Finding Rey: #wheresRey, really?

So I wanted to return from my hiatus to talk about my undying love for Carrie Fisher and everything she means to me now in modern cinema, but it seems that there is another, more pressing conversation taking place amongst the millions and millions of people who have seen The Force Awakens, and in true Star Wars fashion, it’s about the merchandise.



So let’s talk about toys.

It started as a low rumble before Christmas that has turned into a full-blown roar now that society is loaded up on eggnog and have had time to see The Force Awakens more than their own families: There is a lack of Star Wars toys featuring the newest film’s protagonist, Rey, who, in case you are reading this in some sort of internet vacuum that has prevented you from hearing about TFA until you stumbled across this blog, is a (brace yourself) girl. She’s basically the star of the movie, a totally badass pilot and force-user who is reminiscent of everyone’s favorite space farm boy, Luke Skywalker in almost every way.



After seeing the movie, when fans went to do what fans do and consume the hell out of branded merchandise, they discovered the shelves were shockingly lacking in Rey toys. Thus, following in the footsteps of #wheresNatasha and #wheresGamora, the hashtag #wheresRey took the internet by storm, calling attention to this problem.

However, given the advantages afforded me by my current job, I’ve had a chance to better investigate this issue, and determined that the #wheresRey movement, while noble, is missing a little background on the state of TFA toys. This isn’t to say #wheresRey crusaders are wrong in their unhappiness; I’m not going to take a several month hiatus from blogging and return just to bash other feminists. Instead, I’d like to give some information about Rey’s merchandising that will show how #wheresRey is ultimately demonstrating a positive trend for geeky heroines.


Anyway, so my graphic design skills have improved since I last blogged.

So if we’re going to investigate the lack of Rey toys, let’s rewind to Force Friday, a day which will live in infamy for Star Wars fans: it was the first day in which The Force Awakens merchandise was officially launched in major retail stores across the country. For those waiting with baited breath for December 18th, this was a huge occasion, because it gave fans more thorough glimpses at what was to come in the forthcoming movie.


That also meant that, because Star Wars is now licensed by Disney, there was stuff EVERYWHERE. Toy stores held special midnight openings to satiate hungry fans dying to get their hands on the first generation of Kylo Ren replica lightsabers. Barnes & Noble and Gamestop shops were selling exclusive variants on TFA vinyl figures. Heck, when my coworker and I went to the craft store to get some art supplies to prank our supervisor, we were inundated with First Order Stormtrooper coloring books and BB-8 print fabrics.



But see, Force Friday wasn’t some random Friday in early November leading up to the holiday season. November wasn’t nearly enough time for the hype train to pick up full speed before barreling into the station.

Force Friday was in early September.

Despite being a decades-long Star Wars geek, I refused to buy any TFA merchandise before the movie came out, but I know a lot of fans who nevertheless scooped up special edition Captain Phasma figures before day’s end on September 4th. I personally wanted to see if the movie was any good before I spent my hard-earned nerd money on it, but I don’t think that prevented Disney from making basically the entire film budget back before the movie was even released. I swear, at that point the movie could have been just Adam Driver and Harrison Ford running around in J.J.’s backyard and the folks at Disney would still be rolling around in so much cash they’d have to get a special bath made out of Gungan sweat to cleanse themselves in after just to make sure they didn’t contract anything from those dollars coated in nerd tears. But I digress.


The point is, TFA toys were out at the very end of summer. Fans purchased them en masse after release, and then the demand rose again as the  Halloween costumes rolled out and the holidays got closer. By the way, the biggest trailer for the movie wasn’t released until October 19th.

At this early stage, however, fans weren’t asking “Where’s Rey?” They were trying to figure out “who’s Rey?”, but even before they knew, they didn’t really care. Collectors were buying stuff anyway.

So why is this September sales date significant to this conversation? Because while in college, important papers, documents, or blog posts could be turned around in a matter of a couple hours, I work in marketing now, and I have had to write press releases for items that aren’t even shipping for six months. Images will be posted on our site that aren’t even the finished version of the product, but it ships in two months, so we have to use what we’ve got.

These toys and fabrics came out more than a month and a half before the big trailer did. God knows when production began on them. But do you think the toy makers were given a private screening of the movie before production could begin on the merch? Hell no.

I guess that’s one of the interesting things about the growth of geek culture is the way in which hype can be so easily controlled now, and how that hype drives consumers in almost an insane way. You don’t have to show people a picture of an exclusive unmasked Captain America figure; you just have to say “It’ll be out in May!” and you know fans are chomping at the bit for it. Hell, I know I am.


I don’t know all of what Hasbro, the Master Licensor for The Force Awakens, was given to work with when Disney execs got them to start working on toys well before Force Friday, but with all the intentional secrecy and carefully-executed leaks of information, I can’t imagine they were told much. They were probably shown designs of various characters and decided to make what they thought was best.

In fact, I’m almost positive that’s what happened. There’s substantial evidence that the lack of Rey figures was not malicious or an intentional dismissal of Rey as a character.

For example, you can easily find Constable Zuvio figures at the Target by my house, even though he never made it into the movie. The decision to cut that character was apparently made last-minute, but if that is the biggest casualty that Hasbro must contend with, I’m sure that’s a small blow to their much larger profits. I also ponder whether we weren’t seeing all of Captain Phasma’s original scenes, given the sheer amount of merchandise that exists for her, but I’ll keep my conspiracy theories to another corner of the internet. Point is: if you were just shown photos of the characters and given a summary of their role, you might not be able to piece together the most complete, accurate picture for representing a movie or its characters. And sadly, you could even argue that means that manufacturers had to default to old stereotypes, meaning less Rey, but we’ll look at this idea again at the end.


One of the biggest protests at the moment is directed towards the absence of Rey in the latest Star Wars Monopoly game. It is the opinion of this writer that if no one on earth or in space ever plays Monopoly again it would still be too soon, but fans are taking umbrage that the game features tokens of Kylo Ren, Vader, Finn, and Luke, but not the main protagonist of the latest film. I understand how fans can find it mind-numbingly stupid to imagine that the manufacturers would make such a grave oversight, and yes, the spoiler defense is a little thin, but they couldn’t know what to expect in creating the game before the movie came out; even the filmmakers didn’t seem sure they knew what was happening before it came out. They probably just grabbed who they thought the main hero and villain would be and added them to the set.

Case in point, here’s an excerpt blog post by a writer who had special experiences working with limited information to produce a Force Awakens merchandise catalog. In responding to the Monopoly controversy, he writes:

I know who Disney/Lucasfilm were putting forward as the important characters in July — Lead Hero, Lead Villain, Alien. There were products that were officially called things like “Lead Hero Action Figure 1” and “Alien Foam Weapon Roleplay.”

