    Dammit. I just watched it again and now I’m even more pissed off. Just about all the shit he complains about are things that are COMPLETELY UNDER HIS CONTROL. Don’t like being overweight? You can fix that. Don’t like being pale? You can go outside more. Ashamed of how you dress? You can learn. About the only thing he mentions that is even remotely legitimate to bitch about is social anxiety, which is not a condition exclusively reserved for nerds.

    This entire spot is an excuse for people to wallow in self-pity while making snarky assumptions about people that they envy. How does he know the girl in question doesn’t need glasses to see? Has he ever heard of April O’Neill – a porn star who chose her name from TMNT and is a die hard Dr. Who fan?

    This is actually really, really, really bad for people who are already struggling with issues of self-worth. Instead of saying, “Fuck what assholes say to you, liking Star Wars a whole lot doesn’t make you less of a person. Be proud of who you are!” it says, “The only thing you have to be proud of is how ashamed you are of yourself.” Hell no.

  • Jamie Byrnes

    Yeah, the term is posers. :P

  • Jamie Byrnes

    Seems ones who label themselves like that, are just really needy for attention. And seems the others get jealous and then cry about it. So, they act out for attention themselves.

    There are always going to be spurious people out there. /shrug

    People are people, and they are going to do whatever. C’est la vie.

  • PonyStockings

    These folks need to stop walling themselves off from potentially interesting people and love and/or tolerate everyone equally. In every group, culture, or subculture, this philosophy of exclusion exists. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we learn to accept a passing interest as well as a lifelong love? We all share a love of expression, whether we read it, create it, or obsess like maniacs over it. If someone is new to something, welcome them to the group, help them find new things to watch or play. It might be selfish, but tell them about the stuff you like, they might end up liking it too, and you have gained a friend!
    If a person calls themselves a nerd and really isn’t, how does that hurt you? What negative effect could it possibly have? Let’s just assume that this girl is in fact using the term nerd to get this guy interested in her. (I’m assuming a lot here, because that’s pretty silly.) Why do you care? Maybe you should talk to her if things don’t work out with the other guy. Maybe you make a friend, maybe you make a girlfriend out of her. Instead, you sit around butt-clenching about her choices and accusing her of being a fake nerd. If being a nerd is so bad, as you so clearly claim, then why would anyone want to pretend to be one? What I heard from her, were the words of a nervous person, maybe she does fit into your mold of socially awkward after all?
    I’m fairly certain I’m speaking to choir here, but even if I disagree with you about anything, I will respect your right to enjoy or have that opinion about something I dislike. Unclench those butt cheeks and go nerd out with each other!

    TLDR: Quit butt clenching and meet new people!

  • Ann Sulaiman

    Was this serious, or taking the piss?

  • Jude Jackson

    Folks are entitled to their emotions. This being a Portlandia skit, I doubt it’s totally sincere, but for the sake of argument let’s assume it is. The story of this character is that he’s a socially inept person who finds his solace in science fiction and video games. He’s not claiming these belong to him alone. He doesn’t shame anyone else for playing video games or whine that people who watch TNG are stealing his culture or just posing. Frankly, you put those words in his mouth. All he says is, just liking “nerdy” things doesn’t make you a nerd.

    “A real nerd is ashamed to be called a nerd.” That’s his point. In his experience, being a nerd means not enjoying sports, not being popular, not even being able to talk to someone without tripping over words and feeling your stomach clench in fear. Being a nerd isn’t liking to read comics or playing video games or watching SF TV shows, it’s being so terrified of people that you latch onto fiction instead; making up for not having an exciting social life by role-playing fantasy; being unable to make friends outside of the context of your mutual love of fringe media. It’s not what you like, it’s why and how.

    So why are you so pissy about this? This guy is saying that when he’s called a nerd, it’s an insult. And it hurts. And he’s saying now that it really hurts his feelings when people who have happy active lives free of social anxiety proudly call themselves nerds for superficial reasons like “I play video games”. You ask, “Are you trying to warn cute girls that if they call themselves nerds they will be ostracized?” No, he’s not. That’s exactly the point. She won’t be ostracized. Because she’s an attractive young woman. The only one who’s going to get ostracized is him. Because he’s a nerd.

    tl;dr, you have nothing to complain about. Noone’s being shamed. Except that guy who tried to explain why his feelings are so hurt. You just stomped on his ass for having emotions that you didn’t like.

  • applauder


  • Jude Jackson

    Yeah I think that’s the greater point. From this character’s perspective, people pick on him and call him a nerd as an insult, but then turn around and call themselves nerds when it’s socially convenient, without counting him in the group. That’s gotta hurt.

  • Jude Jackson

    “These folks need to stop walling themselves off from potentially interesting people and love and/or tolerate everyone equally.”

    He’s walling himself off because he’s a nerd and that’s what nerds do. He explained as much. If being around people makes you so nervous you get sick, you push people away by default. Why are you blaming him for his anxiety?

    “If being a nerd is so bad, as you so clearly claim, then why would anyone want to pretend to be one?”

    Because they never experienced being picked on for being a nerd.

  • Jude Jackson

    “Just about all the shit he complains about are things that are COMPLETELY UNDER HIS CONTROL.”

    He’s explaining what being a nerd means to him, not complaining. What he’s complaining about is people who call themselves nerds out of pride without having any sense of the pain that being called a nerd means for so many people.

