Where Are the Sick Characters in Pop Culture? May18

Where Are the Sick Characters in Pop Culture?...

As someone who struggles with a chronic illness, I can’t always relate to my fictional superheroes. Thor’s abs and Wonder Woman’s stamina never give up, after all. The heroes are almost always strong, beautiful, and not sick. If a character with an illness or chronic pain does show up, they’re often a weak link for the hero to save; their illness is mentioned once as the butt of a joke; they’re useless until they’re healed; or they’re only there to provide inspiration for the hero’s journey. These tropes are frustrating for those of us who face sickness every day in a society that doesn’t know what to do with us. But sometimes I come across characters who represent accurate struggles of being chronically ill. Here are some of my favourites: 1. Remus Lupin, Harry Potter Lupin doesn’t consider himself a worthwhile member of society because that’s what the world keeps telling him. For example, as soon as word gets out that he’s a werewolf, he has to vacate his position as a Hogwart’s professor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because people don’t want him teaching their children, even though he is safe as long as he drinks his potions. J.K. Rowling has stated that Lupin’s condition is meant to mimic the stigma of blood-borne diseases. His fear of accepting love is a very real thing people with chronic conditions face daily. “‘I am not being ridiculous,’ said Lupin steadily. ‘Tonks deserves somebody young and whole.’ . . . ‘But she wants you,’ said Mr. Weasley, with a small smile. ‘And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so.'” —Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince 2. Izumi Curtis, Fullmetal Alchemist Edward and Alphonse’s alchemy teacher, Izumi is a tough, stubborn, ...

Why We Shouldn’t “Hold On” to Loved Ones After They’re Gone Apr11

Why We Shouldn’t “Hold On” to Loved Ones After They’re Gone...

In the 2018 reboot of Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is still a long way from the agile, clever, gun-toting superwoman plumbing the depths of ancient ruins and uncovering supernatural mysteries. In this film, she’s more of an emotionally stunted adrenaline junkie who throws herself into danger with no care for her life or legacy. Lara’s father disappeared several years ago on “business” and she refuses to sign the papers declaring him legally dead. She cannot handle the idea that her dad, her hero, could be gone forever and so she pursues every lead, even spending thousands of dollars, to find out what happened and where he could have gone. Hanging on to hope seems like an endearing quality. Her resistance to giving up on someone is touted as a great asset to Lara, but it ends up costing her a lot. For seven years, she lives in near poverty and makes few contributions to society because her tremendous assets are frozen. She could help people out, create a foundation in memory of her family, or pursue almost anything to work through her grief, but instead, she lives in delusion. We’re afraid letting go means they are somehow less important in our lives. Lara’s refusal to let go of her father puts not only herself, but others in danger as well. People join her on her journey, facing a vicious storm, a murderous militia, and a deadly curse. Their sacrifices don’t return her father to her. I have been fortunate in my life that very few family members have passed away. I know the days are coming when it will happen. And I’ve spent a lot of recent time with those who have lost loved ones; I have seen the grief I will one day...

Reading Ready Player One: Teamwork Mar23

Reading Ready Player One: Teamwork...

Ultimately, the last chapters of Ready Player One contain its strongest message: victory is not only for the strong; it goes to those who maintain hope, those who love, and those who remain faithful to one another, even to the bitter end. Without the hope and tenacity of Parzival/Wade, for example, who was willing to give up his life in the last section to save his friends, and who maintains that mindset until the end, our heroes would never have been able to overthrow their opposition. Without Og’s love for and faith in Halliday, the ephemeral creator of the OASIS, the spirit of the game would have been lost to the greed and divisiveness of the Sixers. And without the faithfulness and teamwork of Shoto, Artemis, and Aech, Wade never could have made it past the Third Gate. The Sixers, on the other hand, though they move as a massive, powerful corporation, make the fatal error of rejecting even the premise of teamwork. At the core of the IOI’s identity is domination, which cannot be present in the loving and unified. Unwilling to work together or sacrifice himself for his “team,” Sorrento views his cronies as expendable; this is clear when his avatar is killed, and Wade imagines him “kicking one of his underlings out of a haptic chair so he could take control of a new avatar.” Nothing is more important to the Sixers than winning the egg, because the egg and its subsequent wealth symbolizes domination for them. For Wade and company, the egg means something quite different. They are each fighting against the powers that be to preserve the value of the individual, the value of the overlooked. When small forces of good join together to fight against daunting forces of...

