An Open Letter to the L.A. Times from a Geek Girl

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Open Letter to the L.A. Times from a Geek Girl

According to The LA Times Girls' Guide to Comic Con 2009, girls go to San Diego Comic Con to ogle Brad Pitt and do laundry on Jake Gyllenhaal's abs.

Hello, I'm a girl who's been going to Comic Con for years and I have one question: What girls have you been talking to?

If you've been on Twitter recently, you've likely caught some of the female reaction to this.

If you missed it. Let me tell you. It wasn't squees. Snickers, maybe. Guffaws, sure. Incredulity, most definitely.

Do me a favor. Read the article posted today at I09.com. I'll wait.

Back? Okay. So, let's cover a few things.

Girls have been going to SDCC for YEARS. They go because they like *gasp* comics? They go because they want to hear about the latest news from Joss Whedon, or for the BSG panel, or to watch Kevin Smith talk about...heck, anything. They are Browncoats, Cosplay fans, Gamers, Geeks, Nerds, Dorks, Comic fans, movie fanatics, book lovers and for loads of other reasons.

I'll admit, they got a few things right. Dollhouse, True Blood. Those are panels I'd wait in line for. I'd have thought a couple of the writers might have been more spot on, since they write for the Hero Complex blog.

But how do you go and kill my enjoyment of that awesome pic of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp by musing that "Alice in Wonderland" alone would be a draw for many girls, but add in the fact that quirky hotness Johnny Depp, right, is set to play the Mad Hatter, and you could have a mad (crazy) crowd of women seeking a glimpse of him on stage.

Are you serious? Think I could get Jevon Phillips on the phone and explain that Burton/Depp collaborations are a draw for a hundred other reasons? Like, say, Tim Burton? You win points for knowing we like Caprica, but I then have to immediately deduct them for the Dynasty reference.

Oh and, these weren't written from a strictly male POV.

They had a female perspective in the form of Denise Martin.

Her take on what a girl wants? "bittersweet tears." And she even suggests here that I should "arrive to Hall H early – as in a week or two before – to beat out all the other would-be Bellas who will no doubt descend" for the Twilight panel.

Um...I watched half of Twilight and never watched the rest. I don't want to be Bella. I read the bio on your blog that you have a passion for Twilight. That's great. For myself, I can't understand why any woman in her right mind would want to be an emo, sexually frustrated teen with a boyfriend who won't put out. A little understanding would be nice ;-)

And, for the record, I do agree with Elizabeth Rappe for her comments here about the fact that we should find some comfort in the fact that the media is acknowledging that girls even LIKE these sorts of things.

Still, I'd like to believe that, one day, they might also correctly report on why.

Just sayin'.

(edit added 06/17/09: I'm amazed and grateful to everyone who linked to this post. And, most of all, mad love to my bosses at Entertainment Earth for the space to blog in the first place. You are full of Win!)

48 comments:

  1. I can see what Alice in Wonderland would be a draw for boys, but I'm unsure why it would be a draw for girls.

    While I love the way Carroll wrote, AIW and Through the Looking Glass are perhaps the most misogynistic pieces of classical literature ever.

    Don't get me wrong. I think they are brilliant - but if I had a daughter I wouldn't want her to see or read them until she was mature enough to figure out why it's all so creepy.

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  2. Bravo! I'm writing up my "are you kidding me?!" blog entry as well!

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  3. Well said! I really don't have more to add than that.

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  4. I considered writing about this myself but you and others have done such a good job I don't have to. :)

    How about a REAL girls guide to comic con, like, wear comfortable shoes or budget yourself for con purchases?

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  5. Tell 'em girl! Seriously that shit is ridiculous. I'm slightly offended as a female geek. I'm proud of my comic book knowledge, which would rival most BOYS I know. I happen to love comic cons because it's an opportunity to get the skinny on the happenings in the nerd cultures I'm interested in. It just shows as female geeks, we've got some work to do to show the media we aren't just girly girls.

