7 Best Sibling Conversations from Geek Culture Jul13

7 Best Sibling Conversations from Geek Culture...

From Luke and Leia to Sansa and Arya, there are some truly captivating sibling relationships in geek culture. Since the family dynamics are different with each of them, I enjoy watching those contrasts play out in banter or discussion with each other. These are some of my favourite conversations between siblings from video games and TV. 1. Firefly Simon: Did you do anything today? River: Played with Kaylee. The sun came out, and I walked on my feet and heard with my ears. I hate the bits, the bits that stay down and I work, I f-function like I’m a girl. I hate it because I know it’ll go away! The sun grows dark and chaos has come again. It’s… fluids. What am I? Simon: You’re still my beautiful sister. River: I threw up in your bed. Simon: Yep, still my sister. 2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi Leia: I know what you’re gonna say… I changed my hair. Luke: It’s nice that way. 3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [After drinking polyjuice potion to look like Harry] “Fred and George turned to each other and said together, ‘Wow, we’re identical!’ ‘I dunno though, I think I’m still better looking,’ said Fred, examining his reflection in the kettle.” 4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Elysia Hughes: [Pointing at Alphonse] Big brother… [pointing at Edward] little brother. Edward: Nice to meet you… My name is Edward Elric… this is my younger brother Alphonse Elric… get that? Youn-ger brot-her…. Elysia: But younger means little. You’re little. Edward: WHERE DO YOU GET OFF CALLING ME LITTLE?! YOU LOOKED IN A MIRROR LATELY?! I’M TALLER THAN YOU ARE! Alphonse: Just let it go, Ed. These people are being nice to let us stay here. 5. Undertale Papyrus’ Note: SANS! PLEASE PICK UP YOUR SOCK! Sans’ Note:...

Siblings We Love from Geek Culture Jul06

Siblings We Love from Geek Culture...

We’re talking a lot about siblings this month in Area of Effect! Here are some of our readers’ and writers’ favourites from geek culture—and most of these relationships are defined by a willingness to support each other and grow, allowing the relationship to change and strengthen as the individuals change. Others, of course, end with one killing the other. 1. River and Simon Tam, Firefly Simon gives up everything for River because of his unconditional love for her. And River, in turn, trusts Simon completely even when nothing else makes sense to her. —Marilyn Rudge 2. The Weasleys, Harry Potter Especially Fred and George. You can just tell they’re a close family, even though Percy leaves for a while (they welcome him back). —Kyla Neufeld 3. Edward and Alphonse Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist Theirs is the kind of relationship I wish I had with my siblings. The age gap and distance between us has prevented the kind of closeness that Ed and Al enjoy. Though the presumptions that lead to conflict in the show are a little too familiar. —Naomi Strain 4. Rodney McKay and Jean Miller, Stargate Atlantis They are so different, but still connected. It’s nice to see someone living their own civilian life, plus the actors are brother and sister so their chemistry is really specific. —Hannah Foulger 5. T’Challa and Shuri, Black Panther They compliment each other so well and encourage each other’s strengths instead of being jealous of each other. Also you can just tell they’re close; they joke a lot, and they really love each other. Reminds me of me and my older brothers. —Caitlin Eha 6. Ruby and Yang, RWBY I love how much Ruby looks up to her sister at first, and how that dynamic shifts as Yang faces the loss...

