What's Wrong With the Hollywood Nerd-Girl Trend

Are today's starlets allowed to pretend they're nerds?

zoe saldana in star trek
(Image credit: Archives)

Over at Salon the other day, writer Mary Elizabeth Williams was complaining about a new trend: sexy Hollywood ladies who try to pretend their geeks in order to ingratiate themselves with the geeky viewing public.

As Williams writes: "There was a time when 'nerdy' was the last word a starlet would want associated with her name. The Hollywood universe was composed of proud former cheerleaders and models, girls who sat at the popular kid table in high school… But then Hollywood realized the blockbuster potential of superheroes and video games, and suddenly 'guys still living in their parents' basements' became a viable demographic… Nerds control the entertainment industry." She talks about a new video clip that's making the rounds that features "hot women pandering to nerds" — stars like Annalynne McCord, Megan Fox, Mila Kunis, and Rosario Dawson as they talk about their nerdy faces in entertainment. (A lot of them seem to like Star WarsStar Trek, and comic books.)

Williams objects: "Sexy women saying they're really just nerds — it's the new sexy women eating big sandwiches! … What must it be like to live on the fringes of society, part of that marginalized community of Star Wars and Star Trek fans?"

She continues: "In recent years, a new breed of sex symbols like Felicia Day and Olivia Munn have carved out their fame in large part due to their relatability. Their very public enthusiasm for geek culture — combined with a talent for looking amazing in a bikini — has connected with the fanboys, and by extension, the world. So if you've got a project to promote — maybe one based on a comic and with a game tie-in, or you're just shopping around for that next hundred-billion-dollar Michael Bay project inspired by an app, you'd best try to make the fans believe you are one of them. Just tell Jimmy Kimmel something about your crush on Han Solo, you'll be fine."

Williams seems pissed off about all this. I think there are more important things in life to worry about. Still, admittedly, I similarly feel kind of irked when someone with more make-up than Joan Rivers goes on and on about how much she loves basketball, making sure to be loud enough that the guys she's flirting with in the sports bar can hear — even though it seems clear she has barely any idea what a free throw or technical foul is.

Do you think Williams (and I) are being a little sexist?

Would you ever pretend to be into sci-fi or comic books just to win someone over on date?