FlameCon’s ‘Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ Panel

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I attended (and loved) NYC’s first LGBTQ Comic Con, FlameCon! It took place during Pride Month on June 13th at the fancy Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Geeks OUT presented the con, which is a NYC based nonprofit dedicated to building a better community for LGBTQ geeks. For more about FlameCon read my recap and check out the amazing cosplay.

My favorite panel at Flamecon was Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture. It was moderated by Charles Battersby (Astonishing Adventures) and the panelist included Jennie Wood (Flutter), Lawrence Gullo (Baritaria), P. Kristen Enos (Web of Lives) and Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics, Marvel and Boom).

Transgender Narrative

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Transgender narrative was a big part of the discussion. It’s to no surprise that the further a character is from being heterosexual, cisgender and white, the more they are misrepresented… if they are represented at all. A common and inaccurate transgender narrative is, “I am a man, what if I wanted to be a woman?” Lawrence Gullo suggested the following narrative instead, “I am a woman, what if no one believed me and I had to prove it to people my entire life.”

Sci-Fi & Gender

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Science Fiction is known to use aliens and androids as representations of LGBTQIA people instead of actual humans. This not only suggests that the creator views those groups as “The Other,” either subconsciously or consciously, but it also reinforces negative stereotypes about LGBTQIA people. Gullo suggests a way to combat this as a SF creator is to make humans LGBTQIA and gender fluid as well, not just the aliens.

Creators should also stop assigning gender to androids, especially self-aware ones. When you really think about it, it’s completely unnecessary, inaccurate and almost always reinforces gender stereotypes. Assuming that AI would have the same gender notions as humans is more than presumptuous, it’s pretty egotistical.

Positive Trans Media

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

The panel wasn’t only about the negative media representations of trans people. Steven Universe, Dragon Age: Inquisitions, and Saints Row 3 were all praised for being positive trans media.

  • Dragon Age: Inquisitions ran their script for a transgender character, Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi, by trans people and changed it based off their input.
  • Gullo shared an anecdote about his transgender friend who cried when she saw Stevonnie in Steven Universe because she identified with them. Although Stevonnie doesn’t have a gender and Garnet described their fusion as “a conversation”, the character has resonated strongly with genderfluid and trans people. 
  • In Saints Row 3, you can have a male voice actor for a female body and even go to a surgeon and change your sex at any point in the game. It’s completely up to the player.

When In Doubt, Ask

Dragon Age Inquisitions's Cremisius "Krem" Acclasi

Dragon Age Inquisitions’s Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi

Some advice if you’re a cisgender creator nervous about inadvertently misrepresenting a transgender character: When in doubt, ask. It isn’t a creator’s responsibility to make their work diverse, but it is responsible. Jennie Wood summed it up best, “We just want to see ourselves.”

Drowsy Musings on Doctor Who and Space

 

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So I was laying in bed one night thinking about how much I love Doctor Who (stay with me now) and felt compelled to share my drowsy musings.

Answers… Sort of

Doctor Who, as well as most sci-fi, gives us answers to science questions. Albeit a fictional answer, but an answer nonetheless. But if Star Trek taught us anything it’s that science fiction doesn’t always stay fiction. With subjects like parallel universes and time travel, some Doctor Who episodes can be seen as scientific theories with a plot.

Sapphire Waterfalls

Doctor Who exercises our imagination by showing us our possible future. Pretty much anything you imagine can be made into a Doctor Who episode, which we have learned is sometimes for the worse. But it’s in those campy plots and shoddy graphics that my love somehow grows for this show. I just hope I’m around when we discover star whales and a planet with sapphire waterfalls.

We’re His Fave

Shattered gemstone waterfalls and wibbly wobbly time travel aren’t the most important things I takeaway from Doctor Who. The most significant thing for me is surprisingly human.

Traveling around time and space can easily make any human feel insignificant. But the Doctor, a genius who has arguably seen more of the universe than anyone else (except for maybe the Face of Boe), loves Earth and humans… Even when it’s hard for us to love ourselves. Out of all of the fascinating planets and beings, he always come back to Earth. And although one answer may be that it makes filming the show much easier, I like to think that it has to do with how important we are.

The Impossible Girl

I may not have a TARDIS to take me through time and space and make me question my importance in the universe, but I do have the stars. The furthest star is 13.8 billion light years away, a distance I can’t even fathom. But instead of that distance making me feel small and insignificant, it makes me feel like the most important being in the universe. Out of all of that, I exist.