10 Geeky Television Easter Eggs You May Have Missed Jun29

10 Geeky Television Easter Eggs You May Have Missed...

I love it when a show I enjoy references another show I love, or does something clever and self-aware. My favourite might be #3, because I was the most surprised and delighted by it (plus, I only watched Castle because Nathan Fillion). But here are some references you may have missed. 1. Firefly A figure of Han Solo in carbonite shows up in the background of various scenes on the Serenity. Just because. 2. Andromeda Kevin Sorbo pulls out a blonde wig and sword from his locker in Andromeda, looks at it for a second, then puts it back. 3. Castle Nathan Fillion’s character, Richard Castle, dresses us up as a “space cowboy” in Castle. 4. Doctor Who When the tenth Doctor has a gas mask on, he references the first season’s “Empty Child” episode by saying, “Are you my mummy?” As if we needed reminders of the horrors in that episode. 5. Community When “Beetlejuice” is said for the third time ever in Community, he shows up in the background. 6. Futurama Though he’s not introduced until much later, Nibbler’s shadow can be seen in “Space Pilot 3000,” and is later revealed to be responsible for Fry falling into the cryogenic chamber. 7. Chuck In “Chuck vs. The Third Dimension,” the letters “IG-88” is the name of a grenade, a reference to an bounty hunter droid in Star Wars. This is not the only Star Wars reference in Chuck, of course. 8. The Flash A character on The Flash who has ice powers is named Elsa. When people are already going to be making the connection, you might as well just roll with it. 9. Fringe Each episode included a subtle clue for the next episode, such as an the pilot, where an image of a pen and rose in a newspaper...

Infinity +1 Update!

Dear listeners, You may have noticed Infinity +1 episodes haven’t been posted lately, and I apologize that we haven’t communicated about it sooner. With our podcast producer retiring from his stellar work as our host several months ago, Kyle Rudge and I managed to keep up with posting episodes for a short time but began to get overwhelmed because of our other duties at Geekdom House. But fear not! Infinity +1 will return this fall with a new host and a new format. We’re excited to keep the segments that you love and add some new things too! We just need some time to train up a new host and put together the show you deserve. Thank you for your love and support of Infinity +1. We’ve received messages from several of you about how valuable you find it and how much you love listening to it, and I always looked forward to your responses to the Question of the Week because hearing your thoughts means a lot! In the interim, there are some things you can do to help Geekdom House grow and Infinity +1 come back at ONE MILLION PERCENT: 1. Post on our Facebook page! Let us know how you’re doing, what you’re watching/reading/playing, or continue interacting with our posts. We love hearing from you. 2. Read Area of Effect articles! Keep visiting geekdomhouse.com for our latest discussions on sci-fi, fantasy, anime, and video games. 3. Sign up for our newsletters! Kyle and I both send out email updates once a month about what we do at Geekdom House. Allison’s Updates: “From the Desk of the Art Director” includes news on the arts side of Geekdom House—Area of Effect, Incantatem, Infinity +1, visual arts, and personal updates from Allison. Kyle’s Updates:...

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture Jun15

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture

I love the reveal of a good character secret—especially those that come out of the blue and involve something integral to that character’s identity. Whether a character was innocent when thought of as guilty, a woman when it was assumed a man, or has a backstory that no one knows about, here are my ten favourite reveals from geek culture. 1. Sirius Black — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban This is my favourite book from the Harry Potter series, and I remember being completely surprised by the twist ending when I read it for the first time. This murderer, Sirius Black, had been set up as Harry’s worst enemy and then turned out to be a loyal and loving character. Harry realizing he wouldn’t have to live at the Dursleys anymore, followed by Wormtail’s escape, is a heart-wrenching moment that I felt to my core. 2. Samus Aran — Metroid Many gamers were totally floored by the reveal that Samus Aran is female that the end of the original Metroid game (released in 1986). During a time where female characters were often the princesses waiting in castles for rescue, this was a stereotype-blowing move, one that wasn’t even planned at the beginning. Partway through development, one of the developers asked, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” And the rest is gaming history. 3. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings It might be common knowledge now, but Strider’s identity as the king of Gondor is a neat twist in Tolkien’s masterpiece. He may have paved the way for other fantasy characters struggling with their identity as royalty, and his struggle with following in his ancestor’s footsteps, afraid he’ll make the same mistakes, is a real issue many can relate to. 4. Luke & Leia – Star Wars Oh, that awkward kiss. George was certainly determined to keep this one a secret till the last possible moment. I always liked the fact that, though Leia discovers she’s a Skywalker and is Force-sensitive, she doesn’t drop everything to become a Jedi, but continues in her role as leader and diplomat—the things she’s actually passionate about. And thankfully her “romance” with Luke didn’t go past a kiss, which means we didn’t have an angsty “I love you, but you’re my sister” side plot to sit through. 5. Shou Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist This one should be categorized as “worst-kept secret,” as in the most horrendous, I-want-to-puke-at-how-horrible-you-really-are-when-I-thought-you-were-nice kind of secret. Possibly the most hated person in anime history, the fact that Tucker doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong is what gets me—”I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” he says to Ed. “This is how we progress. Human experimentation is a necessary step.” 6. Merlin – Merlin This whole show revolves around Merlin’s secret identity as a magic user, which creates so many fun scenes and jokes. Merlin constantly has to humble himself and pretend to be stupid and powerless, even though he is always the hero who saves the day. His secret also adds a lot of heartache for Merlin, who believes Arthur will hate him if he discovers the truth. 7. Light – Death Note Another show that revolves around a secret identity, Death Note gives us the perspective of a villain who thinks he’s right. The cat-and-mouse game he plays with L is the reason I kept watching, not because I liked him as a character or thought his secret was worth keeping. 8. The War Doctor – Doctor Who This one came as a surprise to everyone, and I’m still confused about what it means or why they inserted an extra regeneration into the story—as if all the timey-wimey plots weren’t confusing enough! Does it mean THIS doctor is number 9, shifting all the other numbers after? Is he number 8.5? Whatever, John Hurt is cool. 9. Sheik – The Legend of Zelda:...

