February 15, 2010

This was an essay. Almost.

I had to write an essay on one of three topics:
  • Genius and Idiosyncrasy
  • Fashion
  • Stereotypes

I was free to do whatever I wanted within those topics, as long as I was in the 300-500 word limit. This was my first version of the essay, in an attempt to combine the "Genius and Idiosyncrasy" topic with the "Stereotypes" topic. It tops out at 527 words. Read and enjoy.

Throughout mass media, there are certain cliches that have penetrated the collective American conscious. In nearly every TV show and movie made within the last 20 years, there are certain stereotypes present. The athletic jock. The preppy cheerleader. The rebel loner. Some of the most persistent characterizations are those of the ‘genius’ characters in the stories. Socially awkward, strangely dressed, and sometimes psychopathic; they are some of the most easily visually recognized characters.
One of the most annoying characterizations of the ‘genius’ character is the socially awkward aspect. The character will be perfectly fine if there is anything to do with knowledge in an academic area, usually math, but as soon as it comes to talking with other people and being social; they can no longer function. Perhaps this seems truth in the real world; certainly the smartest people I know are in no way social butterflies. I myself enjoy ‘alone-time’ much better than socializing. This is not, however, because I do not know how to function in society. It is because I consistently either have to wait for most everyone else to catch up with me or I have to tell them straight off what I am doing. The only solution is to find people on the same level as me or immerse myself in a conversation where people are talking about a subject I have no knowledge of. Alternately, I can simply not talk to anyone and think on my own time. I much prefer to do that then try to stand people who seem unable to keep up.
The easiest way to identify the ‘genius’ of the story to look at what the characters are wearing. Usually the ‘genius’ will look formal and unfashionable. Pocket protectors in button-up shirts, neatly combed hair, glasses, slacks, and dressy shoes. How many people do you actually ever see dressed like that? Sure, every so often there are nice shirts and ties around in school; but have you ever really truly seen someone looking like the ‘genius nerd/dork/geek’? I thought not. Most of the time, clothes don’t matter to me that much. I get functional stuff I like and some fancy things and I’m done. I’ll wear whatever I find in the morning that fits the weather and is most convenient then boom, off to breakfast. No fashion-y stuff. No tight jeans, no dipping necklines, no strappy sandals or flats and nary a trace of makeup in sight. So, clothes don’t matter as much to the smart ‘genius’ type, but it’s not as if we go around looking stupid. Also, how are nice clothes somehow more obnoxious than having to look at someone’s underwear while they’re walking? In decent circles, that’s called mooning.
The last bit of unhappiness that I have with the ‘genius’ stereotype, is, unfortunately, only a slight misconception. It’s what should probably be called “mad scientist syndrome”. How many times has there been a school shooting announced where the shooter was described as a ‘high-honors student’? So smart people in media become dorks on one end and psychotic on the other. I blame the news for this bias.
The point: the ‘genius’ stereotype is incorrect.


  1. To say that I am impressed is an understatement. Particuliarly true in "teen" movies, where underneath those dorky clothes and lack of make-up lurks...genius hottie! I am so looking forward to reading more of your work. ALso, loved loved your biography project. I think I have a new writing star!

  2. PS I haven't updated my blog in a really long time,but you have inspired me...do you know who this is??

  3. The mad scientist however is not a stereotype per se. It's grounded in ability. You need to be highly intelligent to do something to land in the 'mad scientist' mold. So i'd say all mad scientists are genius'(sp?) but not all genius' are mad scientists.

    Most shooters seem to fall into the quiet loner category in the news. The pattern is that they are POed about something and want to show the world/make people pay.

    FWIW I have seen people like the sterotypical high school geek albiet it was rare, high IQ, kinda scrawny wearing button up shirts because that's how he was raised ie it was his normal wardrobe.