Boo’s Field Guide to Nerds (part 4)

To the casual observer, the Goth seems to be an interesting person with a unique sense of style. But despite surface appearances, these Nerds are amongst the least cool people in the modern world.

The Goths of old would be busily engaged in sewing their own waistcoats and bodices, reading The Mysteries of Udolpho, shuffling to Bauhaus and picnicking in cemeteries and other morbid locations. This model has since transformed to encompass other subgenres of the species. Goths in 2009 may be just as likely to buy their clothes ready-made from Dangerfield, devour the oeuvre of Anne Rice, attend an Evanescence concert with their 10-year-old sister or hang out under the clocks at Flinders Street Station. In extreme cases of this altered landscape, this may even spill over into the reviled subgenus Emo, although it is not recommended these similarities ever be pointed out to the modern-day Goth.

Like all Nerds, Goths exult in their difference from the mainstream, and will simultaneously draw attention to him/herself while repelling it at the same time. In this way, the Goth is truly ‘misunderstood’. But unlike most Nerds outlined in this Field Guide, the proliferation of female Goths is high. As a species marked by no definite philosophy, what unites all Goths is a love of aesthetics and form. In this light, the opportunities for assembling elaborate petticoats and stockings, corsetry, makeup and hairstyles has proved irresistible for many a female Nerd.

As much has been written and photographed about the Goth species, it is not necessary to go into further detail regarding their appearance. What is most striking is the height/weight ratio of many female Goths to their mate. It is not uncommon to see a tall, voluptuous woman, magnificently arrayed in velvet, silk and shining latex squiring a small, ferrety, caped gentleman about town. The evolutionary sense this makes is ambiguous, although the abundance of such couplings suggests that this approach is proving successful. It is rare to see a Goth on their own, and if not in a couple they travel in a group known as a ‘piteousness’.

The thematic union of death, sex and lace ruffles is a powerful lure to the Goth, and all enjoy the vampire genre above all others. They will eagerly devour any comic, TV show, movie or band with vampires as its central theme, which spans anything from the ordinary (Blade) to the sublime (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer). The other genre beloved of Goths is sci-fi, which can go anywhere from the output of Philip K. Dick to TV shows Dr Who, Babylon 5 and Star Trek, the movie Star Wars, the TV show Star Wars, the animated TV show of same and so on. The squabbles associated with the definitions of the above are too convoluted to list here.

The glue that holds together the Goth’s twin loves of vampires and sci-fi is fanfic. It will astonish many readers to discover that while some people struggle to fill an A4 page with their thoughts, Goth Nerds are capable of writing several hundred thousand words a month. Rather than going towards a hard-earned PhD or their definitive magnum opus, their talents are spent (often in addition to writing said PhD or magnum opus – the Nerd output is extraordinary) on writing reams of fanfic; stories about their favourite fictional situations in which the Goth writes about what ‘should’ have happened.

This fanfic is then uploaded to the Internet, where, rather like the List of the Birdwatcher or the Mac forum of the Graphic Designer, other Nerds fall upon it with cries of joy. Endless discussions are then held as to whether or not the fanfic is ‘canon’, if the writer is a ‘slasher’ (author of slash, or gay fiction) or if the ‘shipping’ in the text (a shipper being the creator of an unlikely pairing in the original text) is an insult to the text’s creator. Weeks may pass. It is speculated that such fruitless endeavour binds Goths to their fantasy environment, allowing them retreat into the alternate world cherished by all species of Nerds.

Similar to the Goth, the Graphic Designer holds a respected position on the international hierarchy of coolness. However the Graphic Designer is a whole-hearted Nerd who hides their inclinations behind a bulging bookcase of art & design books, groovy spectacle frames and retro transport such as scooters, lowriders or Vespas.

