I just finished watching Chuck on NBC (Monday, 8:00). It’s about a guy who runs a "Geek Squad" type service at the charmingly named "Buy More." The Big Bang Theory (Monday, 8:30, CBS) is a Beauty and the Geek proposition, two guys living across the hall from a woman who is, as the phrase has it, totally out of their league.
These shows join Heroes, Numb3rs, and Mythbusters, all of which features nerdy people. I think we could even say that Tina Fay’s character Liz Lemon on 30 Rock is a nerd. She really just wants to stay home and watch Starwars. (30 Rock character Kenneth Parcell might also qualify.)
Geeks and nerds are surprisingly popular when you think that they are, officially, objects of scorn. They colonized a good bit of the Fall schedule.
If we had to choose another big trend in cultural programming recently, it would have to be Vegas. Viva Laughlin appeared on CBS (it has since been cancelled). This joins the NBC series Las Vegas and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and a slew of Hollywood movies including, Swingers (1992), Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), Casino (1995), Very Bad Things (1998), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), MTV Real World: Las Vegas (1992), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), The Cooler (2003), Ocean’s Twelve (2004), Smokin’ Aces (2006), and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007).
Generalizing perhaps too generously, we’ve got two very different species of social life: geeks and, if we take the Vegas trend to its core, players (aka, playas). My assumption here is that the social type most favored by Vegas is the male who is a self aggrandizing, risk taking, high roller. The kind of guy who appears in the HBO TV show, Entourage, or Ocean’s X.
This leaves us with a nice little contrast. Geeks are timid creatures. Players are swash buckling and vain glorious. Geeks calculate the odds. Players just jump. Geeks are world renouncing. Players are overweening. How odd that these two creatures should have come out of corn or obscurity to high profile positions in contemporary culture.
What’s up? I think this strange duality might tell us something about Millenials. Geeks and Players might be their ying and yang, the two poles between which they have set up shop. Or maybe not. I haven’t done the ethnography, so I’m guessing. And asking. Thoughts, anyone?