Reading Ready Player One: Courage Mar16

Reading Ready Player One: Courage...

Wade’s bravery in this section blows my mind; as someone who has historically taken the safe route instead of the sacrificial one, his courage is foreign to me. But Wade puts himself in unimaginable danger almost without a second thought. Though some might see his willing “surrender” to IOI and indentured servitude as reckless, one particular line from Wade makes me think otherwise: “I didn’t test the IOI passwords until the second night of my indenturement. I was understandably anxious, because if it turned out I’d been sold bogus data and none of the passwords worked, I would have sold myself into lifelong slavery.” Wade knows the stakes. At this point, he is no longer simply an avatar, someone who is brave in the OASIS and cowardly in the “real world.” What he has built up in the OASIS has now come to fruition in his being: Parzival’s bravery has become Wade’s. When I step back and consider how Wade is leaving the safety of his lifelong pacifier, the only place where he has ever felt ‘himself,’ I can see how monumental his act of courage is. And though it might seem like his courage initially falters when he is led outside into the pallid desolation of the real world, his fear is not an unexpected thing. And Wade’s fear can exist alongside his courage. His entire identity is in the OASIS, but he is willing to give all that up on the chance that he can infiltrate IOI and save his friends. Though he is tagged like livestock, confined to a jail cell, and forced to work a mind-numbing job, he still sticks to his plan, maintains his humour, and pulls off what can only be considered a great escape. Stepping outside the...

Three Super-Heroines Who Understand the Struggle Mar14

Three Super-Heroines Who Understand the Struggle...

Like most people, I have dozens of responsibilities weighing on me every day. It’s hard to juggle them all, but even harder to feel confident in the process. I wonder, did I do well enough? Did I devote my attention to the best places? When I read comics where superheroes struggle with the same ordinary issues that I do, I feel less alone, and three of these role models stick out to me as women who wrestle with finding balance in their lives. Spider-Gwen: Using Responsibility to Avoid Responsibility After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Gwen Stacy dons a mask and becomes the Spider-Woman of Earth-65 (an alternate reality Earth). When she looks back on this decision, she says, “All I wanted was to be happy. To have fun with my powers.” Gwen’s “fun” turns to tragedy when she fights the Lizard, only to discover the monster is actually her friend, Peter Parker. Peter dies after the fight, and a grief-stricken Gwen realizes that being Spider-Woman is more than just a game. Even after she takes her heroic duties seriously, Gwen struggles to manage responsibility in her regular life. She uses her secret identity to escape from life as Gwen Stacy, who is having issues with her father and her friends. Crime-fighting as Spider-Woman gives Gwen something to run toward, so she can lie to herself about the fact that she’s running at all. It’s Spider-Ham, of all characters, who eventually tells her, “being a super hero is way more than facing bad guys…sometimes you gotta face real life.” One day, to keep from being late for work, Gwen swings through the streets as Spider-Woman, only to encounter the police, who are trying to arrest her. As she flees, Gwen calls her dad,...

Playing the Sidekick: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Humanity Mar12

Playing the Sidekick: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Humanity...

As the word suggests, sidekicks are, by nature, to the side of a story. They’re the Robin to Gotham’s Batman or the Watson to London’s Sherlock, supportive helpers who sometimes need rescuing. Yet being a sidekick is simply a role to be filled, not a fixed status or a title someone is born into. Sidekicks are never just assistants. And in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Gently’s “assistant” is a key player in a (hilarious) drama that isn’t always—or only—about him. In the TV show inspired by the Douglas Adams’ novel, Todd Brotzman is a bellhop with exceedingly bad luck—or is it good luck? Either way, the Universe decides to make Todd a part of its plan by bringing Dirk Gently into his life. From where the audience is sitting, this is Todd’s story; he’s the character we get to know first and we relate to him because he is just as confused about the show’s weirdness as we are. But it isn’t a story about Todd; it’s about the Universe and Dirk’s relationship to it. Dirk constantly reminds us of this by referring to Todd as his “assistant,” a title that brands him as a sidekick even though we see the world through Todd’s eyes. Though Todd finds himself playing the sidekick almost against his will, I often put myself in a similar role on purpose, choosing to support leaders or help others reach their goals in an attempt to avoid the weight of responsibility. But I’m a sidekick with a hero-complex—I want to swoop in and fix the problem or spout the wisdom that saves the day. I doubt I’m alone in this paradox, feeling the tension of not wanting the protagonist’s responsibility but thirsting for the glory of a leading role....

Call for Pitches: Disability and Illness Mar01

Call for Pitches: Disability and Illness

Area of Effect is currently looking for pitches on the theme of Disability and Illness. Pitches must have a strong connection to a sci-fi, fantasy, or comic-based TV show, movie, book, video game, or anime. Deadline Pitches are due March 12. Payment We pay 25 CAD for articles that are accepted and published. Guidelines Send a one-paragraph pitch, NOT the full article. Include links to three samples of your published writing. Keep in mind our audience is an eclectic bunch of geeks with differing perspectives on faith and life. Though our articles are written from a Christian perspective, they invite discussion between people of different beliefs. Read some of the current features on our home page to get a handle on our style. We do not want devotionals, Bible studies, or reviews, but rather articles that analyze, interpret, and discuss fandoms in relation to life, faith, and social justice. Include a two-three sentence bio that clarifies why you are qualified to write on this topic. If your pitch is selected, completed articles should be 700-1000 words. Send your pitch to allison@geekdomhouse.com with the subject line: “AoE Pitch: Disability and...

Monstrous Bodies: Fat Shaming in Geek Culture Feb19

Monstrous Bodies: Fat Shaming in Geek Culture...

Vernon and Dudley Dursley aren’t just monsters because of the way they treat Harry; they’re monsters because they’re fat. Vernon has “five chins” and Dudley is “pig-like.” When Dudley gestures at something, he doesn’t wave his arm, he waves his “fat arm.” They are also both brash, lazy, and selfish—traits that are common stereotypes for fat people. If the physical descriptors appeared just once or twice, they would be inconsequential and the Dursleys would just be bad people who happen to be fat. But, in the introductory chapters to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone right through to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Vernon and Dudley’s fat characteristics are repeated over and over again, linking their fatness to their evil behaviour. This is a similar trope to villains having disfigured faces, but in this case, their exaggerated sizes become the visible signal that reflects their moral failings. We live in a thin-obsessed society; one glance at a magazine cover will tell you that. We are quick to judge and assume that fat people are lazy, that they don’t work hard, that they eat too much, that they are stupid, that they are greedy, that they are poor, and that they haven’t tried hard enough to lose weight. Making fun of fat people is still an “acceptable” form of harassment and it’s not difficult to find on the internet. Though shut down in 2015, the subreddit r/fatpeoplehate, which ridiculed photos of fat people—mostly women—had 150,000 subscribers at the height of its popularity. Many of the people who were targeted by this subreddit were doxxed and abused. This is fat shaming; the idea that we can pressure fat people into losing weight if we make fun of them enough. This mentality comes from the...

5 Corporations that Ruined Love Feb14

5 Corporations that Ruined Love...

1. MomCorp (Futurama) You’d think most moms would love to see their sons or daughters married, but not this one. Since Walt will only marry someone like Mom (and if there was anyone else like her, she would have fed the woman to the nearest El Chupanibre), Larry is only interested in someone already taken, and Igner… well, I’m not even convinced he understands what love is… it seems MomCorp broke these men for love. The likely reason? GrandMomCorp doesn’t have as nice of a ring to it. 2. Blue Sun Corp (Firefly) Here you are on Valentine’s Day, sipping Blue Sun branded cola at the Blue Sun cafe with your significant other. The sun is setting in a glorious display of red and gold and you cannot imagine how lucky you are to find yourself in such a utopia. God bless the Alliance and God bless the Blue Sun Cor… wait… what is that? Let’s just say love hurts, especially when your name is Miranda. 3. Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil) Just when you think that latest red lipstick is safe for your date, think again. We all know cosmetics companies may start with the purest of love-filled intentions, but it is nearly inevitable that they end up creating underground experimental laboratories and eventually release a t-virus on the general populace. Thanks, Umbrella Corporation; we may love Milla, but we know you ruined love. 4. The Jedi Order (Star Wars) Anakin just wanted to love Padme okay! But nooooo attachments to other individuals through love and marriage is forbidden. Well, look how that turned out for you. Order 66 anyone? 5. Wolfram and Hart (Angel) Do not let the upcoming fictional-lawyer-turned-real-world-princess deceive you about fictional law corporations and their evil intent (shout out to Princess-to-be...

When the Princess Tanks: Accepting Others by Disregarding Stereotypes Feb05

When the Princess Tanks: Accepting Others by Disregarding Stereotypes...

When an unexpected attack forces me to crash-land my airship and the party is scattered, I’m left with a giant war golem, a little girl in a green cloak, and a hard-bitten swordsman who’s “getting too old for this crap.” If Battle Chasers: Nightwar followed the norm of classic JRPGs, these three would fill the roles of tank, healer, and soldier, respectively. But I’m surprised to discover that Calibretto, the giant war golem, doesn’t get more hit points than any other character. Despite his hulking frame, he never becomes a tank, nor do any of his skills make him destined to be one. Instead, he is a fantastic healer, and the party loves him for it. Though he can pump out decent damage as well, his character is compassionate and gentle. Gully, the diminutive princess with a kind spirit, is the party’s protector. She generates shields for her companions, defending against and taunting enemies. Out of all the characters, she has the most hit points; she takes a blow like a boss and continues to do so until the enemy has been defeated. Yet, she is also a loving character; she does not have to suppress her emotions or her tendency to care about others, nor does she need protection. When Gully steps in front of cannon fire to save Garrison, the swordsman who fought with her father, he thanks her. He doesn’t scold her or attempt to take the blow for her, because he knows she is better equipped to handle the enemy’s barrage than he is. Other members expect her to stand in the way of danger to provide them chances to use their skills without making a big deal of it. Even ‘Bretto accepts that she is going to get hurt...

YouTube for the Fandom Loving Soul, Vol 4: Disney Jan19

YouTube for the Fandom Loving Soul, Vol 4: Disney...

New from the Geekdom House Records! Four explosive hits from original stars! It’s the YouTube for the Fandom-Loving Soul, Volume Four, featuring great artists and great videos of the greatest found in Disney and all things geek. That’s right, we’re mashing those things together! Debs & Errol, Nib Oswald, Blind Ferret Studios, and EsquirebobAnimations. Never before have these artists ever been together on one page. All of this for the low low price of FREE, made in three easy installments. That’s Geekdom House Records and the Videos for the Fandom Loving Soul Volume Four: Geek-Disney Parodies. Don’t wait. Watch now. 1. Make it So (Frozen and Star Trek) 2. Darth Vader & Princess Leia (Aladdin and Star Wars) 3. Looking for Group: Slaughter Your World (The Little Mermaid and fantasy) Honourable Mention: Make a ‘Mon Out of You (Mulan and...

YouTube for the Fandom Loving Soul, Vol 3: Anime Jan05

YouTube for the Fandom Loving Soul, Vol 3: Anime...

New from the Geekdom House Records! Four explosive hits from original stars! It’s the YouTube for the Fandom-Loving Soul, Volume Three, featuring great artists and great videos of the greatest found in the oft-strange but immensely creative world of Anime. That’s right, we’re mashing those things together! Gregzilla, The Kira Justice, Rider4Z with Otaku Lounge Productions, and the man himself, Vic Mignonia. Never before have these artists ever been together on one page. All of this for the low low price of FREE, well aside from an arm and a leg but someone already paid that for you. That’s right free and all found on one great web page. That’s Geekdom House Records and the Videos for the Fandom Loving Soul Volume Three: Anime Edition. Don’t wait. Watch now. 1. Eren’s Secret Weapon (Attack on Titan Parody) 2. Literal Fairy Tail Opening 3. Deadpool / One Punch Man Parody Honourable Mention: Brothers sung by Vic...

The Best of Area of Effect 2017 Jan01

The Best of Area of Effect 2017

Happy new year!! If you’re new to Area of Effect or want to catch up on some reading you might have missed, here are the top articles from 2017, according to pageviews. Let us know your favourite article in the comments, and what you hope to see us write about in 2018. You all rock like Toph! ANIME “10 Anime to Watch if You’ve Never Seen Anime” by Charles Sadnick FANTASY “The Paris of My Childhood” by Victoria Grace Howell SCI-FI “How Mystery Science Theatre Saved My Life (Sort of)” by Michael Boyce  SUPERHEROES “With Great Offense Comes Great Responsibility: Spider-Man and Pornography” by Tim Webster VIDEO GAMES “Stardew Valley and Avoiding Community” by Matt Civico HUMOUR “42 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ in Geek” by Casey Covel  MISCELLANEOUS “Comic Con, Cosplay, and Consent” by Kyla...

7 Meaningful TV Shows from 2017 Dec18

7 Meaningful TV Shows from 2017...

1. RWBY Team RWBY is finally coming together again! They spent last season apart, growing in their own ways and grieving over the loss of friends and Beacon Academy. In Season Five, Ruby, Weiss, Yang, Ren, Jaune, and Nora finally get to share their stories over a pot of piping hot ramen, and we got to see Yang and Ruby embrace after months of estrangement and uncertainty. Since its first season, RWBY has touched me with its creativity, sincerity, and unique characters. —Victoria Grace Howell 2. Attack on Titan Like the titan-slaying Scouts, I let my guard down during the anime’s four-year hiatus—and Attack on Titan Season 2 wasted no time reawakening the gnawing fear I felt when first experiencing the series. The manga literally roars into life, and more than one sacrificial soul grabs the narrative (and me) by the jugular and wrings it for every last drop of blood, sweat, and tears. With powerhouse plot twists matched only by numerous developed characters, Season 2 finds a way to simultaneously scare and swell the heart with its poignant and persuasive performances. In a world where might is often equated with right, unassuming acts of selflessness subtly sway the tides of war and tame the savage beast—but with what consequence, only Season Three can tell.  —Casey Covel 3. Black Mirror Science fiction traces its roots to moral tales told by futurists about how humanity would eventually fail. Black Mirror grabs the torch last held aloft by The Twilight Zone and examines how technology has altered humanity (usually for the worse). This show can be dark. Real dark. But that’s why it’s so remarkable. In our era of science fiction where the heroes always win, Black Mirror takes us to a different place where our gross, failure-prone humanity...

7 Meaningful Movies from 2017 Dec11

7 Meaningful Movies from 2017...

1. Thor: Ragnarok When I heard the final Thor film would follow an apocalyptic storyline, I worried the movie would be dark and depressing. But after seeing Thor: Ragnarok, I was thrilled to witness a surprising amount of humour and positive character development, along with the epicness I expect in a Marvel film. I’m glad the movie gives Thor and Loki a chance to explore forgiveness and brotherhood, continuing the arcs of the first movies. Moreover, Thor: Ragnarok reminds me that we can find humour in the darkest of times, love even after having our hearts broken, and rebirth after experiencing disaster. —Caitlin Eha 2. Wonder Woman We may not deserve her, but we need her. Wonder Woman is the perfect balance between beauty, wisdom, strength, and pureness of heart. She can have a frank conversation on the value of men, step into a hail of gunfire to save innocent people, and still delight in ice cream. The movie shines a bright light on inequality, PTSD, greed, arrogance, and war. It’s a wonderful story of what we can do when we work together, no matter our power or influence, and the hope we can hold despite humanity’s failings.  —Dustin Schellenberg 3. Blade Runner 2049 Just the chance to return to the world of Blade Runner was enough to get me into the theater for Dennis Villaneuva’s take on Ridley Scott’s masterpiece. Both films explore questions of personhood, identity and freedom. What I didn’t expect was that Blade Runner 2049 would strongly defend women. Arriving amidst the many public scandals, the film promotes the idea that women should be honoured and motherhood is a rare and beautiful thing. Sadly, the film underperformed at the box office, but if they ever make another I look forward to seeing...

The Ickiness of Mistaking Obsession for Love Oct30

The Ickiness of Mistaking Obsession for Love

“I love Professor Snape,” my friend gushed. “He’s the real hero of Harry Potter. And his devotion to Lily Potter is so moving.” I simply nodded along, not understanding her fictional crush but unable to deny Snape’s good intentions; he does protect Harry throughout the series, albeit while mentally torturing the boy for being the child of a man he hated. But then again, maybe I could have denied it. In fact, maybe I could have pointed out that Snape is an obsessive, cruel stalker and not a romantic hero at all. For some reason, obsessive love is sentimentalized in books and media. And this is not a new trend. From Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Catherine, to Bella and Edward, doing anything (and I mean anything) for your lover is portrayed as a desirable feat. I raise an eyebrow when I see the image of a glowing doe accompanied by a cloaked, crooked-nosed figure and the word “Always,” Snape’s key phrase. It’s plastered on memes, throw pillows, and iPhone cases as a testament to devotion, but that’s not what it really represents. Snape is a fascinating and well-developed character, but to use him as a model for romance is a disturbing sentiment of a narcissist culture. In Snape’s eyes, Lily might as well be the doe his patronus represents: voiceless, a helpless animal to tame and protect. “He makes no effort to grow as a person,” says Hannah McGregor, one of two feminist scholars who host the podcast Witch, Please. “He ultimately supports the regime that directly leads to [Lily’s] death, and in the wake of it, doesn’t meaningfully become a better person, just remains fanatically devoted to her as an object he wanted to own and never got to have.” Though many fans’ hearts were warmed by the reveal of Snape’s history with Harry’s parents in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a childhood feud with Harry’s dad and unrequited love for his mom doesn’t make the Hogwarts teacher a hero. It’s incredibly creepy that Snape continues to have feelings for Lily years after they stop being friends. Though he shouts something cruel at her as a teenager, which is what causes the rift in their relationship, he never tries to make amends. Instead, he holds on to his childhood feelings into adulthood—including his hatred for James—feeding the flames of his obsession with the desire to effectively own her. It’s not until her life is threatened that he rethinks giving up her family to Lord Voldemort. He doesn’t have a problem with Voldemort killing her husband or her son, just with killing her. Dismissing what is important to the other person is not a testament of true love, however; it’s the opposite. In Snape’s eyes, Lily might as well be the doe his patronus represents: voiceless, a helpless animal to tame and protect. “Severus Snape” by Ludmila-Cera-Foce (ludmila-cera-foce.deviantart.com). When someone tweeted to J.K. Rowling, commenting that “Snape held no malice against Harry (which Harry came to know, eventually),” Rowling replied, “That’s not true, I’m afraid. Snape projected his hatred and jealousy of James onto Harry.” Even after Lily’s gone, Snape isn’t moved to real love; the ways in which he mentally tortures Harry and belittles Hermione for being Muggle-born, just like Lily was, demonstrate his bitterness and lack of understanding what real love is. By treating her as an object and holding on to childlike memories of her, Snape has made Lily into something she isn’t—“When we find what we think to be a suitable ‘object’ for our idealistic affections . . . we invest more of ourselves than is appropriate—to the extent of worship. Rarely do we really know the other person well, but imagination and desire make up the difference,” writes Bruce Atkinson PhD. We’re attracted to these romances because we think it takes a special kind of person—a strong woman—to love a...