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  6. Thank you for posting that. I couldn't believe that people wrote that.

    I'm proud of my love for Sci-Fi, films and books.

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  7. So I read this article on Saturday and gave myself a day to calm down. First thing Monday morning I wrote a letter to the editor at the LA Times. I am sure it won't be published - it is quite long for a "letter to the editor" (they like them to be 150 words max). But here it is folks, enjoy:


    Dear Editor,

    I am writing you today in regards to an “article” I stumbled across on your website titled “The Girls’ Guide to Comic Con”. (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment...allery?index=1) Of course you can scarcely call it an article. It appears to be a run down of all the “good-looking” superstars who may be making an appearance at the convention. I can’t begin to tell you how insulting this is to my peers and me. I do believe this is the year 2009... is it so hard to believe that women have interests in things like comic books, games, science-fiction and fantasy? I am a 33 year old woman and have been a part of this community most of my life. I have been playing D&D and collecting Star Wars, action figures and comics since childhood. I can attest to the fact that there are many women/girls who have been attending this convention for years – *gasps*– for the same reason as the “nerdy guys” who you talk about in your “article”. There are also many women who attend this convention as professionals. Yes – we write comics as well. Statements like: “Women will be rushing the stage, offering to do star Jake Gyllenhaal's laundry on those washboard abs that he acquired for the film, since he spends much of it fighting, shirtless or both.” and “What more do you need than the hunkiest Aussie to ever play the undead ... alive and in the flesh?” are not only insulting but they belittle our role at comic conventions. Women play an important part in the industry on both the creative and consumer sides. It saddens me to think that a young lady may stumble upon this article and think that “hunks” are all the convention has to offer them. You could have easily found a knowledgeable woman to write this article... the internet is full of them. Shame on you LA Times.

    Sincerely,
    Sarah L. Gerhardt
    Proud Comic Geek and Writer




    http://twitter.com/SarahG42
    http://the-factotum.livejournal.com/
    http://facebook.com/SarahG42

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  8. Awesome post!!!!

    I'm also proud to be a girl sci fi geek!

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  9. (No weepy Divas allowed!)

    ...Wow. I'd missed the LAT article, mostly because (a) I don't read LAT and (b) I'm an East Coaster who can't get to SDCC, but reading that has left me more than slightly nauseated -- and baffled, let's not forget the baffled. I mean, I really would have thought that people had grown out of this kind of marginalization and Othering girl geeks into... Read More some ridiculous cliche of the screaming teen. Shrieking adolescence is long behind me; I'm 34, would go to SDCC if I could, and frankly I'd pay excellent money to see Buffy stake Edward and then smack some sense into Bella.

    And do not EVEN get me started on that inane "laundry" remark.

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  10. Yeah. I read it, and the Geek Beat post on it at Cinematical. I usually love Rappe's take on things, and I'm certainly not ashamed to lust after hot men on screen, but I still found the piece stupid and offensive. Especially because for something calling itself a "guide", it contained basically no information whatsoever on the event it purported to cover.

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  11. Thank you for saying this and for saying it so well. Rappe's statements are so appallingly blindered, the view so painfully stereotyped, I have to shake my head. I hope the IMDB link sends a ton of people here.

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  12. Wonderfully articlated. When I initially heard about the article all I could do was shake my head.

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  13. Thank you for writing this!

    I was so confused when I clicked on the LA times link from IMDB because I was expecting a guide to different booths and Q&As, NOT "a girls only go to cons to squeel and giggle about the hot guys!" article.

    As a girl who has been going to cons at least once a year EVERY year since she was 14 yrs old, I was really offended.

    So thank you for putting into words what I also felt when I read it!

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  14. I'm a female Geek, and I'm also offended by the notion that I would watch something for the cute guys. Yes, I lust after men in film, but that's not the reason I'm a geek. I'm a geek b/c I like good sci-fi/fantasy storytelling in film/comics/tv. I didn't watch Galactica b/c of the fine boys who populate it; I watched it b/c it was damn good show, and my favorite character was the older, complex Colonel Tigh, not one of the younger, cute guys. You know why? B/c girls can appreciate good storytelling and good acting as well as good looks.

