When I Love You, Beth Cooper hits theatres this Friday, it will be the latest movie to turn the loser into lothario.
The story of a nerdy valedictorian winning the affection of the hot girl isn’t just a familiar premise; it’s also been consistently popular with movie audiences throughout the years.
Whether it’s Jerry Lewis’ geeky scientist inventing a potion to gain popularity in The Nutty Professor or the tale of two dweebs finally getting the girls in Superbad, Hollywood has always had an obsession with nerd love.
“The idea of nerds has become cool, even if nerds themselves aren’t,” recently stated Benjamin Nugent in a L.A. Times article. The author of American Nerd: The Story of My People, Nugent has made a career on deliberating dorks.
Although he acknowledges the ambiguous etymology of “nerd” stretches back to its appearance in Dr. Seuss’ 1950 book, If I Ran the Zoo, the recent obsession with adoring dweebs can be traced to more current works.
“If you look at shows like The O.C., the Seth Cohen character (played by Adam Brody) is a nerd,” said Nugent. “But he became a heartthrob, and I think that was really something new.”
However, even before dorks became teenage darlings, producers have admired stories that portray the nerd as unlikely seducer. Here’s a brief look at the rise of geek love:
THE ’80S: From explicitly-titled Revenge of the Nerds to the freak favorite Can’t Buy Me Love, the ’80s were inexplicably a fertile decade for producing nerd love stories. Maybe it was because, in hindsight, we all dressed like dweebs in 1985.
JOHN HUGHES: The greatest comedies of John Hughes still influence filmmakers today with their representation of nerds acquiring unlikely affection. Whether it’s Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink or the dorky magnum opus Weird Science, Hughes knew how to tap into seducing our inner geek heart.
THE DIGITAL AGE: Much of the recent popularity of nerds has been attributed to the computer age’s influence on media. With great fortunes amassed by the likes of Microsoft founder Bill Gates comes the inherent suggestion that intelligent geeks are more likely to succeed and thus attract the ladies.
THE MORAL: I should’ve obviously taken computer class way more seriously in Grade 8.