Talkin’ Nerdy: Talking About Your Geeky Interests

I’ve talked a bit about how nerds have an unfortunate tendency to buy into the self-limiting belief that being a nerd is somehow a hinderance to dating.

It’s always struck me as a little odd; generally we like to say that we’re proud to be geeks, but when it comes to talking about the things we’re into… well, geeks tend to get a little on the defensive side. Don’t believe me? Ask a Bronie  about his favorite TV show.

Then stand back. They get a little vehement sometimes.

Can’t imagine why…

You can repeat the process with Browncoats, otaku, even table-top gamers – scratch a nerd and you’ll find somebody who’s used to being given a ration of shit for what she or he is into.

It can be hard to want to dip a toe into the dating pool when you’re worried about when the getting-to-know-you conversation will inevitably turn to “So, what are you into?” It can be difficult to meet new people when you feel as though you have to justify your interests every single time you meet someone new.

Small wonder some geeky guys get fetishize geek girls. Why worry about the possibility of being mocked for what you like when you can just stick to your own kind?

But what if it didn’t have to be that way?

It’s All In How You Sell It

You see, the problem isn’t the geeky interests in and of themselves1 , it’s in the way that they’re presented. Just as kinksters and fetishists have learned over the years, people will respond to how you deliver the news. If you tell your date that you’re into Japanese animation in the same apologetic tone that you might say that spaghetti carbonara gives you explosive diarrhea, it’s no goddamn wonder that they might respond negatively. You need to present it like a bonus, not a problem: you’re into anime and isn’t that fucking awesome?

You see, people may not be into what you’re into… but they do respond to passion. Passion is an incredibly attractive trait; we like passionate people because they have something to their lives besides their humdrum every day events. Your date may not be a geek – he or she may not even be geek-curious, but if you can talk about your geeky interest with passion and explain what it is you like about it… well even if it’s not their thing, they’ll be far more interested in it. You may very well pique their curiosity…

Now, sometimes it can be difficult to articulate just what it is that you like about your interests.

That’s where I come in. I’ve tabulated a little cheat sheet to help you understand how others see your hobby, how to explain why you like it in a way they’ll understand, and even some examples that you can suggest they try for themselves.

Genre Movies:

What They Expect:

SFX and minimal plot to get in the way of the action scenes.

How To Sell It:

Honestly, this isn’t going to be too hard of a sell. Of the top 10 highest grossing movies world-wide, 9 out of 10 of them are geek movies involving superheroes (Avengers, ), aliens (Avatar, Star Wars: Episode 1), boy-wizards, pirates and toys. The lone hold-out? Titanic. Expand it to the top 20? Even more geek movies. Expand it further and you don’t hit a non-geek movie until #38 (2012) and #39 (The Da Vinci Code). Blockbuster movies are geek movies.

If you’re into b-movies, then you want to talk about the fact that they’re just so bad that they’re funny. How are you not supposed to laugh at a movie where astronauts are being menaced by rocks?  Horror movies tweak the same part of the brain that thrill rides do: you like the build up of suspense and fear in an otherwise safe outlet. It’s fun to be scared when you’re not really at risk. And the best horror movies are often social commentary, holding a warped mirror up to society in order to comment on modern society.

What To Suggest:

Any particular big-budget genre movie, especially starring Robert Downey, Jr. or Christian Bale.
For horror: Dawn of the Dead (original and 2004 remake), 28 Days Later, Paranormal Activity, The Ring

Genre TV:

Because of the various levels of cable these days, it’s worth breaking them down into separate categories:

Premium Cable (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz)

What They Expect:

Tits. Beheadings. More tits. Vampires. Uncomfortable racial undertones.

How To Sell It:

Much like genre movies, this isn’t really going to be a hard sell. Game of Thrones is a legitimate cultural phenomenon, while shows like True Blood and Spartacus are the classic definition of trashy guilty pleasure. Game of Thrones is fantasy for people who hate fantasy, eschewing the usual tropes for a brutal world that focuses on political intrigue and a civil war between rival families where Machiavellian plotting and sudden but inevitable betrayals are the order of the day.  True Blood is glorious, trashy TV with pretty people in an almost absurdly cartoonish world where vampires and other supernatural beasties have officially “come out of the coffin” – plus it’s by Alan Ball who created Six Feet Under. The Tudors is The Sopranos overlaid on Henry The Eighth. Spartacus… well, that’s basically blood and tits. They’re not wrong there.

What to Show Them:

Game of Thrones. But they’re probably already watching it.

Broadcast Television (ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, FOX)

What They Expect:

On the CW: Very bad acting by very pretty people who take their shirts off a lot.
On the networks: Cheese on top of cheese followed by more cheese. Alternately: Mysteries for the sake of mysteries wrapped in a conundrum and folded into a tasty pastry shell made of powdered enigmas that will NEVER EVER EVER be resolved.
On Fox: Cancelled in one season.

