On Solo and Our First Impressions

As you’ve probably noticed (or are feeling yourself), reactions to Solo, the newest installment in the Star Wars film franchise, are, to put it simply, mixed. If you’re looking for a general consensus, the closest you’re going to get is a noncommittal “it wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t horrible.”

From Black Nerd Problem’s assertion that it’s fun if you’re not expecting a good origin story to The Atlantic’s claim that its difference from the other films is what makes it refreshing, everyone seems to have gotten something different out of it.

In trying to organize my own thoughts and feelings about it, I asked some fellow GeekGirlCon staff members about their first impressions. Unsurprisingly, it seems our responses were as mixed as those of the fandom at large. Here’s a selection of some of my favorite reactions. I know that reading about what everyone else has been thinking has been good for my excitable fangirl heart, and I hope it will be for yours too.

And please beware of spoilers!

Teal Christensen
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Witchy Women: Reclaiming the Misunderstood Halloween Heroine

As Rufus Scrimgeour says in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “these are dark times, there is no denying.” Given all of the darkness, pain, and anxiety that all of us are inundated with so often in recent times – and which so inordinately affects those who have already been oppressed and marginalized – it sometimes feels to me like everyday is Halloween. Experiencing an ambient sense of dread and fear, worrying about looming monsters both actual and theoretical, consuming a truly impressive amount of candy – this is basically my day-to-day reality. But Halloween is about more than just stress and candy. For me, at least, it’s about acknowledging the spookiness around us, facing up to all of our lingering fears, and proving to ourselves that we can laugh and have fun and eat our body weight in candy corn despite whatever ooky-spooky ghouls might be plaguing us.

So for this Halloween, I’m turning to my trusty source for all things inspiring, empowering, and fear-fighting: pop culture. These might be dark times, but one of the best ways I’ve found to both revel in and rise above the darkness is to celebrate the unruly, wonderful, strange, exciting, monstrous, and magical women who populate some of my favorite scary movies.

Hanna Hupp
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A Wrinkle in Time and the Dangers of Homogeneity

Written by Guest Contributor Regina Barber DeGraaff

With all the excitement surrounding the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, I wanted to discuss the ideas of diversity that the book explores and how the ideas of what is “different” and “normal” has affected my life as an academic in science.

Not long ago, I was an PhD astrophysicist who had never read A Wrinkle in Time. Madeline L’Engle’s book was beloved by many of my academic colleagues due to the physics references; however, literature that everyone else read in childhood was always a touchy subject for me. I remember being a sophomore in college when several fellow physics majors said to me “You haven’t read The Lord of the Rings? You haven’t even read The Hobbit?!” That summer I spent the entire break reading the Tolkien series in the Shire-esque landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Being a female, Mexican/Chinese American, first-generation college student in physics, I was already wary about my appearance and “class,” so I did anything to belong.

I did not grow up in a house with books for children or adults. My mother was always nervous about her English due to growing up in Taiwan and never wanted to read English books. When I would visit my father during the summer, he tried to encourage my sister and I to read, but he was self conscious about his own reading skills. I remember the crippling dread when teachers would ask me to read out loud. This is probably one of the many reasons I moved towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

GeekGirlCon
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Review: Sleight

This is a great era to be a Black geek. Communities like Black Nerd Problems and Black Girl Nerds are catering to a population that has always been present but traditionally ignored within geek circles. Recent films like Dope and TV shows Atlanta are also celebrating the Black nerd (or “blerd”) and giving us a new type of hero for the 21st century: young African-Americans with high IQs, awkwardness, and a penchant for sticky situations. Sleight continues with this movement. The protagonist, Bo, is every geek’s superhero, endowed with little more than intelligence, a good dose of desperation, and, of course, STEM!

Ashli Blow
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Review: The Girl With All The Gifts (No Spoilers)

‘Tis the season of socially relevant cinema, from Moonlight to Hidden Figures to Thirteen to I Am Not Your Negro. But, as always, it is the speculative fiction genre that distinguishes itself in its ability to package the sociopolitical ills of our present day into fantastic scenarios that entertain, spook, titillate, inspire, and fuel. While Get Out is much more overt, The Girl With All The Gifts is an artistically subtle tale of power, fear and exploitation.

Zombie fiction tends to have a common theme – the destruction of civilization sparked or exacerbated by the frailty of humanity. Centuries before George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) attempted to portray the relationship between race and fear through a zombie apocalypse, zombie mythos among western hemisphere Africans was a metaphor for racial oppression. While race may be deemphasized in recent zombie franchises (e.g. The Walking Dead, Resident Evil), zombie fiction continues to be a backdrop for dialogue on social power hierarchies.

Ashli Blow
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Mad Max Has a New Fan

Written by GeekGirlCon Copywriter Sarah “SG-1” Grant

I never saw any of the original Mad Max movies; part of that is because the first one (Mad Max, 1979) came out when I was four years old. My parents probably thought that it might be a little too much for their impressionable daughter at that point. The second film (The Road Warrior, 1981) came out when I was seven, which was still too young. Even at the tender age of seven, I was already obsessed with starting at the beginning of a story and going forward in order, so I wouldn’t have wanted to see the second film before the first anyway. I was ten when the third film came out (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, 1985), and at that point I don’t recall having any interest in seeing it. (I’ve never been a huge Tina Turner fan. Don’t tell my friends.)

Spoilers abound below!

Sarah Grant
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Action, sci-fi, and fantasy – oh my!