Who was Lead Hero? Finn.
Who was Lead Villain? Kylo Ren.
Who was Alien? Chewbacca.

Those are the characters put forward by Disney/Lucasfilm as the film’s important characters.

Imagine writing about those and saying nothing at all.  That’s why I get paid the little bucks.


It’s unfortunate that their Monopoly set doesn’t include Rey, but they were working this summer with the information they had, which I’ve no doubt wasn’t much more than the information I had when I had to write about Alien Foam Weapon Roleplay.  (That’s the Chewbacca Wookie Bowcaster, by the way.  I couldn’t even mention those three words.) As I said, merchandise has a lead time.  These Monopoly sets weren’t made two days after the film came out.

While I’m pleased that the Monopoly situation is being remedied due to fan reaction, it’s important to remember that there was a lot of information the toy makers didn’t know when some of these products were rolled out, so direct ire is perhaps unnecessary. Looking at toys like the Millenium Falcon playset that comes with just Finn and Chewie, it’s entirely likely to imagine that Disney didn’t tell Hasbro’s designers that the Millenium Falcon scenes features “Veteran Character” and “Female Lead” as well.


Pictured: Both.


The biggest complaint of the #wheresRey movement, however, is more centered around the lack of Rey in stores now. When my friend drew my attention to this problem in her local Target store, I decided to do some sleuthing.

I actually spoke to a purchasing manager who works with Hasbro and asked him about the number of Force Awakens toys Hasbro produced featuring Rey, and what I learned is that since Force Friday, every major TFA action figure line has featured Rey in some fashion. From the Black Series 6-inch figures to the Hero Series 12-inch figures, Rey appeared in every line and almost every wave of figures produced.

However, what some fans don’t realize is that Rey figures couldn’t be bought by the truckful; when a store purchases figures, they get them in assortments featuring several different characters in one box, and in all of the assortments featuring Rey, she appeared in equal proportion to the male figures. What that means is that if you owned a toy store and you decided to buy an assortment of TFA figures, you would get a box of Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, or whoever else was featured in that wave of toys, and in an equal number of each. Hasbro didn’t intentionally make “fewer” Rey toys.



So where’s Rey? It’s likely that she is actually sold out in every store where she is “missing.” Rey toys are unavailable because they are at home with fans and collectors, not out of production.

People have expressed to me that they are unsure where Rey figures would even be on the shelves, but from my observations, it is unlikely that the price cards will be labeled “Rey figure”; instead, they indicate the name of the assortment to which that row or rack of toys belongs, so the idea that there’s a Rey-shaped hole in the toy section at Walmart is untrue.

Given the sheer number of assortments a store would have to buy in order to keep up with the demand for Rey, you can see why there is a disproportionally high number of figures of who aren’t Rey left.

I went to Target and saw quite a few Constable Zuvio 6-inch figures left, with only one each of Poe and Finn. The Hasbro purchasing manager indicated to me that, because there are limited numbers of Rey figures per assortment, big superstores like Target and Walmart were likely to run out of the major characters before the holidays, and were less likely to be  diligent in refilling the shelves as some specialty toy stores; they didn’t see the value in getting a whole new assortment just for one or two characters just to have a lot of extra stock to get rid of or inventory come the New Year.

Heck, I’m going on a small tangent here: I think it’s important to remind consumers that, in general, there are going to be a lot more male figures on the shelves. The original trilogy had Leia and Mon Mothma and that was it. Padmé had a little bit more estrogen in her company in the prequel trilogy (and like a billion outfits), but the current merchandise seems to focus on the popular classic characters, like Luke and Vader, and the new iconic figures, like BB-8, Kylo Ren, and the Stormtroopers. That means that, even if she weren’t sold out everywhere, Rey is essentially occupying an intergallatic sausage fest, just because the sheer number of male (or functionally genderless, in the case of the Stormtroopers) characters in the series dwarfs the number of Reys.


For those of you keeping score: There is one Rey.

Finally, perhaps the most egregious neglect of Rey is in a 6-pack of figures found only at Target.

This set of figures features Finn, Kylo Ren, Chewie, and a bunch of generic characters, but no Rey! How could they?

Well, let me start by noting that a Rey of that toy line (the Hero Series) does exist, so it’s not like Rey couldn’t be included. However, refer back to the TFA catalog discussion earlier; if you want to get an exclusive product featuring multiple characters, you’re going to have to go off whatever very limited character description you’re given well in advance of the movie’s release. So they took the lead hero, two good guys, the lead villain, and two bad guys. They probably weren’t told how important Rey would be in the bigger scheme of things, so they kept the assortment simple.

I’d also like to note that I haven’t seen anyone point out how Finn is the only face character in that set; this set seems to have several generic toys, not for any real bias, but to simplify things for consumers. Don’t know what character your nephew/neighbor/cousin-twice-removed likes? Here’s a bunch of good guys and bad guys. They’re bound to have fun with generic Stormtrooper and Resistance pilot squaring off.


Or they can even make them fall in love!

So is there evidence of gender bias in The Force Awakens merchandising? Undoubtedly, but from what I discovered researching the merchandising for the film, I don’t even want to begin to assign blame to any one party or shady mouse-shaped cabal.

Why? Because let’s be real; The Force Awakens flipped the script on a lot of preconceived notions a lot of people, even the fans themselves, had. I don’t want to accuse their marketing team of pulling a bait-and-switch, because that would imply Rey wasn’t in the marketing materials at all, but there definitely wasn’t any single major indicator from the promos that Rey would be the major hero in the end. Besides the idiot “fans” who boycotted the film because oh no, black men and women, I don’t know of any single person whose biggest complaint about the movie was “They made the girl the hero.” Fans loved Rey, even though it seemed like Finn was going to be the new Luke/Anakin for this trilogy, and I don’t think the merchandisers were aware of this surprise either.

I do not wish to bash the efforts of those crusading to get toy manufacturers to better represent female heroes in their merchandise; I support movements like #wheresRey and #wheresNatasha whole-heartedly,  because for as progressive as Marvel is becoming, it’s hard to find wider recognition for their numerous ladies in their merch. I just was curious to see how on earth a company could utterly mess up their merchandising so thoroughly, and I was happy to discover that there wasn’t some sort of anti-Rey conspiracy.

I just think if anything, #wheresRey shows how we as a society are so thoroughly conditioned to anticipate male heroes in our entertainment that, at large, we are taken aback when a female hero appears, and everyone from the movie’s marketing team down to the toy manufacturers and the stores aren’t quite prepared to handle just what that sort of adoration means.


But, on the positive side, #wheresRey also demonstrates just how much fans of all ages and genders of a classic, formerly male-heavy sci-fi franchise have embraced a new heroine, and on that end, things are only going to get more exciting as the new trilogy continues to grow.

