Doctor Who Hell Bent On Keeping Its Black Hole Sue

In the words of the Dalek trapped by the Cloister Wraiths near the Matrix, “Exterminate … me …”

Dalek Extermine Me ...

This week, on “Hell Bent” the season finale of Doctor Who, we see The Doctor return to Gallifrey — the world he thought he destroyed but ultimately saved — with the fire of wrathful self-righteousness. It is in the deserts of the outside of Arcadia that the common Gallifreyans, the people who were not fortunate enough to become Time Lords, celebrate the hero of Gallifrey’s salvation. As The Doctor comes home, the Chancellery Guard — still militarized with Time Lord-destroying stasers — surround him: demanding that he go meet the Lord President and High Council and reveal what he knows about the Hybrid.

After telling the multitude of Gallifreyan denizens to stand down with a wave of his hand, he leaves with the Guard: without any weapons, unnerving them all with his presence and the stories of what he has done. They respect him. They are afraid of him. It is there, at the Council that both the Councilors and the Sisters of Karn stand in attendance. The Doctor puts on his glasses as Rassilon, still Lord President of Gallifrey, comes into the chambers and both congratulates and threatens The Doctor. The Doctor asks why the High Council has not been disbanded, and Rassilon executed for attempting to destroy all of reality and betray their sacred oaths to watch over all of space and time. Rassilon makes a whole lot of self-serving remarks about how he is Time Lord society’s founder, creator, and liberator. He blames The Doctor for trapping them all in a pocket dimensional purgatory in which they cannot get out and for using The Moment to summon the Hybrid: to kill them all.

It is then that out of the shadows that Rassilon reveals the person who managed to get him here: by “revising” his confession dial. It’s Missy. In exchange for the repair of her destabilized body and another batch of regenerations, she lured The Doctor here through the manipulation of Lady Me: for the Council to interrogate him about The Hybrid. This and Missy’s “methods of persuasion” are why there are sections missing from Me’s books of memories. Of course, The Doctor is not fooled. He knows why Missy really brought him here. It turns out The Doctor had used his glasses to broadcast this whole interrogation to all of Gallifrey. The Chancellery Guard comes in. Rassilon orders them to kill The Doctor. But they ignore him. The General comes in after them.

Then the Guard surrounds Rassilon and point their stasers at him. The Doctor reveals that during this entire time, he also erased all of Rassilon from the Matrix and the Dark Matrix. He mentions that something that is dead and obsolete should remain dead and obsolete: that he cost him the life of his best friend. Rassilon tries to use his gauntlet, but The Doctor reveals that he has negated that too with his glasses. Rassilon commands the Guard to stand down, but eventually realizes they won’t. He pleadingly reminds them of who he is. The Doctor turns away as the General condemns Rassilon to death.

The Doctor exiles the rest of the High Council. Missy and The Doctor reluctantly work together in order to get Gallifrey out of its pocket dimension. This leads to The Doctor calling his graffiti-decorated TARDIS back using Gallifrey’s command functions. But they have some work to do first. They have to travel back in time just to help the other Doctor incarnations save Gallifrey during The Time War. And right after, he works with Missy and the other Time Lords on Gallifrey – many of whom he knows and trusts from his many incarnations – to bring the planet out again.

The Doctor, as Lord President, commands that Clara Oswald be brought back for her part in helping them save Gallifrey during “The Day of The Doctor.”

And it is then that The Doctor realizes the truth about The Hybrid. There are flashbacks to every interaction he had with all iterations of Clara: and how they met. They are at the Chamber: where someone can get called back from their time for just a few minutes. He realizes that Clara had been in his time stream. She had been introduced to him by Missy. Missy has done something to her. Even as he calls her back to save her, as Clara almost manifests again – changing this fixed point in time – she begins to destabilize time at the centre of Gallifrey. They just have a few moments. Clara tells The Doctor to let her go and something else we don’t hear.

