It's been a hectic couple of weeks in the nerd culture. The Marvel film universe has ended more than 10 years of accumulated history with Avengers: End of the game. Game of thrones concluded after eight seasons on HBO. And the sitcom centered on the nerd The Big Bang Theory closed shop on CBS after more than a decade on the airwaves. What makes all these events so remarkable, however, that they are not the interests they could have been 20 years ago. Avengers: End of the game will make about 3 billion dollars in the world. Game of thrones was the the biggest TV viewing event. The Big Bang Theory was a little calmer in her 12th season, but spent a good part of her career as the most popular sitcom on television. As many people have pointed out over the past decade, the Nerd culture is really just a popular culture.
But where does this leave representations of nerds in popular culture? With nerd stuff consumed by tens of millions of people, even defining "nerd" has become tricky. It is common to have a person with a medium level of interest or expertise in a wide variety of topics, from pop culture to drafts of beer to sports. But this sounds strangely like a description of any human being with interests and / or hobbies. Despite everything, the version at the nerdery screen has dragged on. The Big Bang Theory used a rather broad and traditional definition – real or fictitious, sometimes socially inept, science enthusiasts – who felt both condescending and flattering. Many movies have done worse. (Think of Pixels, trying to turn Adam Sandler's usual habitual into a nerdy outsider.) Besides, you have a real life, with a toxic fandom revealing a lot of rage and male rights under this nerdy underdog .
In this context, the new comedy of Olivia Wilde Booksmart feels revealing, even when it closely resembles the shenanigans of the last day of high school from other films. In particular, it is easy to describe the film as a feminine version of the 2007 masterful comedy Superbad. Booksmart Beanie Feldstein, Jonah Hill's sister, even plays the role of Jonah Hill in the bitterer and faster half of the anger of an inseparable teenage friendship. Kaitlyn Dever plays Michael Cera: a softer, more cautious and funny voice. As Superbad, Wilde's film draws a lot of comic book from the ability of its main actors to create a funny and credible relationship. Feldstein and Dever are both great.
But unlike Superbad, which made academic achievements of his characters a secondary priority to their goal of air-mailing before college, Booksmart is a lot on two female nerds. Molly (Feldstein) is ruthlessly ambitious, the kind to see in the student government a stepping stone to the world stage. Amy (Dever) is no longer a sensitive activist. They both have Ivy League college plans. Even their crazy party night has more of an academic inclination than their Superbad the counterparts have in mind. Molly and Amy spent the entire school meeting the rules, working hard and spending time together. Now they want to make up for lost time.
Molly pushes this story stronger than Amy, because she has learned something that makes her furious. Although she has always considered herself more serious and more committed than her classmates who are partying, on the last day of school, she discovers that many cool, popular and / or lazy students also attend. l & # 39; elite. colleges in the fall. At least we'll even be at Yale with her. Cognitive dissonance is enough to send him into an identity crisis.
Intentionally or not, this crisis reflects the changing definition of American nervousness. Molly and Amy's interdisciplinary academic geek status (more focused on the humanities than mathematics or science, but no matter what higher-level achievements) is a relatively traditional representation of nerds, although no one calls them characters in the 80s. movie could. Although Molly sees the ability of a sweetheart to properly name her Hogwarts home, girls do not usually bond to arcane fragments of pop culture. They are nerds because they are good at school.
And the eclectic mix of popular teens that Molly initially despised includes many characters that could have been misfits or pariahs in older teen movies: theatrical kids, skateboarders, gregarious nonsense, and a mysterious weirdo played by Billie Heavy. Although Molly's desire to make a catch-up party is a more theoretical and less urgent factor than the libidinous motivations of Superbadit comes from the very awareness that there are other ways to be smart, to succeed and even crazier than to simply fight for a simple Ace.
The anger and defensiveness that this knowledge produced from Molly is not explicitly tied to longtime players or longtime players. Star Wars fans bristle at the integration of "their" culture. But she has the same desire to define herself as the owner of her nervousness. If she is not rejected for her academic prowess, she leaves the opportunity to be rejected for herself. Amy does not give as much importance to deceiving standards, but she has a stereotypical shyness in romanticism – creating in this case a troubling gap between her proud gaiety and her current life experience.
These parallels are more sensitive than toxic because of the film's rare focus on the experience of young women. So often, women's nervousness is defined by men: the film's traditional girl is a wind vane that becomes desirable to become a star when she removes her glasses and drops her hair. More recently, girls nerds have become dream girls of fanboys who keep their glasses, but show their knowledge of Star Trek anecdotes or their skills in video games. Booksmart, with a scenario credited to four women, skilfully avoids defining girls by their appearance or their relationships. Neither one nor the other aspect of teen life is completely ignored – Molly is particularly hurt when she catches a classmate talking about her beauty, with the exception of his personality, and that the film presents a number of potential romantic interests – but no element of history diverts from his deep friendship.
Sometimes, Booksmart feels a bit more artificial and caricatural than the best of his sub-genre of teen comedy. But her daughter's point of view never feels fancy, in large part because she is separated from the lazy cultural signifiers. (Well, apart from her use of rap music as an ironic counterpart to girls' dorkiness.) The film does not find innate goodness in their status as nerds. Although the program probably addresses an underserved audience of intelligent and socially awkward women, it avoids public flattery.
And as such, Wilde's film both condemns easy categorization and claims old-school nerdness. It's a Revenge of the Nerds an evolution that recognizes the futility of revenge and a feminist story that recognizes the privilege of its characters. The movie recognizes both the agony of caring intensely about something (in this case, succeeding well in school), the ecstasies of finding someone else who shares that intensity and the subsequent suffering of the separation of this person through his diploma. If "nerd culture" is to be a distinct and meaningful idea, it is important for films like Booksmart remind people that nerd-dom is more than angry at Game of thrones on the Internet
Booksmart opens wide in US theaters on May 24, 2019.