Idiot Nerd Girl Getting Fit

Did you know it’s really hard to get back into blogging after a lengthy hiatus? It really is, because you feel like you need to make THE BEST POST YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN to compensate for your absence and you have like a million ideas and ultimately it becomes to scary so you just watch Bob’s Burgers instead.


I have several blogpost drafts that read like this.

So let’s start small. Here’s a simple post. If I mess it up, I won’t worry, because it’s not about anything important.

I started my full-time real world grown up adulty job in June, but it’s cool, because I work with comics.

It’s been a weird and rapid transition from college life to adulthood. My bedtime has shifted from 1 or 2 a.m. to  10 or 11 p.m. My alarm now blares earlier and with more urgency. Instead of battling the buses, I find myself locked in a daily battle of wits with my fellow commuters. I’m not scrambling to write papers or finish some homework assignment during my lunch break; I spend it talking with my coworkers, who are obscenely friendly but are often wigged out by just how much of a baby I am (I’m practically the office fetus). My schedule is more routine and regular, and for the first time in more than 16 years I have blessedly free evenings.

But if you haven’t followed this blog prior to this moment, I can’t gush enough about how much I loved the University of Maryland, and I do miss it dearly.


Flaming turtles and all. Source.

Perhaps most surprising is one of the things I hated most has become the element of college that I already miss the most: The campus. It’s the thing that everyone loves to tout on Instagram and Twitter and those tours where students will walk backwards without breaking eye contact with you the whole time. And I genuinely believe we have an awesome, beautiful campus at UMD.

However, UMD’s campus is basically a small town, which means it contains many lovely people and resources, but getting anywhere can be exhausting once you finish dodging hills, construction, and traffic. Between the heat and humidity in the spring and summer and the frigid winter and the ice the past two years (remember the Polar Vortex?), I dreaded the 10+ minute trek from the bus stop to my various classes each day.


This right here is child’s play in comparison

Last fall, for example, I had ten minutes to get from German to computer science on Mondays and Wednesdays. The buildings were about a 13-minute walk apart, but if I left exactly at the end of German and hustled down three flights of stairs, 10 minutes across campus, and then up three MORE flights of steps, I could sometimes JUST make it in time for class. This kind of thing was murder on my shoes, but good for getting exercise, despite the more-than-slightly-unfavorable conditions that accompanied these walks.

Now I’m no longer a student. I drive more than I walk. When I get home, I curl up and watch Netflix (like I was supposed to in college) or read comics, since that’s both work and a hobby now. But 40 hours a week, every week, I am a desk jockey. Sure, it’s a nice office environment with relatively favorable temperatures and a much lower risk of being affected by freak Maryland rainstorms, but when the most activity I get some days is walking from my desk to the kitchen to get my lunch, I knew I had to make some lifestyle changes.

Besides getting out of those damn rainstorms

My mom has been on a bit of a fitness kick for the past few years, starting around the time my corgi became overweight and she began to take him for walks to shed those puppy pounds. She enjoyed this so much that she took up going to the gym and now boasts biceps that shame the teenage boys who are working out with her trying to get swole or whatever kids today say.

Earlier this year, she and my dad both got Vivofits, which are basically Fitbits only less pretentious.

If you still aren’t following: They’re watches that serve as pedometers and calorie trackers and are supposed to help active people track their activity. The Vivofit has the added benefit of helping give inactive people motivation to get their butts moving.

Since the spring, my mom and dad have been comparing the number of steps they take each day using their wristband pedometers.  My brother and I each received ones as presents a week ago, and I’ve already noticed a difference in the way I go about my daily routine.

I mean, I had my reservations about adopting the trendy fitness device. I still do. It’s probably going to take over and control my brain like the wireless chips in Kingsman: The Secret Service, but we’ll let it slide for now.

At least the murderous rampages would help get your steps in. Seriously, though, watch this movie.

Here’s what it’s been like the past week having a Vivofit:


Okay, Day 1 doesn’t really count. I went on a long walk with my family before getting mine set up, which I completed right before bed. I had maybe 600 steps registered that day. Not the best start, but my brother set his up before we went on our walk, and that was 4,000 steps. So at least I know I got exercise that day at some point.


Okay, judgmental wristwatch?


Day 2 was the real first day of using the thing. I noticed it counting as I got ready for work. I got a ton of steps taking the stairs to my office, which is good, given that most of this summer that has been my primary exercise. Walking around my office gave me a pleasant number of steps. One interesting thing about the Vivo Fit is that it doesn’t just encourage you to stay active by showing you how many calories you’re burning or how many steps you’ve taken; it also has a red bar that grows and grows the longer you go without taking steps.

On the first day of wearing my band to work, that meant that I would be doing work, notice the red bar and then take a walk to the kitchen to refill my water bottle. What a healthy thing to do, and taking a break would allow me to refocus on my work! Genius!

Except even though it has to take at LEAST 90 steps to get to the kitchen from my desk, that is an insufficient number for my band. 90 steps? It scoffs. Peasant. You can do more. You must do more. I’m not going anywhere.


I didn’t vote for you

So I’d return to my desk, frustrated at still having the red bar, but having to return to my work, since people would get suspicious if I decided to get up and start wandering sections of the office I didn’t frequent when I should have been doing pretty much anything else.


This is a very irritating but also oddly motivating element of the Viviofit—whether or not you really want to, it pressures encourages you to get active if you are too still for too long. Which is great and all except when you are trying to write it has a tendency to OH GOD DAMMIT.


Please stand by while I pace angrily around the room and mutter to myself.

Day 2 I managed to make my goal, though I think that was due less to my frantic pacing around the office and more to do with what happened after work. My laptop’s warranty expired this week, and I knew there was something not quite right with it, so I made an appointment last week at the Apple store. I lost the battle against traffic driving to the mall and arrived barely in time for my appointment…at the side of the mall completely opposite from where the Apple store was. Like a nervous mother in the ER, I bolted up and down several escalators and through the food court, thrusting my laptop into the arms of the first waiting Genius, begging please doctor, fix my baby, and two hours later it was back in working order.


This guy actually works in every Apple store nationwide.

So that was worth a few thousand steps.

I made up the rest of my steps that evening awkwardly. I made a weird point of taking extra steps to complete everything, so I must have seemed very jittery and unstable. I was pacing around the kitchen, dancing around to complete even the most simple tasks like getting a glass of water, but hey, I did it: I finished strong my first full day with the band.


Day 3 was an utter failure, and I knew it was going to be.

After a physically untaxing day of work, I was invited to a friend’s house for a Star Wars marathon, so right there I knew my level of physical activity was bound to decline, unless I spent the entirely of Revenge of the Sith reenacting every one of Anakin’s brooding strolls.