How To Sell It:

On the CW: “Hey, don’t mistake this for being a girly romance show just because $ACTOR_NAME is really, really pretty: this is hands down some of the darkest, most violent TV I’ve seen in a while. The writers really have no problem putting all of their characters through the wringer; hell, they really don’t have any problem with straight up MURDERING characters. More than Joss Whedon even.  The thing I really like about Supernatural/Vampire Diaries/Beauty and the Beast/Arrow is that it’s about the characters. Yeah the plots can get a little on the cliched side, but when you get right down to it, the characters’ relationships are the most compelling part of the show…  the genre elements of it – the vampires/monsters/superheroes – it’s brutally honest about how relationships work. If you really liked watching the relationships between Angel and Buffy or Willow and Tara, you might be surprised how much you like this.”

On the networks: “It’s the sort of show that really rewards active viewer participation. Just sitting back and expecting to get the answers fed to you means that you’re missing out on the fun. The best part of the show is developing your own crazy theories and debating them with your friends. Some shows even take it up to the next level with Alternate Reality Games, where the audience actively takes part in the story through in-universe games and story lines pieced together from clues dropped via websites, text messages and even live-action games at conventions like San Diego Comic Con.”

On Fox: “I like it, but it’s going to get cancelled before it goes anywhere.”

What To Show Them:

Buffy The Vampire Slayer – “The Body”, “Hush”. Veronica Mars seasons 1 and 2. Vampire Diaries season 2. Firefly. Lost season 1. Community – “Modern Warfare”.

Tabletop RPGs

What They Expect:

A bunch of social maladjusts and neckbeards with massive collections of multi-sided dice and badly painted toy soldiers sitting in their parents’ half-finished basement covered in stale Cheeto dust and discared energy drink cans lamenting their perpetual virginity. Usually sounding a lot like this:

 How To Sell It:

“When you get right down to it, there really isn’t any difference between Dungeons and Dragons and a fantasy sports league. They both come down to a collection of statistics that influence the outcome of the game; the real difference comes down to the fact that fantasy sports are ultimately passive. A dude in a fantasy football league may brag about ‘his’ player making a touchdown in the big game, but in an RPG, the player actually controls events. Think of it like an improvisation exercise; The game master, the rules and the statistics help shape the scenario and the dice are just there to add a level of randomness to the event otherwise the players would risk getting bogged down in trying to out-awesome everybody else. The best part of the game is usually when everything goes wrong, and you have to pull a victory out by the skin of your teeth.”

Pro Tip: DO NOT tell RPG war stories. They are not of interest to anyone outside of your gaming group.

What To Show Them:

Community – “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons”. Or invite them to a game of Paranoia.

Video Games

What They Expect:

Hyper-developed manchildren playing mindless first person shooters while being insulted by homophobic and racist 11 year olds via online gaming services. Running down senior citizens and murdering prostitutes in crime simulators. Dude-bros and frat boys having a brodown over the latest Madden NFL, NBA Live or NCAA Football titles. Sexist portrayals of women with overinflated breasts and impossible proportions wearing dental floss and scraps of cloth that can only be charitably called a costume. Shut ins and hikkimori who have forgone all human contact for a life lived exclusively on MMOs, particularly World of Warcraft, surrounded by mountains of empty soda cans and rotting pizza boxes.

How To Sell It:

“Yeah, first-person shooters and MMOs are all the rage, but they’re hardly the end-all, be-all of video games. In fact, video games cover the gamut of just about every available genre out there. There are puzzle games devoted to mathematical concepts and genetic restructuring, games that you control by manipulating the properties of light and sound and games whose goals are based on twitch-reflexes and the ability to instantly recognize abstract spatial relationships and trigonometric functions. Other games are works of abstract art that force us to examine the nature of our relationships with other people or what it’s like to be old and alone or to suffer from schizophrenia.”

“Still more games push the boundaries of storytelling in ways that books or movies simply can’t. Being in control of the character at all, even when your options are relatively limited, makes you identify with them and relate to them so much more than you would in traditional movies just because you actually have agency. It’s one thing to get excited to watch Indiana Jones try to outrun the boulder. It’s another thing entirely when you ultimately control a character’s fate. There are some games out there where even the smallest actions have major consequences years down the line that ultimately reshape the entire narrative and take the story in directions you never expected. It’s an exciting new form of entertainment  – and really, artistic expression –  that’s still in it’s infancy. The more technology advances, the more we can do with it.”

What To Suggest:

Portal & Portal 2. Limbo. Flower. Journey. Bastion, L.A. Noire


What They Expect:

Quasi-homoerotic teen male power fantasies disguised as superheroes and anatomically impossible female characters whose main power is being able to stand upright despite having breasts that defy physics and a complete lack of internal organs.

Can’t imagine why they might think that.

How To Sell It:

Short version: “You know how much you loved Iron Man? Thor? The Dark Knight? Scott Pilgrim? This is where they came from.”

Longer version: “Superheroes are a large portion of the market, yes, but once you get away from Marvel and DC, there’s so much more out there. It’s more than just dudes in tights, it’s one of the purest forms of collaborative storytelling you can find. When it’s done right, it’s the singular vision of one or two people, distilled from their brains and onto paper without having to be processed through the competing visions of a dozen other hands before you get to it. The ability to tell whatever stories you want is limited only by the creators’ imagination, not by budgets or actors worrying that this might taint their image or the stories being test-marketed and focus-grouped to death. You get autobiographical stories about fighting cancer, incredible sci-fi dystopias, surreal horror, real life romances, war stories…

To quote one visionary comics creator: ‘It’s words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures.'”