The Doctor heartrendingly returns Clara to her death and turns on Missy who, in the confusion of the time displacement energy Clara was making as The Hybrid, has escaped. The Doctor’s glasses have broken. He leaves Gallifrey: utterly disheartened. But he sees the blackboard on his ship with Clara’s words: “Be a Doctor,” and a sonic screwdriver on the control panel of the TARDIS. The TARDIS then wheezes away out of reality to parts yet unknown.

This was an excellent season finale of Doctor Who …. that never happened.

Clara in a Diner

What actually happens in “Hell Bent” is The Doctor came back to Gallifrey. Then we have a segue where he meets someone who looks like Clara at a diner. We think that she is just one of Clara’s echoes in Arizona. The Doctor goes back to the shack where he was raised. And it’s interesting because, as Lady Me says later on, why would a Time Lord from the high society of Gallifrey spend so much time around humans on Earth? Certainly, from “Listen,” we have to wonder just where The Doctor came from, and his origins as part of the family that is the House of Lungbarrow in the books was ultimately a pleasant and noble lie.

Doctor Who Coming Home

But the rest of it is true. The people, including the woman who raised him, meet him and celebrate. And then the Time Lords simultaneously praise and threaten him: particularly Rassilon who is still Lord President for some reason. There is some epic and foreboding music and you think: Oh, this is on now. But then they do turn on Rassilon, but instead of executing him for his crimes, The Doctor tells him to “Get off his planet.”

Rassilon whines so pathetically that you almost feel sorry for him. Almost. Then The Doctor goes to Arcadia and banishes the High Council as well. From this point on, and before, we are given the mystery of the Cloister Wraiths — that are very reminscient of Rassilon’s Time Lord Interstitials from the novel Engines of War — that guard the Matrix and why they are now active. Leave it to Moffat to create yet another monster of the week.

Doctor Who Cloister Wraith

And then … and then … as Lord President of Gallifrey The Doctor calls back an … old friend: from moments before her death.

Yep. You guessed it.

Clara in a Classic TARDIS

Then he runs off with her, and the secret in the Matrix of this episode — a fascinating place of ghosts guarded by more ghosts utilizing Wraiths and enslaved Daleks, Cybermen, and giving Weeping Angels something to really weep about —  being that there is an old TARDIS hidden in the tunnel under there. Granted, there is a touching scene where Clara actually asks The Doctor and the other Time Lords there what they actually did to him in the confession dial whereupon she tells them that the reason they suck is that they are “hated.”

Pot, kettle, black, but I digress.

They run off to the end of the universe where The Doctor meets Lady Me and we discover that The Hybrid is neither of them, but actually two people of similar temperament and hobbies: namely, Clara and The Doctor because The Doctor is willing to risk fracturing all of space and time to keep her alive.

But apparently The Doctor’s plan is to erase all of Clara’s memories of him specifically so that the Time Lords or reality can’t harm her: so that she can’t be tracked. Basically it’s Donna Noble all over again. So Clara doesn’t like this and they both decide to flip the memory-erasing device to see whose memories of whom will be erased instead.

Clara and Me

And guess what happens? No seriously: guess. The Doctor’s memories of Clara are erased and Clara and Lady Me have a new TARDIS that looks like an Arizona diner. Clara has no pulse because she is still dead even though they travelled to the end of time itself so she has to stay on … her TARDIS in order to survive. I mean: at least Bill in Kill Bill had the decency to walk five steps afterwards, no?

So The Doctor isn’t talking to an echo of Clara, or a mind-wiped Clara at the diner that is a TARDIS, but rather Clara herself as he can’t even perceive her anymore. Then she and Lady Me leave: dematerializing around him and having not question it at all. And surprise: Clara brought back The Doctor’s TARDIS, with the blackboard’s inspirational message and a new sonic screwdriver that just happens to pop out and be waiting for him.

Doctor New Sonic Screwdriver

The blue box TARDIS and the diner TARDIS happen to pass each other in the night of the universe as they travel and … exeunt!

That’s “Hell Bent,” gentle-beings. No Missy. No Time War timey-wimey. No getting Gallifrey out of the pocket dimension because they already did it. Nothing more.