And I was right. With the number of people crammed around the television, walking around wasn’t even remotely likely. Also, leaving to go take steps around a strange neighborhood is not as good for your health as you may think.

But hey, it’s okay to cut yourself slack, right?



Day 4 was perhaps the most frustrating, because I got so close to hitting my and failed. Though most of my day was spent either driving home from my friend’s house, in the evening my family went around and explored the city a bit. We all had to make up some steps, so we took detours and investigated areas that we really had no interest in just for the sake of getting those extra hundred steps in, but ultimately, I was just over 600 steps short. I guess this was the point in which I started to really care about this damn arbitrary step goal, because I was REALLY UPSET that I missed it.


Lazy Sundays happen. When you have chores to do and books you know you gotta finish eventually, your lazy Sundays increase in frequency. But when you dance around the house for an hour and still haven’t cracked 2,000 steps, you can’t help but start to feel crummy, and like maybe, just maybe, you should be doing more with yourself that day.

After cooking and eating dinner and still not approaching an even remotely respectable number of steps, I decided to go for a jog.

Please note: I hate jogging. But I figured a quick 15-minute trek around the neighborhood would at least give me a boost on my steps that day, and it did.

Again, I failed to meet my goal, but I was willing to try to exercise to make up the difference, which was a pleasant change from most other lazy Sundays this summer.


Day 6 I noticed that I was able to crack 1,000 steps before I even got to work from my crazy running around trying to get ready for work.

It’s good that I started the day active, because my car slid on the way home from work that evening and I struck a bridge, which left me unharmed but killed any desire I had to exercise/anything that wasn’t curling up on my bed and watching Markiplier’s Let’s Plays until the nervousness went away.

I tried to get some exercise in my garage, doing one-step stair climbs, but my vivo didn’t recognize those steps, even though I did 100 reps and each was worth four steps. So then my thighs just hurt. Booooo.


Some days at work, I get a lot of steps. Yesterday, for example I got about 4,000 just from going about my day in the office. That’s a cool feeling. However, when I got off work Tuesday and realized that I was only halfway to my goal, I decided to do something about it.

After six days of using the Vivofit, I’d only made my goal once, and that was really sad for me. Vivofit understands that some days, life doesn’t go your way, and it’s willing to make adjustments, so it lowers the goal for you.

However, my target step count was now 1,000 less than where I had started. I felt as if the system was telling me “It’s okay, you lovely can of tuna fish. We’ll lower this bar even more for you so that maybe even you can make these impossibly simple standards, you precious potato sack, you!”


In a fit of whimsy, I decided to put on some music and strut around the garage, hoping some fun tunes would keep me motivated to take the required number of steps. But I just kept walking. Then I decided to put some arms and hits into it. And then I was dancing.

So I kept moving to the beat around my garage, and in only about 20 minutes and several song changes, I had conquered 2,500 steps. I was panting and sweaty and totally happy about it. I walked a bit around the garage to cool down and steady my heart rate, and by that point, I had almost made my goal. When I finished getting ready for bed, I had exceeded my goal.

I’ll have to keep using the Vivofit to see if it really does make an impact on my health and fitness beyond just making me more inclined to be physically active. It can definitely be tough to find motivation to be active when you’re not in an environment that gets you moving. At UMD I did special research into the application of gamification techniques in education environments—basically, how you can use elements of gaming to improve learning, motivation, etc. These activity tracker bands definitely give you that push to achieve a goal. You beat enough levels and the prize is a healthier lifestyle, and for many people who are self-motivated and competitive (me), just having that push can be enough.

My mentality has definitely been altered by having a digital reminder to get up and get moving; in fact, it’s taken me several days to write this post because I have been compelled to work out instead of sitting down and marathon writing a post. I started this on Wednesday after another dance binge; it’s now Saturday, and I have successfully met and increased my step goal since then, thanks to my nightly jam sessions.


Now if only I stay motivated to keep writing.

Age of Me

So after four years, six reams of paper, fourteen orchestra concerts, 60 newspaper articles and a measly three coffee binges, I finished college, you guys. I did it.

pics or it didn't happen

pics or it didn’t happen

With undergrad out of the way and a scary real-life job secured, I CAN GET BACK TO BLOGGING.


Stay turned for a post in the next week or so. I’m thinking about compiling my geeky school paper articles and then tackling Mad Max: Fury Road.

20150521_173448I’m back, ya’ll!

(Post title from this brilliant video, in case you missed it)

New York Comic Con and other news

So it’s the school year.

And I’m a bit overwhelmed, so I haven’t been posting. I’ve been writing, so my draft box is really full, but not posting, because when it comes time to finish things, I remember that I have astronomy homework due and I have to workshop a story for creative writing and I was also watching Ink Master when i should have been studying German.

Anyway, college is real fun, guys.

No biggie - Imgur

BUT! This is a big weekend for me, as I will be in NEW YORK CITY for NEW YORK COMIC CON!
Little old me got a press badge, so despite the midterms I have coming up next week, I will be stopping by the convention for Friday and Saturday.

Hopefully I’ll come back with plenty of stories. I’m hoping to stop by the Women of Marvel panels; I am super excited to have this opportunity!

This brings me to the segment:


1. My glasses:


Modeled by Frodo Corgins.

When I first got these frames about two years ago, the lady fitting me with them said, “Ah, I see you are going for Geek Chic.”

My response: “No, ma’am, I’m actually a nerd.” Whomp.

2. Hairbows!


Since visiting Awesome Con in the spring and picking up a few, I have been addicted to collecting geeky hairbows, especially those by Kitsch & Crossbones. I have four right now; I’ll most likely have my superhero bow on for the show!

Also, on that note:

3. My hair!
I am a bottle ginger. My hair is red.

4. My face!


God knows I posted enough selfies on this blog.

I’ll probably have some business cards handy, so if you aren’t sure, ask to see one, and you’ll know.
And I’ll know I’ve made it and can retired to a nerdy corgi farm at long last.



I was hoping to cosplay for NYCC; I have already debuted my Halloween Costume at another con this fall, but because I am not attending NYCC with friends, I opted against it; it’s hard to do this one alone. More on that after the Con.

HOWEVER: When I return, I hope to work on updating the “cosplay” section of my blog, wherein I’ll describe my cosplay process and offer some sewing tips for those getting started!

Until then, see you this weekend in New York!

What I’ve done (so far!) on my summer vacation.

You caught me. I haven’t been updating. So I am just going to skip that whole “Gee willikers, has it been a month already?!?” bull and fess up: Yes, I know it has been a month, and no, I haven’t blogged here.

and yes, I used “Gee Willikers,” and yes, I am becoming Robin.