What To Suggest:

American Splendor, Finder, Locke and Key, Queen and Country, Courtney Crumrin, A Distant Soil, FreakAngels, Bone, Habibi, Carnet De Voyage

Animated Cartoons

What They Expect:

24 minute long commercials designed to sell toys and sugar to impressionable eight-year olds.

How To Sell It:

“More and more cartoons these days are designed to be all-ages, rather than specifically for kids. The creators realized since the audience wasn’t strictly children then they needed to stop insulting everybody’s intelligence. As a result, we’ve ended up with cartoons that don’t treat the audience like idiots and have more mature storylines and even slip in references that younger kids are never going to get. Some of them are ostensibly for kids, but they’re really more of a celebration of the cartoons we loved when we were growing up. There are others that are specifically for adult audiences. The best ones out there have writing and character arcs that hold up as well as some of the best prime-time comedies and dramas on television.”

What To Show Them:

Avatar: The Last Airbender. The Legend of Korra. Archer. The Venture Brothers. Samurai Jack.


What They Expect:

Pokemon. Ultraviolence. Big eyes and speed lines. Naughty tentacles. Fights that go on forever. Ninjas. More Pokemon. Pretty boys that sparkle more than Cullens under a heat lamp.

How To Sell It:

“Animation and comics took off in an entirely different direction than it did in America. Instead of being seen as strictly for kids, they were seen as a medium that could encompass just about any genre you wanted. Since Japanese comics were primarily aimed at people commuting to and from work, publishers would fill all kinds of crazy niches with stories. One of the most popular comics in Japan right now is the story of a man learning to become a sommelier – and it ended up starting a new craze for wine tasting courses. Another one is all about playing ‘Go’, and another is all about a kid who wants to grow up to be the king of the pirates. Yeah, there’s a lot of kids stuff out there, but there’s always been more to it. There’s been a lot more room for animation aimed at mature audiences and mature subjects than there has been in the US. In fact, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan was directly inspired by this awesome animated movie called ‘Perfect Blue’. Have you ever seen it?”

100% less bi-curious makeout scenes though.

What To Show Them:

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. Ghost in the Shell. Perfect Blue. Spirited Away. Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. Tokyo Godfathers. Battle Angel Alita. Millenium Actress. Akira.

My Little Pony

What They Expect:

It’s a cartoon about ponies for young girls.

And it has fans in the strangest of places.

How To Sell It:

Oh God, do I have to?


OK, fine. “I like a kid’s show about magic and friendship starring talking ponies.”

What To Show Them:


  1. Although, in perfect honesty, some are going to have a more dubious reputation than others. []

  • Marty

    I got my ex-bf into "My Little Ponies" by having him watch it while high. He is now addicted to the show.; he posts at least one link referring to it a day on his Facebook. And trust me, he has absolutely no problems getting laid.

  • Claudia

    Really Doc? You're gonna make fun of "My Little Pony" too?

    • djteslarose

      No, the My Little Ponies of this generation are the bastardization of the original toy and world. (Bring it, Bronies!). I got my first MLP when I was 2 and grew my collection until I was about 9 and switched to Breyer model horses. (I've been riding horses for 20 years). MLP was the starter kit for horse crazy little girls, not the equine Care Bears they've become. The old old old shows and books with Megan and actual plots were the delight of my childhood. The current MLP is just weird and Pokemon-ish. (I feel the same way about 90s X-men cartoons and the more recent "X-men Evolution") I wish people would stop taking my childhood and remaking it…..sigh. Ok, off the soapbox. (Also, Marty, show him David the Gnome while he is high….that is an interesting experience.)

      • Kelly F.

        At least the ponies of FiM have actual personalities and talk about real-world problems that people can actually relate to (solving issues with friends) instead of being one giant toy commercial with no actual intellectual value. Not to mention the humor and great writing.

        • djteslarose

          I refer you to the old comics and TV show of MLP. Same things were discussed: Acceptance, tolerance, feelings. It was all there. Same era as Rainbow Brite

          • Tell me how Ponies today are like Pokemon? The two don't even overlap. And I think it's really hard to call FiM a bastardization of the original, because it was more intent on selling toys and there were the MUCH WORSE G3 or G3.5 Ponies that existed and definitely much more lowest common denominator.

          • djteslarose


            Haha, well I did say bring it. I honestly haven't paid that much attention to the FiM version because I don't care for it. If it is something you love, then more power to you. I grew up with a different, and I think better, version and I don't care for the reboot. Like I said before, the original MLP was targeted for horse crazy little girls and that's what me and my friends were. MLPs were TOY HORSES in bright colors and sparkles to further appeal to little girls. And we loved them like we love our horses as grownups. The other stories, comics, tv show grew out of the TOY, as an extension of the TOY. The current reboot isn't about the horsiness of MLPs any more. Look, I had a version of MLP that was my first exposure to horses and the beginning of my lifelong love affair with the equine species. That set of memories is special to me. I feel that the reboot is the cheap pandering trying to use the style that Pokemon did to gain greater appeal and it's not for me. There are people who will share both your opinion and my opinion. 🙂

      • Jess

        I completely agree with you. I'm an old skool MLP lover too. I just can't accept the new ones. Sorry.