Our Top 10 Redeemed Villains Oct13

Our Top 10 Redeemed Villains...

There’s something special about a villain’s heel-face turn—whether it comes about because they start listening to their conscience, become friends with a hero, have a supernatural encounter, or realize the dark side doesn’t have cookies—some of our favourite characters used to be scoundrels. Here are our top 10 picks, and why they impacted us. 1. Prince Zuko, Avatar: The Last Airbender Part of why I love Zuko’s story is because it’s not a perfect heel-face turn. Even though he changes his mind about what’s right and decides to fight against oppression, he struggles with his decision. His personality doesn’t magically change to humble/likeable, either; he’s still prone to angry outbursts and frustration. His redemption is messy, and I like the honesty because we live in a messy world. —Allison 2. Darth Vader, Return of the Jedi Vader’s redemption is triggered by his son’s belief in him. Vader doesn’t believe there’s hope for himself or that he has the capacity for good, but Luke just won’t give up. If Luke had agreed with Kenobi that his father was no longer in there, he would have died or become a Sith. Vader’s change of heart due to his son’s faith reminds me that my belief in someone else isn’t wasted—maybe I can believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves, and it will make a difference. —Kevin 3. Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer I like Spike’s redemption story because it is messy, difficult, and slightly ambiguous. To me, Spike becomes a redeemed villain when he chooses to fight to get his soul back and, as a result, lives with the weight of the evil acts he’s committed during his time as a vampire. While the catalyst for his decision is his desire for Buffy, ultimately it comes...

6 Times Fandoms Respected Christianity Oct11

6 Times Fandoms Respected Christianity...

While Christianity does not figure prominently in many fandoms, here are six occasions when faith is alluded to with surprising accuracy. “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.” – Captain America, The Avengers When Natasha Romanoff describes Thor and Loki as “basically gods,” Cap responds with this famous statement. Odin himself echoes the sentiment in Thor: The Dark World when he tells Loki, “We are not gods. We live, we die, just as humans do.” Both Cap and Odin realize that power doesn’t equal divinity. The Avengers may be able to save lives, but only God can save souls. “Mankind has no need for gods. We find the One quite adequate.” – Captain Kirk, Star Trek (S2E2, “Who Mourns for Adonais?”) The crew of the Enterprise is faced with a dilemma similar to Cap’s when they meet a superior being called Apollo, who interacted with the human race thousands of years ago and was considered a god. Apollo demands that the humans of the Enterprise worship him, but Captain Kirk and the others refuse. “It’s easy to do nothing, but it’s hard to forgive.” – Aang, Avatar: The Last Airbender (S3E16, “The Southern Raiders”) In this episode, Katara wants to take revenge on the man who killed her mother, but Aang urges her to forgive him instead. While Aang doesn’t mention God directly, his words are reminiscent of Jesus’s command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, ESV). “‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – Mr. Beaver, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis Generations of readers have found truths about God hidden in Aslan, C.S. Lewis’s metaphor for Jesus Christ. Mr. Beaver’s explanation of...

