So come and watch the interview of PIXEL KITTIES. You could win FREE pony stuff!!!
Starts at 8:00PM central on Thursday, at www.livestream.com/bronytalkshow
I’m going to be asleep at that time, which means all the rest of you need to give it a listen, since I can’t! :-)
This is as true in the humanities as it is in the sciences. Trust me.
My friend Lauren over at the Daily Dot recently posted a rather interesting article considering the various signs of a dwindling fandom, and whether the G4-based My Little Pony community is burning out at the same breakneck pace of which it initially flared to life.
On one hand, the article is a more than a little tongue-in-cheek and clearly meant to ruffle the horsefeathers of a community that has proven exceptionally good at being ruffled over the past several months. Controversy, reactionary rants and drama wars forged in the fire of hurt feelings, damaged reputations, and public vitriol have been the norm lately. Far more of the negative than the unofficial (though overused to the point of cliché) motto of “love and tolerance.”
With the airdate of Episode 1 of Season 3 of Friendship is Magic just around the corner, the one thing that continues to be most troubling and, truthfully, a real problem within any fandom, is the issue of bullying. By nature, fans are simply people from virtually any background who gravitate toward a similar interest. As I’ve said before, fandom is a double edged sword. Since literally ANYONE can declare themselves part of the whole, it means the most noble and the most depraved and everyone in between will be found within our number- commenting on websites, creating artistic content, and attending get-togethers. The drive to be part of a social community is not mutually dependent upon the means to actually function in one. There are those who simply want to hurt and deride others and will seek out victims for mockery and shaming and all manner of mistreatment because, sadly, that is often the nature of the internet and, consequently, the communities that spring up around it. It’s a product of both anonymity and an unfortunate level of knee-jerk overreaction and defensiveness towards “haters.” Artists, musicians, and other community members who behave despicably are often protected by a hive-mind mentality to circle the wagons and defend them against real and deserved criticism and rebuke.
But does that mean this community is dying or failing? Not at all. It’s simply grown to the point where the fandom is made up of a tremendously wide cross section of people. Early on, our technicolor world of little ponies was little in itself. Being a jerk to a small community is much harder to get away with and burning bridges more likely to ruin your reputation with the entire fandom. As communities grow, cults of personality form, villains and heroes both appear. People act in ways that are inspiring and kind and moving. Other people jockey for power and use their time and influence to cause hurt and embarrassment. Some people will fawn embarrassingly over everything pony related regardless of quality others will hate everything with larger-than-life bile and vitriol. All these things happen with more frequency because the churning, roiling ocean of news and content swallows it up almost as fast as it happens.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but I feel inclined to say again that our responsibility as fans is to hold fast to the things we love most about whatever it is we are fans of. There are many blogs out there documenting the worst parts of our community, and reading through them it can often seem like there’s little more than racism, cruelty, pornography, and ignorance at the heart of this fandom. But, like the notion of “love and tolerance,” the idea that technicolor ponies hide a seething undercurrent of hate and intolerance is a skewed concept. People are simply people. Whether they are fans of the Minnesota Vikings, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Dark Shadows, American Idol, Anime, Sonic the Hedgehog, vintage Barbie dolls, coins, stamps, or civil war letters people are people. They are good and bad, involved and indifferent, honorable and hateful, kind and cruel. A community is a tapestry, there is no election board, no governing body, and no entrance exam. Anyone can declare themselves a brony, pegasister, casual fan of my little pony, or any other moniker. They can go on to act in a way that reflects poorly on themselves AND the rest of us. The only real and true influence we have is to remain upstanding ourselves. To do our best, to BE our best within the fandom and in our own daily lives. We needn’t worry about loving and tolerating because a show tells us to act a certain way. But we do have a responsibility to simply be good people and good stewards of any community we happen to be part of- whether it’s My Little Pony, our homes, our schools, our cities, towns, and countries.
Let me end by saying that I do my level best to generally ignore the bad behavior in our community. And I also know many fans disagree with that approach, mistaking it for indifference. Yes, I could rant and rave, retweet and blog and shout at the top of my lungs until I’m blue in the face and fingertips and at the end of the day people will continue to do their own thing. But I’m not a celebrity- just a fan of a children’s show who happens to make some silly pictures. I’m not a voice of reason and no amount of art or social media, on my part, will change the heart or mind of someone devoted to their own point of view, right or wrong. I’ve spent a lot of my life taking part in political discussion as a hobby, and have held steadfast opinions on both extremes of the political spectrum. I am keenly aware that the notion of debate is lost on individual opinion. Because as much as we may want to have the last word, to call out injustice, to fight to our last breath, the truth is that you don’t win a difference of ideals with raised voices and caps lock. The truth is that you win people over by living as an example and showing them the right way by doing the right thing. The best and only way to change someone’s mind is not by fighting for your opinion, but by representing and living your values.
