When I was growing up I never knew I was a nerd. Sure, there were signs as far back as Elementary School. I can remember a friend of mine introducing me to role playing games like James Bond and Dungeons and Dragons. We would go to the park and build characters. I can also remember rushing home to watch cartoons, though I always gravitated to Japanese Anime without knowing it. Transformers were cooler than G.I. Joe.
When Middle School started it was even more obvious to everyone but me. I was in the honors classes with all of my friends so I didn’t notice it. I was by no means the smartest, but I held my own. I was also a band geek. I could play a number of instruments including brass, string, woodwind, and some percussion. I read voraciously and not very selectively. I read Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I also read every Stephen King book published, even It. I read that one at summer camp one year. We were staying in college dorms and I had to sleep with the lights on and the closet doors open. I read almost every Science Fiction book I could get my hands on. Some of them, like Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, shaped the way I think and still color my world.
High School was more of the same. I was still in honors level classes and still friends with the nerdiest kids in school. Some of them even wore pocket protectors, but still I didn’t think anything of it. I never sat at the cool table for lunch, but I sat with my friends and I thought they were cooler anyway. These were also the kids that were on the cutting edge of technology before there really was a cutting edge. There were building their own computers from parts scrounged at Radio Shack and hobby shops. They were the only kids to get excited when you could buy a new processor or when they could finally get on the Apple II in the library. I still remember some of them bringing in floppy disks that had crude pictures of girls in bikinis or setting up bulletin board servers in their rooms. Everyone laughed at them, but I bet they are doing great these days.
I didn’t really know I was a nerd because it was only part of my life. I played Little League in the summer and Pop Warner football in the fall. I bowled all year long. I traveled to tournaments for bowling and even went to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for target shooting. I was a band geek, but I was also into hard rock and played guitar. I went to a ton of concerts with some of the prettiest girls in school. I drove a cool car and had a lot of fun and certainly no one ever really called me a nerd except for my best friend and that didn’t count. Looking back, I was also a head taller and a hundred pounds heavier than everyone else, so that might have had an effect. Most kids don’t tell the guy well over six feet tall that he is a nerd, especially one on the football team.
The truth is that I fit in everywhere, but I also fit in nowhere. That is the curse of being a nerd, there is almost no group or clique that you really feel at home in. My friends always fell into groups that had a dislike for other groups which also included friends of mine. The jocks, the computer nerds, the band geeks, the metalheads, all of them seemed to define themselves as something the other group wasn’t. It didn’t bother me much, and I had a great childhood, but I also always felt a little bit like an outsider.
I grew up and got married to a wonderful woman who also didn’t know she was a nerd. Her love for computers and electronic sound boards should have given us a clue, but it didn’t matter. We were happy that we found each other. We would spend our nights watching television hoping to find something interesting, and we always ended up on SyFy or however they are spelling it this week. One night we stumbled on a channel named G4. There was some strange show called Attack of the Show on. It was mostly funny internet videos and pop culture interviews. The set was super cheap, the main decoration seemed a couple of flat screen TVs and later some old cell phone hanging from the ceiling.
So we watched. And we watched. And we watched some more. Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn reminded us of all the different things we loved every night. Internet videos. Product reviews. Kevin’s amazing interviews with just about anyone important in nerd culture or in current events were underrated and fantastic. Comedy skits and world record attempts that made us laugh. We were able to reconnect with a culture that we never really knew we belonged in but missed anyway. Blair Butler had a feature on comic books that got me back into the shops for the first time since I walked there as a kid. Alison Haislip, Jessica Chobot, and others took us behind the scenes of big summer blockbusters or to conventions all over the county. Chris Hardwick did tech reviews and Chris Gore did DVD reviews. Both were a big influence on what we bought and watched. Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb reviewed video games on their show and on Attack of the Show. Over the years the cast changed and Candace Bailey, Sara Underwood, Matt Mira and others joined and brought a new feel to the show, but it was always Attack.
All of a sudden it ended. Kevin left and the show soldiered on for a little while with guest hosts. There were tweaks to the format. Then there was the announcement that the show was canceled. Last Wednesday there was the last ever Attack of the Show, and my wife and I were both saddened. The show that had brought us back, had made us laugh, informed us, and generally entertained us was gone after seven years. It was more than that though. Attack of the Show was G4’s flagship show, and it was a huge part of showing Hollywood that nerd culture was worth embracing. Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Spider Man, Thor, Captain America, Transformers, Avengers, Star Wars, Star Trek, the list goes on and on of what was taken from the culture and turned mainstream. More than that, the show also showed the entertainment industry how loyal and dedicated this culture is to what they love. San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration and every single time Doctor Who does anything in this country are proof, as are the lines of Apple fans waiting for days to get the latest phone or tablet computer. Attack of the Show didn’t cause any of this, but I believe that the show opened Hollywood’s eyes to it all and paved the way for some of it to happen.
So, goodbye to all of that. Goodbye to the show and the people that created an hour of entertaining live television a day. Goodbye and good luck. We and countless others will miss you. We will follow you on Twitter and cheer you on when you start your next endeavor. All any of us can do is thank you for what you have done. In my case, thanks for reminding me where I fit in and feel like I belong.