Thursday, 31 January 2013

David Buckingham - 'Media Theory'

David Buckingham is a media theorist who believes that children and young people have identities that don't exist at all or are constantly changing. He studied their interactions with electronic media, and he believes that ,due to the constant change of media, identities are constantly changing. He believes that genre isn't simply given to a young person as part of their culture, but instead it is constantly being negotiated and changed. The media reveals the bad sides of the world and therefore parents keep their children indoors to hide them from this reality. Due to this, children spend far too much time around various types of media such as TV's and computers, and therefore learn too much about the world and are constantly going through change due to the amount of views, opinions and cultures that they observe.

In relation to the topic of nerds, this theory by Buckingham makes sense as nerds are known to spend countless hours using these various types of media. This media includes games consoles, computers and TV's. Out of all the social groups and genres that exist in the world, nerds will spend the most time using this media and therefore becoming exposed to what it contains. They will not witness this first hand as they are not known to spend a lot of time outside socialising, but the increasingly growing opinion that nerds are often the victims of bullying is evidence of the fact that they may look upon the world and it's features in a negative way. They may have bad experiences with other people and various types of media will help them communicate with people similar to them, which will allow them to gain an understanding of the world in a different way to others. Although nerds are the most likely to find increasingly detailed content on the internet, this may not be the case. Even though nerds do spend a lot of time around computers, they are not known to do anything with them but use them as gaming platforms. They play console games, computer games and internet based games. Their huge interest in this hobby restricts them from viewing content that can cause a constant change in their identities, which is what will be happening to most young people.

"Identity is complicated, it's never simple or straight forward"

"Identity is complex, everyone thinks they have one"

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Historical and Contemporary (2009 - Present)

There hasn't been a huge change in terms of people's perception of nerds as time has progressed, as the dress sense and characteristics remain similar; comb overs, smart clothing, overwhelming intelligence. The stand out change that has occurred has been the knowledge of modern technology that nerds learnt to possess, with the introduction of home computer games in the late 1970's to early 80's. A film named 'Revenge of the Nerds' (which I am not studying), released in 1984, is a good example of how nerds have changed and added the knowledge of technology to their characteristics. Even though this film was released after home computer games were introduced, it was less common to own this type of technology. The main characteristics of nerds in this film is their smart clothing (buttoned shirts, glasses, comb overs), general intelligence and lack of sporting skill. The image on the left shows two characters from the film, and you can see that they are wearing smart clothing and glasses, have smart hair, have smart shoes and they are also wearing their trousers high which results in their socks showing. They have that general look of intelligence, and these were the main features of a nerd at this time. Over time, as technology started to become a bigger part of society, the increased knowledge of technology that nerds possessed became one of the main features that made a nerd.

'The IT Crowd' is a classic example of the way nerds are portrayed and seen in modern times, and even though the first three out of the four series of this programme were filmed before 2010 (which therefore makes them historical), the main reason why Moss and Roy are classed as nerds is due tho their expertise of and interest in computers. They are singled out from the rest of the employees at the company due to their profession, which happens to make them nerds. As seen in the image to the right, there are some similarities with the nerds from 'Revenge of the Nerds'. These similarities are increasingly evident in Moss's characteristics, as he wears  identical clothing the nerds in 'Revenge of the Nerds'. Roy on the other hand is dressed more casually, but has a similar personality to Moss. Roy is wearing jeans, a T'shirt and a jacket, and isn't dressed very smartly at all. He also enjoys going out drinking when Moss doesn't, and he also lives in his own flat when moss lives with his mother. Roy is a character who wants to mix with normal people, but cant because his knowledge and interests set him apart. Aside from these differences, both paint the picture of the modern nerd, as they both take incredible interest in computers and are viewed differently because of it. They both come across as a little bit strange, and this combines with the technological interests to make them nerds.

Tbbt Cast Sheldon Cooper Full The Big Bang Theory'The Big Bang Theory' is another good example of how nerds have changed, with the fact that they all dress casually being one of the differences between them and the characters in 'Revenge of the Nerds'. Like 'The IT Crowd', the early seasons of 'The Big Bang Theory' (first two seasons) were filmed before 2010, but the programme still portrays nerds in a much more modern light than 'Revenge of the Nerds'. Season three and the more recent seasons have been filmed from 2010 onwards. The characters wear clothing tributed to superheroes, collect comic books, cards and mementoes from films, and play all sorts of different types of computer games. Their behavior is a lot more childish than the nerd's in 'Revenge of the Nerds', even though they still possess great minds. They are still portrayed as being socially awkward and all lack sporting skill, so the only additional nerdy features they posses are their childish interests and their choice of clothing. The characters enjoy regular 'Halo nights', where they come together to play the popular video game. These video games were not available in the 1980's, and even though everyone plays these games nerds are known to spend the most playing them. They are even known to play them professionally and enter gaming tournaments, and doing these kinds of things contribute to the modern perception of a nerd.