It has been sunny in Seattle lately, and it’s getting us excited about the summer — not just for the cloud-free days, but also because of the box-office opening weekends we have marked on our calendars. With The Avengers release just days away, we at GeekGirlCon are getting a tad giddy about all the ass-kicking and heart-stopping thrills we’re bound to experience at the movies over the next few months.

Because ladies love action movies, too. Am I right?!

This year, we get superheroes, fairy tales, action flicks, and a new Ridley Scott movie! There also promises to be a few tear jerkers, like The Intouchables and Death of a Superhero. Below are some of our favorite trailers and a few more details for each movie.

Which one are you most excited for? Fill out our poll at the bottom of the post!

Guest Contributor
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This is what a Princess Looks Like: Fictional Edition

The other day, I heard a story about a little girl who didn’t understand how Leia from Star Wars could be a princess if she wasn’t wearing a pink dress. This got me thinking about princesses and how we look at them in our society. When I searched “princess” in Google images, almost every single picture was of princesses from Disney films. I challenged myself to think of what other princesses look like in TV, movies, and comics. Many of them fit the classic fairy tale aesthetic, but others are portrayed quite differently.

As the documentary Miss Representation revealed, telling girls how they should look and behave can have devastating effects. I’ve discussed this concept with others, in particular how destructive it can be to make girls desire to be the Fairest of Them All like the princesses they see on TV. For example, the princesses that girls dress up as for Halloween tend to be ones focused on superficial things like beauty and out-dated etiquette (Except maybe for this little Batman Princess or these Darth Vader Princesses).

However, there are some fictional princesses who aren’t vain or weak—who are portrayed as intelligent and compassionate leaders, leaders who might become a queen someday. The list below is a few of the fictional ladies I believe break the typical princess mold in some way. I admit that some of these princesses are still not perfect examples for young girls, but they do exhibit characteristics that should be encouraged.

Leia (portrayed by Carrie Fisher) on the forest moon of Endor in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars Episodes IV, V, & VI and various novels.)
Since Leia was the inspiration for this post, I felt it was prudent to make her the first on the list. Although some might remember her just for the “slavekini” she was forced to wear in Return of the Jedi, she does wear a variety of clothing throughout the trilogy. We see her in a white dress on the Death Star, white snow appropriate clothing on Hoth, camouflage gear on the forest moon of Endor, and many more. All of these outfits, besides the bikini, cover her modestly and are efficient for the task at hand.

Moving past her appearance, we find that Leia is not only a princess, but also a member of the Imperial Senate. She is comfortable taking command in both diplomatic and military conditions. Not only can she shoot a blaster with precision, she becomes a Jedi Knight in the novels.

Adrienne with her sword and Bedelia with her hammer ready to defend themselves on the cover of Princeless #4

Princess Adrienne (Princeless)
If you haven’t picked up a copy of Princeless yet, you are really missing out. Princess Adrienne is locked in a tower by her parents so that a knight can come rescue her. Adrienne finds a sword under her bed and instead of waiting for a prince, she teams up with her dragon guardian, Sparky, and flies off to save her sisters. She initially wears armor that she finds around her tower and is later disgusted to see what options were available for female warriors (including an obvious parody of Xena’s armor). Her newfound friend, Bedelia, makes her some real armor after receiving input from Adrienne.

You may notice that Adrienne is the only princess of color on this list (unless you count the color green). Besides the few Disney princesses, I found it difficult to think of fictional women of color with the title, “princess”. I know there must be more out there, but I find it depressing that no other examples came to my mind right away.

Princess Fiona in her ogre form.

Fiona (Shrek film series)
When we first meet Fiona she looks, behaves, and speaks like the classic princess locked in a tower. As she corrects Shrek on his rescue, it becomes obvious that she is following a script from a storybook. It is not until the second day of traveling that she reveals that she is highly trained in hand-to-hand combat and perfectly okay with letting out a belch in mixed company. Later, when she finds out about her ogre form, she is ashamed of it. Ultimately she realizes it is her true form and accepts herself. In the second movie, she even becomes upset with Shrek for wishing for them to be human.

Xena (on the right, portrayed by Lucy Lawless) standing with Gabrielle (portrayed by Renée O'Connor)

Xena (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Though she is not a princess in the traditional sense, she still holds the title of Warrior Princess and that is good enough for me. I remember watching Xena when I was younger and admiring her fighting skills, especially with the chakram. Not only was she a great fighter, she was also a good friend to Gabrielle. It seems that strong female fighters are often placed among men to prove themselves. In Xena: Warrior Princess, we get to see two women work together as friends and partners.

The costume Lucy Lawless wore as Xena and the weapons she carried are iconic. The leather and metal armor do not provide the full coverage one would want on a battlefield, but they do provide her with a wide range of movement. Even Lucy Lawless said that she found the costume to be functional once she got over the shortness of the skirt. I’m not saying that it is perfect, especially since her thighs, part of her arms, and her chest are exposed, but it gives a better illusion of protection than the spandex of other female fighters.

These are only a few of the princesses that I considered for this list. Honorable mentions include The Paper Bag Princess, Wonder Woman, Princess Mononoke/San, Princess Bubblegum, and Princess Adora/She-Ra.

Join us next week for “This is What a Princess Looks Like: Nonfiction Edition”

What princesses would you add to this list? Why?


Anna Daniell
Facebook Administrator
facebook@geekgirlcon.com

Shiboo_Krismer
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