  • Jude Jackson

    They hinted at fake nerd guys with the hipster sitting next to her. I think the issue with fake nerd girls being a thing is that there’s a cultural fetish with manic pixie dream girls. For some reason quirky tastes and spontaneity are cute in women, and mildly repulsive in men.

  • Jude Jackson

    Or maybe they just need to voice their frustrations. It seems to me a lot healthier to say your mind and let people know how you feel.

    In the words of Lemony Snicket: “Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.”

  • thekiyote

    The term is “Culture Appropriation”.

  • thekiyote

    It’s Portlandia. It’s almost certainly taking the piss.

  • thekiyote

    Somebody who is made fun of and has a hard time fitting in finds a subculture that embraces her. The group acts as emotional support. When the group or a member of the group is under attack, it develops stronger group cohesion in defense. This is strongest in subcultures that have a long history of accepting members who have social or emotional difficulties. Think nerd, goth and punk subcultures who largely define themselves as being opposite mainstream.

    However, social norms change and stigmas fade, and aspects of subculture become a part of the mainstream through culture appropriation. But that group cohesion doesn’t fade as quickly for the first wave members of the group, who developed their identity in opposition of the norm. They did everything “before it was cool”.

    The fact that nerds are getting all uppity is a *good* thing, even if we don’t want to admit it. It means that we’re no longer considered social outcasts.

  • PonyStockings

    I do apologize if that’s the way I came off. I never meant to sound like I was blaming people for anxiety. I rewrote my statement several times in order to get the right words out, perhaps I should have tried one more time.

    It’s going to be hard for me to say anything now, because I’ll sound like I am capitulating, but I am that person. I have been that person. I am female, pale, overweight, less attractive, and I still suffer from moderate to severe anxiety. I don’t have as many attacks as I used to, but I do know what it feels like to be pick on and ostracized just for being passionate about things the majority of society thinks nerdy. I still can’t go to theaters because the proximity to people gives me the willies. I am a nerd, and I have been through the pain and the anguish. I spent several years of my teenage-hood without speaking a single word because the torment had gotten so bad, I thought if I could just fade away, it would stop. Then I met someone who was like me, but had confidence in herself and she helped me learn to be myself and not care who thought what about me. It took an extremely long time, but she kept pushing me to talk to new people, and all of her friends were so accepting.

    Now, I am an adult, happily married to a nerd, proud to be a nerd, proud to nerd out about whatever I choose in public without fear for the opinions of others. I LOVE the way my life has turned out, because one amazing person took the time to help me, to talk to me, assure me I was normal. I know we all have our problems, we all have anxiety, rage, or many other issues. I don’t want people to go through what I did. I want to be there for other people, I want to help them enjoy their love of nerdy things. I don’t consider the pain and suffering some sort of right of passage and it saddens me that some people do.

    Again, I am sorry that I made an impression in a way I didn’t intend. I’m sorry that someone like him hasn’t found a person or a way or medications to overcome their difficulties. I know the world isn’t perfect, and you, he, and I are entitled to our own opinions and feelings. Maybe I am too far removed from my youth, maybe I’ve forgotten how bad it was, but I’ve let it go and I feel lighter for it. It’s unfortunate that someone would wish suffering on another just because it happened to them.

  • FmF

    Then he need to leave out the words “It sucks” when he listing what he thinks it “means “to be a nerd if he’s not complaining.Yea this is nothing but complaining and it doesn’t even have a point.How does being pale effect your life?What horrors of having to ware glasses cause?What was wrong with the cloths he was wearing?How do you claimed to have social anxiety when you go out “eventing”?Was that a code for larping?If you are trying to convince me that nerd is a hurtful word tell me why don’t give me the first part of your Eharmony profile.

  • Rekoj Eht

    i’m a nerd girl who lives in portland, oregon. i hate portlandia. that’s not my portland.

  • Rekoj Eht

    and by “girl” i mean 41 year old woman who’s first loves were the 4th doctor and mr. spock.

  • War Apocalypsewriters

    I think that TL;DR sums it up. Tourists are annoying as fuck. But tourists spend money. That money pays the bills. A bad tourist can and will cause a lot of damage and grief to the local environment which is why one should appreciate the good ones, even if they come off as a bit clueless.

    A bad tourist eventually gets chased off or leaves for fresher shit to stir up. A good one either fades away or sticks around long enough to become part of the population.

    As someone who gets labeled as a ‘tourist’ as much as a nerd/geek/fan-girl (because I don’t fit into any one group) I get it from both sides of the anti-nerd and the anti-tourist groups. I would not trade it for the entire world, but I do openly shun the whiny and the hostile on both sides.

    Tourists are annoying and grouchy natives are annoying. Everyone is annoying and everyone gets on each other’s nerves.

  • kelsey

    It is absurd, when I was a kid, I was fat and ugly, with glasses that were way too big for my face. At this point in my life, it was just assumed that I was a nerd (correct) and no one ever called me out on it, they just left me alone (when they weren’t throwing things at me) with my LOTR and Star Trek stuff. Fast forward to a few years ago when I lost weight, brush my hair and actually have glasses that fit my face, I have people at cons telling me I’m a fake nerd while I sell my handmade nerdy things that I absolutely love. To question someone instantly because they either like “the wrong things,” or “too many things” “they don’t look nerdy enough” is the stupidest shit in the world.Some of the best people and some of the worst people I have known have considered themselves nerds. It wasn’t until recently that I began to unfortunately associate being a nerd with being a dick, and it breaks my heart.