“I just wanted to say that I’m a nerd, and I’m here tonight to stand up for the rights of other nerds.” - Gilbert
Since I did not grow up in the 80s, I never really experienced the cultural impact of Revenge of The Nerds. A huge box office hit when it was first released and still an extremely popular film today, I was excited to finally watch this 80s “classic”. While a funny enough film, the stereotypical representations of nerds and its objectification of women, makes Revenge Of The Nerds feel dated, but not in a good way.
Treatment Of Female Characters
While the film is about nerdy underdogs who finally give their tormentors their comeuppance, the film treats its female characters as a means to the end. Using the sorority sisters of Pi Delta Pi as objects to be used to get revenge on the frat bros from Alpha Beta.
One of the nerds main gambits to get back at the bothers of Alpha Beta is to sneak into the Pi Delta Pi sorority house and steal the girls panties. Which is a funny scene until you realize they also install hidden cameras in the sorority house, including the restroom, to spy on the girls while they undress.
The nerds sit around in their living room gawking at the nude sorority sisters, while they discuss female bush and pop boners. It all feels really creepy.
“Okay, so how again is this getting back at the Alpha Betas”, you ask?
Well they end up using naked pictures of Betty (Julia Montgomery), head cheerleader and girlfriend to Stan (Ted McGinley), president of Alpha Beta, to help them win a fund raising contest. The nerds place naked pictures of Betty at the bottom of whipped cream pies. They end up outselling the Alpha Betas by a large margin while also distributing Betty’s nude photos to a large portion of campus.
Your probably thinking, “That is pretty fucked up”. Well it gets worse.
Head-nerd, Lewis (Robert Carradine), who has been borderline stalking Betty the entire film, steal’s Stan costume mask. Betty, thinking the disguised Lewis is Stan, follows him into the carnival fun house, and has sex with him in some type of moon room.
Once Lewis reveals himself, Betty is shocked, but somehow not upset that Lewis totally sexually assaulted her. She is actually totally cool with it and now entranced by him, because he is a much more compassionate lover than Stan.
Yes, despite everything that Lewis did to her she end up staying with him.
This whole plot line is just really, really, weird and watching it played for laughs feels wrong.
All the fucked up sexual stuff aside there are some funny scenes in Revenge Of The Nerds. Here are a few of my favorites.
Everybody’s dance moves are on point in this scene, but Lamar in his balloon hat is the best.
Talent Show Dance
This scene is a classic for a reason, the incredible made up synths machines, Poindexter’s violin playing, the Michael Jackson dance moves, the whole scenes is a super 80s time capsule.
John Goodman’s Speech/Ogre Screaming Nerds
Man I watched this clip on loop, and I laugh every time. Orge’s nerd yell is just too good.
While watching Revenge Of The Nerds, I just could not get over the way the nerds treated the women of Pi Delta Pi and especially Betty. Betty’s overtly misogynist storyline really ruins an otherwise funny 80s film. A film that is supposed to be about nerdy underdogs finally winning, accomplishes it mission at the expense of women. While Gilbert makes a noble and heartfelt speech about the wrongful treatment of nerds at the end of the film, after watching Revenge Of The Nerds, I feel that the nerds need to hear one about the treatment of women
In a sentence
Revenge Of The Nerds might be an 80s classic to some, but the way the film uses women objectification as a punchline ruins an otherwise, funny film.
Rotten tomatoes: 71%
My Rating: 2.5 Moonwalks Of 5
“You can escape purgatory, but you can’t escape Hell.” - Priest in My Left Foot
This has been day 25 of 30 VHS In 30 DAYS. My journey to the center of VHS Hell. Special thanks to I Luv Video in Austin, The World’s Largest Video Store, for being my spiritual and literal guide through VHS purgatory.