Sunday, June 1, 2008

"You fuckers think just 'cause a guy reads comics he can't start some shit?"

This title is a little misleading and obviously profane, but I love the movie, and it's not completely inappropriate.

Today I went to Philadelphia (the city with the strangest layout EVER) to a Wizard World convention. Wizard World is basically a company that runs a series of conventions for a mish mash of sci-fi, comic, fantasy and the like. I'm not really hooked into the convention circuit (I'd never actually been to one till now, and this one wasn't all that huge), but a friend of mine and fellow Battlestar Galactica enthusiast Logan, who follows this blog, found out that there was a very special BSG guest working the VIP section of the convention this weekend: Katee Sackhoff.

Sackhoff plays Kara "Starbuck" Thrace on Battlestar Galactica, and apart from being a really great actress (who also has the benefit of working with really great writing, it must be said), her character is totally bad ass, complicated, the lead gun of the Viper pilots, and generally fucked up in the best way possible (except for this season, where she's borderline psychotic, which is troubling). In short: I think she is the coolest, and after Princess Leia, she is next on the list of "Scifi Characters Who I Would Like to Emulate in My Life." She's even above Xena--that's how you know it's serious.

In any case, she was reason enough to get me out to the capital of my least favorite state (I'm from New Jersey, this kind of prejudice happens) and finally attend a convention. Other great attractions were Garth Ennis, writer/co-creator of Preacher, lots of random fandom merchandise, and PA Jedi, that demonstrated their own choreographed lightsaber fights and drills, and offered up maybe the one redeeming quality of the state that you never visit, you just have to drive through it to get somewhere else. I have to tell you, the fights really weren't bad, and I enjoyed the fact that they took themselves so seriously.

(The bottom picture was a pre-choreographed fight, being done by people who I believe were Not associated with PA Jedi. The best part was right before the "kill" was going to happen, the little boy on the left there {see him?} ran in with his light saber and stabbed at the attacker. Cutest. Thing. Ever.)

I'm a dork, borderline geek. It's something I keep pretty close to my chest, but those who know me know that it's true. I'm not a HUGE geek, and far from the designation of "nerd," which seems to require an extra level of dedication and girth of knowledge that is beyond the circumference of my cranium and my patience, and I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. There was a bit of shaming in elementary and middle school from my friends regarding my dork/geek interests--I learned early on that Star Trek: The Next Generation ("TNG," as we call it, in the circles I barely frequent) was not going to make me any more popular or any less awkward, but I still see my enjoyment of it as a real release and important in my personal development at that time in my life. But due to the initial shaming, I never really let myself develop my geeky side fully, or made it develop it in more acceptable ways: musical theater, an innate knowledge of Shakespeare, etc. (Reading that back, neither of those is actually any more "acceptable" are they?) So now, when I'm in a room full of true geeks and nerds, I get intimidated. I've never played Dungeons and Dragons. I cannot program HTML. I do not LARP. I tried reading comics when I was younger, but found I was too overwhelmed by how much I didn't know, the mythologies so vast and had been going on for so many years before I was even born, and I kind of shut down on the idea. I fear math. Essentially, I hide my dorkiness and geek tendencies because, quite frankly: I feel like a fake. I haven't the pedigree. Or the balls.

And on that note, there's also something about being a girl in that kind of environment. Women always have to reach a hypothetical bar set by men, it seems, and here it is no different. In dork/geek/nerd society, two ideas seem to exist about women:

  1. That they have koodies and know nothing about the world, such as why it is so important the Federation crack down on violators of the Prime Directive; and
  2. That they are massive sex pots, with HUGE breasts, that go around hunting prey in form of animal/man/beast/alien/living dead/what-have-you, in a chain metal bikini with nothing but a sly remark and maybe a claymore to hold that material up. (And let's face it: the costume is already too small.)
Both views seem pretty sexist, pretty immature, and the latter one pretty...hopeful? But in either case, it sets up a precarious set of ideas that makes it hard to infiltrate geek society and still be respected. And still be recognized as a woman. And as it happens in my case, also as a straight woman. Which is probably why I love Starbuck so much--because her character can do all of these things.

But getting back to what is supposed to matter in this blog, what does any of this have to do with art or me? Well, here is a whole sub culture of people who gather because of their common interest in a specific kind of art. They decide what is acceptable, what is cool, and what is not. They show, in an unapologetic way, the force of an audience. And that force is something that any artist who wants to make a connection and any kind of commercial progression in their career has to tap into. This is also why I think crowd psychology should be studied in theatre school.

And again, as addressed earlier in this blog, the identity issue: a chief reason people enjoy art is because they identify with characters. They can see themselves (or would like to see themselves) making those choices, winning those battles, getting the girl to take off her chain metal bikini. And in no subculture is this more blatantly prevalent than the dork/geek/nerd one. (We'll save a larger discussion on LARPing for another time, but you follow me so far.) The same thing that happens on stage happens between a boy and his comic book. Or so we hope.

I admit the end of this entry is a bit ramblesome, but it was just a really cool day, and I wanted to share it with you all. Now grab your gun and bring in the cat!

That was a Battlestar Galactica reference right there.


Emma said...

I love you.

fadedsilverscreen said...

I was also at Wizard World, and I have to agree, it was pretty awesome to meet Katee Sackhoff. IMO she is an excellent actress.

On a side note, I'm curious--why do you think that Philadelphia has a weird city layout?

Lea Maria said...


Thanks for your post! As I do not know you, I am flattered that you would bother to peruse my blog at all, not to mention leave a comment. So: you clearly rock. Also, you respect Katee Sackhoff's acting. So: you clearly rock MORE.

In regards to your question about Philadelphia, I must first admit that I am coming from a place of immense bias against the city, simply because I grew up in New Jersey, near the PA border, and so all the regional rivalries of the area live very much inside me. But besides that, I think Central Philly is kind of claustrophibically built. It feels like they took a little bit of space and smushed in as many buildings as possible into said space. I live in New York currently, so there's probably just a different sense to the layout of the city that I'm used to, versus one I'm not. I'm sure I'll think London is strange when I get over there.

In any case, that was probably WAY more information than you wanted, needed, or expected, so I'll leave you here. I did enjoy your blog though, and will try to stop by on occasion. Hope the screen writing/novel-ing is coming together.