      • Claudia

        I think you're confusing your ponies here , the original 80s cartoon had no characterization, zero plot, and it existed pretty much just to sell toys. While Friendship is Magic definitely was created to make a comeback for the toyline, it's still a better crafted product, with interesting characters, funny jokes, good messages for children, and stories that don't make the parents that watch the show with their kids want to cut their wrists. Also, it has tons geeky references that might fly over the heads of kids, but the grown up audience can really appreciate.

        I understand if you prefer the original version, but take the nostalgia goggles off and realize the first show was very inane.

        • djteslarose

          @Claudia: Does it matter? Many things that we enjoyed as 2-10yr. olds were inane but we loved them anyways. Do you want people to trash on your childhood joys? I loved MLPs not because of a TV show but because of the TOYS, because they were my first ponies, my first horses. Who cares if the stories don't hold up? I made my own rich stories with my TOYS and the new version doesn't capture the feelings I had back as a child. Therefore I don't care for it and that's ok. 🙂

          • Dr. NerdLove

            I've discovered over the years that sometimes the secret to keeping happy memories of the things you loved growing up is to NEVER WATCH THEM AGAIN. I mean, I loved the hell out of Robotech but OH MY GOD the voice acting is almost universally horrible.

            Fortunately, things like Thundarr the Barbarian hold up shockingly well.

          • I would only debate that your concerns with that you don't like the new MLP, because it somehow seems to disrespect the original. And the show actually seems to respect the original, and the new fans of MLP don't seem to have a problem with it. Hell, my girlfriend was interested to try the new version because she was very nostalgic over the 80s MLP. (And everyone forgets the ones from the 90s and early 2000s because they lacked the popularity and lost fanbase)

            I'm not taking anything away from you for loving the old series or still having those great times playing with the toys. I just don't see why the new version is harmful for nolstagia because it's current popularity or it's quality production. (If you were talking about Transformers, I'd totally understand)

          • Jess

            It's not that the show disrespects the original, it is that the TOYS that we loved have mutated into these ugly alien things that don't even resemble horses anymore. MLPs used to be cute and FAT! I loved them. They looked like little Shetland ponies and they were adorable.

            Now their eyes take up 80% of their face, they have no nose or mouth at all, and they are skinny and their hair is a mile long, which is ridiculous. And HONESTLY, not even HORSES are allowed to be fat? WTH is up with that?

            I don't care what they did with the characterization of the cartoon. I'll never forgive it for ruining my beloved toys. If anyone released vintage MLPs, I'd buy the entire set for my daughter.

            I don't want any mutant alien techocolored equines with eating disorders, thanks, I'll pass.

          • Jess

            Honestly, how did we go from this (too cute!)


            To this? ? ?


          • charle33
          • Spirit

            I believe that is because Hasbro destroyed the original molds when their licensing was about to expire, which is also why none of the ponies have the original names and designs, except for Apple Jack and Spike.

            My sister had over 300 G1 MLPs at one point in time and we both love the new show. It is actually okay to love both.

  • James (Thortok2000)

    You sell video games just like I do (they are, after all, something I am passionate about. I give a similar speech when I talk about my interest in actually programming them someday and pushing them forward as a form of media.) I always recommend Portal & Portal 2 as well.

    I've always been on the fringe of anime & manga. I hear some about it but I haven't really watched much. I haven't even heard of all the ones you've recommended. -.- I tend to like people that are into it without being into it myself.

    And I was curious how you'd justify My Little Pony. I haven't even seen a clip of it, just artwork, and the artwork is interesting enough I guess. I really don't understand the appeal.

    • Ana

      Portal and Portal 2 are indeed GREAT places to start, especially as they have a lady protagonist and really emphasize that video games != violence. I haven't played it yet, but I've heard that Quantum Conundrum is a great new puzzle game as well. If she's a big reader or movie/TV watcher, then the Bioware RPG's might be a great choice. The Dragon Age and Mass Effect series have a lot of appeal to female audiences, and barring a few poor writer decisions (one of which led to the huge controversy about the ME3 ending), are very well written. I don't think either would make a great starter game , but they are good flagships of the game as narrative genre.

      Of course, there's always Skyrim for the BEAUTIFUL SCENERY OMG

      • Jess

        As a girl who loves playing video and computer games with my hubby as our hobby that we do together to blow off steam, here's some of my favorites and why.

        First off, if "playing a video game" involves you playing and her sitting there watching the gore, you're doing something wrong. Sometimes my hubby plays God of War or some other shooter game, and I sit along and watch. I'm very good at spacial awareness and tend not to get "lost" in maps, so he'll ask me to "direct" him, but really this is no fun for me, and will be a turn off to a girl new to games. Usually I space out on Twitter and let him play.

