§ You’re going to find this hard to believe, but last week there was a bit of a kerfuffle about gender issues and nerdworld. Inconceivable!
It began with an ill-advised essay on GeekOut called Booth babes need not apply which really wasn’t about booth babes so much as general disapproval of attractive women being genre fans.
What I’m talking about is the girls who have no interest or history in gaming taking nearly naked photos of themselves with game controllers draped all over their body just to play at being a “model.” I get sick of wannabes who couldn’t make it as car show eye candy slapping on a Batman shirt and strutting around comic book conventions instead. I’m talking about an attention addict trying to satisfy her ego and feel pretty by infiltrating a community to seek the attention of guys she wouldn’t give the time of day on the street.
Contrast this with the author’s note:
Editor’s note: When he’s not teaching the Internet how to fist-fight, why being weird is awesome or how to self-publish your own books, Joe Peacock tours the world, showing his extensive “Akira” art collection. He also cosplays as a six-foot-two-inch, 310lb Powerpuff Girl to fill the hollow pit that is his need for the wrong kinds of attention.
And he got it. Author John Scalzi responded with Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be – Whatever
And no, you can’t object (well, you can, but you’ll be summarily overruled). You made the decision based on your life experience as a geek that you could tell other people who is welcome as a geek and who is not. Based on my life experience as a geek, I have made the decision that I am qualified to tell you to suck eggs. You want to slap down people who you don’t feel qualify for geekdom? Then I get to slap you down for being wrong, on the basis of being higher up in the geek hierarchy. You don’t like it? Then you shouldn’t have played this game to begin with. You played your cards, and I now I’ve played mine. This round goes to me. I have the conch. And now I will speak.
Observation: Sometimes very, very attractive people also like nerdy shit. Looking like a supermodel doesn’t mean you can’t like Doctor Who. But when you look like a supermodel no one is going to take what you think seriously, anyway, so it’s a bit harder to convince people of this.
Like, actress Hedy Lamarr was most famous for swimming around without a shirt in an old Hungarian film but then later on she invented a technology that made the cell phone and Wi-Fi possible, along with her neighbor, George Antheil, the electronic composer. From Wikipedia:
Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was reportedly told by NIC member Charles F. Kettering and others that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds.
If she were around today she’d probably just make webisodes.
§ Speaking of unlikely nerds and webisodes, Tom Hanks has launched an animated Internet series called Electric City.
There are two problems that are immediately obvious. First, the writing is poor. In fact, no writer is even credited on the episodes. If you want the hip comic-book crowd to bestow cult status on you (and that’s the best you’ll get for a web series), it needs to be damned special, which Electric City is not. The second problem is the structural issue with all web series: The episodes are too short. It’s hard to generate much interest — or story — in five minutes, so even though much of the animation is intriguing, the actual series never gets liftoff. As the plot unwinds, the end comes. At least in the case of Electric City, you can get the bulk of episodes now and keep clicking away. If you had to wait a week for the second episode, well, you probably wouldn’t.
§ In conjunction with the new digital editions of CEREBUS, Dave Sim is answering questions. Here’s his take on Kickstarter:
Are you now converted to the idea of “crowd-funding” and the Kickstarter concept? Has this changed your views on the possibilities of the Internet or do you still equate it to CB radio?
In terms of me, personally, I’m definitely convinced that “crowd-funding” and Kickstarter can definitely work well for HIGH SOCIETY audio/digital in June of 2012. The possibilities of the Internet are pretty much limitless, I’m just not sure that they work for me or my work. One of the things that drives things on the Internet is short-term novelty. CEREBUS TV worked, briefly, for the first few months as it was intended to: to generate interest in e-Bay auctions of my artwork. And then it didn’t. The bottom just dropped out of it. I assume that Kickstarter and crowd-funding will be the same way. It’s a novelty and it’s working really well for most people but not all people. What happens when it’s no longer a novelty is another question. I do think you have to go where the people are. Kickstarter has its own devotees just of the concept — people who are hooked on finding cool campaigns and supporting them. This is a cool party because there are all these people here and the numbers are just rolling over and rolling over. Who cares what the project is? Being here is JUST COOL! That’s an exaggeration, but that’s what I’m trying to think of now.
§ If you are too old to know what Andrew Hussie’s Homestuck is, Subdee at the Hooded Utilitarian has a pretty good introduction.
Before getting any further into the plot of this comic, I want to talk about what it’s actually about. Homestuck is a self-aware work which is knowingly preoccupied with low culture or “junk” culture and this is expressed in a variety of ways. To start with an obvious one, John, the first character we are introduced to, and arguably the “shoujo heroine” of the series, lives in a room decorated with “bad movie” posters. His greatest irrational (?) fear is that the evil Betty Crocker will do something unspeakably awful to him, but Gushers replenish his health. Meanwhile, Dave, his smart-cynical rival and best friend, the ultimate “cool kid” of many talents (although he rarely leaves his room), lives surrounded by bad videogames and junk food, which he claims to love “ironically.” He is also the author of an intentionally bad dada-ist webcomic.
Homestuck is a huge interactive thing with a huge fanbase—you’ve undoubtedly seen the cosplayers around. I’m way too old to get it, but it looks like this:
§ Finally, in Jakarta, it is not Pow! Bam! but rather ‘Zip!’ ‘Whack!’ and ‘Splat!’. Good to know.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.