NYCC 2014: Cosplay Roundup

Every year I attend New York Comic Con more and more fans cosplay. It’s tough picking favorites but the ones that made me squee the most were Death from East of West and Steven Universe and his mom as Garnet. Oh and here’s my post about my Sailor Moon (aka Sailor Goon), Space Dandy and Spike Spiegel cosplay.

Anime/Manga

Comics

Movies & TV & Video Games & Podcasts

 

Dedicated to the Impossible Girl (And The Doctor Who World Tour)

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Although I met Alison only briefly at The Doctor Who World Tour, it’s a moment that I will remember forever… The thing is, I wasn’t even supposed to be at the #DWWorldTour in NYC. I was one of many who couldn’t get tickets. Then the day before the event, my friend Yissel asked if I wanted to go in her place. Her friend Christina had an extra ticket and Yissel couldn’t make it. I mean, why would I not want to go? Doctor Who is my favorite thing in all of time and space. I was lucky enough to meet Matt Smith and the crew not once but twice a few years ago. Now I get to see Peter Capaldi in the flesh! 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSo Thursday afternoon I put on a bunch of TARDISes and set off to see the Doctor and the companion and the Moff hosted by Chris Hardwick of the Nerdist. I met the golden ticket holder,Christina, in line at around 2pm and we instantly hit it off. The event wasn’t until 7PM but Whovains were in line since 1AM the night before. As usual with line cons (line con: (noun) the very long lines geeks wait in at geeky events and conventions) we made friends with the Whovians around us. (Shout out to Monica and Tatiana!) There were constant bursts of cheers going on during the line con, mostly because BBC America kept asking us to cheer for footage. They even interviewed me and my new Who friends, but only time will tell if I’ll make the final cut. We passed the time by talking about favorite Doctors and companions, crazy DW theories and other geeky things. Time seemed to fly by up until the last hour, or should I say the Eleventh hour, which seemed the longest. Legs were hurting and caffeine was needed. (Let’s see how many Doctor Who puns I can fit in this post.)

AnyWHO at about 7:30PM they finally let us in and me and my Who crew got pretty close to the front. They played the U.S. premier of season eight and it was awesome. I laughed a lot. I almost cried. Typical Doctor Who feels. I can’t tell you any more because of *River Song voice* spoilers.

Peter Capaldi was all I really cared about though. Here in my face was this new 12th Doctor face. But oh man, he was amazing in the first episode. He really really was. You’re gonna love him I’m sure of it. Then Q&A happened which was also very cool but I don’t remember a lot of it because I kept staring at Capaldi. And his eyebrows. Oh and Neil Gaiman was there! How could I forget?!… Oh yeah because I didn’t see him. He tweeted he was there which spread like wildfire on the line con but I didn’t see him. But I felt his presence (jk not really). 

Chris Hardwick, Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat

Chris Hardwick, Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat

So now on to the best and most important part of the whole entire day. As I was being ushered out of the theater a lady whovian named Alison came up to me, (bet you were wondering when I’d bring her up again) and said something like, “Hi Jamila, I am a fan of your blog.” And I’m like omgwut? First off, I don’t usually meet people in person who are fans of my blog. So when I do meet GGG readers I usually think they are mistaking me with someone else. Some other blog with “girl”and “geek” in the title, which is probably quite a few. So then Alison continued to tell me all of these kind things about my blog and myself and what a great job she thinks I am doing and I was hit with wave after wave of emotions. Shock. Happiness. Confusion. ME? All of this is about me? What?! Then of course in true Jamila fashion, those tears that almost came out during the Doctor Who episode came back.

The thing is, I was having a pretty shitty week personally. Then that shittiness was multiplied by Ferguson and Robin Williams. I had cried a few times earlier that week about sad stuff, so to cry about something happy when I needed it the most is something I’ll never forget. I just blog into the void not knowing who is reading my blog, let alone cares about it. So to meet someone like Alison is something I still can’t even comprehend. I still get emotional thinking about it. I’m forever grateful for that. 

Let’s end on a quote from the Doctor,

“What’s the point of being happy now if they’re going to be sad later? The answer is of course- because they are going to be sad later.”

Girl Gone Geek’s Best of 2012

girl gone geeks best of 2012

2012 has been a pretty amazing year for us fangirls and fanboys. Personally for me it was big in the comic book category. This was the year I had time to read a lot of ongoing series, which will account for why I have several categories for comic books alone. The “Best of” title is a bit deceiving; this isn’t my take on the best of 2012, but rather my personal favorites of the year. And by favorites I mean the geeky things I was completely obsessed with. Beware, baby spoilers ahead.