        The games that are the most fun are the ones that are playful. Ones that got me hooked are Little Big Planet. I'm addicted to the creative aspects of the game. I also loved Portal which was mysterious and fun and funny. LEGO anything, but especially Star Wars and Indiana Jones is a lot of fun. Cart racing, like Mod Nation Racers is fun and competitive between us, but I also loved playing old Need for Speed Underground 2.

        Rock Band or anything that gets you up and moving with dancing or sports is silly and fun as well.

        And, I love a good dungeon basher on the computer. Titan Quest comes up on Steam every so often, and that game was so much fun to play with my hubby. It is a good intro to games like Diablo. We're now playing Diablo III together, and while I have to roll my eyes at the overdone gore, I recognize that it is the same sort of game as Titan Quest, and so I really enjoy it.

        If you are a game-centric guy, you may have to accept that your girl is never going to get into bloody first person shooters, but there are other ways to get her playing games in general that will make her more open to the idea of letting you shoot some heads for an hour or two.

        The games that I just personally can't get into are war games, but that might just be me. I can't watch war movies either. They upset me too much.

        So start with games that are "innocent" and pure fun and work your way up from there. Steam has several small independent games that have been brilliant as well.

        For computers if you want to get her used to the idea of an absorbing MMO get her hooked on a computer game that does huge resource building and micro-management like Civ or Sims, then sell MMO's as the same sort of dynamic, only you interact with others. Those two games are addictive.

        • Nick

          I HIGHLY recommend the BitTrip series to intrigue ANYBODY into a game for a little bit. On one hand, when you get good at it, people LOVE to watch the crazy sound-interactive psychedelic neo-retro jumple of pure pretty-shiny. On another, you essentially learn the entire rules of each game in its opening menu. For reference, it exists in its entirety as Bit.Trip complete for Wii, as well as individual downloads in the WiiWare shop. PC and Mac have BTBeat available and I can get BTRunner working on any architecture you can imagine with its Linux + Source port. Available in Ubuntu Repos for sure.

          Which leads me to suggest that the Doc missed the difficulties of relating the joys of computer geekery… I just installed the 16th OS to my PC today, but it's not the kinda thing that does more than make people say, "Why so many OSes? Win/Mac works just fine, doesn't it?" It all becomes politics and patents from there… Video Games I can strut on command, but I spend most of my time learning about the evolution of operating systems and the free software movement. Even other Computer geeks are oft to ask "Mac or Win?" and shut off assuming that the word Linux means irrelevant and "Old geek in Mom's basement". I'd just like to hear Doc's "sales pitch" for the one's who like having a "robotic wingman".

          • Gman

            I would like to add several other games to the list of games that can get a non-gamer interested in gaming:

            Rayman Origins is a great co-op game. It's really stylish and has a great design and soundtrack. Other great co-op games are New Super Mario Bros. Wii (A ton of fun with 2 people and up) and Portal 2 (one of the best games out there today).

            Plus – I am also a big advocate of showing some casual gamers more games besides "angry birds" or "fruit ninja". I always send links to Popcap games – mainly "Plants vs. Zombies" (which in my opinion is the only zombie themed game I really like) "Peggle" and "Zuma" – they are all personal favorites of mine.

    • Max

      Irony. "Look, I'm an adult male, and I'm watching a show about magic ponies. It's okay though, because it's slightly above average in terms of cartoons for little girls!"

  • Tegan

    As a Pegasister….

    How To Sell It:

    As far as moral lesson-y cartoons for kids go, it's not trite like the ones that were out when I was a kid (for all that I still have a fondness for them). Mostly it's about not being a douche to others and the complexities of relating. There's enough references that adults will get that keep it interesting for them as their children watch it a bazillion times. The characters grow through the course of the seasons. Hell, there's an episode that tries to tackle relationships with settlers and First Nations in a semi-nuanced way in 20 minutes. That's pretty ambitious if you ask me.

    Not to mention Pinkie Pie is made of cracktastic disturbed joy. What's not to like?

    What To Show Them:

    One clip – Rainbow Dash teaching Fluttershy how to cheer for her at a flying competition.

    • UnderOrange


    • Kelly F.

      Thank you for that wonderful description!

      I love how the characters and stories actually have substance, as well as really great animation and art.

  • Josh

    You forgot the dreaded toy collectors.

  • Ana

    Might I recommend Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics as well? They were certainly the first comics I ever read. The writing is excellent and there is a lack of most traditional comic tropes and art. It would help if she were already a Gaiman fan, however – the comics are quite dark and a gentle introduction to the author might be a good idea.

    Additionally, for "You liked the movie, now read this…", the Watchmen and V for Vendetta graphic novels are both fantastic. You could even have a "read and compare" session for each one.

    Another thing I would recommend: As well as introducing her to your interests, pay attention and investigate her interests as well. She might be watching different TV shows/reading different books/listening to different music/watching different movies than you, but you may very well enjoy them (you might even recognize some favorite actors and actresses *cough*Castle*cough*). Don't fall into the pattern of "oh well, it's a chick flick; of course I won't like it". She will be much more open to the cultural and information exchange if it's going both ways, and it doesn't set up a mentor/mentee relationship between you two since both are sharing. As a bonus: it gives you even more things to talk about!

