Joel Stein Warns Us Of "The Urkel Effect"

Illustration for article titled Joel Stein Warns Us Of "The Urkel Effect"

Joel Stein is worried about Barack Obama's chances on Tuesday. Not because of the Bradley Effect, mind you, but because of a phenomenon Stein dubs "the Urkel effect, which holds that voters leaning toward Obama will walk into the voting booth and suddenly think, I cannot take four years of listening to that giant-eared nerd." Stein argues that Obama's secret nerdiness has revealed itself over the past few months, as "he's earnest like C-3PO, emotionless like Spock, overly practical like Encyclopedia Brown and incredibly skinny like C-3PO, Spock and Encyclopedia Brown." Oh, and also, Stein doesn't think Obama can dance, so that's landed him in the nerd category as well. Listen here, Joel Stein: as a nerd, I can tell you this: I know uncool when I see it, and Barack Obama is anything but uncool.First of all, there's no longer a shame attached to being a nerd. Anyone who has been paying any attention to American pop culture over the past 5 years knows that the complete opposite is taking place: nerds, once the butt of every joke, are no longer the pocket-protector wearing laughingstocks of society. Nerds, geeks, dweebs, and yes, even neomaxizoomdweebies are cool, thanks to the rise in Nerd Chic, with comic book movies raking in the big bucks at the box office, hipsters rocking thick black frames, nerd heroes popping up all over television, and obnoxious jocks, once the epitome of cool, finding themselves in the Douchebag Zone, where all high school glories go to die. More importantly, Stein fails to recognize that any nerdiness Obama may show is probably a good thing: it means he's smart, that he's most likely down to earth, and that he, like most nerds, can probably laugh at himself. Still, any nerd qualities that Obama has are drowned out by his unshakeable coolness; the man has had everything under the sun thrown at him over the past two years, and has consistently displayed an ability to remain calm, cool, and collected under pressure. Stein ends his article with this: "Of course, it's also possible that while our society is ready to accept a black President, it still clings to a treasured stereotype: that all black people are cool and all nerds are white," which makes NO sense at all when you consider that he spent the first three paragraphs of the article trying to tie Barack Obama to the most famous nerd of the 90's: Steve Urkel himself, who, of course, was also black. I recognize this is Stein's attempt to be funny, but seriously, does anybody, anywhere on earth, look at Barack Obama and see Steve Urkel? The only remotely close comparison, if you're gonna take it there, is to reference Urkel's cool, calm, smooth alter ego, Stephan Urquelle, who was so rad that even Laura Winslow fell in love with him. Otherwise, this is a pop culture epic fail. You call yourself a nerd, Joel Stein, but you seem to be a bit out of touch with the rest of us. (I say this as a blogging librarian who is also a level 47 arcane fire mage in World of Warcraft and who is currently writing this post on her Mac, which is named "The Hemulen" after a Moomintroll character, so please, do not mess.) Barack Obama is going to do just fine on Tuesday, as nerds, dweebs, jocks, geeks, homecoming queens, stoners, dropouts, and valedictorians alike head to the polls to support him. Oh, and Joel? Barack wanted me to send you this:

Can Obama Overcome The Urkel Effect? [Time] Earlier: American Wit Joel Stein: "Feminism Demands That I Objectify Palin"



Good God, is Joel Stein ever a tool. As far as controversies go, this even outstupids everything the McCain campaign has tried so far.