My tail is totally between my legs as I come back to writing, but I have been engaging in a totally cool new opportunity, and I guess I maybe should have mentioned it earlier, so I didn’t come across as shady and neglectful to my baby blog over here.

So a few months ago, I decided on a whim to post one of my blog entries to reddit, even though I was brand new to the site. The post did pretty well. Yay, me! More surprising was that I received a message shortly after posting my article asking me if I’d like to write for this new website launching in the late spring, Though I never planned to abandon Idiot Nerd Girl completely, I couldn’t believe the opportunity to take my writing to a new audience.

It was a little scary at first, but it’s two months after launch and I’m very pleased with the content I’ve produced for the site. I got to tighten up my news writing chops and refine my editorial writing thanks to a lovely team of smart, talented editors. All this while also living the English major dream and working in a bookstore that lets me dress up as Robin at work.



So, while it may be a terrible apology, I hope this explains where I’ve been when the past month. I have several half-written blog posts sitting in my inbox just waiting for me to come out and finish them, but I’ve always gotten sidetracked by work, writing, or two adorable corgis who have a nasty habit of making a billion and one messes while your back is turned.


Photo taken shortly before everything in the house was gnawed upon

Here is my olive branch: A collection of my four favorite pieces from my time so far at Hopefully they can satisfy you all until I get that post about Black Widow out. Which will happen.


1. Team Ninja Objectifies Women Again, Surprises No One.


If you read this blog, you should know that there’s a special place in my nerdy heart for the Legend of Zelda series, especially for the titular heroine. But back before E3 when the first stills from the new Dynasty-Warriors Zelda game Hyrule Warriors came out, something about the third-party Zelda title didn’t look right. Mainly, the problems came in the form of primary antagonist Cia. Two big, fleshy problems.

I mean, you may be down for photorealistic breasts that tapdance through the uncanny valley, but that didn’t sit well with me as a fan of Zelda and as a woman who actually knows where armor must lie to protect the vital organs—hint: Cia’s missing a few key ones.

If you can’t see the problem, let’s demonstrate on a dude. source.

This piece was a challenge given to me by my editor (he came up with the title, too), but I really enjoyed the task. Though the word limit given to me was a bit tricky to reach at first, I had to dig deeper, which ending up teaching me a lot about Team Ninja, Nintendo, and, of course, jiggle physics. Through the immense reader reaction, I also learned how many fangs I can put in a piece before I have to ease up a bit and concede; a lot of readers pointed out that I ignored the less-sexist design of the character Impa in my attack, and I got hell for it. But that’s how you learn, I guess.


Pictured: my readers. image from

This article was a huge success during Pulp’s launch weekend, and I couldn’t be more pleased that my article reached so many people. But I have one thing to confess: While Cia’s design is a shame, having seen the designs for the other playable female characters in Hyrule Warriors released lately, I’m actually really pleased with how the game is representing women. As one of my colleagues noted, the more recent updates paint the game in a really positive light, making Cia seem more like an unfortunate blemish rather than a masthead of sexism. I’m now really impressed with Team Ninja on this one.

Hey, I can admit when I’m wrong!

2. Redesigning Batgirl and How Mainstream Comics are Finally Paying Attention to Women


There are not enough words in a thesaurus to demonstrate how much I…adore Cameron Stewart andBabs Tarr’s new design for Batgirl. So I’ll just use my favorite gif:

About time!

When words fail, gifs speak.

As both a college student and cosplayer, I had a special appreciation for this design. Far from being impossible spandex that forms “boobsocks” or tight leather that draws attention to all the nooks and crannies of the female form, Tarr designed what appears to be a costume made out of stuff I have in my closet already. Speaking of which, how’d Batgirl get in to my closet? Odd…

This article gave me a chance to go full Idiot Nerd Girl while also writing about the cold hard facts. After outlining the hard news story of the new Batgirl run, I got to add my own input and vent a bit about how offputting “sexy” costumes can be to me as a female reader. Additionally, I got to address the still-very-present problem of men who just don’t understand female anatomy, a la Escher Girls, and why I think having this female-friendly design is just what comics needs right now.

PSA: Anatomy counts. source.

This was one of my favorite pieces to write by far, and I was glad I got to draw from my college experiences to really characterize Batgirl’s wardrobe. And they say college doesn’t teach you anything.

3.  How Progressive is Colbie Caillat’s New Video, Really?


Wait, what! A non-nerdy article?!? WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH IDIOT NERD GIRL?!?

Well, yeah. I wrote a music-themed article. Gasp! The story (and the music editor) beckoned, and I heeded the call.


I got to analyze Colbie Caillat’s new music video “Try” and dissect its message. And really, once I dug out my surgical tools and really started picking around, I found nothing but a lot of fluff in a music video being hailed for its anti-photoshopping message.

Not going to lie, friends: This is me at my most cynical. I like grrrl power messages in music videos, don’t get me wrong; they’re a nice break from videos that rely on booty-shaking girls to sell sex and iTunes downloads. But if you want to challenge media perceptions, one lone tear rolling down the cheek of a overly-made-up tween isn’t enough.

Maybe occasionally I bite too hard, but I’ve found through blogging that if you don’t use a little teeth, you’re just not saying anything. Sorry, Colbie. Try harder next time.

4. Don’t Write Off the New Female Thor Just Yet 


Finally, my most challenging piece of late. After Marvel’s big Thor announcement a few weeks ago, I had to weigh in with perhaps one of the least popular opinion yet. This was an article where going into it my opinion felt so obvious that it was like I was bludgeoning my audience with it, but there was so much hate from all different Marvel fans, I felt I had to stand up and defend the new Worthy Thor with everything I had. You can get the gist from the title: Don’t freak the hell out over the new Thor, I commanded Pulp readers. She’s not the end of the Marvel world. Far from it.

Though it wasn’t particularly “newsy”, this article was hugely fact based, because in order to combat some of the major fan complaints, I went to the source—interviews and press releases with Jason Aaron and the rest of the creative team—and I addressed some of the most common points of contention with the new announcement. I didn’t set out to call every raging fanboy sexist; instead, I noted how:

1) this is how Marvel is
2) this isn’t new for comics
3) we don’t know enough to really panic
4) what we do know is pretty cool in its own right
5) if you have acknowledged points 1-4 and are still upset, okay, yeah, you might be sexist.

This is Thor dressed up like a bride from actual Norse mythology. You can calm down now.

Like I said, this was tough to write. I tried synthesizing a lot of information AND my opinion without being too redundant, and I think I mostly succeeded. This one just felt more orthodox; rather than making my usual arguments from personal experience or the grander nerd culture, I had to dig through a lot of Marvel history and lore in order to pull out examples of when this has happened before and based on this, why this change is a good thing.