 

1Avengers-LokiHulkMovie (aka the movie I couldn’t stop talking about after I left the theater): Avengers
I think we can all agree that Avengers was the best superhero movie of the year. It did everything right. Loki and the Hulk deserve their own film.

Honorable Mention: Looper
Looper seemed like it was straight out of a Philip K. Dick novel. It was thought-provoking and timey wimey. I loved every bit of it!

The Walking Dead - Season 3, Episode 1Michonne (Danai Gurira)

TV Show (aka the show I live-tweeted the most): The Walking Dead
I’m a fan of everything The Walking Dead, but not blind to the many faults the TV series has had. I wasn’t happy with the first half of season two, frankly I thought it was quite boring. Everyone knew Sophia wasn’t smart enough to survive… no offense Carol. But season three has been intense all the way through and there’s no time to catch your breath. Much like Game of Thrones, in The Walking Dead no one is safe, and that’s a great feeling to have as a viewer. Needless to say, shit goes down!

Honorable Mention: Game of Thrones

I think Game of Thrones would be a far better show if it had two extra episodes to work with, but with that being said, it’s still one of my favorite shows of the year. To say I’m invested and attached to the characters is an understatement. I didn’t even give Doctor Who honorable mention and that’s saying a lot!

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Episode of the Year (aka the episode that made you proud to be a fan): Sherlock “A Scandal in Belgravia”, Steven Moffat (writer) and Paul McGuigan (director)
One of the most brilliant pieces of television I’ve ever seen.

Honorable Mention: Game of Thrones “Blackwater”, George R. R. Martin (writer) and Neil Marshall (director)

“Blackwater” is what happens when a Game of Thrones episode isn’t cramped with plot or characters. Magic! (no pun intended) Also there was that jaw dropping explosion.

kids-on-the-slope

Anime Series (aka the only new anime show I watched this year): Sakamichi No Apollon (Kids on the Slope), Shinichiro Watanabe (director) and Yoko Kanno (composer)
The dynamic duo Watanabe and Kanno of Cowboy Bebop fame are back! I love jazz so this series is heaven for me. I also reviewed the first episode here.

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Video Game (aka the game that made me cry): Journey, thatgamecompany (developer) and Sony (publisher)
Journey is a video game that gives you a spiritual experience. This was my favorite game of the year and one of my favorite games of all time. It’s difficult to express what kind of game Journey is because it’s just one of those things you have to experience for yourself. But in short, it’s about life, death and the journey you take in between. Journey is intense and deep without being heavy-handed. Last but not least, it’s breathtakingly beautiful.

Honorable Mention: The Walking Dead, Telltale Games (developer and publisher)

I actually haven’t finished this game yet, but from what I’ve played (and heard) I know I’ll cry. #ForClementine

I met Scott Snyder at NYCC!

I met Scott Snyder at NYCC!

Writer (aka my Comic God of the year): Scott Snyder, Batman, American Vampire and Swamp Thing
Scott Snyder is one of those writers that make you say to yourself, “Where have your stories been all my life?”

I’m a huge fan of Batman, American Vampire and Swamp Thing. How he’s able to keep all three fresh and fascinating month after month is beyond me. But that’s also why he’s my favorite writer of the year. I could go on and on about why I fell in love with Snyder’s work, but I’ll save that for a future blog post.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Lemire, Animal Man, Sweet Tooth and The Underwater Welder
Lemire also takes the award for creating the character I’m most protective of, Gus aka Sweet Tooth.

batman-joker-death-family-dc-face Artist (aka art so good it makes your curse to yourself): Greg Capullo, Batman
Capullo’s art gives me goosebumps. Literally. His leather face Joker is simultaneously beautiful and horrifying. Just look at that gorgeously gory face!

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Honorable Mention: Yanick Paquette, Swamp Thing
Simply stunning.

batman-11 Comic Book Series (aka my favorite Wednesday of the month): Batman, Scott Snyder (writer) and Greg Capullo (illustrator)
It was incredibly difficult for me to deicide which series should take the top place as my favorite series of the year. Well… that’s a lie. I knew it was going to be Batman the whole time!

I don’t even know where to begin with Batman. Judge if you want, but this was my first time reading an actual Batman comic. I’d been a fan of TAS other shows and films, but with most mainstream superhero comics I didn’t know where to jump in. Thankfully DC’s new 52 gave me a great starting point.

Snyder got me hooked with the Court of Owls and the current Joker storyline has me on an emotional roller coaster. One minute I want to cry, the next I was scared shitless for the Bat-fam. Snyder’s Batman is dark and seriously scary and I couldn’t be happier.