    I am also obsessed with all things Joss Whedon and Lord of the Rings and Batman, so I am offended by the notion that I would go to Comic Con only to catch a glimpse of some cute faces or for some girly franchise.

    Thank you for writing this post. Also, I wouldn't be caught dead near some emo nonesense like Twilight. So, yeah, we girls are not brain dead twits with vampire fixations. Uggghh!

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  15. I knew I wasn't alone! I "read" (can it really be called reading when it's a slideshow with genderist blurbs?) the piece over the weekend and was quite offended. How did they know eye candy is my only interest in CC? ("Yes, Sheldon that was sarcasm!") UGH! They site all this female empowerment with Dollhouse and whatnot and then completely undermine it by suggesting we're vapid, rabid, randy girls.

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  16. You said it! I'm not sure what I was expecting when I excitedly followed that link to the LA Times Girls' Guide to Comic Con, but I found it pretty disappointing. Sure I like to look at Jake Gyllenhaal, but I am more interested in whether that movie will be any good, since so far all video games-to-movies have been pretty dismal. The Time Traveler's Wife sounds interesting not because it is like The Notebook but because of the supernatural time-travel aspect of it that makes it not like The Notebook. And no, if G.I. Joe turns out to be the bomb that the trailers make it look like, I will not see the movie even if it has Channing Tatum in it. They had some hits on their list--I love Dollhouse and Big Bang Theory and Chuck, and I'm looking forward to Caprica, Flash Forward, Where the Wild Things Are, and V (I'll give a squee for Alan Tudyk and Morena Baccarin)--but they had just as many misses. The girls who are not inclined towards Comic Con were probably not persuaded by their list, and the girls who already love it probably found it mostly useless. Alas, when will geek girls get the recognition they deserve?

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  17. since when does the LA Times represent real people accurately, or with honor? I know it's a longshot, but this kind of writing in the "Girl's Guide to Comic Con" is meant to stir up reactions and pander to a crowd who already have bile in their mouths to spew. Well put though. Pop culture is expanding these days into a new realm of media-whipped collectivist philosophes.

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  18. It appears what the market dictates is purely based on the demographics here, 98% of females are swooning, dim-witted Mary-Kate types with a penchant for screaming and throwing away countless pails of pith and cash, whereas if you're a serious connoisseur of art and comics you're either a lesbian or Janeane Garofalo wanna-be (the other 2%).

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  19. Good someone said something about it. I read that crap and it only made me think that they were talking about 7 year old girls.
    I've also tried to send comments to them, but it doesn't seem they are very open to critics...

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  20. My thoughts exactly after I read that article. As a fellow geek girl and Comic Con attendee I say kudos for putting it so articulately.

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  21. Thank you.

    That is all.

    Jessica Dwyer
    editor
    www.fangirlmag.com

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  22. Threadjack alert: Most of us Internet users have a very hard time reading white text on a black background. Yet despite the fact that nearly everyone I talked to says they hate it and it hurts their eyes, so many bloggers continue to do it because I guess they think it looks stylistic. It doesn’t. It’s hurty. Please to switch to more eye-pleasing colors, and urge your fellow bloggers to follow suit. (And thanks for the giving the LA Times the what-for!)

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  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  24. @Anonymous
    Re: Threadjack alert:

    Better? ;-)

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  25. Remember, Hollywood and writers in Hollywood doesn't get that there are lots of women who love science fiction and comics. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most Serenity/Firefly viewers/fans were women. Maybe even most Battlestar Galactica fans.

    Heck, isn't ComicCon now the place where half-dressed booth girls now help attract the boys to learn about the latest comic or video game?

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  26. I go to Comic Con for the books. I went initially, as a Browncoat, to work in their charity booth. Since then, though, I'm all about publisher's row and talking to writers.

