Nerds, Geeks, and the Hip/Square Dialectic in Contemporary Television Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Despite the easily identifiable concept of a “nerd,” only a few significant articles on nerds and popular culture, and specifically television, exist. This article contributes to television studies by addressing this overlooked, yet popularly significant, representation and lived reality in terms of race, gender, and sexuality. The article introduces the hip/square dialectic and explores the sociocultural construction of nerds vis-à-vis the hip/square dialectic as commodity. The article historicizes the hip/square construct of the nerd or geek on television, assesses claims about the emergence of geek chic, and introduces three reality television case studies: Tranji and reality TV nerd dancing; William Hung, American Idol loser; and the Beauty and the Geek program. At issue is the political-economic factors in the production and circulation of the nerd commodity and the racial and gendered or sexualized politics of the televisual nerd discourses and performances.

publication date

  • September 2011