Honorable Mention: The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman (writer) and Charlie Adlard (illustrator)
Kirkman had me worried there for a while, I wasn’t interested about the series at all. It was the same ol’ same ol’, and I felt I was reading out of habit rather than actually being interested in what was happening in the story. However, that all changed when Negan and Lucille entered the picture (or should I say panel). I haven’t been this excited about the series since the governor!

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New Comic Book Series (aka that thing I couldn’t stop talking about): Saga, Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (illustrator)
Saga is the new kid at school that everyone has a crush on. This series is what it would be like if BKV wrote a science-fantasy version of Romeo and Juliet, except the characters are believable. What really made this new series my favorite are the raw and brutally honest characters. Fiona Staples also gets the award for making me feel like a creep for having a girl crush on a spider’ish alien. Don’t act like you didn’t think The Stalk was a total babe… for a spider.

Honorable Mention: Hawkeye, Matt Fraction (writer) and David Aja (illustrator)
I confess, I was one of the Hawkeye haters. Compared to the rest of the Avengers, Clint seemed kind of lame. This was before I read any Avengers or Hawkeye comics. I still haven’t read much Avengers, but Fraction came along and changed my mind before I even finished the first issue. It’s genuinely “laugh out loud” funny with an interesting storyline and a character that has, well, character. I’m now a proud member of the Hawkeye fan club because of Matt Fraction.

tumblr_mb4sr6dC7I1r9dsg6o1_500 Mini Series (aka a series I want to talk about but needed more categories): Punk Rock Jesus, Sean Murphy (writer and illustrator)
Punk Rock Jesus combines two fanatical segments of our society: media and religion. Murphy holds nothing back in PRJ, which is part of what makes it one of my favorite series of the year. It’s a candid look on society housed in a captivating story and supported by complex characters.

Honorable Mention: Happy!, Grant Morrison (writer) and Darick Robertson (illustrator)
Happy! is the Grant Morrison I fell in love with. The jarring, post-modern’ish, mind blowing WTFs with themes that make you reflect on yourself and society Grant Morrison. I also didn’t realized how much I missed Robertson’s art (Transmetropolian) until I read Happy!. He does gritty do damn well! The dark and ultraviolent story juxtaposed with a bubbly blue horse work surprisingly well together.

Ronald Wimberly Prince of Cats Tybalt

Graphic Novel (aka more comics I want to talk about but needed more categories): Prince of Cats, Ronald Wimberly (writer and illustrator)

This is the only story I fell in love with visually, sonically, emotionally and intellectually this year. You can read more about PoC and an interview with Wimberly here.

Honorable Mention: The Underwater Welder, Jeff Lemire (writer and illustrator)
Probably the most atmospheric (Is that a thing? It is now.) and eerie story of the year. It also managed to say the most without saying anything at all.

CelebratingWD100_0712 Best Issue (aka the holy shit issue): The Walking Dead #100, Robert Kirkman (writer) and Charlie Adlard (illustrator)
This issue was the comic book version of being punched in the stomach. I’m still too devastated to talk about it.

Honorable Mention: Batman #14, Scott Snyder (writer) and Greg Capullo (illustrator)
Hell hath no fury like the Joker scorned. Batman just keeps getting better… or worse depending on who you are. The Joker’s soliloquy in this issue was close to perfection. He had me hanging off of every word. The Joker is back and he’s pissed at the Bat-fam for making Batman lazy, and he’s going to make them pay. Did I mention he’s doing this all out of love? Don’t even get me started on Alfred…

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Late to the party (aka the most time consuming obsession): A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin (writer)
Even though A Dance with Dragons came out in 2011 I read it this year, along with the rest of ASoIaF series. I prayed to the old gods and the new for several months (and still do from time to time). This series also has a special place in my heart for having a lot of kick ass female characters. Brienne and Arya are my heroes!

Photo on 2012-04-16 at 11.57 #3

Honorable Mention: Lost
I’m not ashamed to admit my life was consumed by Lost for a few months. I skipped parties, went over my data plan and didn’t hang out with my friends as much because I wanted to be on the island. I watched the series in about two months and wrote all about it here in, ‘Confessions of a Lost Late Bloomer’.

Tattoo Tuesday Featurette- Sue-Ann’s Serenity, Stargate SG-1 & Discworld Ink

Sue-Ann’s Serenity tattoo & Stargate tattoo

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to write up a Tattoo Tuesday post, so I’m glad I’m back with some awesome sci-fi ink from a reader! Sue-Ann, nickname ysabelkid, is a huge science fiction fan (if her tattoos didn’t already give that away). She shared with me the beginning stages of her sci-fi back piece which includes Serenity and Stargate SG-1 pieces. Sue-Ann and her boyfriend are even planning a Stargate-themed wedding on Pi Day in 2015!

Ysabelkid’s Discworld Grim Squeaker tattoo

She went into depth on her blog about why she chose to have the sci-fi ship and portal, but the short version is, “Each of the ships I will have represent the concept of creating one’s own family, and exploring new places with them. The family idea is most prevalent in Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek and Farscape, and of course, what better way to immortalise travelling to new worlds than Stargate, Star Trek and Robotech? I’ll also be including a quote from Galaxy Quest – ‘Never give up, never surrender!’.”

Her artist, Ryan ‘Busta’ Bolton from The Golden Tiki specialises in cartoons. She was completely amazed by his attention to detail and intricate shading on these pieces, which she noticed was very different from his normal style. The full back tattoo will most likely take another year before it’s finished. But she’s not done yet! She plans to dedicate a tattoo sleeve of women she adores which will include Wonder Woman, Ripley and Sam Carter to name but a few.
Sue-Ann’s very first tattoo was a Hanie Mohd fan drawing of the Grim Squeaker from Discworld. She plans to match it with the Librarian on the opposite ankle. The Squeaker tattoo was inked by Abigail at Electric Eye Tattoos in Durban. But it’s incomplete since the tattoo artist has since left and she’s still tracking her down.
Sue-Ann tells us why she decided to get the Squeaker tattoo, “Terry Pratchett’s writing means a great deal to me, and with his Alzheimer’s, the world is losing one of the greatest minds that ever lived. So it makes sense to me to immortalise him with some of the characters who mean the most to me.” I can’t wait to see Sue-Ann’s complete sci-fi back tattoo and her strong sci-fi female characters sleeve!
If you’re interested in being featured in a Tattoo Tuesday or Tattoo Tuesday Featurette please email me at jamila@girlgonegeekblog(dot)com.

Etsy Crush of the Week & Giveaway- Beth Yates’ Adorable British Fandom Bookmarks

I’m a fan of many things, two of them being extremely cute things and print books. So it should come as no surprise that I am a big fan of Beth Yates’ bookmarks. She used her graphic design talents to bestow charming bookmarks upon the world in the form of our favorite British fandoms. I’m one of those people who does not want to buy an e-reader (yet), so there are plenty of books that I’m reading that will become a temporary home for the Doctor, Ron and Sherlock bookmarks. Although, carrying around some books will surely give me scoliosis (I’m looking at you A Dance with Dragons), I do it for the love of print. Now my only problem is, how will I get any reading done when I’ll be too busy staring at the bookmark?! Long live print and very cute bookmarks to put them in!

Girl Gone Geek Interview with Beth Yates (giveaway below)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Beth: Well I’m a Graphic Design student, currently coming up to the end of my second year at university. I live just outside Leeds and I’ve always been a total geek. I love videogames, movies, anything to do with fantasy, superheroes and the like. I also love reading, hence the abundance of bookmarks.

How long have you been designing?

Beth: Well I’ve always been creative; I was always drawing and doodling through school. I really started to get into drawing and design around age 15 – inspired by other fandoms; I was particularly into Kingdom Hearts at the time. It’s only in the last couple of years though that I really started to get into serious design and its completely taken over my life (in the best possible way). I just get the most amazing buzz from designing and creating things, and I’m hopefully going to be able to turn this in to a fully-fledged career.

Why did you decide to make an Etsy shop?

Beth: I’ve always made things for myself and thought it would be cool to share the stuff I make with others, see what they thought. It’s been a great platform to get feedback on my designs, and its also helping to pay my way through university, which is brilliant!

So I think it’s safe to say that you’re pro-print books since your adorable bookmarks don’t work on Kindles, right? What are your feelings on these e-readers in general? Do you think they will eventually make print books obsolete? 

Beth: I don’t think print is ever going to be obsolete, there’s just something about the experience of picking up a book, the feel and smell of the pages, the whole experience is so much more than the printed words. I’m a total gadget nut, but there’s so much about our lives today that’s completely ephemeral; music, photos, even money – its all digital and so transient, there’s a physicality and realness to a book that for me you just cant beat.

Since you’re a fellow Whovian I have to ask, who is your favorite doctor and favorite companion?

Beth: Oh its so hard to pick, I just love the whole program. I think it’d probably have to be Tennant and Catherine Tate as Donna. I didn’t really get into Who till Tennant took over (now I’m completely obsessed) and Donna was just brilliant! The chemistry they had was so entertaining to watch. Saying that I really love the new series too! Fishfingers and custard all the way!

What Hogwarts house would the sorting hat put you in and why?

Beth: I got sorted on Pottermore into Gryffindor! Twice! (I wanted to see if it was a random generator or not) I actually squealed. I think it’s quite accurate really, although I’ve always been quite academic I’ve got a quite strong sense of justice. I see and read so many instances of people being wronged and it really makes me want to just go out and do something about it. There’s also nothing more important to me than my friends, I love spending every day surrounded by such fun and brilliant people.

What are your other favorite fandom’s?

Beth: I absolutely love Sherlock and Merlin. They’re the main two, but I’m also a big fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, so many different video game franchises (old and new), though I don’t really take part in the online fandoms, I tend to just geek out with my mates.

If you were on a deserted island what would video game, book, movie, TV show would you bring?

Beth: I would have to bring the whole Monkey island series, the whole Harry Potter series, Megamind and all the series of Merlin.

Where do you live on the Internet? 

Beth: You can find me on Etsy and tumblr :D feel free to drop me message anytime, any requests for new bookmark sets are most welcome!

etsy.com/shop/bethydesigns

bethybookmarks.tumblr.com

 

Beth Yates Bookmark Set Giveaway!

Interview with Joe Cornish

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Joe Cornish, writer and director of Attack the Block at New York Comic Con. It was a roundtable interview and I’m an enormous fan of Attack the Block and have proclaimed it my favorite film of the summer and even film of the year.

Attack the Block’s tag line, “Inner City versus Outer Space” sums up everything. It’s like season 4 of The Wire, with a grittier Gremlin and Goonies thrown in for good measure. But this is more than an aliens attack story; it’s a film about redemption, friendship, inequality and social commentary (all without being too politically serious).

Joe Cornish also co-wrote The Adventures of Tintin along with Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) which was directed by Steven Spielberg is coming out December 21st.

You can check out the spoiler free review of Attack the Block here and the DVD is available now!

There were some spoilery questions and comments in the interview so I moved those to the end of this post in case you haven’t seen the film yet, because I know you will. You must, trust!

Interview with writer and director Joe Cornish:

Question: I found it to be very character driven, I really liked the opening and how it was set in the inner city, which is like war zone in itself.

Joe Cornish: I wouldn’t call it a war zone myself. We were keen to respect the reality of the environment and show actually how important their home is to those kids. They go to great length to protect it because they love it and other people may think it’s a down beat place. Many of the movies show that environment as a depressing signifier of urban deprivation. For the kids that live there it’s home, and they love it and it’s their playground and their childhood. I wanted to show it becomes a war zone because of the aliens, but a fun war zone of aliens versus humans. I didn’t want to make a gang movie about kids beating each other up or stabbing each other. Attack the Block is a pretty fun, in terms of the violence. The worse things that happens is when they try to mug that woman in the beginning of the movie, but compared to the amount of violence you see in the average Hollywood film, this is pretty mild. But at the same time I hope that quite ballsy and dynamic and scary and fun kind of thing.

Q: So you’re talking about how you wanted to portray it as the kids home, was that tied to the decision to have all the colors bright and vivid? Because it seemed to contribute a lot to the warmth.

JC: Yeah definitely you’re right. Similarly like I was saying, that often environment is portrayed in a downbeat way that’s reflected in the cinematography in a lot of films. I’m not saying that’s not how to do it, it’s just something I wanted to react against. A of movies they de-saturate the color and it’s grainy and handheld and it’s super down-beaten and real. The interesting thing about this architecture is it was built in the 50s and 60s in a huge spirit of optimism and futurism. These designs were seen as this utopia that would solve the slum problems in post-war Britain. So if you look at original documentaries or footage taken of the time these buildings were originally opened, they seemed like science fiction and since then they’ve become, heroin addicts slumped in corners and dog shit in the lift and stuff like that. So I wanted to bring it back to that imaginative optimistic futuristic feel and the color has very much to do with that. We wanted it to look like almost a 60s Disney film… to be fluorescent to look like Mary Poppins, more than fish tank you know?

Q: I was amazed in the DVD featured that you used so many practical special effects, was that originally the idea?

JC: No, we never had the budget to do CGI creatures but I didn’t want to do CGI creatures. As a film guru I find digital monsters very samey, they all feel the same and I don’t understand this obsession with hyper-realistic detail. All the movies I loved whether it was Gremlins or ET, or Critters or Predator I believed those creatures, and they felt like they were there. They were simpler and imaginative and hell I could go home and draw them, and you can’t draw the dragon from Harry Potter without a fine art degree. So I wanted to do a movie with a monster that was sketchable and graphic. So we have a guy in a suit and the guy is Terry Notary, he’s a very brilliant creature performer with a long IMDb credits list of amazing films. Spectral Motion, who do Guillermo del Toro’s stuff, made the suits. And then a company called Double Negative and another company called Fido Film, used CGI to actually take away detail and every now and then to help the jaws, but that was it.  In Attack the Block if a kid is being attacked by a creature it’s real, he’s really being attacked by the creature.

Q: Even those suits, those mouths moved really well.

JC: Well we needed that because to get that reflection of the teeth in that environment is very laborious and time-consuming to do digitally. But if you have them there on the set, it doesn’t cost anything apart from the teeth. So it was half to do with resources but mainly to do with wanting to get something original aesthetically and more to do with the old school effects that I love.

Girl Gone Geek: Why did you do the inner city, out of all the other settings you could have done?

JC: Because it’s where I live, it’s where I grew up and Stockwell in South London, and you know the movie wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t about those kids. The movie is about the kids, it’s about the situation they find themselves in. It’s about their energy and power of teenagers in particular, these teenagers are funny, they’re strong, they’re passionate, they have a very particular way of looking at the world and they are very tight when they get together and if you don’t care for them and pay attention to them, you can have problems. And if you do, you can have something amazingly positive and strong and I felt very strongly that especially in the UK, the press and the public attitude towards kids like that is dangerously negative. Even though I start my film with almost the stereotype, the cliché that was our basis then to go 100 miles an hour in the other direction. That’s why the film exists, because it’s the story of those kids. If I set it in a different part of London it might have been a different culture mix… I was also very excited to give young actors of that age from my area the change to be in a movie like this.

Q: John (Boyega) was fantastic I like how you transitioned from a thug mentality, he had no remorse, it was all about disrespect.

JC: But even that was a front. I did a lot of research; the movie is all about trying not to see things in binary times. Because you get in trouble and you oversimplify the thing. Some of the critical reaction is interesting, people who seem to find it impossible to think in this binary way. And when you actually talk to young people like that, yeah they’re capable of doing bad things but they are smart and clever and articulate this movie is an attempt to show the full spectrum.

Q: Towards the end of the movie was totally a 180, he (John Boyega/Moses) was guilty, he started off almost like a criminal and looked like a hero at the end, and even with Jodi Whitaker (Sam) and she said this was my home at the end.

JC: The first ideas I had were the very beginning and the very end. I thought okay that’s my A that’s my Z, can I get there? Can I bring the audience with me? And that was the challenge and that felt like an exiting thing to write. But John Boyega is amazing.

Q: Where did you find him?

JC: Well we saw about 1,500 young people. We found him in a play in the Triangle Theater in London, we saw him on stage for about 10 minutes. He was 17 when I saw him maybe even 16, and he was just great.

Q: A high school play?

JC: No he left school I think, or he was in college. But he was passionate about acting and he had been acting for about 2 years when we found him. He’s quite something, I think he was going to make it with or without us, but I feel very lucky that we discovered him for this.

Q: How much of that hero’s journey was literary and how much was organically based on the character? Because it is in a way a very classical hero’s journey… did that come from an organic progression of the character or taking the literally tradition of the hero’s journey and overlaying onto that character?

JC: The former, I did all that stuff. I did the Robert McKee course and I read all those books and I did the McKee course in my 20’s and it gave me writers block for about 7 years because everything I wrote seemed wrong. It was lie, everything I wrote I had to compare to this paradigm and it always fell short. I was never really good at math’s or sciences and it made it feel like math or science. So what really liberated me was just forgetting all that stuff and just writing what I thought felt instinctively cool.

Q: The end of the film seems to have a little bit of a religious undertone, with Moses bringing his people to safety, was that always in there?

JC: No, I knew shit would be read into it, but I think sometimes that’s a nice thing about having quite a minimalist scenario. That it can become allegorical or metaphorical and people can maybe see stuff in it. That’s always a strength of any good little lo-fi sci-fi movie whether it’s Night of the Living Dead or Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Invasion of the Damned. Beautifully boiled down allegorical scenarios that are capable of containing lots of different interpretations. The name of Moses came from one of the first kids I spoke to in researched and I just liked the name. The other thing I liked about it is I liked the idea of his parents naming him that. And I liked imagining his parents and the hope and faith parents have in their kid to name him that, and I thought it was juxtaposed nicely with where we find him in the beginning of the story. Plus, as I always say my name is Joseph and I’m no good at carpentry, so it’s just a name.