The Fear of Disappointing Others is Strong with This One May25

The Fear of Disappointing Others is Strong with This One...

The other day, a friend asked me which I hate more—disappointing myself or others. Assuming the “others” are important to me, I choose them every time as the worst scenario. Even the thought of disappointing those I care about makes my insides twist up and my eyes sting from future tears. In Spider-Gwen #2, Gwen loses her phone and gains a concussion after a devastating fight with the Vulture. But it seems the thing she’s worried about most is not the threat of death, but disappointing others—her dad, her band mates, even the illusion of Spider-Ham who shows up to offer counsel in her concussed state. Rather than stick around to face their disappointment, Gwen has disconnected herself from all the people who care about her. It’s a common super hero trope—leave the people closest to you so they don’t get hurt—but in Gwen’s case, she’s leaving them so she doesn’t get hurt. “Being a super hero is way more than facing bad guys, Gwensday… sometimes you gotta face real life,” Spider-Ham says to her. Walling myself off from others is always the easy answer—it protects me from so many vulnerabilities. Why not just live in solitary to avoid all the messy emotions—feelings that can leave me curled up in a distressed ball on my bed, that can cause so much stress I get physically sick. Except I’ve faced that loneliness before, and I’ve found that the messiness of relationships are worth it. I get tired of carrying my baggage around all by myself, and I’ve found the people who love me are often willing to help me with it. It seems Gwen comes to the same conclusion, because at the end of this comic, she finds her dad in an alleyway. Holding up Gwen’s cellphone that he...

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, ...

Singers Wanted for a Harry Potter concert! May02

Singers Wanted for a Harry Potter concert!...

Do you have vocal experience? Do you want to be part of a community that sings and learns together? Do you say “Alohomora” when you unlock your car door from a distance? Then Incantatem might be the choir for you! Based in Winnipeg, Incantatem practices on Monday nights and will be preparing for a Harry Potter concert this fall, with practices starting at the end of May. Singers must be able to read music. There are no member fees involved. Incantatem is a project under Geekdom House, a charitable, faith-based organization. Our concerts are not religious in nature and you do not need to be a Christian to participate as long as you are not antagonistic towards other faiths and accept that the group prays before practices. Incantatem is especially looking for tenors. Message allison@geekdomhouse.com to set up an...

Fame Comes with a Price Apr06

Fame Comes with a Price...

