Saturday, December 27, 2008

AP Shocker: Obama's a Geek!

Posted by Joshua Holland, AlterNet at 11:26 AM on December 25, 2008.

Or a nerd?

Share and save this post:
Digg iconDelicious iconReddit iconFark iconYahoo! iconNewsvine! iconFacebook iconNewsTrust icon

Got a tip for a post?:
Email us | Anonymous form

Get Election 2008 in your

I suppose this is among the slowest news days on the calendar, but I was still surprised to see this profound bit of reporting gracing the front page real estate of the San Francisco Chronicle this AM:

President-elect Barack Obama used to collect comic books, can't part with his BlackBerry, and once flashed Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy the Vulcan "Live Long and Prosper" sign.

That and other evidence has convinced some of Obama's nerdier fans that he'll be the first American president to show distinct signs of geekiness. And that's got them as excited as a Tribble around a Klingon.

Obama is good at "repressing his inner geek, but you can tell it's there," especially when he goes into nuanced explanations of technical matters, said Benjamin Nugent, author of the book "American Nerd: The Story of My People."

"One imagines a terrifying rally of 'Star Trek' people shouting, 'One of us!'" Nugent said, in an interview conducted by e-mail, of course.

Others see only some geek qualities, qualifying the president-elect as merely "nerd-adjacent." After all, he's an athlete and kind of cool, some experts demur. Still, there's enough there for geeks to celebrate.

Psychology professor Larry Welkowitz of Keene State College in New Hampshire hopefully speculated that there's a shift in what's cool and that "smart can be in. Maybe that started with the computer programmers of the '90s."

Maybe you should shut up, nerd.

The AP helpfully offers a kind of taxonomy of spazzes for the unitinitiated:

...Geeks have wives. That's one of the things that separates them from nerds and dorks.

"A geek is someone who has the knowledge of the geeky type stuff and has social graces," [some Melvin] said. "A nerd is someone who has the knowledge but not the social graces and a dork is someone who has neither."

By that definition Obama is a geek, not a nerd or dork, Blum said. Nerds are the type who live in their parents' basements until they're 45, whereas geeks are more normal, he said.

No word on where shmendricks, maroons, goobers or dweebs fall on the spectrum.

Here's my favorite paragraph from this piece, wherein an AP writer tries to say in a roundabout way that Obama can't be a geek because he's a hot black guy who can shoot hoops:

In some ways, though, experts say Obama is just too cool, too athletic, too normal to wear the geek cape. Obama did use drugs and was a high school athlete, missing out on two prime nerd qualities, [some dork interviewed by the Associated Press] said.

I love the appeal to "experts" -- it's a real reported news story, see?


Tagged as: obama, nerds, geeks

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.

No comments: