The Fake Nerd Girl Myth.

Here we go again.

While I was off enjoying my honeymoon, the whole fake nerd girl issue roared back to life with a vengeance. This is not to say that it ever went away, but the day I flew out to Disneyland to build some memories to last a lifetime with my wife, veteran comic book artist Tony Harris decided to let loose on the subject.

I’m not going to quote him verbatim, if you want to read exactly what he said go here. What I took from his rant is this: women who cos-play at conventions are just attention whores with no love and appreciation of geek culture and should just accept that their sole purpose is to be lusted after and it is their fault if men act badly around them.

I feel dirty even writing that previous paragraph.

Tony Harris is one of the best artists working in comics today. As an artist I am always going to be a fan of his work. However, after reading his rant it is clear that he has some issues that clearly need to be addressed. And he is not alone, not by a longshot.  It has been going on long enough to spawn a meme and to have become a catchphrase.

What the hell? How did this happen?

It’s a complex question and a lot of people have been discussing this for a while now. As a simple male geek who loves his subculture while at times wanting to throttle it, I will now give my two cents worth.

To start with we have to understand the idea of gatekeeper behavior. This is where someone in a particular social group decides it’s up to them to protect the group by determining what is and isn’t appropriate for that group and attempting to purge that which they deem inappropriate. Pick any type of group that a person could be in, political, religious, social, or professional and you will find people who act as gatekeepers for that group.

By their very nature a gatekeeper is going to be a conservative member of that community as they want to keep it pure.

Now how do we apply this to geek culture?  You have to remember that as we have said before the various subsets that make up geek culture have traditionally been male dominated industries that cater to a male dominate fan base. But smart business owners know that it is good to expand your consumer base and the best way to do that is to appeal to as broad a market as possible. For a male dominated market this means trying to bring in the rest of the human race, in other words females.

While this seems simple on the surface, there is a catch. That catch is that while someone new may enjoy something, they way they enjoy it may be different than how you do.

I think I need to illustrate that last point.

My sister and I, despite both being very geeky, are very different in how we approach it. Both of us love Horror, Disney, and roleplaying. However she is not a comic book fan and I am not into fanfiction. This is not to say that either of us hasn’t read comics or fanfiction, but there are subcultures to both and those are ones that she and I do not share.

So when the Avengers movie came out, as I comics fan I was stoked. What I was not aware of was that the fanfiction community also embraced it. Due to this my sister is now a huge Avengers fan, She loves the movie just as much as I do, but for different reasons. She will never know who D-man and Rage are, and I will never get Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers as a married couple.

Now a gatekeeper is going to say that she is wrong. She needs to appreciate the Avengers for its appeal to the comic fans and that legacy and enjoying stories about Tony and Steve adopting Peter Parker is wrong and should be shunned.

So this is where we have the origin of the issue. Maybe that Cos-player dressing as the Black Widow was inspired by the movie. Her interest is in putting together the costume and after all that hard work she wants to show it off. The best place to do that is at a convention. Does this mean she knows the entire backstory of the character? Who knows? The point is that this is how she has chosen to enjoy the culture. This is fine, and she should be allowed to do so. However the gatekeepers go into hyperventilation. This is the root of the fake nerd girl. The claim that she is a trespasser in our community that needs to be put in her place.

Another part of Harris’ rant was that ok, you have chosen to be here dressed like that, accept that you are going to be treated as an object, not a person.

No, just no. this is not even a little ok. In fact go back and read my article on misogyny in geek culture. Or any article on this subject.

So basically what we have an issue where people are feeling threaten because other people are doing things differently.

And if you scratch beneath the surface you will find it is not just the fake nerd girl meme at play here. I have heard from a friend that right after Harris posted. He had friends of his say that they hate it when people are at an anime convention and their cos-play is not anime specific, and how they want those people banned. I have also heard of a steampunk convention where a member of the convention committee went through the dealer’s hall and kicked out any dealers who they felt did not have merchandise that was “steampunk” enough.

And the worst part is that for every idiot who spews this nonsense, they will have people backing them up. If you read the comments from Harris’ post a lot of people thanked him.

That right there is why I am writing this and why others need to keep at it. We have to point out that this behavior is not right and cannot be condoned. And right now we really need to keep at it as this meme has got legs. This next image is from an ad you can find in DC comic books.

Yes, this got approved by an editor somewhere.

I’m sure I will be writing more about this in the future. In the meantime please keep this issue in mind and let’s do what we can to combat it.


Why am I a Disneyland Fan?

The day this article is being published on the site, my wife and I will be on our long awaited honeymoon at Disneyland.

Yes, we are taking our honeymoon at Disneyland. It was actually a very short conversation, taking all of 30 seconds. Trust me this is one of the things that told me I married the right person.

I will readily admit that Disneyland is definitely one of the things I am a geek for.

So in honor of the fact that I am taking what we are calling the Epic Disneyland Honeymoon, I wanted to take this week’s article and talk about my relationship to the park.

I only visited Disneyland once as a child. I was 6 and we were visiting relatives that lived in California. It was a one day trip and while it was only the one day it left an impression. Strangely my major memories from that are about an encounter with Chip and Dale, and the Pirates of the Caribbean.