Spider-Gwen’s on a mission to improve her damaged reputation in Spider-Gwen #1 because the media has branded her as a super-villain. It’s ironic, then, that she faces off against the Vulture, who accuses her of caring what people think when he wants so badly to feel special himself. “Hunted and hounded and you still seek their approval?” he taunts her, but she effectively turns his taunts against him and he becomes enraged. He’s “owed.” He’s “entitled.” His name “belongs” in lights, Gwen thinks as she fights him. Perhaps she recognizes his vanity so quickly because she’s been there herself, stuck in a world where people think the worst of her and she wants to prove them wrong. I’m not sure why Gwen wants the trust of people who have turned their back on her, but she knows that she has to put in the work to gain respect—chasing the Vulture down in the first place to “get trust, pride and life back,” while the Vulture just wants fame out of jealousy. Perhaps she just wants support in her life as Spider-Woman. Perhaps the Vulture’s taunts don’t affect her because she recognizes that feeling special due to strangers’ opinions of her is fleeting. I like the idea of being famous, but Gwen demonstrates it comes with a price. When your life—even your masked persona—is in the limelight, people judge you. You’re tempted to question your self-worth under such intense scrutiny. Gwen’s mental health is deteriorating from the pressure, which is made clearer in the next issue when she starts having visions of Spider-Ham swinging beside her. How long can she make it on her own when the world has determined she is against...

Episode 122 – If Peter Parker Was Allergic to Spider Bites...

The only podcast that exists in EVERY spider-verse, it’s Infinity +1! Join Allison, Kyle, and Justin as they decide what controversial TV show endings they loved. That led to a brief mention of one of the original Area of Effect articles that Allison wrote called “Finding Beauty in the End of Korra.” Then, in the second half, they discuss Spider-Woman and the Area of Effect article, “Reading Spider-Gwen: Sacrificing Your Dreams.” The music in the break is “It’s Not a Keygen” by Lazy Nerd 204 [used with permission] Download and subscribe to Infinity +1 on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play Music now! RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/geekdomhouse/infinitypodcast Allison’s Twitter: @GeekWrites Kyle’s Twitter: @videogamefaith Justin’s Twitter: @TheKoop13 Geekdom House on Twitter: @GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on Twitch: GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on YouTube: Geekdom House Buy original Geekdom House merchandise from...

Should You Sacrifice Your Dreams? Mar30

Should You Sacrifice Your Dreams?...

In Edge of Spider-Verse #2, Peter Parker is dead. Gwen Stacy is Spider Woman, riddled with guilt over his demise, and she finds herself overwhelmed with the prospect of her double lives. In a culture that constantly tells me to chase my dreams no matter what, this comic sends a different message. As Gwen is swinging through the streets chatting with her dad on the phone (hands-off devices recommended when you’re Spider-Woman), he encourages her to leave her band and go to college. At this point, he’s unaware she’s Spider-Woman and is juggling her dreams with a host of other responsibilities. “I love music, Dad. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” she says. “I know, honey,” he replies, “and the things we love are always worth fighting for. But everyone has something they want. What is it the world around you needs? What is it that only you can give?” I instantly rebel at reading this line, because everyone knows you’re supposed to put individual dreams above everything else. It’s why university students jump between majors until they discover their passion. It’s why people switch jobs when they don’t love their work any more. It’s why advertisements tell me I’m worth it. It’s why Gwen plays in a band instead of attending university, and why she becomes Spider-Woman in the first place—to avoid responsibility and do what she wants. But maybe there’s something to Captain Stacy’s advice. Maybe I should consider what I can offer others instead of just what I want for myself. I want my innermost desires and the unique things I can offer to line up, but they don’t always. Sometimes these decisions come up in small ways, like running an errand for a friend when I’d rather be at home...

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...

Reading Ready Player One: Trust Feb23

Reading Ready Player One: Trust...

