When I was in school (many many moons ago) being called a nerd wasn’t exactly a positive thing and it had many so called negative connotations to it, including the fact that people taunted you for looking like this:
Only – this man saved the universe.
I’d like to introduce you to the original Dr. Daniel Jackson, a name as popular in the sci-fi universe as James Bond is to action. Played by James Spader in the 1994 movie, this man set a course in history that would last for sixteen years. I sometimes wonder if the original makers of the Stargate movie knew how popular the series would become, if they would’ve spend more time thinking about their actors, budget and story line. It wasn’t bad – but, it wasn’t exactly good either.
But, it had something. It had a charm to it, an idea that there was more to our universe than we thought and it gave us a literal door into that unknown world. The Stargate became the symbol for adventure, a fight for freedom and the oppression from strangely ‘similar to human’ looking aliens. And, it gave us a reason why these aliens all looked like us. And, it gave us Nerds.
In the first movie, our hero Nerd, Dr. Daniel Jackson, is recruited by a scientist called Catherine Langford to help her decipher an ancient text that might well proof his wild theories of aliens creating the pyramids. Needless to say, this theory didn’t make him very popular in the academic world and he was quite literally down on his very last shred of luck when Dr. Langford approached him. Dr. Jackson had all the makings of a good Nerd. He had allergies, he had glasses, he had a bad haircut. He had a serious coffee addiction and he wasn’t very good at handling adventure. But, if it wasn’t for him – the plot would never have moved forward. Dr. Jackson proceeds to decipher the code given to him and so unlocks the mystery to opening up and using an artefact known as the ‘Stargate’. He travels across the galaxy with this not so Nerdy soldier:
And, together they discover alien races, transplanted humans from Earth (who take to guns with more ease than I’d have liked from an underdeveloped civilization) and really cute girls.
Of course, it had more to that but you get the general idea.
The point is that the movie started a trend and set down a benchmark that Nerds can do it too. They got the girls, solved the problems and even cheated death. This theme was pulled (perhaps unconsciously) through out the whole series that followed. Nerds were everywhere and in this very militaristic universe it was an accomplishment, not a point of embarrassment to be a little bit smarter than the rest. It would touch on a lot of themes as it sped through 10 seasons and two spin of series (namely Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe) and it would deliver something that everybody could hold onto. I remember watching the TV series with my mother, who was by no means a Sci Fi fan, and listening to her rave about ‘Macguyver’ being back on television. The cast, the plot and the flow of the series was the stuff of legends and it all started with this film which received no more than a 6.4/10 rating from IMBd movies.
So, if you’re in the mood to watch a really old film. With grand music and somewhat bad graphics, do yourself a favour and see where the story of Stargate began. For the Nerd, it’s worth it. Because it shows that we too can have a proper place in the wide, WIDE universe.
And, we too – can save the world.