    • Nick

      Definitely Neil Gaiman. Perhaps as a precursor, to get interest into his style, watch MirrorMask and Coraline, both directed by Dave McKean. As McKean did the covers and some illustration within Sandman, they both seem to exist in the same atmosphere of SandMan. And of course if you want to go way lighter in tone, StarDust is gorgeous and an unusual romance movie.

      • Dr. NerdLove

        Just a correction: Coraline was directed by Henry Sellick, who also directed The Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

        • Nick

          Correction noted. Thank you. I'm less of a movie geek than most other media disciplines, so the perfect realisation of the book led me to fall back to my admiration for the way McKean's imagery tends to complement Neil's writing. I reckon I've admired Sellick without noting his name for a good long while now. Now if only Terry Gilliam can get Good Omens going before the Apocalypse…

        • Animated madness

          Sorry to correct you Doc, but Corpse Bride was directed by Tim Burton. Henry wasn't even involved in the project.

          • Dr. NerdLove

            I stand corrected!

  • UnderOrange

    Fun Fact: One of my geek interests that really turns guys off is BJD's (or rather, Ball Joint Dolls). They are dolls, for some people they reside firmly in Uncanny Valley and are obviously plotting the demise of all humanity. For some people they are a life obsession and for most people they are a fun, creative hobby.

    I think they're awesome. I sew, so they provide the perfect opportunity to make adorable miniature outfits, use up less fabric, and otherwise pretend I'm 8 again in the best way possible. I've learned how to make a wig because of them, and I'm constantly looking up new and interesting projects just to see what cool new thing I can make.

    People are usually either really rude about it or just let their eyes glaze over as I try explain that no really, I understand they aren't people. They have names and it's fun to make up personalities to go with their looks but I fully understand this is just a grown-up version of a very old game. It's like talking to the cats. I KNOW they aren't going to answer, but it's better than silence.

    … Alright, I'm done spewing crazy all in the comments. I guess if there is a point to this, guys: If you're interested in a nerd girl it is entirely possible she will like something you don't understand. Patting her head and treating her like a child about it will get you some fierce side-eye at best and your ass dumped at worst.

    • Ana

      Seconded – just because a hobby is "girly" doesn't make it any less cool (says the dyer/spinner/knitter/sewer)

      • Jess

        Absolutely, guys,

        If you want a girl to give you an open mind about your Dungeons and Dragons games, you'd better NOT give her a ration over her hand spun yarn addiction and the new stocking cap she's knitting.

        • UnderOrange

          Bwahaha, Dr. Nerdlove knitters unite! *wanders off to finish knitting the ugly vulcan style sweater she's making for Suvik*

          Oh right, two of my BJD's are vulcan. Because of course.

          • Ana

            Awesome… Also, TBH, are BJD's really that much different from action figures or collectable "male" toys? If anything, they are more interactive and fun…

          • UnderOrange

            Heh, replaying to myself because it took away your reply button, Ana… But yeah I dunno. Maybe it's the interactive part that freaks guys out? To me, a toy I can -continue to play with- is WAY better than something that's going to sit on a shelf and collect dust.

    • Max

      I imagine it's the same as if you went into the guy's house and he had a bunch of action figures that he still played with. Also every single action figure has murder in their eyes (I don't think I've ever seen a doll that didn't have murder in its eyes).

      • UnderOrange

        "Action figures that he still played with" just reminds me of Wash and hey, lets be real here. Wash is awesome and if he wasn't taken he'd probably be my #1 Firefly crush, so there is that.

        Plus, if dolls ever do become sentient and are out to murderate people would you rather be the one they remember treating them well and loving the hell out of them or the one going "OMG IT'S SO FREAKY AGH" because I'm pretty sure I know which person is gunna get killed first in that scenario and it isn't the one that just gifted the doll with a cool vulcan style sweater.

  • Beth

    What about academic nerds, Doc? People are like "what's your hobby?" and I'm like HISTORY OMG and they're like "That's what you study," and I'm like "No that's my life. Would you like to hear a lecture about my research? 😀 😀 :D"

    • Beth

      Ahh didn't mean to hit the send button. Bu really doc, how does the gradstudent!nerd contingency handle this? (not to say that academic!nerds and the types of nerdy interests outlined here do not overlap, of course; they most certainly do)

    • Skelly

      Oh, seconded! I am a total philologist — a historical language/literature nerd. I can competently read at least seven distinct languages (which unfortunately causes people to think that I know everything about every language that ever existed at any time in the history of the Universe), I minored in classical Sanskrit, and I regularly devour epic poetry like a puppy chomps chocolate (with ardent enthusiasm and slightly spastic side-effects).

      I lacked a sexual orientation of any sort, for most of my adolescence, so I actually spoke about these languages metaphorically like they were relationships. I had "affairs" and was "polygamous" and so forth. I didn't learn most of them through conventional study methods. I simply dove into them and failed to resurface at the end of the month. The same was true with historical periods. I didn't meticulously or systematically research these in any particular order. I read everything that crossed my path, as it interested me.