Still, if it wasn’t a tough piece to write, I wouldn’t have liked it so much. Pulp has been challenging me in many ways this summer, and I can’t wait to learn more from them into the future.

But, of course, I must rememeber my first love: once I am back at school and on a more regular, rigorous schedule, I’ll be back blogging lovingly, and finally write about Black Widow and The Winter Soldier oh my god I have tried to write about that movie like six times now holy crap.


Anyway, until then, these as well as my many other Pulp articles can be found here, though I thoroughly recommend checking out the content from the homepage as well; all the staff writers are brilliant, and I love reading their insightful pieces, too!

I’ll come back to you, I promise.

The Women of Westeros: Game of Thrones, Season 4

So I took a bit of an unintended hiatus to catch up on the reading, sleeping, and retail jobs I’d missed out on while at school, so I’ve had little “me-time” to blog. But as this week’s Game of Thrones was the finale to a pretty wild, bombastic, and at times controversial season, I’ve had some Idiot Nerd Girl-related thoughts to how the season was handled. Behind the balls-to-the-wall madness, there were a lot of ladies, and a lot less balls than one would expect (see what I did there?).


George always sees what you did there. And he kills your favorite characters for it.

Some women were empowered, while some were brought down, and some even died. Allegations of sexism were made left and right, some of them arbitrary, some of them really pointed out horrific flaws in the series. But since representation is so important, let’s review this season to see what roles were filled by the women of Westeros in one of the most popular (and pirated) shows on television:

~~~~~Note: Spoilers for the finale below. Proceed with caution~~~~~ (more…)

Idiot Blog Girl: Marking a Milestone

Though I am neck-deep in finals right now, I thought I would take some time to commemorate a very special milestone in this blog’s lifetime; this is the last post I shall publish a member of my Writing for the Blogosphere Class. The class is the whole reason this blog is as fun, successful and existent as it is, and it’s crazy to see that my little baby and its little friends are all grow’d up and off to take on the world.

But we’ll always be like wahhh. Wahh Wahh Wahh wahhh.

That doesn’t mean my blog is going anywhere. It’s going to stay here. I’ll still be writing (maybe even reviewing Captain America 2? Maybe? One day?). It’s just going to be a little bit lonelier around these parts without the other bloggers in my class to provide offline support in addition to the bounteous online love they’ve provided as we’ve gone on this blog journey. Their thoughtful critiques and comments really helped make this blog what it is, and it’s sad to think of keeping Idiot Nerd Girl going alone without my classmates to keep me company.

However, as every gamer knows:

So here are 3 takeaways I got from my first few months of blogging as a member of ENGL 488B: Writing for the Blogosphere:

1) I am actually a feminist.

That might seem like a weird declaration, but I’m gonna level with you: When I started Idiot Nerd Girl, I didn’t see myself as that big of a feminist. I’ve been used to being a geek girl, making my way through a male-dominated field as best I can, but compared to other feminists, I’ve always seen myself as, well…lacking.

Ah, yes. The feeling of not being able to measure up. Not uncommon in gaming, either. via.

It’s hard to explain how I can feel like not a feminist even though I get pissed every time pay scales appear that show women make less than men at the same job, or that old white dudes in Congress think they know what’s best for women’s health even though they don’t understand how pregnancy works. I just compared myself to some more vocal feminists, and I fell short, so I thought I must have been doing something wrong. I was a bad feminist.

But in writing for Idiot Nerd Girl, I began to discover that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t a bad feminist who was actively rebuilding the patriarchy or reinforcing gender roles or anything. I was just different.


I saw things differently from other feminists. But that’s because I was coming from a different perspective than many other women.

And that’s perfectly okay.

2) It’s okay to have  a different opinion.

That’s something I learned through this 4-month writing binge; it’s okay to see things differently. Not just differently from men. Not just differently from other feminists. While some of my posts fell in line with other geeky feminist ideas floating around the internet, sometimes my perspective has been different.

Just like with Spider-Man movies. Everyone has a different perspective on the Spider-Man movies. Even Spider-Man. Get it? He’s upside—never mind. via.

Look at my comic book store experience; just because I didn’t have awful experiences doesn’t mean my experiences weren’t valid. Some feminists don’t like to use the Bechdel test, which I use for the purposes of drawing attention to certain trends of representation. Even if it’s not the best test, it works for me. Also, I like Mary Jane Watson. That might be an unpopular opinion in some circles. Who cares?

My blog isn’t out there to reaffirm the other rhetoric. It’s about putting out my opinion, starting new conversations, and engaging productively in other conversations. That are currently happening.

Speaking of “productive.”

3) You don’t have to blog angry.

This was something I learned gradually over this semester that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle at the beginning of this whole shebang. I thought being a blogger meant being really angry all the time. A lot of the online writing I’d seen was powered by a really strong anger against something. I stopped reading, a feminist nerd site, because the writers always seemed to be mad about something and there was no way to challenge their opinions without being labeled a “troll.” As someone who left tumblr because I hate seeing all that anger, I wasn’t sure how I’d survive as a real blogger, especially a feminist blogger.

Turns out, it’s easy.

Step 1) Develop allergies to bullshit.

What I learned is that you don’t necessarily need anger; you just need passion. My passion rarely manifests as rage (except when playing Magic the Gathering); it manifests in depth. I write long when I’m passionate about a topic, hence the week of Metal Gear posts.

But I never blog or post or comment angry. I make a point of taking a step back and getting some perspective before I write. That’s because I respect myself as a writer, and I respect you, reader. You didn’t come here to get yelled at.

We are reasonable pleasant folk. I want this blog to be like a cozy nerd parlor. I’ll invite you in, ask if you’re hungry, and then tell you my opinions over some tea. I’ll give you enough cake and other snacks so that you’re mouth will be full and I’ll get a chance to rant for a bit. Then you can have your say in the comments.

Heh. Cake. via.

We’ll do this from now on.

Alright, friends. The training wheels are off and this baby is ready to roll on through summer.

Stick around.

Guest Post: From a “Damsel in Distress”

Author’s Note: Wow, everyone. This is a big day in the history of this blog: my first guest post. I have been a fan of this lady for a very long time, and  after she found my blog she approached me to see if she could write up a post something that has been on her mind for a while. I’m honored that she chose me, and I really am pleased with her message. So without further ado, I’ll let her take the reins:

I know this is a rather unconventional method of addressing you all, but I have remained silent for years on an issue that has been of a major concern to me and others like me.

Greetings, all. My name is Zelda, Princess of Hyrule, and I am not a damsel in distress.