It would be twenty years later that when I finally returned to the Happiest Place on Earth. I was working for WotC and had been sent to a convention that was being held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Disneyland was right down the street and I was determined to go. Fortunately the convention center was selling passes to the park and had a shuttle service.  And with that I started a new geek that would be with me from then on.

I’ve been several times since. I have seen every configuration of Pirates of the Caribbean, and as of this trip I will have seen every configuration of the Haunted Mansion. I have read up on the park and know the location of most of the park’s Easter eggs and special features.

I once told my Brother-in-Law that we had to go on It’s a Small World because we would be pardoned of all our sins due to having suffered enough. He mocked me. He then cursed me out after the ride for not giving him sufficient warning about it. My sister wants to move into the Haunted Mansion. I am convinced that Toon Town is my true homeland.

I know a lot of people have the reaction of “why go to Disneyland if you don’t have kids.” I do not understand these people. Disneyland is enjoyable by everyone. It is an environment that allows you to leave cares behind and have fun. The sign over the entrance says it best. “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.”

Disneyland is best enjoyed when you can abandon your cynicism and remember how to enjoy yourself like a child again.

And a lot of people embrace this concept. There are groups that hold unofficial gatherings at Disneyland for this reason. The Toy Soldiers, fans of Doctor Steel, who is a musician who stylizes himself as a mad scientist, gather every March 4 for Toy Soldier day.  There is also Bats Day, where members of the Goth community and related subcultures gather in the park.

Disneyland is a cultural touchstone for us, and has provided a lot for us in any subculture.

Next week, when I am back from the honeymoon, unless something else big has come up; I will be doing a follow up about the park experience.

Arrow Review

When I first heard that the CW was going to do a Green Arrow series, I was worried that it would be another “before they were a hero” concept like Smallville, as that seems to be their pitch for every DC comics based show.

Fortunately that is not the direction they went. However they still had to do something to drive me nuts. In this case it was calling the show Arrow, not Green Arrow, just Arrow.


Green Arrow is a character from the early forties. The general public may not be that familiar with him, but for the comic book fans he is a solid second tier character. Why mess with the iconic name.

And I have not been able to find an answer to this question anywhere. I would think they would offer some answer for the change, but no, nothing. The speculation is that due to the failure of the Green Lantern movie, the producers dropped the word green from the series title to avoid association. Also Greg Berlanti, one of the series co-creators, was a writer and producer on Green Lantern and I think that added to the need for distance.

So aside from the loss of the green how do I feel about the series?

Let’s take a look.

The premise of the series takes the basics of the comic book origin and uses it as a jumping off point. Oliver Queen, a rich socialite, is shipwrecked on an island for five years where he develops archery skills to survive. After being rescued from the island Queen comes home and becomes a Robin Hood themed crimefighter.

One of the series strengths is that it takes this basic story and filters it through the same sensibilities that fueled Nolen’s Batman trilogy.

Queen is now the son of a wealthy family. He is famous for being a rich party boy. While on a yacht trip with his father and his girlfriend’s sister, the yacht sinks and Oliver is the only survivor. Before dying his father confesses that he was corrupt and that he wants Oliver to survive, return home, and correct his mistakes by dealing with a list of other corrupt community leaders.

Using flashbacks the series fleshes out that Oliver was not alone on the island. It is clear that the skills he gained during the five years there were not self-taught.

Queen returns home, and lets people think he is returning to his party boy ways when really he is going after the people on his father’s list.

So how does the series work, both on it’s own and as an adaptation of Green Arrow.

As a series it works surprisingly well considering it is on the CW. The creators stated that they were using The Dark Knight trilogy as inspiration and it shows. The scripts are smart and there is at least a nod to practicality in how the heroics are presented.

One of the strengths is that the series does not make the mistake of having the characters act dumb in order to maintain their plot.

In the first three episodes Oliver has a body guard, John Diggle, thrust on him by his mother. In most other shows Diggle would have to be treated as a fool in order for Oliver to constantly ditch him and not have him figure out the truth. Here by the second episode Diggle knows something is up, and by the fourth Oliver has decided that he can trust Diggle and recruits him into the mission. This allows Diggle to be treated as a professional and for the show not to strain credibility with keeping Oliver’s secret. This is one of the mistakes that Smallville use to make and it is really good to see it avoided here.

Another good decision is to make sure that this is not a super powered world. Even the most extreme characters are just really well trained, but not superhuman.

The casting is also well done for the most part. This is a CW series so of course it is populated with a gaggle of pretty people, but it also has a better balance of non-model types. Also the type of people Oliver’s party boy lifestyle attracts makes this at least make sense.

Stephen Amell is well suited to play this version of Oliver Queen. He is athletic and in scenes where Oliver is doing parkour it appears that Amell is doing it himself. He also brings a good balance to scenes that flashback to old party boy Oliver vs. determined crimefighter Oliver.  There is also a bit of fan service with him, as not an episode goes by that he does not appear shirtless at least once.

Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance does fairly well. She is certainly much improved over when she first showed up as a reoccurring character on Supernatural. She holds her own with Amell in their scenes together and there is certainly chemistry. The biggest issue with her character is that she is they want to portray her as able to handle herself in a fight, and she does not have the shape or presence to quite pull that off. As her character is based on the Black Canary this is going to be a sticking point for a lot of comic fans.

Paul Blackthorn as her father Detective Quentin Lance is probably the strongest actor of the cast, and his character provides some good tension. He is a good cop, but is angry at Oliver who he blames for his other daughter’s death.  The only downside is that Blackthorn is playing Lance much the same as he played Harry Dresden on the Dresden Files and so it can be a little distracting if you watched that series.

David Ramsey as John Diggle is the only one on the main cast whose character does not have roots in the comics. Earlier I described his situation with both how well his character is written and played. His story arch is still developing, with him now being partner and voice of reason to Oliver. It is going to be interesting to see where they take him.

Susanna Thompson plays Oliver’s mother Moira. She is playing an odd balance of the loving mother to Oliver and yet she is clearly at least partially responsible for the yacht wreak that sets the series in motion. Right now it is unclear how deep she is in with the bad guys and her character suffers from needing more development

Colin Donnell and Willa Holland have it even worse in the development territory. Donnell plays Tommy Merlyn, Oliver’s best friend who expects that now he is back the good old days are back too. There are hints that he suspects more, but he does not get a lot of chance to show that. In the comics Merlyn is a rival archer and one of Green Arrows main enemies. Hopefully as the series progresses he will get more development.

Holland plays Oliver’s sister Thea. Her role on the series is that of a reminder to Oliver of his shallow past as she is turning out the same way. Her nick name is Speedy and it appears she was based in part on the second Speedy to be Green Arrows sidekick in the comics. She really has very little to do other than pout and get lectures from Oliver.

So what we have now that we are five episodes into the series is a good, if slightly flawed superhero series. I feel there is a lot of potential here and it seems that they are going in the right direction.

I give Arrow a B-, but I will take a look at it again at the end of the season and see where we are then.


May the Mouse be with you

I’m pretty sure that if you are reading this site, than you have certainly already learned about Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. And I’m equally sure that you had all kinds of knee jerk reactions to it.

I’ll be honest; my first reaction to the story was “this has to be a hoax.”

After that it became; “what are the details of the deal”

So to be thorough, here is what I understand the deal to be. The Walt Disney Company has purchased Lucasfilm outright for $4.05 billion in cash and shares of Disney stock.  The result of deal means that Disney now owns all Lucasfilm properties and subsidiaries.

Let’s just take a moment to look at what that includes.

Film properties:

  • Star Wars
  • Indiana Jones
  • Willow
  • American Graffiti

Game Properties:

  • The Secret of Monkey Island
  • Grim Fandango
  • Maniac Mansion
  • Afterlife
  • Loom


  • Industrial Light & Magic
  • Skywalker Sound
  • LucasArts
  • Lucasfilm Animation

Disney has been clear that their primary interest in this deal is the Star Wars property, but let’s faces it Indiana Jones is not small potatoes. Also they now have the Secret of Monkey Island, a game that was inspired in part by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which turned around and inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Who doesn’t want to see Guybrush Threepwood meet Jack Sparrow?

Of course all of this has led to the inevitable fannish reaction. “Oh God, Disney has bought Star Wars, they are going to water it down and make it suck.”


Yeah, about that.


I heard the same thing a few years ago. Only it was “Oh God, Disney has bought Marvel, they are going to water it down and make it suck.”

And what was the result of that deal. Well we saw it back in May, it was called The Avengers.

Look, not everything Disney does is watered down family fare. They own Pixar and people are disappointed if one of their movies is only really good. They produce Once Upon a Time on ABC which is good subversion of their own fairy tale properties. Disney does not buy up properties and then just “disneyify” them

In fact this is probably the best news we can get as Star Wars fans.

The lament since the prequels came out is that Lucas, while the visionary who created the universe, is not necessarily the best person to Shepard it. Well now he is just in a consultant role, and other people will be developing the next movies. And we are getting the next movies. Part of this deal is the confirmation that the next trilogy is going to happen, which was not the case prior to it.

Another possibility that a lot of people are excited about is the idea that Disney will give us what we have been asking to have for years now, the original trilogy rereleased in its original theatrically form. This means we may finally see Han shoot first in blue-ray.

Not that there isn’t problems. 20th Century Fox owns the distribution rights to the entire film franchise until 2020, and for the original Star Wars the hold the rights forever. But all that means is that there is a deal to be made. Disney has had similar issues with Paramount over the Marvel movies and made it work.

Another reason this should not be so shocking is that there is already so much integration between Disney and Lucas. If you go to Disneyland or Walt Disney World there are rides for both Star Wars and Indiana Jones.  There is also a live audience interaction show called the Jedi Academy. On top of that there is plenty of merchandise for both franchises in the parks. So this means that Disney does not need to worry about renewing those licenses any more.

So I say let’s all chill out, take a deep breath, and see where this new turn of events takes us.


(Note to self, write article about fan rage)


(Yes I meant that note to be public)