Heroic works of art, symphonies or great literature are but dust in the wind to the Graphic Designer; it is in the font that they find the truest expression of truth and beauty. While the layperson may see the font merely as a method of conveying what they actually wish to communicate, to the Graphic Designer the font is the message itself. This must be kept in mind when approaching this species for the first time. Many unskilled newcomers have erred on first contact with this fastidious Nerd, in presenting an apparently innocuous document in a serif typeface. This is anathema to the Graphic Designer.

This Nerd will also flinch at the sight of Comic Sans, Brush Script, Mistral – indeed any font that attempts to convey handwriting racing frivolously across the page; fonts are a serious business. With the added insult of ClipArt, a presentation in PowerPoint featuring ‘creative’ dissolves, in fact any product from the Microsoft Office suite will cause any Graphic Designer worth their hand screen-printed obi to lie on the floor twitching with their eyes rolled back in their head.

Graphic Designers have a broad-ranging taste in films and can be seen enjoying the creative output of Judd Apatow as much as that of Kieślowski. There is one film however held up above all others, and that is Helvetica: The Movie. To the mainstream audience this topic would conceivably cover the 5, perhaps 10-minute slot before a feature film, a time perhaps best spent purchasing a choc-top or visiting the Ladies Room. This film somehow manages to extend this idea to feature documentary status, where the ‘personalities behind the typefaces’ are interviewed. At its premiere in Melbourne, Helvetica: The Movie was greeted by the assembled Nerds with hushed awe.

It is the dearest wish of the Graphic Designer to one day own an Eames chair. While it is possible to purchase an imitation chair for a reasonable price, this concept does not wash with this species of Nerd; it is the Eames chair or nothing. Some wistful Nerds have spent US$300 in buying the miniature version of the same model, an amount they think reasonable for the chance to place it next to their Macs and look meaningfully at their peers.

In the space given it is not possible to fully explain the love affair of the Graphic Designer with their Mac; needless to say it would be best to wipe down the mouse, keyboard and 30-inch screen of the device before use. They spend most of the day by its side, preferring to eat lunch in its presence, sneeze, cough and otherwise bask in its simple beauty. While the well-known Apple commercial features two diametrically opposed species (the IT Professional and the Graphic Designer), the true meaning of the ad is lost by marketing gurus and researchers of Gen Y demographics everywhere: while they look different, they are both Nerds.

8 thoughts on “Boo’s Field Guide to Nerds (part 4)

  1. My 18 year old nephew is a goth. I was startled when he became one a couple of years ago. The family have taken it well on the whole.I am afraid that I am a comic sans / clip art / microsoft user which is why the graphic designer type of nerd no doubt gives me a wide berth

  2. I didn't know anything about goths really. But I sure do now. You're a sociological Gould, Boo. Pinning down the natural fauna of the urban environment. Here's hoping you someday discover an entirely new species hitherto unknown. The foundation of the Boo League will surely follow.

  3. Can I add that the now widespread use of the terminology "Photoshopping" in mainstream media and out of the mouth of Shane Warne, causes great pain to the Graphic Designer.It means that the common man can now understand a little of what goes on in a graphic design studio – making it no longer the elite realm it once was.Can I also add that if there were more gold postboxes available in groovy inner city strips such as Smith and, to a lesser degree, Gertrude St, the Graphic Designer would be a much more contented and perhaps less nerdy individual.

  4. Snort snort snort. I am warned, Meredith.I must admit I long for a wee badge with the 'Boo League' written on it. Perhaps I can get one of those Graphic Design Nerds to knock one up, eh. Photoshopping is so easy.And E can we discuss the zillion $$ it took to design the new Melbourne Logo. Why, they could have just gone down to Ken Cato and he would have whizzed one together for a few thou, what with all the $$ he saves on walking long distances to gold postboxes!!

  5. I'm happy to see that the continued absence in this guide of my own proud profession, the pathologist, is evidence of its timeless and indelible cool, especially compared to the animator and the Graphic Designer.Let's give a big WOOOO to Microsoft and the mighty Power Point! Not to mention Times New Roman.

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