    Because of my fanatical need to read I've discovered web comics (Sheldon! PVP!), and the joy of graphic novels (The Victorian from Penny Farthing is my favorite).

    The LA Times needs to actually attend the Con before they clump all of us women in with the little girls who only attended last year for Twilight...some of whom that I know who, by the way, actually spent time on the sales floor and in other panels to discover their inner geek.

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  27. @ Anonymous: I actually prefer white text on black background, so please don't generalize. Unlike yourself, however, I will not ask this blogger to change her colors based on my personal preference.

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  28. @gothamnights I appreciate you saying that.

    I kinda like the change for now. Never hurts to try it out and I can always go back ;-)

    Experimentation is good.

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  29. I feel sorry for Jake Gyllenhaal.

    After Brokeback Mountain the most important thing about his new role are his abs.

    Jake's showmance and promoting boring Avon lady called Reese Witherspoon doesn't help either.

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  30. I feel like "Hollywood" isn't getting a lot of things right about women lately:

    http://www.cinematical.com/2009/06/10/ask-pixar-to-make-a-movie-about-a-girl-why-thats-just-p-c-b/

    -Nicole

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  31. It leaves me truely shocked and saddened that we live in an era where, even now, people fail to recognize the ability of a female to have any tastes what-so-ever when it comes to comics, conventions, or science fiction in general.

    Who gives a rat's patoot whether Brad Pitt will be there or not? It's not like we don't see him a billion times a day anyway with all the cheap publicity he gets at supermarkets and convenience stores. I will see Inglourious Basterds - not for Pitt, but b/c the original was a B-movie classic and I'm intrigued to see what Tarantino will do with it.

    And I don't go to conventions to drool over 9th rate, 2-bit "sparkly" vampires...If I'm feeling fangy I'll hit the old collection and get my Spike fix or watch some True Blood!

    I go, because the comic-con is a rare place where individuals of like tastes can get together, share in the joys of fantastic artwork, beautifully told, epic storylines, and sort through the veritable treasure trove of back issues that you just can't find anywhere else. I go for Modesty Blaise, Black Canary, and Wonder Woman. For Doctor Who - from Hartnell to Tennant, (and the newby too). For Preacher, and John Constantine and the Green Arrow. For the awesomness that is anything by Joss Whedon - the Buffy Season 8 comic, for Firefly, Dollhouse, and Fray. For the original Star Wars and Star Trek memoribilia. For Battlestar - old and new, and anything else that strikes my fancy - but not for washboard abs.

    While I like a hot guy as much as the next girl I'm not got to shell out that kind of dough and that much of a time investment for something as cheap as a pretty face or as trite as a sparkly , emo, wanna-be vamp!

    My heart, my money, and my time go to the things I treasure most - a great story, beautifully and artistically told, and the opportunity to share that with a group of people who really understand.

    I am proud of the 30 year old comic lover that I am, and not the pathetical tweener that the LAT seems to try to make all females, regardless of age!

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  32. @Fey -

    To quote The Reverend Mother Gauis Helen Mohaim..

    "Get out of my miiiind"

    You hit pretty much every thought I had while looking at that slide show. Heh ;-)

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  33. As someone who often writes about the stereotypical assumptions about what women like in their entertainment, this is a fantastic, 'wish I wrote it' article.

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  34. @Geek Girl Diva

    as they say..."great minds..." and all that jazz ;)

    It'd be nice if we actually got credit for being the awesome fans that we are, and not ignored or shoved in the corner of pop culture awareness!

    Ah well, a girl can dream!

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  35. A fantastic response. I noticed the Los Angeles Times also failed to mention in their article that Comic Con has been sold out for weeks. How do you explain that to the "would be Bellas" who won't be able to get in to Hall H? I've been going to Comic Con since 1986 and its never been to ogle a guy. The Times also fails to mention that it has only been in the last few years you've seen this media frenzy with big name stars coming to pitch their movies/tvshows/book of the week.

