In the late 1980’s something strange happened in pop culture. The jocks/cool kids were becoming the ones scoffed at, while the “genuine nerds” of the world were getting their well deserved glory. How else do you explain the story of Toby Radloff, a Cleveland file clerk turned comic book character turned MTV corespondent. You might recognize his story as the funny subplot to the 2003 film American Splendor, but his celebrity was no joke.
If you were to ask anyone to describe an exaggerated stereotype of a nerd, you’d get Toby Radloff. With a distinctive manner of speech and very quirky mannerisms, Toby is as nerdy as you can get…and is very proud of it. The MTV audience of the late 80’s got a kick out of Toby, at first for comic relief. But he quickly became a figure of inspiration. He wasn’t ashamed of who he was or what he wore, he was proud to be a nerd. Shortly after the release of Revenge of the Nerds and with Toby all over MTV, nerd culture became “cool”. Now-a-days you can look at the success of shows like The Big Bang Theory, video games like World of Warcraft and websites like The Nostalgia Blog (wink wink) to see that nerd culture is more popular than ever. It’s not about being nerdy, it’s about expressing your tastes openly and freely. Thanks Toby for that.