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Take Five: Music Video Candidates for ANDL (Anti-Nerd Defamation League) Legal Action

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on March 12, 2008

Entire Weird Al Yankovic videography also currently undergoing review

In discussions of CBS’s deplorable (and yet instantly renewed–nice knowing you, How I Met Your Mother) The Big Bang Theory, I first introduced my belief in the need for an Anti-Nerd Defamation League (or ANDL) to protect this much-maligned minority group from the unfair representations of its culture that are portrayed on a daily basis in the mass media. We’ve all seen the movies, we’ve all watched the TV shows, we’ve all suffered through the They Might Be Giants albums. But what about perhaps the most fruitful breeding ground for cafeteria-table-hate in all pop culture–the music video? Let’s examine the evidence:


Brad Paisley – “Online”

This entire project perplexes me. OK, so they’ve got a main character that’s the geek equivalent of Amos and/or Andy–a sci-fi fanatic virgin that lives in his mom’s basement and creates a alternate identity fantasy life for himself on the internet. OK, so they’ve got him played by a post-Seinfeld Jason Alexander, who when separated from his signature role has been arguably the least likeable actor of the last decade. But what really offends me about this video is how Brad Paisley deigns himself as knowledgeable enough about his subject matter to write it from the first-person perspective. I don’t believe for a second that Paisley has had a single shred of nerd DNA in his body since he lost his virginity to his hot language arts teacher at the age of 11 (probably). I guess this is his “In the Ghetto,” then.


Toni Braxton – “You’re Making Me High”

Visually speaking, this is actually one of the most underrated videos of the 90s (and Billie Woodruff, a sort of poor man’s Hype Williams, one of the most underrated directors) and the rate-dudes-in-an-elevator-with-gigantic-playing-cards concept is fairly novel, I suppose. But the fact that it was able to escape accusations of sexism despite its omnipresence on the music video scene of 1996 (a time when music video sensitivity was so high that entire MTV news specials were devoted to the arguable homoeroticism of the wink at the end of Nada Surf’s “Popular“) continues to surprise me somewhat, and the obligatory nerd cameo (wearing a yellow zoot suit and the always-appropriate horn-rimmed glasses, with some pelvic thrusts thrown in to boot) is particularly libelous. Toni actually appears to have a soft spot for the guy, but nonetheless NERDS ARE NOT PIECES OF MEAT TO BE OGLED BY YOU AND YOUR HORNY SITCOM FRIENDS MS. BRAXTON.


Aerosmith – “Hole in My Soul”

This is actually the least egregious example in this post, and is actually one of the more sensitive portrayals of nerddom to have appeared in MTV heavy rotation–besides, Aerosmith couldn’t have made a not-awesome video in the 90s if they’d tried. Nonetheless, I resent the implications both that nerddom is so detestable to the average high schooler that they can’t stop themselves from throwing things at them simply for making their presence known (truly a video from the “Hot for Teacher” school of high school representation), and far moreso, that nerds would rather go through the difficult and heartbreaking process of building successive unfaithful hot chick girlfriends rather than noticing that their ridiculously cute labmates (THESE PEOPLE DO NOT MAKE UP A LARGE PERCENT OF THE POPULATION BY THE WAY) have the hots for them. We should all be so lucky.

Hellogoodbye – “Here (In Your Arms)” and Fall Out Boy – “Dance Dance”

Though a considerable fan of both songs, I still seethe at the thought of these videos–as a general rule, you shouldn’t be allowed to do the “remember what dances / dance scenes in John Hughes movies were like in the 80s?” video unless your entire band was born before the year 1983. And seriously, it’s not like we needed two more videos to further one of the most hateful and frequently made generalization about nerds–that they can’t dance. C’mon guys, this is a post-Napoleon Dynamite world. Everyone knows how funky the ones pocket-protected ones actually are now. (Speaking of which–what percentage of real-life nerds could even correctly identify a pocket protector in an aisle at Staples, much less have ever worn one? What an inpractical and useless item).


Mariah Carey – “Touch My Body”

The video that prompted this discussion topic in a recent conversation with Victor, Jack McBrayer (Kenneth on 30 Rock) does his social group no particular favors with his performance in Mariah Carey’s latest video. I have to give Mariah credit for not actually having her end up with the nerd at the end of the video–she’s as brusque and no-nonsense with the fawning McBrayer (though to be fair, NO ONE FORCED YOU TO ANSWER THE DOOR IN YOUR LINGERIE MARIAH A NERD COULD GET THE WRONG IDEA) as Carey would no doubt be in real life–but I don’t get what the point of all of this is. Does Mariah really still need to prove at this point of her career, having recently recorded her most successful single ever and losing enough weight to once again prove that there is a distinction between herself and Mary Carey, that she’s so far out of your average nerd’s league that they can only play Laser Tag and have pillow fights with her in their dreams? We know, we know…

Oh, and I think the Statute of Limitations is technically up on this one, but I’d be remiss to not mention the ANDL-baiter that started it all:

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8 Responses to “Take Five: Music Video Candidates for ANDL (Anti-Nerd Defamation League) Legal Action”

  1. Jack H. said

    Props to Paisley at least for having the forsight to use Shatner as the dad. “I’m making new friends!”

  2. Josh said

    Paris Hilton’s “Nothing in this World” belongs on this list.

  3. Josh said

    or is that kid not nerdy enough?

  4. jonathan said

    I excuse Paisley, because he never makes his nerd sound anything less than perfectly happy with his lifestyle. It seems to be a common thread amongst all Brad Paisley songs; his characters, no matter how pathetic, always seem to be absolutely content the way they are.

    The video is somewhat lacking in that quality, I will admit.

  5. Dan Weiss said

    “Aerosmith couldn’t have made a not-awesome video in the 90s if they’d tried.”

    And yeah, Paisley’s S-H-A-L-L-O-W

  6. […] the video is yet another reasonable contender for ANDL action.  Are all white people in glasses just the same to you […]

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