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  36. @Fey

    ::grin:: We will. Eventually.

    And I link you this because you may dig it ;-)

    http://geekgirldiva.entertainmentearth.com/2009/05/are-you-maximizing-earning-potential-of.html

    Where are you blogging or tweeting or whatever so I can follow you? ;-)

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  37. @Geek Girl Diva

    don't have a blog of my own at the moment, I just saw your post and had to respond! :)

    Hmm...do dig the link though, and it's definitely worth looking into. I'll shoot you an update when I get something going ::grin::

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  38. I agree with everyone GGD says above, and I'm not even female. How weird is that? Does this mean I lose my man-card?

    ... the stereotype is, culturally, "Only boys like comics, and those boys are fat/pasty with little to no social skills."

    ... and because fat girls with no social skills do not actually exist, it is therefore impossible for girls to like this stuff for its intellectual value.

    Its marginalizing women AND comics AT THE SAME TIME. Luckily we have the internet, which old people (re: the media) have yet to figure out. They still think the creation of Iron Man is the cutting edge of comics today. HA.

    Alternatively, maybe these writers ARE the fat, pasty ones with no social skills. This is why they know so little about girls? The debate continues.

    Anyway. Keep preaching. :)

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  39. What's unfortunate now is that they are getting quite a bit of press out of their awful article. I, like many others, rarely if ever go to their website for anything. Have they even considered apologizing publicly you think?

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  40. I'm a total gamer/comic gal who actually does love Twilight. No, I don't get all nuts about it. I think it should be appreciated along with everything else, because there are a lot of hardcore geek ladies (maybe a few guys too), who do like it. I mean, half of Buffy was a lot of emo crying about how she couldn't handle being special. I know, I just re-watched every single season. Not knocking Buffy, of course. I just think Twilight deserves some amount of respect too, even if some of us don't like it. I don't particularly love BSG, but I'm not about to bash it. We're geeks; we have to stick together. If we bash one, we bash all. This does not include all the screaming teenagers who are only there for Edward. I'm talking serious fans...

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  41. Personally,I am tired of being grouped with the rest of the "stereotyped female geeks".YES,I AM ONE AND PROUD OF IT!!! But,I am not,nor have I ever been a Joss Whedon,Battlestar Galactica,or Johnny Depp fan. I AM INTO COMIC BOOKS!!!! That is my main reason to go to the COMIC CON. I also enjoy MASQUERADING;I do not like the term cosplayas I am not an anime geek,either.X-Men,Batman,and Iron Man. I wanna know what the Riddler is up to,and why the hell they haven't kille doff that slut Harley Quinn!!!!
    Dr. Who is also another geeky nerd draw for me.
    Even youwho are trying to break the girl geek mold are grouping us all together.Please,stop it.
    I watch Smallville for Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter...

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  42. @wolverbunny69

    From what I can tell, I was writing this from my perspective and I don't think I speak for geek girls as a whole.

    As I wrote" Girls have been going to SDCC for YEARS. They go because they like *gasp* comics? They go because they want to hear about the latest news from Joss Whedon, or for the BSG panel, or to watch Kevin Smith talk about...heck, anything. They are Browncoats, Cosplay fans, Gamers, Geeks, Nerds, Dorks, Comic fans, movie fanatics, book lovers and for loads of other reasons."

    Loads of other reasons being key there ;-)

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

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  43. I was so rapt to read this post! That article made me so angry for exactly the reasons you have mentioned. I live in Australia and it's been my dream for years to go to SDCC, and NOT to ogle!

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  44. Welp, GGD stole my (not really) article that I could rant about for the day :P

    REALLY well written, and very true (though I'm an evil guy).

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  45. It's not the first (nor the last) time that the LA Times has misquoted and misinterpreted everything. They did an article on my school not long ago (http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/15/business/fi-geeks15), and every single person in the article was misquoted. What's worse, the reporter kept asking to get into a party. "Yeah, sure we'll let you party with us, Ms. Repor-NO."

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