The 4 cool hobbies that used to be nerdy
No one in the 80's would have seen this coming
At some point during the last 20 years, whoever was in charge of pop culture just let out a sigh and said, "Okay, can we just be real for a second?"
It feels like the things I loved while growing up went from being a shameful activity that you only talked about with those in the know, to a commonly enjoyed pastime. And that's great! But for those of you who grew up without knowing that these things used to be taboo, here's four of the nerdiest things that are now cool.
Believe it or not, this used to be something that was exclusively for nerds. Or rather, this was a thing that most people liked, but only nerds were willing to admit to liking. Despite having record breaking ticket sales in theaters, if you came into class on Monday talking about that stuff people would laugh at you for being a loser.
Why? I don't know. But I do know when I started to notice a change in that mentality.
A hundred deathsticks to anyone who remembers this lovely film!
We always knew it would be too much to ask for people to jump right in to openly loving the nerdier things in life, but there's a safety buffer there if you like a movie about people who like nerdy things. It suddenly doesn't make you lame if you catch their references, it makes you cultured.
And so, thanks in large part to Kevin Smith films like Clerks and Mallrats, we began to see the nerdiest elements of pop-culture- particularly Star Wars- emerge in our vernacular.
If Star Wars is the "Bud Light" of geekdom, Dungeons and Dragons is the unlabeled moonshine from a still deep in the Appalachian woods. The weird thing is that I don't see the logic of this one. Despite the fact that it originally caught on with groups of people who were notorious for having terrible social skills, it is the one nerd activity that I can think of that is social by necessity.
This game has been around since the 70's, it's arguably been a cultural touchstone since the 80's, and I didn't see "cool" people openly loving it until the 2010's. What changed?
Our theory at 1d4 headquarters comes from our group of dedicated science-jerks who we make do science for us with the use of bomb-collars. They looked at the numbers and have reported that "These 'bomb collars' are just chokers from Hot Topic, we're leaving."
Upon further review we also determined that, basically, enough nerds who love DnD grew up and got famous.
Vin Diesel, Stephen Colbert, Kimberly Kane, Marlyn Manson; there's a huge list of people who love tabletop RPGs and got too famous for anyone to make fun of for it. Additionally, a lot of the people who wrote major television shows were people with uncool backgrounds, and so we got things like the Dungeons and Dragons episode of "Community", the many DnD references in Futurama's "Bender's Game", and basically all of "Adventure Time".
"This? Inspired by Dnd? Nooooo, I don't see it."
This one might seem bizarre to anyone under 25, but there was a time when it was pretty lame to be a gamer. In fact, the reason there's even a word like "gamer" is because at one point it was in fact more unusual to have played a video game than it was to have never played a video game.
Bizarre, right? So what changed?
Weirdly, this is one where the marketing to make video games socially acceptable was heavy, constant, and not (in our opinion) what had anything to do with the switch. There were so many movies in the 80's and 90's that tried to portray people who played video games as rad dudes with crude 'tudes. Yeah, no one was buying that.
Believe it or not this wasn't our "Citizen Kane".
No, the people who deserve thanks for the popularization of video games are the people who invented local multiplayer. Once there was appeal in inviting friends over to play a game together, the number of fans of those games grew exponentially. Some of my fondest memories are of calling my friends foul names over a game of GoldenEye 64.
It's a stretch to call "intelligence" a hobby unless you're part time at the CIA, but the expressing of intelligent interests definitely counts. Remember when the robotics club was lame? We do, and we do not miss those times.
We have no idea how it is that calling people "brain" or "smart alec" were ever supposed to be insults, but boy does that seem backward by today's standards. This one is outstanding because we're less confused about how it became cool to be smart, and more confused about how it was ever considered uncool to begin with.
Intelligence is power, essentially, and it has been for centuries. Isn't power cool? Oh well, it is now.
People like Robert Downey jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch have made intelligence fashionable once again.
The man oozes cool. Also, later in the movie, some kinda heart-juice.
If there's a takeaway here, I think it's 'follow your bliss'. With all of these things that were once mocked and are now loved, they seem to have been made popular by people just deciding not to be embarrassed by them.
So, whatever you like, just like it. There's nothing cooler than being confident, after all. Except being Robert Downey Jr., or maybe Jake Draugelis.