From season 3 onwards, Leonard and the other characters become more socially inept and begin to from relationships with women. Leonard eventually gets Penny, and this is another example of how nerds have changed over the past few years. Leonard will be seen by many to be 'punching above his weight' so to speak, but the fact that he got Penny, who previously liked more physically dominant men, shows how far nerds have come as they have started to distance themselves from the idea of social awkwardness. These days, nerds are less frequently bullied and they fit in with other people, and this could be down to the fact that almost everybody owns a gaming console. Due to everybody owning this technology, everyone has a great knowledge of it and therefore nerds are no different from normal people in this aspect. As seen in 'The Big Bang Theory',they wear more casual clothing too. Some women find themselves getting attracted to nerds now days, and this is testament to how far the perception of a nerd has come and how much it has changed.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Textual Analysis 2

This image taken from the first season of 'The Big Bang Theory' in 2007 shows the characters dressed in their fancy dress clothing. They are attending Penny's Halloween party but have arrived early as they take great pride in being on time. Sheldon is a prime example of this, as he arrives places at the exact time he was asked to be there. It is one of his many obsessions. Even though this party is fancy dress, the costumes worn by the characters still set them apart from the other 'normal' people. The other people turn up to the party wearing caveman, cat and fairy costumes to name a few. Instead of choosing this type of costume, the characters show up in costumes taken from films associated with nerds. Sheldon (far left) is dressed up as a scientific principle. He claims to be 'The Doppler Effect', which is science related and therefore no one else understands it. It is a very unusual choice of costume, which goes along with the scientific nature of the costume to make Sheldon look like a nerd. Of course Sheldon is a nerd, and probably possesses the most nerdy characteristics of all of the characters. Raj comes as the mighty god Thor, which is a famous character from the Marvel comics. Thor is also a character included in the recent movie 'Avengers Assemble', and both this film and comic books can be seen as nerdy. In fact, the characters' relentless interest in comic books is one of the most nerdy interests. Due to the origin of the character he has come dressed as, Raj also looks like a nerd, and his costume could be seen as that of a typical nerd's choice. Leonard's costume is similar to Raj's in the way that it is that of a character from a famous franchise of films. He is dressed as Frodo out of 'The Lord of the Rings', and this film is one that nerds obsess over. Due to this reason, the costume is a typical choice for a nerd, and it makes Leonard look like a nerd. Howard's costume isn't as nerdy as the other three's, and it is again similar to Raj's and Leonards in the way that it is a costume worn by a character from a film. Robin Hood perhaps isn't seen as that much of a nerdy character when compared to Thor and Frodo, but it is still a costume that could be viewed as nerdy. It certainly makes Howard looks silly, and he is mistaken throughout this episode as Peter Pan; which makes him look quite pathetic. The costumes chosen by all four characters showcase their nerdy characteristics, with Sheldon dressing as something that no one else at the party can understand , and the other three dressing childishly as characters from fantasy films. The childish element that is attached to Raj, Leonard and Howard's costumes is the main reason why they look nerdy and pathetic, and it also shows that they are obsessed with these characters as they are prepared to wear these costumes in tribute to these characters and not be bothered by how pathetic they look.

This image shows Leonard and Sheldon in the comic book store looking at a replica excalibur sword with amazement. The comic store really brings out the nerdy characteristics that the characters contain, as it allows the viewer to witness their sad and embarrassing interests. Professor Brian Cox was quoted as saying that a nerd is a person who can be "serially obsessed" with things, and this image really does show that Leonard and Sheldon are serially obsessed with certain collectable objects. This sword isn't going to be of any use to either of them, and would be bought only as a collectable which they could take pride in owning - even though most people would view it as sad. It would also be very costly for the uses that it has, and this is money that the two characters are prepared to pay in order to own a useless object that both of them would have trouble even lifting. The models positioned in front of the sword sum up the comic store really well, as they are figurines of characters from films that serve the same purpose of the sword; to be collected. It is something that is of massive interest to the characters, and it is definitely seen as something nerdy.