Rassilon Defeated

Honestly, I don’t really know what else to say here. It makes me wish that someone would go find Rassilon in his exile where he is totally not going to be plotting revenge against The Doctor, and beg him to destroy reality. To all the people out there that were hoping to see something spectacular about Gallifrey returning, well congratulations. You remember the Clara Oswald show that mercifully got cancelled? Well, we got a whole new bonus episode of that program instead.

At this point, Clara Oswald is a character that goes beyond being a Mary Sue. She is actually, more aptly, Steven Moffat’s Untempered Schism Sue or – more accurately – a Black Hole Sue. Google it: or better, yet, you can find what a Black Hole Sue is on TV Tropes: namely a character that the author likes so much and ascribes so much importance to even if there is no evidence of this importance aside from being told they are important to the point of warping all characters and plot around them.

“Hell Bent” was a terrible episode. If “Last Christmas” was one middle-finger to many Whovians, then this was easily two middle-fingers: especially when you consider that this was the finale of an otherwise better season. And if I had to rate this episode, that is precisely what I would give it.

“Hell Bent” can get bent with two middle fingers up.

At the very least, right now, The Doctor will no longer have to remember the Clara Oswald Show. If only the rest of us were so fortunate.

Clara Turns Off the TV

Clara Oswin Oswald Didn’t Have To Be An Impossible Girl

I really wanted to like Clara Oswin Oswald. And I suspect that a lot of Doctor Who fans did, while others still do.

Between her introduction in “Asylum of the Daleks” as Oswin the brilliant and somewhat snarky Soufflé Girl and her assertive, plucky, and empathetic incarnation in “The Snowmen” as Clara Oswald — governess by day, bar maid by night — we had the makings of not only a mystery, but a fascinating character in her own right.

Oswin made a mean souffle in her mind.
Oswin made a mean souffle when she put her mind to it.

Imagine: a person that can simultaneously exist in different areas of space and time. She has no time machine, or special powers, or any other kind of anomaly. What’s more is that, starting with “Asylum” she is a genius in a grim science-fiction story while, in another time of “Snowmen” she is a woman seeking a troubled Doctor seemingly out of no other impulse but sheer curiosity: a force that inspires her to ascend into the clouds to find a blue box in a fairytale.

Curious Clara

Then consider the premise that Clara exists in many other timelines and that even if they are all echoes of one person throughout time, they are nevertheless part of an individual’s entire existence. Just imagine what each iteration of Clara has gone through: how many skills, experiences, and lifetimes she gathered. It would stand to reason, after all, that she did something in space and time beyond waiting for The Doctor to show up so that she could be with him: you know, beyond the overall plot arc assigned to her.

Perhaps we might have gotten a character who was a combination of Oswin:

And the Victorian Clara who, according to Neil Gaiman, was originally supposed to be The Doctor’s Companion:

Clara and Doctor Kiss

So what did we get instead? We initially got a hapless Mary Sue stalked by the Eleventh Doctor and a mentality divided between skirting around the issue of what a strange conundrum Clara Oswald is, and yet more unconsummated romantic tension between The Doctor and another Companion. Because, you know, we haven’t seen that before. And for all there are even hints that Clara gets greater access knowledge from her time interfaced with the Great Intelligence’s “Spoonhead” network she is mainly a human female extension of The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.

No, Clara: you are neither Oswin nor Victorian Clara: that's for sure.
No, Clara: you’re not either of them.

But there was evidence that Clara, and her dynamic with The Doctor was still salvageable. Jenna Coleman and Matt Smith managed to show some chemistry, or at least evidence of a strong emotional bond between these two characters. Perhaps if The Doctor had spent less time trying to unravel her mystery and realized that she was just Clara Oswald, and was more important because of that thought alone, they could have moved on.

Clara and The Eleventh Doctor

Instead we finally discover how Clara can exist in other times and still be human, a realization come to at The Doctor’s personal time-stream when she states, in some of the most poorly thought out words ever:

Or perhaps: "I choose to save The Doctor."
“I was born to save The Doctor.”

