Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Nerds and Their Gangsta Equivalents

There may be no two groups of people in this world who are more different than self-identified nerds and members of prison gangs. But when you think about it, some comparisons can be made. I actually came up with this analogy while writing one of my books, but ended up not using it. So I'll put it here.

Bear in mind that there is a great deal of cross-pollination in types of nerds. With gangs, there is no cross-pollination, so these are generalizations based on the overarching and popular perceptions of these groups.
Math/Science nerds are like the Aryan Nation
No, not in their ideology, of course, but rather in terms of their respective per capita populations. The Aryan Nation was formed by imprisoned whites who found themselves to be a minority in the California prison system. Despite being a minority, these fellas are quite certain they are superior to all of their numerous fellow prisoners.
Likewise, those nerds among us who have the skills and the years of education to back up their Math/Science nerd status (Astronomers, Physicists,  Statisticians, Accountants, etc.), are few and far between in the great swaths of nerd humanity, but they are generally sure they are the best among us.
Smug though they may be, the Mathy/Sciency types are a great help to people like me who like to write about time travel, but do not like to study string theory. And if looking for the upside of the Aryan brotherhood.... I hear they have the best crank in town, so there's that.
LARPers are like the Black Guerilla Family
The Black Guerilla Family are comprised of, you guessed it, black men which you would think makes them an unlikely comparison to LARPers, or really any other element of geek culture. But like the BGF, LARPers are hard core, and even other nerds respect their gangsta. For the uninitiated, LARP stands for Live-Action Role Play. These are the people who dress up in costumes and assume a role within a pre-established world. This could be Dungeons and Dragons or it could be those Middle-Ages Societies.
LARP Geek Culture
LARPing is not to be confused with Cosplay. Throwing on a Sailor Moon costume when ComiCon rolls around is something anyone can do. But LARPing is not a one-day thing for these people. It's their life, or at least a big part of it. It's not uncommon for LARPers to get ink or other permanent body alterations if it's in line with their characters. It's not exactly like gang tats, but it's still quite a commitment.
People in the mainstream often make LARPers an object of scorn (see the awesome movie Role Models for examples of this). But nerds in the know recognize how much dedication, intelligence, and yes, charisma, it takes to pull this crazy shit off. I won't say they are the nerdiest of us all, but there is a compelling argument to be made in their favor.
Anime Fans are like MS-13
The thing about MS-13 is that they are scary. Really, really scary. Mara Salvatrucha (commonly abbreviated as MS-13) is a Salvadoran gang that is super excited about killing people for minor offenses. They distinguish themselves by tattoos covering the body and also often the face. Another group of people seemingly set apart from the rest of society with their own language is Anime fans. Like MS-13, they are not one small, cohesive band of misfits.
Anime geek culture
They are a large and wide-spread collection of cliques and sets: Shoujo, Shonen, Seinen, and yaoi being a few. While they are like all other nerds (having a passion for something the mainstream world may not understand), they do have something of an image problem. Though Urbandictionary.com hastens to emphasize that Anime fans are