If I’m recommending a TV show—or any piece of media for that matter—nine times out of ten I’m talking about a story that’s distinctly women-centric. Stories about women and other underrepresented groups are so incredibly overshadowed in the mainstream that it feels wrong to spend my time and energy celebrating anything else.
However, our media landscape being what it is, I sometimes find myself drawn to books, movies, and shows that aren’t as overtly feminist as I would like. In these cases, I like to think about why, despite its less-than-ideal representation overall, a story still resonates with me. It’s this process of (hopefully legitimate) rationalization that I’ve been going through for the past few years with Mozart in the Jungle.
A few weeks ago, I binge-watched Big Little Lies over the course of one (bad-feeling for unrelated reasons) day. At the end of the day, I was feeling weirder than before, but for an entirely new set of reasons. As far as I can tell, this is the experience many of us have had with the show. We think we may have liked it, but we also definitely feel that there was something off about it.
Big Little Lies is based on a book written by a woman, starring an allstar (if very white) cast of women, and produced by a company founded ostensibly to uplift women-centric stories. Yet, more than anything else, Big Little Lies tells the story of women who, despite being overwhelming rich in access to resources, are still barely surviving the emotional barrage of patriarchal social structures.
One of the priorities of GeekGirlCon I am most proud of is its commitment to creating space for communities that have been traditionally left out of mainstream geek culture. In the case of GeekGirlCon’s identity-centric panels, it is actual, physical space that is being created. My favorite panel of this kind that appeared at GeekGirlCon ‘16 was called ¿Cómo Se Dice “Nerd”?and set forth to discuss the reality Latinx nerds face when engaging with geek culture.
Panelists Sylvia Monreal, Olivia Hernández, Jorge Albor, and Tristan Tarwater began the conversation by addressing, outright, how fundamentally linked mainstream geekdom is with consumerism. In other words, one’s ability to participate in geek culture is defined by their access to capital. Therefore, historically poor communities have had to innovate new and different ways of interacting with nerdy content.
At GeekGirlCon, accessibility is everything. Putting together a packed weekend of accessible and inclusive geeky programming is fundamental to GeekGirlCon’s mission. One event that reflects this commitment is our DIY Science Zone. The DIY Science Zone is one of GeekGirlCon’s most unique bits of programming, and this year we’re celebrating its fifth anniversary. Equally as exciting for both kids and adults, the DIY Science Zone brings together scientists, science educators, and science enthusiasts alike to participate in hands-on activities and experiments, chat about various scientific fields, and celebrate accessible learning.
For probably obvious reasons, the turn YouTube culture has taken over the past few years has left me feeling rather disenchanted with the whole platform. I still watch some channels regularly, but that habit is often more a practice in nostalgia than anything else. Sometimes I even sense that I’m more forgiving than most when it comes to sticking with creators who tend to let their audiences down over and over again.
There does exist, however, one YouTube creator whose content has only brought more awareness, more understanding, and more pure joy to my life and that is Dr. Lindsey Doe of Sexplanations. My love for Sexplanations has remained steady since the channel’s inception four years ago, but recently it’s reached a new peak in light of recent developments within the community of sex-positive YouTubers. While I have strong feelings about the state of this type of content in general, my main concern at this moment revolves, I’m sure predictably, around Laci Green’s recent confusion of oppressive behavior with free speech. My favorite video that has cropped up in response to Laci’s is this unscripted piece from Marina Wantanabe. There’s also this livestream recording from Kat Blaque that is pure gold.
By now I’m sure you’ve all noticed a theme in my updates: plan ahead! As I’ve mentioned before, I love not only the calm but the increased anticipation that comes with making plans early. In terms of GeekGirlCon, there’s even perks to prepping in advance. First of all, the sooner you take care of the mundane task of acquiring Saturday, Sunday, or Saturday-Sunday passes for you, your parents, your kids, your friends, and your Dungeon Master, the sooner you can start sorting out the epic costume you’ll be entering in our cosplay competition. Second of all, the sooner you buy passes, the less likely it is that you’ll forget and have to contend with the upcoming price increase. And if you prefer, passes will go on sale in local Seattle stores in late July!
Alternatively, if you’re interested in participating in more of the behind-the-scenes of GeekGirlCon, apply to be an Agent now! Agents receive passes in exchange for eight to 10 hours of volunteer work during con weekend, which this year will be September 30 and October 1.
In the wake of its season 13 finale, I can’t help but feel as enamored with Grey’s Anatomy as I did when I first committed myself to the Shonda Rhimes way of life a mere five years ago during my sophomore year of high school. My relationship with the show has been steady and enduring—nothing at all like those I’ve had with practically every other TV show I’ve ever loved and, at times, hated. Grey’s represents everything I’ve come to love about storytelling and, more specifically, storytelling by and for women.
I may be alone in this (though I highly suspect I am not), but one of my favorite parts of attending a convention isn’t even the event itself—it’s the anticipation that builds for months and months beforehand. And, for something as near and dear to my heart as GeekGirlCon, something I know I can count on making time and plans for every year regardless of whatever else is going on in my life, I like to extend the duration of that anticipation period for as long as possible. I like to start preparations for the following year basically as soon as I emotionally recover from the con weekend.
Procuring passes as soon as possible is just one of my pre-con rituals, and I’ve found that it comes with a lot of logistical perks as well. This is no different with GeekGirlCon. Currently, two-day passes for GeekGirlCon ‘17 are 35 dollars and one-day passes are 20 dollars. (I realize I’m biased, but typing this out right now, I can’t help but marvel at what a steal that is.) However, on May 1—that is, 12:01 a.m. on May 1—that is all about to (slightly) change. Our first price increase will leave two-day passes at 45 dollars each and one-day passes at 30 dollars each. Kid passes (ages 6-12) will remain 10 dollars each throughout the increases, and littles (ages 0-5) can attend for free! GeekGirlCon is a family event, people! That is my point. Please bring your kids and your friends’ kids. They are the future and deserve to have things like GeekGirlCon in their lives.
I am my most geeky when I’m thinking about Harry Potter; this is an objective truth about me. And so, when I saw that there was going to be a panel entirely about Harry Potter and critical approaches to considering it, I planned my entire con weekend around attending it.
Robyn began the conversation by proposing that the blood status metaphor—one of the key themes in Harry Potter—is not quite as overt as we all may like to think. While the allusion JK Rowling draws to race in our world via blood status in the Wizarding World is obvious to many PoC readers, it’s not necessarily clear to everyone. This affects how race is discussed throughout the fandom and how readers, especially those of marginalized identities, are able (and allowed) to engage with the story.
If you are at all familiar with GeekGirlCon, you’ve surely noticed the high standard our community has for con programming. Before being offered a slot in the GeekGirlCon lineup, all programming (panels, activities, workshops, and performances) is carefully reviewed by our excellent Programming department. This is what makes GeekGirlCon so magical and so welcoming.
Panels comprise a large portion of the programming that takes place at the con. And so, we’re always seeking new voices and new ideas for panels. Just because you haven’t seen it at GeekGirlCon before doesn’t mean we don’t want it. In fact, it likely means we need it especially!
I talked to our Panel Program Manager, Marina Martinez, to find out exactly what makes a GeekGirlCon panel. If you’ve never submitted programming ideas to GeekGirlCon before, now’s your chance. Applications close on Sunday, April 30, so take your time and let these arguably-infrequently-asked Frequently Asked Questions be your guide.