You can be a nerd with pretty much just about any subject. We've all met football nerds who can spout the college stats of an NFL player who was a benchwarmer for the majority of their career. We all know Pokemon nerds who can name some obscure fictional monster and rattle off a million reasons why they're overlooked as such a competitive character in the game.
It doesn't matter how "cool" the subject matter is, once you start getting granular to the point of isolating others, people call you a nerd.
And even though it might sound like an insult, being a nerd about certain things isn't all bad. Because if it wasn't for a certain amount of obsession with particular topics, we'd never advance collectively as a society.
And while Dr. Bob Nicholson isn't exactly inventing commercial electricity for the masses with his recent tweet about the incorrect portrayal of newspapers in the upcoming film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, he does make a pretty good point with his nerdism.
The film is set in Victorian era England and tells the tale of Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol. Nicholson's gripe isn't with the movie or any of the performances or the subject matter. No, Dr. Bob Nicholson is a historian of Victorian culture, and is angry about the inaccuracies in the trailer regarding what newspapers looked like during that time.
I've just watched the trailer for the new Dickens movie. I'm not usually bothered by inaccuracies in historical dramas, but I'd like to politely request that film makers STOP PUTTING MASSIVE HEADLINES ON VICTORIAN NEWSPAPERS. pic.twitter.com/GdOFi9u6G6— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 25, 2017
The man is seemingly livid and went on a tweetstorm showing tons of examples as to what newspapers looked like back in the day.
They're a far cry from the headline-centric paper actor Dan Stevens is brandishing in the film.
I mean, look at this mess:
Even long after Dickens died, newspapers didn't change all that much and still featured front pages devoid of enormous headlines.
Yes, even the more sensationalist papers.
Nicholson admits that his pedantry is rather "low stakes."
Welcome to the smallest hill that I'm willing to die on.— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 25, 2017
But he makes an important point on the correct representations on the history of media through film.
I know these props serve a convenient narrative purpose, but media history matters too! The ‘newspaper’ as we know it evolved, piece-by-piece, over many centuries and went through countless transformations on the way.— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 25, 2017
If we imagine the ‘newspaper’ as an unchanging institution that looked much the same in 1843 as it does today, then the imminent death of print journalism looks apocalyptic; but the migration to digital isn’t an ending, just another chapter in a long story.— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 25, 2017
Nicholson pointed out that some papers during the Victorian era, whether they were low-brow rags or more cultured publications, were illustrated.
While we're here, I should point out that not *all* Victorian newspapers looked like a wall of text. Some weeklies like the Illustrated Police News (low-brow, crime, sensation) and the Illustrated London News (high-brow, news, culture, etc) looked rather different... pic.twitter.com/fwtLY6kvG7— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 26, 2017
He also pointed out some other interesting facts. Like the idea of interviews, back in the day, were considered an invasion of privacy.
You might also be surprised to learn that interviews - something we now think of as being so central to the practice of journalism - were uncommon in British papers until the 1880s. They were regarded as an invasion of privacy & condemned as an uncouth American import!— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 26, 2017
People started sharing some other ridiculous newspaper props from films.
To which Dr. Nicholson scoffed at.
Haha! Where’s that prop from? The whole design is bonkers - particularly the absurd letter-spacing and typeface in the columns. Plus, as far as I know, the London Daily Post folded sometime in the 1700s...— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 25, 2017
He ultimately provided a link to a resource of actual Victorian publications, for fellow nerds (and perhaps new converts) who want to see first-hand what print media was like back then.
If you really want to get this right, then I suggest taking a look at some newspapers in this digital archive: https://t.co/KhHMrb0W2G. It'll require a monthly subscription, but I imagine you'd find it an invaluable source for researching the period more broadly.— Dr Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) November 26, 2017
Which got some people wishing for new Twitter features.
I'd like all of my memes converted to Victorian era illustrations, if possible.