Guest post: The influence of Revenge of the Nerds

Originally a comment by Freemage on Where it gets complicated.

In addition to Cressida’s point, there’s also the difference, highlighted in Ophelia’s original post, even, between ‘having a fantasy’, ‘acting out a fantasy’ and ‘depicting that fantasy for others to consume’ (and then, on that last one, depicting a fantasy for money, which usually means it’s probably not your fantasy to begin with). Each step in that chain is a different beast, entirely, and conflating it all as one big happy ball of sex positivity is a deliberate attempt by porn producers to add legitimacy to their activities.

Having a fantasy is fine. Acting out that fantasy, in a safe fashion with a trusted and consenting partner, is fine.

Depicting it for others, however, creates the impression that this is what sex ~should~ be like. That has a massive implication that needs to be examined, addressed and challenged.

For a non-pornographic version of how much consuming media can influence a culture, go back and watch 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds. This ‘comedy’ is commonly cited as a cornerstone of modern nerd culture, coming as it did during the formative years of the current 35- to 50-year-old set. I see it come up in conversations in forums for comics, computer games or tabletop role-playing all the time.

In it, the protagonists commit virtually every form of misogynistic behavior we’ve seen take a rise in the internet age: Stalking, voyeurism, revenge porn and hey, even rape (which is totally forgiven because the ‘hero’ is so good at sex). (We also get a hefty side-order of the ‘struggles’ of white male nerds being compared to that of African-Americans, because why not?)

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