There has been a shift in film and other media to show geeky types in a more physically attractive light.
Just 30 years ago, films like Weird Science told us that PC geeks were so unattractive, the only option was to invent a woman (using a computer, obviously). Even at the end of the film, when Wyatt and Gary have grown emotionally and psychologically (they don’t just want massive boobs), they end up with average girls rather than the amazing Kelly LeBrock, who saunters out of their lives uninterested.
Weird Science, 1985
In more recent years, the computer nerd has been portrayed as beautiful, as well as intelligent. Ben Whishaw was cast as Q in the James Bond films Skyfall and Sceptre, changing the character considerably. At 31, Whishaw was the youngest ever to play the role, and the only man capable of making reviewers write ‘sexy’ and ‘anorak’ in the same sentence. In Whishaw’s portrayal, Q is an equal to 007, hazarding that he can do more damage on his laptop in his pyjamas before his first cup of Earl Grey, than Bond can do in a year in the field. And unlike Craig, he has more than one facial expression.
2015’s Kung Fury features model Leopoldo Nilsson in the role of Hackerman, the computer genius of the film. The large glasses and moustach do nothing to take away from this character’s awesomeness, who can comfortably hack bullets out of people, and hack time. That’s OK. We don’t understand how that’s possible either. The film was created by hardcore game lovers so it is a biased portrayal. However, the 30 minute short film has gathered so much public acclaim that a feature length film is currently in production. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out for free here. You won’t be disappointed.
Kung Fury, 2015
The series Mr. Robot has achieved Emmy awards and critical acclaim. Rami Malek is intensely intriguing in his role as hacker Eliot Anderson. He is more than a little odd, but we still like him. Hacker Darlene is also much more alluring than straight-laced office girl Angela, who is blond but boring. The series throws another unconventional curveball, positioning one of the most powerful characters as transgender. It’s fun to root for the underdogs and the fact that there is demand for these characters in the lead roles is encouraging for any nerd or minority.
Mr Robot, 2014 onwards
Female geeks are a little more difficult to assess as there are very rarely unattractive lead females on screen, full stop. Any film which portrays (and therefore targets) the gaming community will be aimed at a largely male demographic, prompting the leads to be male and any supporting female roles to be attractive. Dobby from Peep Show is a nice exception to this rule. She’s the oddball IT nerd that is somehow still funny and attractive, despite being normal-looking and constantly talking about cheese. If these roles happened more often, we might actually get a few more female gamers. Until then, we’ll just have to be as inclusive as possible.
Head over to the forums to discuss your favourite on-screen nerds. Did we miss anyone out?
Peep Show, 2003-2015