In high school, I used to flee from the prospect of “being a nerd.” I wanted to be one of the cool kids, and all my stress from that era of my life wasn’t about school, but was about being popular.
Eventually, I stopped caring, and learned to just accept what I am. A nerd, a geek, a dork, any of those adjectives work for me I guess. But just because I love sci-fi and play video games for a living and watch professional Starcraft in my free time, that doesn’t put me in the box I thought it was. I can work out, have a girlfriend, and be a cool guy WHILE liking all of those things as well.
This is a list of some of my favorite “nerd icons” as they were. They’ve achieved great success either in my field of entertainment, or in the fields of actual science and technology. They inspire me, and perhaps they’ll do the same for you if you get to know them.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
I’m sure a few of you caught my unorthodox morning link the other day which was a ninety minute interview by Stephen Colbert of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. In a world of two minute YouTube videos, there’s not much on the internet I sit still for anymore, but I sat through that whole interview on the edge of my seat.
Tyson is able to convey complex scientific concepts very understandably, and since his focus is something that has long fascinated me, space, I appreciate his insight even more. His science is great, but what’s even better are his philosophies.
He spends much of his time talking about how important science is for our future, and lambasting politicians who are unwilling to fund things like NASA because of a lack of perceived immediate benefit. He knows that such change takes time, but if we don’t try to advance in small ways, we’ll never move forward later on in larger ways, and the rest of the world will be left behind. I honestly hope he runs for office some day.
If you haven’t watched The Guild yet, shame, shame on you. I haven’t seen many web shows, no, but when you’re online five minute program is funnier than most network comedies on TV, you know you’re doing something right.
Felicia Day writes, produces and stars in the series, which follows an MMO guild who plays a game suspiciously close to World of Warcraft. It’s amazing, and exactly the sort of thing I would LOVE to do someday, provided I had any sort of acting ability. At least I can kind of write?
I follow her on Twitter, which weirdly does make you feel like you know a person a little better, and I saw her in real life for two seconds at the press line for the Spike Video Game Awards. No eye contact.
Anyway, I’m just a big fan, and you can see her doing other awesome nerdy stuff like dressing up as an elf for a live action Dragon Age series or co- starring in Joss Whedon projects (Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible).
Yeah, how about that transition? Day’s frequent cohort is king of all nerds in the realm, as we’ve crucified our former Emperor George Lucas after the prequel trilogy.
If you visit this site and don’t know him, I’d be surprised, but just to refresh your memory he’s created some of the best sci-fi TV series in history from Buffy to Angel to Firefly to Dollhouse. Yes, Dollhouse qualifies. Amazing show, and you should check it out if you haven’t.
I like Whedon’s shows, but it’s also awesome to see him move up in the world. He’s only directed one major movie, Serenity, a continuation of his Firefly series, but his legend has qualified him to direct The Avengers. Marvel trusted him with combining four of their hugely popular superhero franchises for his second ever major film. Pretty amazing, and he’s our champion for a reason.
I’m guessing most of you won’t know who Sean “Day” Plott is. Perhaps you caught my interview with him a few weeks back, which was one of my favorite ones I’ve ever done.
He’s a professional Starcraft commentator and former player, and hosts his own hour long daily web show called the Day Daily. He, more than almost anyone else I’ve come across, represents a new generation of nerds that can take their nerddom and turn it into an actual career, something I myself am somewhat familiar with.
To go from loving playing a game to being able to do so professionally might sound silly to some, but it’s awesome to me, and the guy has grown a media empire and thousands of fans just by being himself. he gave me a particularly good quote in my interview about being a nerd I’d like to close with:
“Nerd” was a label given to people with intelligence and technological prowess, and it was only a matter of time until those people grew up. They’re now adults with disposable income and a great deal of influence in society and culture.
And because of this, I am where I am.