Textual Analysis 1

Boogie2988's internet comedy character 'Francis' can be viewed as a typical nerd. In this screenshot from one of his videos, he is wearing a batman shirt. Batman is a franchise that can be associated with nerds, and it is also seen in 'The Big Bang Theory'. In a clip that I included in a previous post on this blog, Howard from 'The Big Bang Theory' gets excited when he sees a new batman belt-buckle in the comic book store. Francis seems to enjoy batman so much, that he risks wearing a T-shirt devoted to it that could lead to him getting teased an bullied. Francis also wears glasses, which is another piece of clothing that is common with nerds. There are also multiple posters on the wall behind him, which are positioned there deliberately so the viewer can see them. They are posters dedicated to adventure games that Francis plays on his computer, and again could be the subject of bullying by the many people on the internet that could view his videos. It's almost as if Francis and other nerds take a massive amount of pride in their interests to the extent that they are willing to risk the bullying to express themselves, not caring about people's views of them.

This second screenshot is taken from a different video from the first, and Francis yet again wearing the same batman T-shirt. The surroundings are the main focus of this screenshot, as character himself has previously been talked about. Francis has been gaming or is about to start gaming, and the x-box and TV are prominent in this image. Gaming is another activity commonly associated with nerds, mainly because it displays a lack of interest in social activities. You can see that Francis is sitting in a different room to the one that he is in in the first screenshot, and this room contains a seperate TV and gaming system to the technology he is using in the first screenshot which is out of view. A normal person woul use one gaming system, but Francis has a computer, PS3, x-box, Wii U and two TV's. It is obvious that  he feels so passionately about gaming to the point that he spends a lot of money of the technology required for it.

Monday, 7 January 2013

The IT Crowd

'The IT Crowd' is a British comedy written by Graham Linehan about three people, Moss, Roy and Jen, who work as staff members of an IT department for a fictional company named Reynholm Industries. Their department is based in the basement of the building, and consists of three rooms with very little natural light. The more attractive workers of the company work on the upper floors, feasting their eyes upon London's glorious skyline. Jen is a normal woman who finds herself working in a department where she doesn't belong, but serves as a good relationship manager to nerds Moss and Roy. Moss and Roy are both computer experts, and both portray certain characteristics of the typical British nerd. Roy is Irish and dresses normally, but his scruffy hair, knowledge of computers and lack of social skills sets him apart from the normal people upstairs. Moss is similar in the way that he has a great knowledge of computers, but he possesses more nerdy characteristics than his good friend Roy. He dresses smartly, wearing smart trousers and a button shirt with a bad chequered print. He also wears glasses and has unusual hair; a combover combined with an afro. Moss speaks in a tone which is similar to Will Mackenzie's from 'The Inbetweeners', which is a tone that is heavily associated with a British nerd. Throughout the different series of the programme, the viewer will also realise that Moss lives with his mother, which is the same situation Howard finds himself in in 'The Big bang Theory'. Moss is very different to a typical American nerd, but there are some similarities between the British and the American perception of a nerd.

The clip above includes Moss arriving at work having had another confrontation with his usual bullies on the bench. Moss portrays the image of a child in this scene, as he clearly allows the bullies to get to him and doesn't stand up to them. He even gets upset during a role play with Roy as he tries to practice his retaliation to the bullies' comments. While watching this scene, you tend to forget that Moss is a fully grown man. You can see that he is wearing his usual glasses, but is wearing a formal coat over his buttoned shirt. He also arrives wearing a childish back-pack. It is very easy to see why he may get picked on or have hurtful comments thrown his way, and it is because he is a typical nerd. His hair also makes him stand out and look unusual, giving people the perception that he is weird. There is also a lot of technical equipment in the background behind the characters, indicating a further connection with computers. Not only do Moss and Roy have a great knowledge of computers, but they seem to enjoy their profession and are proud of it. There is a lot of IT memorabilia displayed on the walls of the room, including computer motherboards, and this adds to the perception of them being nerds.

Graham Linehan has a similar theory as to what a nerd is to both Beesley and Morris who wrote 'The Inbetweeners', and Lorre and Prady who write 'The Big Bang Theory'. Moss speaks in a similar tone to Will Mackenzie and also dresses smartly like him, and both Moss and Roy have a great knowledge of computers like the characters in 'The Big bang Theory' do. Moss and Roy are both generally intelligent, but are not on the same level as Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard from 'The Big Bang Theory'. There are some similarities which are evident between the American and British perceptions of a nerd in these three programmes, inparticularly the intelligence shown by all the characters from across all three programmes. They all have an excellent knowledge of modern technology and are proud of it, and all the characters have and still do suffer forms of bullying. The primary difference remains the way in which the characters dress, which is very casual in 'The Big bang Theory' and not so much in 'The IT Crowd' and 'The Inbetweeners'.