At Comic Con today, I went as Black Cat. This is a shitty picture and there will be better ones of my whole costume coming up but I just want to say something.
Black Cat’s costume has a fair amount of cleavage (conservative compared to many other female comic characters but a good amount as far as what I’ve ever shown). I guess I was not surprised to have a couple men ask to pose with me and then do some doofy “WHOA LOOK AT THOSE KNOCKERS” poses. I just make a really ugly face when I see they’re doing it. One guy with the social graces of a lemur said to me “I was this close to wearing that same outfit. My breasts are large and supple and I think it would have been nice.” Nope. Stop talking.
But aside from guys being doofy and awkward (but clearly not foul-intentioned), I did have my first truly skeezy experience at Comic Con today.
And my first truly empowering moment as well.
This group of men from some kind of Stan Lee fan club blah blah internet video channel blah blah asked to interview with them on camera about Comic Con. I said well okay, sure. Camera is rolling. The “host” is a middle aged, rotund dude. It’s an all-male crew and lots of people (mostly guys) were beginning to crowd around. The following is the interview as burned in my mind. Keep in mind that I expected this to be about Comic Con in general.
- Him: I’m here with…
- Me: Mandy, aka Felicia Hardy aka Black Cat
- Him: ..And she is HOT. Do you think I’m hot enough to pull that off?
- Me: Uh, I’m not sure, I’ve never seen you in drag.
- Him: I’ve got a great ass. Go on, spank me.
- Me: (look at his large ass, popped up mere inches away from me then look into the camera like are you kidding me . No thanks. I may hurt you, I’m a lot stronger than I look.
- Him: Aw come on!
- Me: No, seriously. Stop.
- Him: Damn, alright! Well let me ask you an important question then…what is your cup size?
- Me: (big talk show smile) That is actually none of your fucking business.
- Him: Oh! I think that means to say she’s a C.
- Me: I actually have no breasts at all, what you see is just all of the fat from my midsection pulled up to my chest and carefully held in place with this corset. It’s really uncomfortable, I don’t know why I do it.
- Him: (to the male crowd) Aw, come on what do you guys think? C cup?
- —a few males start to shout out cup sizes as I stand there looking at this guy like this has to be a fucking joke, then look at the crowd and see that no amount of witty banter or fiestiness will stop making this whole thing fucking dumb. It was clearly a ploy to single out cosplaying women to get them to talk sexual innuendos and flirt with this asshole and let him talk down to them simply because they were in costume and were attractive. Whether I’m in a skintight catsuit or not, I’m a fucking professional in everything I do and I don’t need to play nice for this idiot.
- Me: This is not an interview, this is degrading. I’m done. (I walk away)
- Him: (clearly dumbfounded and surprised) ..Come on, it’s all in good fun!
- Me: Being degraded is fun? That was unprofessional and I hope that isn’t your day job because you can’t interview for shit, my man.
And the entire crew and the crowd were SILENT. NOTHING. SHOCK, HONEY. It felt like I was in a heated fog, full of rage and pride and I sashayed away feeling like the most badass motherfucker in the whole damn room, but kind of also on the verge of tears. A slow build of applause would have been appropriate, but from the looks on people’s faces, they were just completely not expecting me to do what I just did- which was really nothing more than speaking up for myself. It wasn’t something one should feel brave for doing but crazy for not doing when necessary.
It’s because many people at these cons expect women cosplaying as vixens (or even just wearing particularly flattering costumes) to be open/ welcoming to crude male commentary and lecherous ogling, like our presence comes with subtitles that say “I represent your fantasy thus you may treat me like a fantasy and not a human in a costume”. And maybe that will always be how the majority of people see us. But that does not mean we have to put up with shit that crosses the line, it does not mean we owe them a fantasy, it does not mean we dress up to have guys drooling over us and letting us know that we turn them on. It is not all about your dicks, gentlemen. So I encourage cosplaying women everywhere to be blunt and vocal with their rights, their personal boundaries, and their comfort level at conventions. I actually encourage girls to be brashly shameless about these things, to not be afraid to speak up if you feel uncomfortable and to let the person doing it know that they are crossing the line. Don’t keep quiet because you’re scared of what they might say or think- because if you say nothing they will continue to see what they’re doing as OK.
I have come to this convention
Full of ponies just like me
Cause the ones at home dislike displays of blatant nerdery!
(I know this already made the rounds, but I just had to repost. Love Griffin and Jenny so much!)