      What this means is that when I "nerd out" in any given subject (history and fantasy being prime examples) I am coming from a VERY different perspective than most people, and one that people are very averse to talking about. My friends joke that I am the "nerd's nerd" because we will start a conversation about, say, quarterstaffs, and they will enter video game land and suddenly I will be totally over my head with vocabulary that I don't understand, at all. I try, because my exposure to these sorts of media has so drastically expanded my little world, and I've gotten a lot from it, but the same does not hold true, vice versa.

      How do you not weird people (including other nerds) out? For instance, I have found that most people have a distinct avoidance of any subject that even remotely broaches on the topic of grammar, no matter how easy or interesting the explanation, because of their distaste for the way the subject was forced upon them, in school. Even etymology is generally unwelcome — at least until someone wants me to give their Orc lord a barbaric sounding name with a hidden meaning.

      And how do you avoid the other problem, the Indiana Jones Syndrome — the one where people automatically assume that because you know an obscure language (in my case, Sanskrit or Mongolian) that you must be able to speak knowledgeably about ANY language (say, Thai or Russian) and could TOTALLY learn it in three months, because that's how your brain supposedly works because you're a magical space-alien with language superpowers.

      No, really. I run into that one a lot, even among my fellow nerds who ought know better. I both cases, I tend to feel like I am being viewed as a resource, rather than a person with a passionate interest. It is "my thing" and they do not listen or allow me to share, but passively assume my compliance whenever they want to make use of my knowledge.

      • Nick

        I think in my case I call it being a Semantics geek. I definitely like to understand syntax and evolutions of language. I've a friend with deep, well-researched roots in writing source books for Mage: The Ascension. To be perfectly honest, judging from how his life has gone for the last six months, find a progressive Masonic Lodge, as his similar knowledge in vast but somewhat arcane languages has led him to very fulfilling conversations with people with many unique perspectives on language from an "outside" perspective. Barring that, try computer geeks, as meta-language and the malleability of syntax in context is the entire basis of computer science, more or less.

      • Beth

        I'm the same way! Sometimes I'll just be like OH MY GOD I'M CHEATING ON MY FIELD (gender in jewish history) WITH ATLANTIC WORLD HISTORY DON'T TELL MY ADVISOR. I just watched Legend of Korra and I spent the entire time like WELL IN REGARDS TO THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY HISTORY OF JAPAN IN RELATION TO THE REST OF SOUTHEAST ASIA THE FIRE NATION CAN'T BE ANYTHING OTHER THAN JAPAN. And then I started talking about the Rape of Nanking and my friends were like "….bending?" And like GoT, I can't even read/watch it because I'll spend the entire time getting annoyed about how the entire plot can be found in any well written history of the Early Modern European period. I'm hopeless.

        God I am so jealous of your language skills. I know that it would qualify me for all of two jobs but sometimes I want to be like FUCK THIS I'M STUDYING CUNEIFORM. Because Ancient Near Eastern history was my first love.

    • Max

      Sometimes I think that the only reason I'm into most nerdy stuff is because I'm a huge movie nerd. Like, everything I know about Star Trek comes from the movies (which I like), but I've only seen like 5 episodes of any of the series. Likewise with Star Wars; the original trilogy are my favorite movies ever, but once you start talking to me about the Expanded Universe or the comics or whatever, I'm lost. However, if you want to talk to me about the cinematography, or special effects, or the themes of good vs. evil, I could go on for days about that stuff.

      I think "nerd" is way to all-encompassing to really describe anyone. There's been so many times when I've been talking to someone, thinking that we both like the same thing, only to find out that we like that thing in completely different ways.

      • Beth

        Like Doctor Who. I can't tell you the amount of times I've geekbonded with someone over Doctor Who only to find that I hate everything they love and vise versa.

  • James

    Not to be "that"guy, but I think Doc said Brownshirts when he meant Browncoats. The latter are the guys who love Firefly. The former are the guys who took over Germany in the 30's. Easy mistake.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      What can I say? My copy-editor is a huge WWII geek…

      (yup, typos)

    • Ana

      hey now, not just guys are Firefly fanatics 😉

      • Married Geek

        I'm not even sure guys are half the Firefly fanbase. My wife bought me the box set years ago, and I'm pretty sure it's her that's worn it out, not me. That's the power of the great JW's writing – accessible, interesting characters with pronouncable names and plenty of humour means it's not gender specific. It's just a shame that TV execs get terrified of anything that crosses genre boundaries.

  • I would definitely say that Tabletop RPGs and Animated Shows are probably the hardest sells out of the bunch, because video games and movies have become so appreciated and mainstream within our pop culture.

    With Tabletop RPGs, I think it's important to show them other roleplaying games aside from D&D, maybe something that goes into hard Sci-Fi like Warhammer 40k or something that incorporates more involving gameplay like Dredd (Which is played with a Jenga). I'm not sure about how women feel about men and their fantasy sports games, but it is a really apt comparison. Just sell that the game is about a group of friends who focus on one activity, but they love laughing and bullshitting around too.

