Do or Do Not.

Still White, Not So Much Nerdy Anymore

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I’m a 35-year-old man. I have a family, a good career, a nice house in the suburbs. Regardless of how I may feel inside sometimes, I haven’t really been the fat, greasy, nerdy geek I was as a teenager for a long, long time. So I feel like I shouldn’t really still like anything by Weird Al Yankovic, should I? I mean, c’mon… shouldn’t I have outgrown him by now?

Apparently not. Every now and then he does something like “White and Nerdy,” a video that just friggin’ nails me on so many levels: it’s not just speaking to me but speaking about me as well. (But before you ask, no — though I might speak fluent Javascript, I can’t speak a lick of Klingon. (And how’s that for an image for you? “Lick” and “Klingon” so close together in that sentence? You see how I did that? That was cool, huh?))

You certainly can’t say that Weird Al doesn’t know who his target audience is and just how to play to them — while I have absolutely no data to back this theory up, I’d imagine that geeks in their thirties who’ve grown up with Al make up an even bigger part of his audience than the geeks in their teens who would seem to be the most natural fit for Al’s shtick. Weird Al happened to luck into a unique situation and has ridden it to a career far longer and more successful than I think anyone (including Al himself) ever could have imagined: a large segment of the nerdy crowd who latched on to him originally grew up to use the skills and interests which got them mocked as kids to become reasonably affluent adults. And many of those adults are still Weird Al fans, so he has a dedicated, well-off following who’ve been with him (even if, like me, it’s just occasionally and somewhat passively) for twenty years.

There’s something about the video I wanted to point out, because if I’m gonna be a big geek about it I might as well go all the way: I paused the clip to check out Al’s “top eight friends” on his MySpace page. Completely unsurprisingly, his top friends include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Pee-Wee Herman, Screech from Saved By The Bell, Frodo Baggins, Napoleon Dynamite and one I can’t read. But then there’s also “Tom” — the creator of MySpace, the guy who every single user gets by default when they create their account… and even moreso than the nerd shoutouts listed above, a very, very nice visual way of indicating that this guy has no real friends. It’s that kind of subtle attention to detail (and this particular detail will only be visible on your screen for less than two seconds, if that) that I appreciate, and something Al’s always really done well — when someone puts the effort into crafting details you’re either going to have to work hard to catch or possibly never catch at all, that’s usually a damn good sign that the crafter really and truly loves what they’re doing.

Written by Allen

September 18th, 2006 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Music

Tagged with , ,

3 Responses to 'Still White, Not So Much Nerdy Anymore'

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  1. Yup, I’m about that same lifelong fan of Al demographic. But I’m okay with it now. And it doesn’t hurt that his better efforts have continued to get more pop culturally literate over the years.

    And hre, this’ll help you with your Klingon:


    18 Sep 06 at 1:59 pm

  2. Weird Al is a god at making/editing videos. That, or he has god on his staff. Either way, he does some pretty cool stuff, like when he presented the Sexiest Video award.

    Some more trivia for ya on the W&N vid: The redheaded nerd showing off his action figures is Seth Green. The white-shirted nerd dancing behind Al is Donny Osmond. The mother of the nerd is Judy Tenuda.

    And the trivial pursuit card: G: In what city is the largest ball of twine build by one man? E: What is the deal with Lindsay Lohan? I mean, seriously? H: F.D.R. – was he faking it? AL: On what page does Harry Potter die in the next book? SN: What is the melting point of a gorilla’s head? SL: How many Wicket Men are there on a 43-Man Squamish team?


    18 Sep 06 at 2:48 pm

  3. MRF: I so did not need to see that Google link. :)

    BLK: I agree with you on Al’s video-making — all of the ones I’ve seen of his over the last few years especially have been brilliant. I’m not sure if he still directs them himself, but I know he was doing that for awhile. I don’t think he gets enough credit for his talent; people who use their prodigious talents for the profoundly silly usually don’t.

    And Seth Green I got; Donny Osmond I couldn’t tell at first (yay horrible YouTube video quality!) but did on subsequent viewings. Judy Tenuta I didn’t, but that could be because hasn’t been allowed access to my brainspace since the late 80′s. IT COULD HAPPEN!!!


    18 Sep 06 at 2:55 pm

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