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10 things that used to be nerdy but are now cool

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With the rise in popularity of things that once separated “nerds” from the rest of society, certain things have become a staple in the modern kid's closet, bookshelf and computer. Here's a list of things that have gone from lame to awesome in a couple of generations.

See the slideshow to the left for more photos of things that were once nerdy.

1. Sci-fi and fantasy novels


Sci-fi/fantasy fans might want to make George Lucas or Ronald D. Moore responsible for mainstreaming the genre once and for all with the Star Wars franchise or the popular early 2000s reboot of “Battlestar Galactica.” But arguably, Peter Jackson is every bit as responsible for creating a new enthusiastic fantasy audience for J.R.R. Tolkien's epic tome, "Lord of the Rings." The success of the trilogy could have paved the way for more mainstream fantasy like HBO's "Game of Thrones."

2. Cosplay


While capes and masks used to seldom follow boys into manhood, now costumes have been legitimized for both genders. With a plethora of Internet how-tos, unprecedented access to vendors and more conventions than ever to wear costumes to, fan costumes have become more elaborate and widespread than ever. The game has shifted from coming up with the most realistic costume to show off at regional Comic Cons to creating the most clever costume based, for instance, on obscure but iconic characters from sources like fan fiction, video games or vintage Star Trek.

3. Anime


It used to be that the average American kid's exposure to Japanese animation began and ended with manga-adapted shows like "Speed Racer" or "Sailor Moon." These days, anime has become so popular in the U.S. that Netflix is even getting in on the act by making loads of popular anime available for streaming and adapting its own original anime series, “Knights of Sidonia.”

4. Easter eggs


Easter eggs — or a hidden reference, joke or nod to a specific game, story or mythology — used to be the mark of a truly devoted fan or nerd as an intimate communication between filmmakers and fans. Understanding the connection between three of Jabba's henchmen in "Return of the Jedi" and the 1950s classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still," used to indicate an adept understanding of sci-fi. Now, anyone with 30 minutes and access to Google can figure out the first appearence of Hank McCoy in 2003's "X-Men" without breaking a sweat.

5. Fan T-shirts


Fan T-shirts used to say just that about the wearers: They were fans of whatever symbol, obscure or otherwise, adorned the T-shirt, which could usually only be attained in a comic book shop. But now, kids can buy Batman T-shirts anywhere online or at outlets as ubiquitous as Target — without necessarily knowing that different Batman logos correspond to distinctly different storylines, styles and franchises — both in comics and on the screen — dating back to the original live-action Batman, Adam West.

See the slideshow to the left for the remaining five things that used to be nerdy.

Email: chjohnson@deseretnews.com

Twitter: ChandraMJohnson

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