Girl Gone Geek: How’s the writing process been for TinTin, with Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright?

JC: Steven Moffat is a brilliant man, he did the first few drafts then he had to leave and go and be show runner of Doctor Who and Sherlock. So Peter Jackson called Edgar [Wright] and Edgar knew I was a big Tintin fan so that’s how I got involved, Edgar got me into it and it was amazing.

Girl Gone Geek: What about Ant Man what is happening with that film?

JC: Ant Man we’ve written a script we’re really proud of, we love it and that’s in the hands of Marvel now and Edgar really, I’m really a humble writer.

 

This section of the interview has major spoilers about Attack the Block:

Q: You seem to have a little nationalism in there with Jodi Whitaker’s boyfriend who is in Africa, [and the kids say] why isn’t he in Great Britain? And at the end of the movie when Moses blew up all the aliens, and he’s hanging from the British flag.

JC: Cool! It’s not actually supposed to be nationalistic. That’s an interesting example of it’s not didactic it’s not polemical, it’s the character saying it and I thought that’s just an interesting irony that I may have come across in research or maybe I thought myself… That would be insane to not to want to help kids in the 3rd world. Maybe the word is satire; it’s just poking you in the ribs and make you think. And that’s a perfect example of how teenagers say that kind of thing, they know the irony they’re self aware they know they’re being provocative. I find stuff like that interesting and thought provoking and that for me I say a good thing.

Q: It is powerful imagine, this marginalized character holding the flag.

JC: Well if you go to London people do hang flags out of their windows. And you know what? That was always inspired by The Spy Who Loved Me. The parachute in the beginning, and when I was a kid I loved British films with union jacks in them. So you’re right about that, an element of that is to see a union jack in a British action adventure film. But to use it in that way with a black character and that level of irony I thought was and interesting new… a little poke in the ribs, a little thing that might make people think differently for a moment.

Q: There wasn’t a lot of graphic depictions of gore except for Hi-Hatz death … he was obviously a bad character…

JC: Yeah he needed a big death he deserved to have his face ripped off.

Q: And Dennis didn’t do anything wrong and he got it too.

JC: I know life isn’t fair, I know it’s horrible [laughs].

Film Review: “Attack the Block”

Attack the Block is officially my movie of the summer and possibly the year. It’s is like season 4 of The Wire except it takes place in South London, with a grittier Gremlin and Goonies thrown in for good measure. But this is more than an aliens attack story; it’s a film about redemption, friendship, inequality and social commentary (all without being too politically serious).

Check out my spoiler free love letter to Attack the Block after the jump. Continue reading →

CONTEST: Win a Doctor Who shirt from Threadless!

You all are fully aware of how much a massive Doctor Who fan I am. I literally waited in line for over 6 hours on two separate occasions mind you for DW related events and to meet the main cast and Steven Moffat (you can read about that here and here). Where’s my (#DWlineCon peeps at?!). That’s some serious obsession right there!  

My Facebook page and Twitter is practically a continuous love letter to Doctor Who. I want to thank all my fellow Whovians for emailing me Tennant LOL cats, tweet-a-thons, Facebook gush-a-thons, sending me Doctor Who episodes that haven’t made their way across the pond yet and just basically existing. No really, I barely have anyone IRL to talk to about Who so I love that I know I can go on Facebook or Twitter and have the best conversations with you all that madman in a box we love so much.

This giveaway is exclusively for my Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Two lucky Whovians will win the very popular shirt design from Threadless Doctor Hoo, depicting all eleven doctors as adorable owls designed by Mallory DyerHow cool is it that Hartnell and Troughton are in black and white?! It’s the little things ya know? A big thanks to Threadless for sponsoring this giveaway! 

The rules the contest will end on Monday June 6th:

  1. Please don’t post responses on here, this is exclusively for my social networking friends, don’t worry everyone else there will be more contests to come!
  2. Subscribe to my blog on the right hand side of the page
  3. Answer the following question:
    • If you could have the TARDIS take you anywhere in space and time where would it be and why?
  4. Twitter Followers: Tweet your response use the hashtag #DoctorHoo and make sure you @ reply me @girl_gone_geek 
    • You can seperate your answer in parts if 140 isn’t enough just make sure you @ reply me and use the hashtage in both
  5. Facebook Friends: Post your response to the question in the comments section of this picture
  6. The winners will be chosen at random using randomizer.org 
  7. If you follow me on Twitter and are a Facebook fan you are lucky and can enter twice!