Life is lonely when you trust no one. When Wade enters a chat room with Nolan Sorrento, the Head of Operations at IOI, I wasn’t surprised to learn that Sorrento is hungry for power and will stop at nothing to get the Egg. But I was surprised to see a similarity between him and Wade—neither of them trusts anybody, and nobody trusts them. Sorrento’s relationship with IOI is made clear when Wade “agrees” to work for the IOI as long as they fire Sorrento: “‘I don’t want to be second-in-command,’ I said. ‘I want your job, Sorrento. I want to be in charge of the whole shebang. Chief of operations. El numero Uno. Oh, and I want everyone to have to call me El Numero Uno, too. Is that possible?'” Although Wade is just asking to make a point, the IOI agrees with his demands. Surprisingly, Sorrento doesn’t sound that upset when he relays their agreement to Wade’s terms; I’m not sure if it’s because he knows Wade is playing with them, or if it’s because he knows his relationship with the company is about power and usefulness, not about trust. It’s later, when Wade meets with the High Five, that I notice Wade’s situation isn’t all that dissimilar to Sorrento’s; he has no one on his side. The Five aren’t willing to work together—even though a unified force stands a better chance against the IOI—because of distrust and greed. Wade isn’t even willing to share information with Aech, his best friend. As Daito says, “Only one person can be the first to find the egg and win the prize.” Discussion Questions Why do you think Sorrento isn’t upset when the IOI agrees to fire him? Would you propose an alliance if you were Wade? Are you afraid...

Reading Ready Player One: Hope Feb16

Reading Ready Player One: Hope...

The pessimism in me says solving world hunger is a fool’s dream. And yet that’s what Art3mis plans to do if she finds Halliday’s Easter egg. “Once we tackle world hunger, then we can figure out how to fix the environment and solve the energy crisis,” she says to Wade when they first meet. Wade’s plan makes more sense to me: “I’d have a nuclear-powered interstellar spacecraft constructed in Earth’s orbit . . . Then I’d invite a few of my closest friends to come aboard, along with a team of doctors and scientists, and we’d all get the hell out of Dodge. Leave the solar system and start looking for an extrasolar Earthlike planet.” There’s no hope for this planet or the people on it—especially in Ready Player One’s scenario where the Earth is basically dying—so we might as well give up and start over, right? Yet, I wonder if Art3mis’s plan is the wiser of the two. Wade’s idea is to give up, but Art3mis’s is to repair what is broken. If we translated this to a current-day issue—should we nuke the Middle East and build new cities without strife or should we work to make peace amidst people who may never agree? Or even something simpler—should we give up on a friendship or marriage because it gets difficult, or work through the strife to strengthen the relationship? Is Wade’s solution really a solution at all? Won’t starting over eventually bring the same problems he is facing now? Perhaps attempting to renew what is broken without tossing everything out really is the better course of action. I might want to start over, like resetting a video game where I’ve made too many mistakes, but if I work with what I’ve got maybe hope will...

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...

Reading Grimm: Old Women are Evil Dec08

Reading Grimm: Old Women are Evil...

The evil queen in Snow White. The old woman in Hansel and Gretel. The witch in The Little Mermaid. Cinderella’s stepmother. Are old ladies ever decent people in fairy tales? In The Old Woman in the Wood, a poor servant-girl is traveling with the family she serves, and robbers attack. Everyone dies except her, and she takes refuge under a tree. A dove gives her keys that open the tree and she is provided with food, a bed, and riches. The dove asks for a favour in return: that she enter a cottage where an old woman lives and steal a ring. The word “witch” or “hag” is not used at this point, and yet warning bells still go off in my head. In the fairy tales I’ve read, the old women, the stepmothers, the queens—they’re always evil. And my suspicions are confirmed when she turns out to be a “wicked witch” who had transformed a prince into the very tree the serving girl had taken shelter under. So why are so many old women typecast as evil? Maybe because, historically, mothers have had more influence on their children than fathers, and twisting that influence results in horrifying villains; someone who should be a nurturing role model turned into a psychotic murderer is terrifying indeed. Or maybe because women of power were a frightening thought to the patriarchy. Maybe they still are. Consider how much influence these characters have—they’re usually queens, can use magic, or both. And yet they’ve become corrupt, often attacking the young protagonist in order to protect something they value, acting out of vanity or jealousy. Is that just what men expected to happen if a woman came to power without a prince by her side? Though in this story’s case, the witch...

