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Cardi B's Secret Nerdy Hobby Says More About All Of Us Than It Does About Her

Photo: Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt / Wikipedia; Hot Ones / YouTube
Cardi B and her obsession with FDR, history

Cardi B is known for being controversial and bombastic, unapologetically sexual and deliciously profane in her outspoken hot takes. So a history buff isn't exactly what you'd expect her to be in her extra-curriculars, right?

But in a recent interview, Cardi revealed herself to be just that, and the way it's got people talking says something about the assumptions we so readily make about celebrities and people, in general.

Cardi B's nerdy passions for history and science have people talking after she revealed them on 'Hot Ones.'

Cardi is the latest celebrity to join host Sean Evans on his wildly popular YouTube show "Hot Ones," on which stars try to make through a progressively tongue-scorching array of hot sauces while talking — or at least trying to — about their lives and careers. When they're not wiping away hot sauce-induced tears, that is.

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Cardi appeared on "Hot Ones" in part to promote her new single with Megan Thee Stallion, "Bongos." But the conversation quickly took a turn into unexpected territory when she took a break to let her tongue cool down from all that hot sauce.

Cardi B revealed that she has nerdy passions for FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, the history of the nuclear bomb, and the science of aliens.

During her "Hot Ones" interview, Evans asked Cardi B about her appearance on David Letterman's Netflix show "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction," in which she took Letterman for one of New York's most quintessential dishes, the chopped cheese sandwich.

Evans clearly expected Cardi to gush about meeting such a huge entertainment icon, but Letterman wasn't remotely the most memorably part of that day for Cardi. "That wasn't even like my favorite part," she told Evans, "what stays in my mind for a long time is that I went to FDR's house."

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She went on to describe the excitement she felt visiting FDR's former residence. "I saw the room where Churchill and FDR was talking about the nuke, that is crazy to me, like I'm really here!" she told Evans, before going on to talk about her other fascinations with World Wars I and II and the history of the nuclear bomb. "I'm obsessed with just learning everything about it," she said. 

Clips of the conversation have gone viral on social media among people who have found them as endearing and surprising as they are revealing. But as several people pointed out on Twitter, Cardi studied AP History in high school and went on to major in history in college.

It turns out her nerdy passions aren't surprising at all.  

The surprise Cardi B's nerdy passions has generated shows just how readily we pigeonhole people, and how outdated those instincts really are.

Cardi B being a history and science buff is definitely unexpected — this is the woman that has had the entire right-wing in a tizzy ever since she and Megan The Stallion made "WAP," a song about the... well, if you know, you know.



But the feeling of surprise at Cardi's interest in things like history speaks to just how many assumptions we hold about different kinds of people — like the way we assume women who are confident and outspoken about their sexuality can't possibly be deep thinkers, for starters, a cultural bugaboo we've been wrestling with since at least the 1980s advent of Madonna. 

Then, of course, there's the elephant in the room. Part of why Cardi B's passion for history is surprising is because of long-held racist stereotypes of people of color as uneducated and unsophisticated. It's not all that different from the old, deeply problematic practice of "complimenting" Black people for being "articulate," after all.

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But it goes far beyond just our country's weird hang-ups on race. We have these surprised reactions with all kinds of people, from women who are into sports to straight men who like to bake.

As a gay man, I've lost count of the number of people who have expressed outright shock that I'm an avid camper and hiker instead of, I don't know, spending my weekends lisping along to musical theater soundtracks or whatever it is they expect me to be doing.

And we do this to each other, too. One of my closest gay friends and I have a running joke where we derisively call each other "bro" with an eye roll any time one of us mentions an interest in anything stereotypically straight. A Black friend of mine has told stories of being mocked by other Black people her whole life for being a nerdy fan of stereotypically white music like Dave Matthews Band. 

Hollywood has, of course, reified these supposed taxonomies for years by pandering to them directly with things like Black- and LGBTQ+-oriented TV channels, "chick flicks" and action movies, and other types of culture obviously geared to distinct and discrete demographics.



But it's never been more obvious that the era of being siloed off from each other is over. From the huge Black fanbase of the band Paramore, to this summer's collision of supposedly female-and-queer "Barbie" with high-minded testosterone flick "Oppenheimer" into the record-breaking singularity of "Barbenheimer," we all seem to have moved on from all that outdated nonsense. Finally.

In the end, Cardi B's nerdy passions for history and science are only surprising because we've been told for so long that they're supposed to be. But all her hobbies really reveal is simply that we all contain multitudes, and none of us are just one thing.

We all carry the full spectrum of "WAP" to World War II documentaries. How wonderful that we're finally learning how to let each other do just that.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.