Posts tagged opinion

Image Courtesy of StarWars.com

Skin-Showing Ladies of Clone Wars

Guest post written by T. Johnson.  T. Johnson is a blogger, au pair, and part-time tutor who has been obsessed with science fiction and comics since roughly first grade. One of her life`s big revelations was discovering Wonder Woman comics-another milestone was  starting to read the works of Heinlein and Aldous Huxley. She has always been convinced  that girls can be as truly nerdy as any fanboy.

A blog post on Wired.com assets that the female characters of Cartoon Network`s Clone Wars are “over-sexualized” by their “scanty” attire, especially Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano and the older mentor Aayla Secura. The author admittedly makes a good case for this in some ways. Male Jedis of Clone Wars tend to wear long monk-like robes and/or practical cropped pants. Ahsoka and Aayla do wear somewhat less.

Image Courtesy of StarWars.com

But I`m not sure if their clothing can be construed as scanty in the extreme. Consider Ahsoka`s costume: it consists of a leather halter top worn wth a short brown skirt and leggings. I never thought of it as particularly sexy or revealing. This is reinforced by the fact that AT is a character who is concerned with becoming a better Jedi, not dancing in a cantina. We usually see her in full-on action scenes, running,leaping, and wielding her light saber.

In fact, most costumes worn by comic book heroines are far more “scanty” (gasp)! Look at the stuff foisted on Supergirl. Everyone draws her with her navel front and center,regardless of what kind of shirt she wears. She and cousin Power Girl (to name but two examples) are also renowned for their amazing displays of cleavage. Marvel`s Emma Frost always sheds her snow-white or gray cloak to expose a white sports bra and miles of shapely legs. Next to these fan-boy favorites, Aayla and Ahsoka look amazingly modest.

Now, I’m no prude – showing skin (male and female) in comics and cartoons is a long-held tradition. Male heroes have always dressed to show off their chest and leg muscles, even in the fashion-conservative 40`s and 50`s. I’m sure many straight and gay folks enjoyed seeing them this way, and I do as well. But it`s interesting that no one worries about, say, Anakin Skywalker`s pants “over-sexualizing” him. This is something that is applied far more to female characters, as if they are somehow more vulnerable-even if they have good light saber skills or super strength. In fact, fretting about their attire sometimes seems to be a politically correct put-down.

A few months ago, the artists who draw Clone Wars modified Ahsoka Tano`s costume. She`s now wearing a long brown tunic and gray pants-like leggings (funny how this trouser option has never gone away, even in fiction). I`m not sure if fans will take her more seriously with covered legs. She never had much of a problem fighting in her other attire. It remains to be seen whether Aayla will suddenly cover her cleavage with a high-necked blouse. As noted above, I guess I did not notice clothing implications because I was far more interested in these women as valid people. Whether they rock short skirts or full body armor, the women of Clone Wars are competent and powerful.

 

A portion of this post can also be found at Nerd Society.

stickman

Editorial Piece: Pulling Threads and Spinning Yarns

While participating in the Dexter ARG, I was fortunate enough to meet Michael Andersen from ARGNet.  When I started this blog with all of the wonderful fellow Nerds in Babeland, I intended for this to be a place where female nerds can write about their passions (however nerdy or un-nerdy they may be).  Well, as has been made obvious, one of my new-found passions is Alternate Reality Gaming, and I asked Michael to talk about his own thoughts on ARGs.  I know, I know, he’s not a woman (shock!) but I think it’s okay for us to have our occasional male guest writer.  Thank you, Michael!

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There’s a secret world out there, existing just outside the bounds of your perception. Most people go through their entire lives without realizing this fact. But if you’re smart enough, talented enough, or just plain lucky enough, you might join the select few who can recognize the signs and peel back a layer of reality to see what lies beneath.

This is a popular theme in science fiction and fantasy: you’ll find it in Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Matrix. There’s something eerily compelling about story worlds that could easily coexist with our own. Press a few bricks in the right order, walk down the wrong alley one night, or follow a few cryptic instructions on your computer screen, and your life will be forever changed. It’s also a recurring theme in alternate reality games (ARGs), a form of entertainment that superimposes a new set of rules over reality by peppering the real world with story fragments using a wide range of media and artifacts. I write about this kind of storytelling at ARGNet, and worked together with a handful of Nerds in Babeland contributors to explore the Dexter universe as we tried to hunt down a serial killer.

After a few years of following alternate reality games, I have become adept at recognizing loose threads in the fabric of reality. Pay enough attention, and you’ll discover the fantastic hiding in plain sight. You might even find yourself hiding clues to a secret world of your own. So what do I mean by loose threads in the fabric of reality? See for yourself, through a series of photographs I took in search of stories hidden in plain sight.

Sometimes, the underlying story is an enigma. Consider this fine fellow as an example: I found him in the middle of the road at the corner of Euclid and Mayfield, mere blocks from my law school in Cleveland. Intrigued, I kept my eyes peeled, and discovered he had compatriots scattered across the city: indeed, the Stickman is a national phenomenon, with sightings in locations from Portland to Washington DC. What secrets do these hidden men hide?

Other times, the secret is more straightforward, offering a chance at adventure. On a trip to Baltimore, I paid a visit to the Peabody Library, touchingly described by one visitor as the “closest I’ve seen to Hog-warts!” in the Institute’s guestbook. Just outside the building, a street map featured the following correspondence:

If I stayed in town for an additional day, what exciting adventure might have presented itself? Would I encounter the source of the message, or another curious soul like myself?

Nonchalance created The Jejune Institute to address these questions through an elaborate alternate reality game using San Francisco as a stage to hide puzzles in plain sight. Workers in the Business District likely pass a metal ring soldered to the sidewalk bearing the name “QUINCY” every day without giving it a second glance…but for those of us who entered the Jejune Institute lobby at 580 California Street, Suite #1607, it stands out in stark relief as an introduction into a world of cults and conspiracies.

It may seem a bit daft to obsessively seek out meaning in the countless unexplained curiosities you encounter and summarily discount on a daily basis. But those selfsame threads serve as portals into fantastic worlds that lie just beneath the surface of our own.

At the risk of coopting the expression of a Chicago-based graffiti artist with a knack for the comedic: if I ever start to lose this sense of wonder at these untold stories hidden in plain sight?

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