Comic Con, Cosplay, and Consent Oct09

Comic Con, Cosplay, and Consent

Geek culture provides safe spaces for a lot of people; friends and fans alike can get together and enjoy similar interests. I have personally enjoyed many board game nights, trying out tabletop role playing games, watching superhero movies, and talking about favourite books with others. I have never felt unwelcome or unsafe. Geek culture has become mainstream enough to the point where many geeks and nerds who previously felt maligned by greater society have now found a place for themselves within it. Unfortunately, many women haven’t had the same experiences. I like to think of Comic Con as the ultimate fan experience and it is a dream of mine to visit San Diego’s one day. But sexual harassment is a huge problem at cons. A 2014 survey of con attendees reported that 13 percent of respondents said they received comments of a sexual nature at a con and eight percent said that they had been groped, assaulted, or raped. If 130,000 people attend a con (which is the average number of attendees at SDCC), 13 percent is 17,000 people. A woman’s revealing costume is not an invitation to grope her or take pictures of her. One of the main reasons for the large amount of sexual harassment at cons is our society’s general acceptance of rape culture. Rape culture blames rape victims rather than their attackers and teaches women that they are responsible for the abuse that men visit upon them. It also teaches men that they are entitled to women’s bodies. Nowadays, when we hear of a woman being raped, the first questions often asked are, “what was she wearing?” and “was she drinking?” When a boy pushes a girl on the playground and it gets passed off as “boys will be boys,” it teaches him that his violent actions don’t have consequences. A push on the playground may seem insignificant, but a lifetime of passes builds up. “Cosplay is not consent sign, Javitts Center, New York City, New York, USA” by flickr/Cory Doctorow. It’s been difficult to make any headway in addressing this issue because many are quick to dismiss it. In 2014, a group called Geeks for CONsent began a petition calling for SDCC to create a formal, visible, anti-harassment policy, including on-site support for people who report harassment and signs throughout the convention publicizing the policy. In an interview for Comic Book Resources, [http://www.cbr.com/comic-con-responds-to-anti-harassment-petition-safety-and-security-is-a-major-concern/] Marketing and Public Relations Director David Glanzer responded that such a policy was already included in con pamphlets. But, he also said that their policy was deliberately broad and that, if they drew attention to sexual harassment, the media might think that there is a problem: “I think the news media, might look at this as, ‘Why would you, if this wasn’t such a bad issue, why do you feel the need to single out this one issue and put signs up about it?’ I think that’s a concern.” Others who dismiss the problem of sexual harassment at Comic Con often blame revealing costumes as the reason for comments and groping. This has led to a new movement called “Cosplay is not consent,” which endeavors to teach con attendees about appropriate contact—a woman’s revealing costume is not an invitation to grope her or take pictures of her without asking first. New York Comic Con started putting up signs displaying “Cosplay is not consent” in 2014. Rape culture blames victims rather than their attackers. SDCC took a small step forward by sending out its anti-harassment policy in an email to ticket holders in 2014 (though, the policy is not available on SDCC’s website). But until more is done to curb harassment and assault still present in geek culture, women will continue to feel unsafe at Comic Con. Education about consent is vital to combating rape culture. Someone I know once said, “there is always one jerk who you just have to ignore,”...

Indiana Jones and the Hunt for the Sacred Oct02

Indiana Jones and the Hunt for the Sacred...

Though Indiana Jones often hunts objects of religious significance and experiences supernatural events, he is skeptical of faith. Instead of believing in a higher power, he sees God as a fabled being. The Ark of the Covenant, which Indiana pursues in Raiders of the Lost Ark, is sacred to him not because of its connection to God, but because of its archaeological significance. As he tells his friend Marcus, “I don’t believe in magic, a lot of superstitious hocus-pocus. I’m going after a find of incredible historical significance; you’re talking about the bogeyman.” Like Indiana, we all have entities we hold sacred—possessions, individuals, memories, places. For me, that includes my faith. For Indiana Jones, it’s academic pursuits, studying history, and knowledge. There’s no room for “fanciful” stories of faith. And judging by the broken relationships he leaves behind—Marion, Marion’s father, and his own father—there’s little room for anything else either. I don’t want to spend my whole life waiting. But as he matures, Indiana’s actions demonstrate there’s far more to him than he would like others to believe, than perhaps he would like to believe about himself. He disputes the existence of God, but begs Marion to close her eyes when the Ark is opened, believing in its powers in the moment of most danger. He has an estranged relationship with his father, but goes to the ends of the earth to rescue him, risking his life many times through challenges related to faith. He’s a solitary man, only concerned with his own needs, but liberates a village of children, along with Willie and Short-Round, instead of placing his own safety first. Indiana’s deeds betray him—he’s not the selfish image he projects. I’m similar to Indiana in some ways, opposite in others. In my...