Design and Demographics: An Ongoing Debate

Audio Edition Coming Soon!

Character designs from 1985 vs. 2018 for She-Ra, Bow, Glimmer, and Catra. (Images from @SheRaUpdates)

Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 are going to be pretty exciting! A whole slew of television that I love will be airing, either as a continuation of shows I already love, or brand new offerings to enjoy: The Dragon Prince, Star Wars: The Clone WarsCastlevania, Doctor Who, The Expanse, Young Justice, Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, and Star Trek Discovery, to name a few.

However, the one that caught my attention and sparked this entry was discovering a controversy over the upcoming animated reboot of She-Ra. (Controversy? On the internet? I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you!) It seems like it boils down to the relationship between aesthetic design and sexism. Some people were stoked about the new animation style for the show, courtesy of Noelle Stevenson who worked on the comic book series Lumberjanes and the graphic novel Nimona. Others were… less enthusiastic. Apparently there’s been a great deal of backlash because the new design for She-Ra isn’t “sexy” enough. (Since She-Ra is apparently actually supposed to be 16 years old, the new design looks far more age-appropriate than the original, who I would have assumed was in her 20s.)

Personally, I think the entire debate is a bit ridiculous. I’ve never seen the original TV show from the 80s, although I did have some of the dolls (and totally made up my own stories because I had no idea who they were.) But something struck me as I was reading articles about this design battle. There was talk of how She-Ra is a “girls’ show” and “this is why girls can’t have nice things” and “why can’t men let girls have role models that aren’t based on sex appeal?” This controversy over gender separation (such as the color-coding of children’s toys in stores and the difference in design between male and female characters) has popped up in various forms over the years.

Is there really a difference anymore between “his” and “hers”? It seems like folks on both sides of the She-Ra debate think that there is. What I want to know was if this was a result of old-style marketing, environmental/societal values, or genuine difference of interest between boys and girls.

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The Difference Between a Convention and a Conference

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

It’s been two months since I attended the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, so I’ve had time to mull over the experience. Going somewhere new for the first time is always stressful, as one cannot know what to expect. The information I learned there was good, the speakers were engaging, and my fellow attendees were both kind and polite. I don’t really regret trying out this new opportunity when it arose.

However, I also don’t think I’ll be going back.
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Are You a Fake Fan? (Gamer Edition)

In light of recent developments in the comic, gamer, and cosplay worlds, I’m doing a series of entries about “fake fans” and how established fandoms treat newcomers, women, and minorities.  This entry is the Gamer Edition, wherein I focus on the gaming community.  You can read the companion Comics Edition here.

 Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

nofake

How do you decide if someone is unworthy to be part of your fandom?  How do you label someone a poser, a noob, or a fake?  Whom do you invite into a fandom and why?  Whom do you reject and why?  What are the criteria to go from noob to knowledge-master?  How does someone graduate from being a “fake geek girl/boy” or “fake fan” into a “true fan”?  Is such a thing even possible?  

….

I’m not sure if I want to write this entry.  I’m not sure if it’s safe for me to write this entry.  In the wake of #GamerGate, it’s become more obvious how dangerous it can be to be a woman online and have opinions.  Especially if you are a woman involved in games, and particularly if you have some level of popularity.  Granted, my profile is no where near as high as the targets of GamerGate, but the very fact that I’m nervous about posting this also makes me mad.  I shouldn’t be afraid to have an opinion, provided I try to express it respectfully.

vivianjames

Vivian James, the semi-official mascot of #gamergate (click image for source)

If you don’t know what GamerGate is, I’ve provided links below to various journals, news articles, and individual blogs that talk a lot more about it.  To summarize, GamerGate is the outpouring of misogyny in the gaming world that people tend to ignore, disregard, or minimize.  It is the systematic anonymous attempt to destroy women in gaming, be they game developers, journalists, critics, or just outspoken fans.  This hate has spewed forth in a fashion that cannot be covered up or explained away (although lord knows that GamerGate tried.)

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Are You A Fake Fan? (Comics Edition)

In light of recent developments in the comic, gamer, and cosplay worlds, I plan to do a series of entries about “fake fans” and how established fandoms treat newcomers, women, and minorities.  This first entry is the Comics Edition, wherein I focus on the comic book community.

Click HERE for the Audio Edition!

nofake  

How do you decide if someone is unworthy to be part of your fandom?  How do you label someone a poser, a noob, or a fake?  Whom do you invite into a fandom and why?  Whom do you reject and why?  What are the criteria to go from noob to knowledge-master?  How does someone graduate from being a “fake geek girl/boy” or “fake fan” into a “true fan”?  Is such a thing even possible?  

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about how unfriendly the nerd culture can be to newcomers, or even to established members if they start commenting on flaws with the status quo… especially if those members are women.  (Yes, #GamerGate, I’m looking at you.)  It seems like there are two prevailing extremes:  either the fans are portrayed as the most friendly, knowledgeable, welcoming group around, or they are seen as the most close-minded, antagonistic, sexist group alive.

So far, I’ve been fortunate to escape the fake geek label, but a lot of people, especially women, haven’t been so lucky.  And I have yet to learn of a standard for judging someone’s relative geekiness.  Is it the number of comics you read?  The variety?  The age?  The popularity?  Do you have to be super-obsessed with one particular facet of comics or do you have to have the entire history of Marvel and DC, or every plot contrivance of Batman on the tip of your tongue to qualify as a true fan?

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