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Happy 30th, Revenge of the Nerds

  • 23 July 2014

This week in 1984, a little movie called Revenge of the Nerds hit theaters.

Its lesson: Jocks are cool. But jocks are jerks. Nerds aren’t cool. But nerds aren’t jerks.

Now fast forward 30 years. Nerds, you may have heard, are the new sex symbol. This is what Gilbert and Louis look like now.

And this is how they got there: Rise of the Nerds, a list, in ten movies, of the nerd’s big-screen ascent from loveable loser to less-than-loveable leading man.

Here’s the thing: at some point (around 1990, by our calculations), the nerd became the jock.

Next thing you know Hugh Jackman’s playing a nerd. Justin Timberlake’s playing a nerd. Nerds are robbing casinos. Nerds (NERRRRDS!) are sexy.

It’s the circle of nerdy¹ life, Simba.

Case in point: last year’s The Internship.

Two past-their-prime frat stars get jobs at Google. And they get bullied. By a bunch of nerds! The viewer roots for the jocks to beat the nerds. Jocks win. We rejoice.

It’s the perfect antithesis of Revenge of the Nerds.

Right down to the fact that it is a horrible, despicable, no-good movie.

Which takes us full circle: this is why we celebrate the nerds of old.

RIP. And enjoy our Top 10 list of the Rise of the Nerds.


¹ Re: the nerds vs. geeks debate. Here, the difference is moot. Hollywood has mainstreamed both, uh, phylogenetic specimens. If you are A) socially reclusive and B) have any non-athletic skills, ranging from keyboard to keytar, then Hollywood thinks you're a sexy motherlover.

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Rise of the Nerds

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