Reading Grimm: If Beauty is Skin Deep Nov24

Reading Grimm: If Beauty is Skin Deep...

We’re obsessed with beauty. I get it. Pretty things are nice to look at. But I don’t hide away in my room because I don’t have the grace of Gwyneth Paltrow or the glamour of Gal Gadot. Apparently that’s a thing you do in fairy tales, though. In the Grimm story “The Crystal Ball,” the youngest son of an enchantress sets off to find the Castle of the Golden Sun and save the princess, who is “waiting for deliverance.” He feels the need to leave home because his enchantress mother had transformed his two older brothers into an eagle and a whale, respectively. (She thought they would try to steal her power because, remember, people in fairy tales do not trust each other). After stealing a magic cap from a couple of giants, he finds the castle and is shocked when he meets the princess; though he had heard tales of her great beauty, she “had an ashen-gray face full of wrinkles, blear eyes, and red hair.” (Is red hair supposedly unattractive? I beg to differ, and so do all the Weasleys.) I’m saddened women have been taught the value of beauty within a culture of ridicule and body shaming. He is very disappointed, but the princess assures him this is not her usual form. She tells him to look at her reflection in the mirror to see her true appearance, and when he does, he sees “the likeness of the most beautiful maiden on earth, and saw, too, how the tears were rolling down her cheeks with grief.” She explains to him how she is to be “set free,” but it doesn’t seem anything is holding her captive besides her ugliness. The enchanter who cursed her isn’t keeping her in chains, she just...

Facing Your Demons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fear Nov01

Facing Your Demons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fear...

If you’re not afraid of heights, riding to the top of the Empire State Building isn’t bravery. Facing someone else’s fear because it doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean you’re courageous. It’s when you confront your own fear, and it looms above you like a giant, horned demon, that you truly understand what it means to be a hero or a coward. In the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Fear Itself,” Buffy and the Scoobies wander through a frat house during Halloween, encountering cobwebs, spiders, and knife-wielding skeletons. But then the fears start to get real. And personal. Xander becomes invisible and unheard, because he’s afraid his friends don’t care about him and are moving forward with their lives while he’s standing still. Oz starts to turn into a werewolf even though it’s not a full moon; he runs away from Willow because he’s afraid he’ll hurt her. Willow conjures a light to show her the way out, but the spell backfires, harkening to her fear of being useless. Buffy fights vampires that erupt from the ground and tell her she will forever be alone. . . Read the rest of this article on Christ and Pop...

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...

Reading Grimm: It’s Always a Woman’s Fault Oct20

Reading Grimm: It’s Always a Woman’s Fault...

You’d think if you learned your father wanted to kill you, you’d be a little upset with him. But in the Grimms’ fairy tale, “The Twelve Brothers,” the boys aren’t mad at their dad when he builds twelve coffins in preparation for slaughtering his sons. For some reason, that’s what he decides to do if his thirteenth child is a girl, so that “her riches may be the greater, and the kingdom fall to her alone.” Since their mom isn’t completely behind this plan, she warns them of their sister’s birth and they flee to an enchanted house in the woods and live there for ten years. The misogyny is clear—since they love their father, they’d rather blame the sister for being born. In fact, they’d rather blame all women, saying, “Shall we suffer death because of a girl! We swear to be revenged; wherever we find a girl we will shed her blood.” The inequality doesn’t end there, though. After they meet her and let her live, her goodness is demonstrated through housekeeping and her ability to keep everything “beautifully white and clean” (if you remember from my last post on “The Maiden Without Hands,” cleanliness equals goodness). Then she decides to pick twelve lovely lilies to give to her brothers as presents, but upon plucking them her brothers are turned into ravens. Thus, their horrifying fate is her fault. Again. You’d think if you learned your father wanted to kill you, you’d be a little upset with him. In order to transform them back, she has to stay silent for seven years. In fairy tales, it’s always the women who have to stay silent and still (e.g. “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty”). And it’s always the men who are turned into animals (e.g. “The Princess...