Wil Wheaton. AKA Wesley Crusher. AKA @wilw. AKA the king of the nerds. Hated by Trekkies, loved by Mandi. And now loved by everyone (1,825,339 people on Twitter at least). As a popular internet fauxtivational poster meme states, never has public dislike been so good for an actor’s career.
The man truly is a testament to nerd pride. Loathed by proxy due his spot-on portrayal of a 24th century nerd, I think pretty much everyone had written him off as a has been once he left Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Then something amazing happened. Wil Wheaton let his nerd flag fly on his blog, and then Twitter, and people began to love him for all the same attributes they hated Wesley Crusher. He was smart, earnest, geeky, awkward, a little conceited at times, a little cripplingly self-loathing at times and simply someone nerds could relate to.
Though the character Wesley might have been too close to home—too much of an unforgiving nerd mirror—for many Trekkies, Wil Wheaton was able to be openly nerdy and help others proudly exit the nerd closet.
Nearly two million people follow him on Twitter now and I would think none of them do so for the same train wreck voyeurism they were hoping to get from Charlie Sheen‘s feed. Instead, it’s because Wil really is (to quote the title of his book) just a geek. When an @wilw tweet shows up in your feed, it’s probably no different from the tweets of any of your nerdy friends. There are times I forget I don’t actually know him.
And now, in an unpredictable coupe, Wheaton is the go-to cameo actor for any show trying to gain geek cred. From The Guild to Big Bang Theory, Wil’s coat-tails have been well-ridden of late. If you’d asked me in 1987 if this would ever come to pass, I’d have chortled mightily.
Actually, I’d have thought the concept there could even be a “king of the nerds”, and not just the butt of jokes (i.e., Revenge of the Nerds), would’ve been an absurdity.
We’ve come a long way, baby.
She’s Having a Baby (his first cameo?):
On River Phoenix’s death: