Posts tagged Geek Girl Diva

NYT says fiction is gendered, Geek Girls unite to tell them, “NO.”

Cross-posted from The Carnival of the Random

If you click through, you’ll see the review of Game of Thrones from NYT’s Ginia Bellafante. I take issue with the entire slant of the review, since there is no substantive discussion of the series itself, and it plays more as a, “Oh this is such crap and it’s been tarted up to attract female viewers for the sex, but it’s macho crap and I don’t like it.” The troubling thing, is that as a reviewer, you’re supposed to review the material. Not intent, (unless a creator has told you what that is,) and what you think of the material. I get that Ms. Bellafante dislikes Game of Thrones, I just don’t really know why. I also feel like she’s attempted to bolster her view of it as, “Boy fiction,” by making a sweeping statement about what women do and don’t want from their entertainment. In fact, while I find it refreshing that she acknowledges women are interested in seeing sex onscreen (read more on my thoughts on that topic here), it’s disturbing that she doesn’t think women are interested in genre storytelling. Has Ms. Bellafante met the internet? I don’t think so. She also, clearly – did not do the research.

Lots of people, and lots of different types of people, read the NYT. If you say that no woman would ever want to watch something because women don’t like that genre, it will come back to bite you.

It has definitely bitten Ms. Bellafante.

When the link to the review came across my twitterfeed last night, via @cleolinda, my initial reaction to the tweet, “Women don’t like fantasy,” was, “LOLWUT,” because it was an obviously ridiculous statement.

After reading the review, I was incensed enough to email the NYT, post on my twitter and FB, and in the morning – all hell had broken loose.

I want to be clear – I don’t speak for all women. However, I can tell you that nearly ALL of the women I know, online and IRL, love genre storytelling. Comics, movies, television and books – give us fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, and we’re happy.

The reason GoT is even on my radar is because of @amy_geek’s enduring love of Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice saga. (Editor’s Note: Read @amy_geek’s own thoughts on this NYT review here.)

My question for the NYT, specifically Ginia Bellafante, is this: How is fiction gendered at all? A story is a story. Authors may be gendered, characters may be gendered, but story is neutral. That Bilbo and Frodo Baggins are male, doesn’t make me feel less interested in their stories. That Bella Swan is female, doesn’t make me more interested in hers. Do I want to see strong female characters? Yes, which is why I’m probably going to watch and enjoy Game of Thrones. Do I care if there’s sex or not? Only if it is integral to the story. If that’s where relationships go, that’s where they go. People have sex, even fictional people have sex.

Except when they don’t.

I suppose what I want the New York Times to acknowledge is this – women aren’t one thing. You can’t pander to us, and you can’t allow the publication of misogynistic statements, (even when they’re made by a woman,) without expecting backlash.

Given that the Times’ editors also allowed a heavily-misogynistic and rape-culture sympathetic article on the brutal gang-rape of a child to slip through their net, this gaffe, while minor in comparison, still represents an overall failure in journalism.

If no one Ms. Bellafante knows, would rather read The Hobbit, than Lorrie Moore, I’d say she ought to cultivate a wider circle of friends. I, and most of the women I know, would be just as open to reading Tolkien, Straub, Cherie Priest, E. Annie Proulx, or any of a hundred authors.

Stories aren’t gendered, but this review was certainly not neutral when it comes to what women want. That’s a really entitled and insulting way to address your audience, no matter what publication you are. I’m hoping the NYT sees fit to reach out to their readers, and maybe open up some space for women who disagree with Ms. Bellafante’s characterizations.

In the meantime, for more wonderful responses to this privileged fiasco, please go here for a great aggregated post with plenty of links to what women who love science fiction, fantasy, horror, and who are definitely, (defiantly, based on Ms. Bellafante’s review,) excited about Game of Thrones.


Awkward Embraces For The Win!

If you follow Geek Girls Network, Geek Girl Diva, or any other number of awesome geek girl websites, you’ve probably heard of Awkward Embraces.  If not, you really should be following those sites AND watching this web series.  This is one of those web series where you just can’t stop watching.  It was midnight and I had to work the next day, but I needed to finish the first season.  That’s how much I love web series.

Awkward Embraces follows the dating lives of Jessica and her two closest girl friends, Candis & Lyndsey.  Jessica is a geek girl.  She loves Star Trek and comic books and is not afraid to let it be known.  While the basic tag line sounds very similar to Sex & the City, I find that the situations these girls go through are much more along the lines of stuff I would encounter via dating.  Or maybe it’s just that I can actually relate to these girls.  In one episode, Candis is set up on a blind date by her mom.  You expect that it won’t go well, but the best part is the way Candis gets out of it.  Let’s just put it this way, don’t annoy Jessica and then watch a movie with her.

Another reason this web series rocks is because it does what so few actual TV shows fail to do, which is show a realistic, diverse cast.  Each character represents a nice little slice of life, without being reduced to a stereotype.  The dialogue is smart and witty, with story arcs that are not cliche or predictable.  The production value is excellent and, most important, it looks like it was so much fun to work on!  I love when you watch a show and you can just tell that everyone on set had a blast while filming.

Jessica Mills, writer, producer & star of Awkward Embraces, was kind enough to answer some questions for Nerds in Babeland.  At the end, please consider donating a few dollars to the production of Awkward Embraces Season 2.  Once you’re done watching Season 1, you’ll see why we so badly need a Season 2!

1) Where did the idea for the show come from?

I have TONS of awkward dating stories that I love to share with new friends because they never stop being funny. I turned the worst/best story (Episode 4 The Morning After) into a short film. The shoot went so well and it was so fun, I decided to make it a web series.

2) How did you come to work together?

I went to college with Candis and Lyndsey. I couldn’t imagine doing anything comedy and not including them. They are two of the funniest women I know. Then Adam was referred to me by a friend because he had a Canon 5D Mark II and I’d been wanting to shoot something on that camera. We didn’t even MEET until the day we shot that first episode! But he’s great and we all had such a good time that everyone stuck around for the duration.

3) Web series are extremely difficult to fund, in particular when it comes to production costs. Awkward Embraces looks awesome in terms of production quality in general. How did you go about raising money to make the first season?

I didn’t. ha ha I literally shot that season for the cost of pizza. I was working a lot of overtime then, so all the costs (food, snacks, website, domain hosting, etc) just came out of my own pocket. Everyone did phenomenal work for free. I just got REALLY lucky when I found Adam. He does great work. For Season 2 we did an Indiegogo campaign for the first half, and we are about to roll out a second Indiegogo campaign to help us fund the last 6 episodes for Season 2.

4) How many of the stories throughout the first season are inspired by real life events?

Every single one. HA! It’s true. Sometimes it’s a little thing, sometimes it’s a conversation, or it’s an actual story that is mine or that I hear. I find awkward inspiration everywhere. It helps that I’m awkward and end up in awkward situations often.

5) What made you want to do a web series in particular? What do you think about the future of web series in relation to other forms of media?

I was a struggling, frustrated actress. I saw what Felicia Day was doing and just had so much respect for her and the way she took control of her own career that I felt inspired. The web is the best way to do your own thing and get it out there in front of an audience. I do feel that web series are going to become more and more mainstream. Eventually we’ll be streaming all of our television. The place I see web series taking in the future is with branded entertainment. People aren’t watching commercials anymore, and I think these companies are starting to figure out that if they can find someone to build great character and great story around their brand, they’ll get a lot more eyeballs than the commercials we all currently fast forward through on our DVRs. Branded entertainment is sort of the new buzz word in Hollywood. But technology and the business are changing so fast, it’s impossible to tell where we’ll be, or what will happen in the industry. I just hope I’m able to continue to tell good stories and entertain people the way I want. It’s about constantly moving forward and snatching the opportunities as they come along.

6) What can we look forward to in Season 2?

The girls make it their mission in life to find Jessica the perfect mate. So we see Jessica in some situations that she would normally never be in, and she’s got to figure out what to do. It’s a lot of fun. Candis has actually written three of the scripts for Season 2 and I’m very excited for us to get to play with them.

7) You’re a Star Trek fan, clearly, but here is a twist on an age-old question. Spock vs. Picard? AND Kirk vs. Riker?

Picard all the way. I LOVE it when Picard gets angry or upset. Stewart is just SUCH a phenomenal actor, so getting to see him run the gamut of emotion, as an actor, it feels like taking a master class. I love Nimoy, of course, but his range was somewhat limited as a Vulcan. As far as Kirk or Riker, I still have to go with Riker. He’s just dead sexy. Though I am doing a TNG rewatch and every time he hits on a chick, I feel SO AWKWARD. I don’t know what it is! He’s just so confident and overt about it! ha ha. But, he’s hot, so it’s ok.

8 ) Besides Star Trek, what are some of your other favorite things to geek out about? Will we see a lot more of these references in Season 2?

YES! I am obsessed with Doctor Who, so we are definitely going to see some of that. There’s some cute little BSG action in there, and I have a Mythbusters shoutout in an episode. This show is so fun, I love being able to celebrate all the stuff that makes me happy.

You can find more about the series at their website or on Facebook and Twitter.

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