    Anime/Manga I would debate is really hard at the moment, because while it contains those preconceptions as Nerdlove has mentioned, there's also the huge recent trend of like, really almost-exploitative stories all about women. (Either them just being cute for cuteness sake or showing tits and ass every episode) So much of it is inherently genre or almost kind of trashy, that it's hard to recommend stuff except for the AAA Rank/Quality stuff that everyone loves. With current TV here, I would say that Adventure Time is also a great icebreaker because everyone really enjoys it, or atleast marvels at it's originality and style.

    And for ponies, well, I'm probably an exception here but my girlfriend and I really bonded even more over loving the new My Little Pony. We were both people who get attached to fandoms, so it worked out fantastically well and we still gush over funny tumblrs and new pieces of art or episodes. I think to represent it to someone who is unknown or might seem unappealed by it at first, you could say. "I know what you are thinking, but it's actually got really sharp humor and great characters and story-lines. It might have come from a really girly place, but now it's much more like an all-ages Dreamworks or Pixar kind of thing with good morals, clever references, and goofy characters to attach to."

    • Tabletops haven't been too hard to sell for me. The Doc's lines are pretty good, and I also like to point out that at its most basic, it's interactive group story telling.

      Especially if someone you're talking with is interested in theatre/comedy/etc, you can really emphasize the dramatic character action and interaction, while if someone is big into literature/history/genrestuff you can emphasize the creation of larger stories and how small actions will snowball.

      The things that's REALLY hard to sell about tabletops is the time commitment……..

      • That is a really good point. I know many people who have flaked out of going to the weekly or bi-weekly meetups of a D&D or Warhammer 40k Group. It's definitely a boys night out type of deal, spending 4 hours minimum and easily going into question marks. If you can't convince your other to go, I do think it's important to stress it's importance to you as a means to hang out with your friends.

    • Beardy

      Tabletops are easy to sell. Get her into a game of Toon and you're all set (if she has a sense of humor and an imagination).

      • Beardy

        And a love for Looney Tunes.

  • NekoHitori

    Doc, shame on you for not mentioning "Cowboy Bebop" in the anime recommendations. Many a time I have described it as the anime that even non-anime watching people love. Case and point: my own mother.

  • Does it make me more, or less of a geek that I just wrote down a couple of shows that sounded interesting?

    … I really hope Beauty and the Beast is better this time around. The last one was horrid.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      The new version of Beauty and the Beast strikes me as a great case of missing the point entirely. When the Beast is your standard CW pretty-boy who only occasionally grows fangs and extra-long sideburns, it's just not the same as Ron Perlman's distinctive voice coming from a frankly inhuman face. One's an plot-designated inconvenience, the other is a noble soul in a monster's body.

      (Side note: Peter David wrote what is essentially my favorite fan-fiction when he wrote a Quantum Leap/Beauty And the Beast crossover for But I Digress and showing that some of Vincent's dilemma was of his own making.)

  • vin

    I like the overall idea of the article and agree we shouldn't treat our geeky hobbies and some sort of defect or w/e.

    Now, I know I'm gonna come up as needlesly negative, and that you're just giving a few examples, buuuut.

    Let me see if I get what this article suggest us to do: Pick the most entry-level, "I am sure everyone will like this or at least not make fun of it" examples of media inside of what you like, and them promote em and recommend em. Then, spin up some crap about how that B-movie is actually some sort of study about society and how my little pony is actually about deranged ponies pretending to be cute.

    Heck, just to pick up anime as an example, this article's idea of how to sell it is basically

    "Hey, there's a lot of crap / kiddy stuff out there, but me? Well, I like MATURE stuff for MATURE peole. Have you watched Akira already? That's a mature anime for mature people. Like me. "

    Every other example you gave can also be summed up either as a variation of that or a "blah blah blah X is also art."

    Sorry, but how's that not being ashamed of what you like?

    When people ask me about what I like, I don't really pretend is something bigger than what it really is, neither try to sugar coat it as something more mature than what he/she might think and then try to dissociate me from the crap out there.

    • Jess

      That is just typical, "I must make myself feel better by making what I like seem more desirable than what anyone else likes. Therefore, I am superior." Honestly, that's third grade tactics right there. I call that crap out any time I hear it.

  • S.

    re: anime? If they like cute things, then POLAR BEAR'S CAFE OH GODS. It is the most adorable thing.

    I'm still upset that the tv wouldn't let me reach through and snuggle the baby pandas.

    • vin

      Everything is better with Pandas.

  • Denny

    I'm so tired of these annoying freaking "Bronies" getting SO goddamn offended over the fact that people don't like the fucking MLP show. That's exactly WHY people make jokes about the fans being overly-sensitive fanboys that constantly attack people that DARRRRRE make fun of their precious show.

    We get it. It's a good show. Some people just don't like it. GET OVER IT AND STFU. You're only doing the show a disservice by being such crybabies about it….

  • Jay

    Actually, the older I get and the more comfortable I get, I find that being a nerd girl interested in nerd things to be an asset when I talk about them to boys, not a hindrance. The whole "I HAD NO IDEA GIRLS LIKE WHAT I LIKE" thing. Yes, it's a tiny bit exploitative, and works mainly because I live in a college town and am recently graduated myself so I have a larger pool of nerds floating around to entice, but hey, it works. And it's a bit of a filtering mechanism, since I prefer to date nerds as well.

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