I know it does not seem that way. It is part of the territory when you are a video game princess; it is as if the moment the tiara hits your head you lose all autonomy. You are just viewed as capture-bait by not only evil wizards or dinosaur-turtles and the like, but also by society at large.

While it does not seem like that big of a deal to those on the outside, it is a real problem when that label is being slapped on you when you are in a position of power.

Take my friend Peach, for example. You would not believe the peace summits she has lead. Years ago, Princess Peach even successfully led a campaign for an advanced plumbing system to solve the water crisis in the Mushroom Kingdom. Her speech on the plight of her poor subjects brought the members of parliament to tears.

A hard sell. via.

Her plan worked wonders, returning riches back to the kingdom’s struggling economy. There were literally coins on flowing on the streets. It was the highlight of Princess Peach’s reign, and without a doubt the proudest moment in Mushroom Kingdom history.

But Princess Peach gets taken hostage by an overgrown koopa once, and that becomes all she’s ever known for.

Horrible propaganda. via.

No one recognizes her for her successes in golf, tennis, or go-karting. Her accomplishments as a martial artist are completely ignored, even though she is my favorite sparring partner.

Though she is a hero to so many in her kingdom, to people the world over, she’s just Princess Peach, the distressed damsel.

Her friend and neighbor Princess Daisy was so scandalized by the label that she fell out of the limelight for a few years just so she could actually get some effective work done in Sarasaland without public scrutiny.

Hyrule and its people are a bit more forgiving, but outsiders are not. While my name is a symbol of power and strength throughout the land, even in the darkest of times, my legacy also has been tainted.

The history of my kingdom is known as “The Legend of Zelda,” but most people see my name and think of a young blonde man dressed in green.

Pictured: “Zelda.” via.

They get me confused with Link, the Hero of Time. That is, I think they get Link confused with me. Those who do not know any better call my dear friend Link “Zelda” all the time. This is a problem that has been happening for literally eons.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 2.15.51 PM

I do not know whether they are confused by the fact that I am not the “protagonist” in the more action-packed volumes of the history of my country, or that certain outsiders are genuinely baffled by the fact that the history of a country could possibly be named after a female regent, but this disrespect for women in power has to stop.

My name is Zelda. I am princess of Hyrule. The history of my country is called the Legend of Zelda, regardless of my role in it. Just because a man is prancing around the country collecting precious stones and taking on a giant evil warthog does not mean I am incapable of taking care of myself.

Yes, I do adopt a more docile attitude when dealing with subjects. It is part of the job; you are more likely to catch a golden bee with honey than a sword. The princesses of Hyrule always choose to remain calm and dignified, even in the face of peril. Occasionally, that means we have chosen to adopt disguises so to protect our images. But with or without these disguises, princesses have fought can continue to fight the good fight against evil forces.

Why must we still be dubbed “damsels in distress?” Men who are kidnapped aren’t give that label. We certainly do not call ourselves that, because we don’t identify as damsels, and we aren’t in distress. Yes, it is stressful to be kidnapped, but that is not the singular event that defines us.

In the past, princesses were used as motivation for the heroes, but not anymore. We are progressive women taking on a variety of roles; we are guardians, mentors, spies, warriors, and even Star Cup Kart Race champions. If you still see us as damsels, then you are a huge part of the problem.

I am Princess Zelda. The Legend of Zelda is about me. Link is a well-respected friend and colleague, but with all due respect, I can take care of myself.

Villains do not distress me. Sexism does.

Author’s Note, part 2: I hope you enjoyed this change of voice. Our challenge this week was to blog in another voice; I couldn’t resist blogging as my idol!

Idiot Nerd Girls Getting Dressed

So it’s been a while since I looked at the Idiot Nerd Girl stereotype. Let’s fix that.

Besides the fluorescent pink meme that has been featured on this blog several times, the idea of the Idiot Nerd Girl manifests both online and in person as hostile, exclusionary comments geared toward those perceived to be not fans/less of fan of something than you. These people are bad because they are not genuine fans. They are irritating or otherwise negative for polluting the medium of choice. Here’s an example, presented in the context of a conversation in progress:

Cool Nerd: So you’re a Star Wars fan?

Fake Geek: Yeah! I love the movies!

Cool Nerd: Oh yeah? Me too! Which is your favorite?

Fake Geek: The first one!

Cool Nerd: Oh yeah, me too! That moment with Darth Vader first making an entrance…man, it always gives me chills.

Fake Geek: Wait, what? Darth Vader’s not in the first Star Wars movie!

Cool Nerd: Of course he is! It’s Star Wars.

Fake Geek: No, Darth Vader’s not in the movie. But Jar Jar Binks is! I love that guy!

“That’s not true! That’s impossible!” via.

It may sound silly and cause a few of you to roll your eyes, but there are so many un-ironic nerd nightmares about this very topic. I mean it when I say people take this kind of thing very seriously: the ignorance of continuity and not understanding how the numbering system of the series coupled with the heinous praise of an oft-hated character from the franchise irritates and even infuriates the most hardcore fans.

Just like Jar Jar. via.

Their logic is thus: How can you call yourself a Star Wars fan if you don’t even know the most basic stuff?

Now, let’s take this point and stretch it to an extreme. What if “Fake Geek” had seen all the movies, but hadn’t read all the Expanded Universe novels like “Cool Nerd” did? “Cool Nerd” might still be irritated by what he/she sees as a lack of genuine interest on the part of “Fake Geek,” even if “Fake Geek” has seen the movies more times than he/she has seen his/her own family. Doesn’t matter to Cool Nerd: Cool Nerd sees him/herself as the standard, and everyone else should keep up.

This is Geek Elitism, and it’s a problem, especially because it is harmful to geek culture and also because in many cases it smacks of racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry.

That’s where you get the idea of the Idiot Nerd Girl, though I’m still barely scratching the surface of the idea and its associated problems. CollegeHumor sums it up in a way that is both painfully self-aware and also demonstrating what I’ve been saying about this stuff being bad:

See, another dimension to this issue is gender and fashion culture. Gender as I have shown is a huge problem with nerd communities. Confound that with the popularity of geeky clothing or “Geek Chic” and you have a plethora of issues.

I guess the biggest issue is this: You get geeky gals who wanna show their love for their favorite thing, but because of male pressure, they feel they can’t. Let’s take me, for this example, because I’m the blogger here, so deal with it.

I’m a huge Spider-Man fan. I decide that I want to declare my love for Spider-Man with my favorite tee shirt. Cool. I go to class wearing my Spidey Swag and I get approached by a guy who wants to talk to me about Spider-Man. If he’s talking about an issue from one of the thousands I haven’t read, he might believe that I am a poseur, and not really a Spider-Man fan. My shirt was a lie; a trendy fashion statement.

Though there are countless stories going around that women aren’t even asked if they know about the fandoms they are representing. Some are just assumed to be fakes because they are women:

