When is a Nerd not a Nerd? When he’s a Geek… Exploring the shift in representation of masculine identities Ashley Morgan
Purpose of Presenta3on • To examine a shi8 in representa3on of masculinity in popular culture • To explore reasons for this shi8 • To consider the implica3ons for masculinity of this shi8
Key Concepts in Presenta3on • Masculinity • Embodiment (both having a body and being a body) • Cultural signiﬁcance of technology
Overview • Explore representa3ons of Masculinity of the past using some key ﬁlm examples • Focusing on changes through the same franchise ﬁlms, Die Hard (McTiernan, 1988) • Examine recent representa3ons of nerds and how we recognise them • Deﬁning what a geek is through examples from ﬁlm, TV and real life • Considering the implica3ons for this analysis for geeks • Considering the impact of wider representa3ons of masculinity • Note on Women and Geeks • Further reading
Masculinity of the Past Men o8en represented as being in charge, conﬁdent and powerful Power and conﬁdence is physically embodied i.e. in Rambo’s muscles and gun Or through the powerful symbol of suits i.e. Patrick Bateman Masculinity can be ‘read’ on the bodies of men. They convey authority as they either wear suits, or their bodies are pumped up – both these connote power.
Some Popular Nerds Napoleon Dynamite BreX and Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords
What is a Geek? • Quan3ﬁable diﬀerence between Nerds and Geeks • Some similari3es – socially awkward, lack of interest in appearance, ‘uncool’, loser, unpopular with others, o8en aspire to be cool • i.e. Napoleon Dynamite aspires to be ‘in’ with popular kids, and an ar3st • i.e. BreX and Jemaine aspire to be good musicians and have meaningful rela3onships with women • In contrast, Geeks are ‘experts’ • Exper3se is likely to be represented as part of masculine iden3ty but not obviously embodied • Problema3c? Recent research among school age children ﬁnds that term ‘geek’ used pejora3vely among academic children (Mendick and Francis, 2011)
Ross – Friends Palaeontologist Benji Mission Impossible Technically Sophis3cated The Big Bang Theory Experimental Physicist, Theore3cal Physicist Aerospace Engineer (and Astronaut) Par3cle Astrophysicist
Real Life Geeks Steve Wozniak Mark Zuckerberg Steve Jobs Prof Brian Cox
What are the implica3ons for men as geeks? 1. Representa3on of men as geeks highlights the wider impact of science and technology 2. Demonstrates a shi8 in represen3ng male power from body to mind
Impact of Science and Technology • Raises importance of technical exper3se v’s simply being able to do a job (i.e. banker) • Computer based world • Applica3on of science to everyday lives • Male driven advancement • Science and technology – less money driven and more driven through innova3on and prowess, charity and philanthropy • Evident in hXp://givingpledge.org • Contrast with hedge fund managers, city bankers etc (men in suits)
Shi8 in Power From physical to cerebral • Shi8 in male embodiment from physical to cerebral -‐ in physical prowess (i.e. muscles, or being able to dress well no longer the only signiﬁer of power) • Consequently, men’s iden3ty is not ﬁxed, appears to be more ﬂuid, and is more ‘accessible’
Wider Representa3on of Masculine Iden3ty hXp://youtu.be/BplBW1qNM4w -‐ Die Hard hXp://youtu.be/B6CIcoot1sM Big Bang Theory Masculinity through physicality s3ll important, Now lies alongside greater aXen3on and representatuion of science and technology.
A Word on Women Angela Merkel Suits are such an important signiﬁer of power that women wear them when they wish to demonstrate power A number of women as geeks exist in Popular culture In past, ‘geeky’ looking women and girls subject to makeovers by others and seldom demonstrate But o8en quirky or conven3onally aXrac3ve, seldom exper3se ‘ordinary’ looking
Reading • If you are interested in further reading on Masculinity and representa5on see the following: • Connell , R.W. (1995) Masculini)es, Cambridge: Polity. • MacKinnon, K (2003) Represen)ng Men, Maleness and Masculinity in the Media, London: Arnold • Geeks and Nerds • Kendall, L (2011) “White and Nerdy”. Computers, Race and the Nerd Stereotype, Journal of Popular Culture, 44 : 504-‐ 524. • Mendick, Hand Francis, B (2011) Boﬃn and geek iden33es: abject or privileged?, Gender and Educa)on, 24:1: 15-‐24. • Female Geeks • Innes, S (2007) Geek Chic: Smart Women in Popular Culture, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan • Other • Lewis, M (1989) Liar’s Poker, London: Hodder