Not Just an OTP: Hot Nerds, Strong Females, and Elitist Fanboys

Author’s note: Someone pointed out to me that I didn’t mention chemistry during my arguments. That was on purpose; since it’s objective, I can’t talk about patterns with chemistry, which is what this is about. However, I should have mentioned it here since I said I wouldn’t do that in the original article. I would also ask that people read the disclaimers – not to mention the articles themselves – before commenting, and remember that this is an opinion piece. It’ll save you a world of time.

What To Do When You’re Not the Hot Nerd

Welcome back! It’s at this point that I want to talk about the fact that, for all their flaws, Laurel and Iris were also hated because they weren’t the kind of women on superhero television that certain viewers would respond to well. And no, I’m not talking about simply being a Love Interest on a superhero show, although at the minute I’m hard-pressed to find many more thankless roles. Laurel and Iris, and therefore their ships, were disliked for very specific reasons that, while you may not recognise straight away, some will recognise if they’ve been in fandom for more than five minutes. Especially if you’re a girl.

The nerd culture from films like this one is still more present than we’d like to believe

Before I get into it I have to talk about fandom a little bit. Now, I am a proud nerd, but it’s often very hard to define what, exactly, that means. No two nerds look alike – the most we can define is someone who’s enthusiastic about something – whether a TV show, or a franchise, or a hobby. It’s usually limited to people who are extremely smart, most likely about mathematical and scientific subjects, and people who like non-mainstream activities. However, people also use it to define a person who lacks social skills, or is shy, quirky, or unattractive. Of course, those aren’t all accurate, but movies like Revenge of the Nerds, Weird Science, and Sixteen Candles, and countless others have reinforced the stereotype that nerds are shy, extremely intelligent, socially awkward, and not conventionally attractive. In the last ten years or so, being a nerd has become cooler and more accepted, but the stereotypes remain.

When people make movies like Weird Science and have the nerds starring in it and saving the day, they create the fandom. They discuss, they critique, they dissect. Science fiction and fantasy fandom is, for the most part, made of those kind of nerds. Which is fine. Mostly.

See, like a lot of media anywhere, a lot of those movies in the eighties were written by men. They starred men. And they often had one or maybe two women that were pretty much love interests that would realise by the end of the movie that they had to dump Chad/Lance/Generic Jock Name and get with the nerd, who obviously had proved his worth in the end (who is, surprisingly, extremely similar to the unpopular, nerdy/intelligent, not-like-other-girls girl who will rescue some poor unsuspecting guy from his harpy of a girlfriend. Funny, that). So, often times, those nerds who wrote the movies and the nerds who were in the movies and the nerds who saw the movies ended up dictating the kind of woman that’s acceptable in those movies. The Arrowverse fandom is no different, and once you look at it, you begin to realise that there is a very specific team of women that are allowed to exist in these spaces without being ripped apart for whatever reason – large or small.

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