The above was an interaction between Australian game journalist and model Rae Johnston and a stranger right around the release of Bioshock: Infinite. This particular incident got the attention of major news outlets like Forbes, but this kind of incident has apparently become a common occurrence for many women in male-dominated geek circles, and I mean almost exclusively women.

For some reason, along with the “fake geek girl” and “idiot nerd girl” stereotypes, there is this idea that girls are only pretending to be nerdy for attention.

Photo on 4-23-12 at 2.26 PM #2

I couldn’t possibly like X-Men. I am wearing my boyfriend’s shirt. I’m borrowing my brother’s shirt. I’m wearing this shirt so I can pretend to be a guy/get the attention of guys. I cannot possibly be wearing this shirt because I like a thing; I must have men in mind while wearing this. I must be trying to dilute the geek community with my inauthenticity. I cannot truly be a geek and be a woman.

That’s the belief, anyway.

So on top of everything else, women must now be aware of their fashion choices in case they are forced to defend their wardrobe—and their nerd cred, something guys rarely (if ever) have to do.

This goes back to the idea I explored long ago about gatekeepers in comics. This also relates to sexism in online gaming, and in another way harassment in conventions, a topic I have yet to explore. But as a girl, it can be scary to put your love of something on you for fear of judgment and harassment, and not from strangers; from other geeks, the people who are supposed to support you the most.

This is a multi-dimensional topic, so consider this an introductory post; I’ll have to revisit this in future posts, because I could go on forever. But look, here’s the problem of geek elitism and fashion right here:


Yay, selfie time! This was my outfit yesterday, with my new necklace, given to me by my friend as a friendship necklace. It’s a pendant of the Goron’s Ruby.

Problem is: I know the pendant’s from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but I haven’t played through that game in over ten years, so besides what I just learned by linking to the Wiki page above, I can’t tell you much about my necklace.

Should it matter whether or not I remember? No, because I like my necklace. But for some reason it does matter a lot. A shameful amount. And god help me if I can’t tell people what it is.

As a geek girl, getting dressed can be a very powerful statement.

Convention-al Wisdom: (Almost) Everything is Awesome

Last weekend I went Awesome Con 2014. Awesome Con is the hip new kid on the convention scene in the Washington DC metro area. Open to a wide variety of nerdy mediums and perfectly timed between local anime and comic cons, Awesome Con had a lot going for it.

The first night was a bit disappointing. I went early, got my badge, and went into the exhibition hall as soon as it opened…but was finished wandering in an hour. There were some cool exhibitors presenting, like NASA and the local branch of the 501st, and the few artists that were there were friendly and very talented. But what bothered me was the lack of variety in the merchandise was more than a bit disappointing. You had teeshirts, comics, or actions figures, and very little beyond. I was very bored, and so confused—how could this happen? What kind of convention was this?!?

Uh. Not this kind. via.

Uh. Not this kind. via.

I didn’t know that Friday was only a preview night: there were intentionally almost no panels or events. It was for people to get first dibs on the merch.

Not pictured: Tumbleweeds. Or people.

Got it.

So after that, the convention got so much more interesting.


Perhaps my favorite thing about Awesome Con was the variety of panels. I have not encountered a more delightful range of options in a convention.

Quick, decide: Do you prefer Star Wars or Pinky and the Brain? Doctor Who or Firefly? Lord of the Rings or Super Smash Brothers?

Choose wisely

Choose carefully.

SURPRISE! You can have them all! Awesome Con’s wide variety of programming was refreshing to me. I’m someone who has become jaded by going to too many fan conventions that have a very narrow focus. Maybe I’ve just been to too many Otakons.

Point is: I was eager to check out all the activities at the con on Saturday, and was only turned away from one due to overcrowding.

But there was one thing that nagged at me about Awesome Con. Perhaps it is because I’d never been to a convention of this style before, but at the back of the main exhibition hall, there were a row of plain booths surrounded by black draperies and a few measly signs.

This was the area for “media guests,” or as we more commonly call them, “celebrities.” This was where fans could line up to get photos with their heroes or get something signed.

However, to me it felt like a petting zoo. A celebrity petting zoo.

At past conventions, I haven’t really known many of the celebrity guests. This probably has a lot to do with the volume of anime conventions I’ve gone to; not being a huge anime fan, meeting voice actors from an English dub of a series I’ve never seen hasn’t been too enticing. But I’m not in their target audience.

Awesome Con managed to wrangle some absolutely fantastic guests for the event from all over the nerdy entertainment spectrum: Wesley, Rose Tyler, Samwise Gamgee, Pinkie AND the Brain. They were all there. Or at least their actors were.

Sadly, this is becoming a dated reference. via.

Before this weekend, the only star-studded Con panel I’d ever been to was a Phil LaMarr panel in which he banned the audience from asking him questions about his “best” or “favorite” anything. He wanted to have a real conversation with the fans, and I left the panel having learned a ton about the craft of voice acting.

That wasn’t the case at the Billie Piper or Sean Astin panels, where people lined up in droves to ask about particular scenes or movies.

In the case of Sean Astin, it felt as if those in line were reading his IMDB page and making sure to ask about the experiences of each and every role he has had in his lifetime. Though he tried to keep it interesting, the questions were a snore. He did a brilliant job in the last ten minutes doing a rapid-fire question round. This was sadly in this last ten minutes that the most thoughtful questions were asked.


Billie Piper’s was slightly better, though there were some awkward moments when Billie was asked the tough questions by the most die-hard of Who fans. How did you feel in this one episode? Yikes.

Don’t be this guy. via.

Truth is, though, despite some sour experiences, I really enjoy Q&As. Even as a casual fan of Who and LOTR, I felt like it was interesting to have a fan-oriented Inside the Actors’ Studio live in front of me.


When it comes to things like autographs and photo-ops, though…

I won’t say autographs aren’t special. I have a few autographs that are really special to me. I got my favorite one in 2009 when I met author Libba Bray. We had an interesting conversation about her life and writing and about my own aspirations, and she left me with a nice message of encouragement in the book. It’s beautiful.

However, these photo ops and autograph sessions seem a bit nuts to me. You couldn’t even gaze upon Cary Elwes without dropping cash for a photo or autograph first, and those were on average around $40 each. Plus, that intimate experience I got from talking to my hero for several hours back in high school is something you can’t replicate with a strictly-timed photo/autograph session. Especially when Xander from Buffy is just sitting awkwardly in a booth looking so darn sad.

Just like the kicked-puppy I remember! via.

Despite my reservations about the presence of big-name stars in tiny little cubbies for hours on end, Awesome Con mostly lived up to its name, so much so that I can’t wait to return next year so I can have another awesome time.