For me, though I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, that was the beginning of the end of my hopes for Clara Oswin Oswald. Unfortunately, it pretty much summed up everything she had been after her previous incarnation’s death in “The Snowmen.” She is just a character that revolved around The Doctor, just a part of him: a woman dependent on a male character’s existence as opposed to also standing up in her own right. And while it is true that Companions are judged by their relation to The Doctor in any season, this was a moment that could have been written a lot better had there been more character-development on Clara’s part.

And never mind the fact that this wasn’t even followed up on: that there wasn’t an episode or a minisode dealing with the fall-out of Clara realizing what happened to her and coming to terms with it, or even addressing the fact that The Doctor had an incarnation she never saw before that point. For that matter, we don’t really even get to see the consequences of what happens when she falls through, scatters in, and survives The Doctor’s time-stream. I mean, you would think there would be some psychological effects of some kind. These are issues that could have been dealt with or at least touched upon at the beginning of “The Day of The Doctor”: to actually show some flow and continuity instead of a jarring situation where the characters seem to have moved on and found themselves in a different situation.

But now I’m digressing into plot as opposed to what I really wanted to see: character-writing. Perhaps, in the end, these two elements are not that far removed from one another.

So between “Day of The Doctor” and “Time of The Doctor” we, again, get little show of continuity save in a “tell, but don’t show” situation. Matt Smith, before his departure, has said that he could have done another year of Doctor Who. And I can’t help but wonder if another year of the Eleventh Doctor with Clara Oswald — in which he wasn’t trying to figure out what she was — and where they both figure who they are — might have made something of a difference in their character dynamic. Or not.

And then we have the regeneration.

Well ... how are we going to deal with this?
Well … how are we going to deal with this?

After The Doctor’s regeneration into Twelve, Clara can’t seem to get over the fact that he looks like an older man now. Remember: she just went through the Time Lord’s personal time-stream, met previous incarnations of him, saw him actually age on Trenzalore, and actually existed as different people with other experiences. The parallel was right there. Had there been some more organic character development, maybe Clara having always in some way been able to draw on the memories of her other selves — or echoes — or only been able to after “Name of The Doctor,” his transformation might have taken some getting used to, but she could have seen The Doctor she had always really known beyond appearances and mannerisms.

Unfortunately, again, in “Deep Breath” Madame Vastra seemed to all too correctly deduce that Clara pined for her lost young boyfriend.

Vastra Talks To Clara

Moffat might have you believe that this was never intended, and Peter Capaldi himself wanted to portray a character that wasn’t involved romantically with his Companion. But the groundwork had already been laid out. Between Clara’s previous “milady doth protest too much” claims that he wasn’t her boyfriend and The Doctor’s proclamations of “Clara, my Clara!” that romantic bond already existed. It was there: or at least portrayed as such by the actors. So this subtext was either retconned away, the Eleventh Doctor always thought of her as something of a fascinating object, or the Twelfth Doctor’s feelings had changed and this — again — wasn’t really explored.

In addition, I think the show writers began to realize that once they revealed the true nature of Clara’s existence and pretty much eliminated that mystique, they now had to do some actual character development beyond its suspension in the 50th Anniversary and Christmas Specials.

All right. So the dynamic changes. Moffat and his crew decide, at this point, to give Clara more of a life outside of The Doctor. They began it when they gave her a job as a schoolteacher in “Day of The Doctor”: which is a natural extension of her work with children as a nanny. And she even gets a love interest in the form of Danny Pink. None of these things negate her relationship with The Doctor either. She has her time-travelling interest in The Doctor and her romantic arrangement with Danny while also having her own career where she actually learns how to take responsibility for her own actions, and realize that her students depend on her.

But of course, because of all this, Clara suddenly develops a potent case of shallowness and insensitivity. When she isn’t taking pot-shots at Danny’s military past, or constantly brushing him off to go sailing into the stars, she never even bothered to tell The Doctor about Danny, or wondered if this might actually change something in their dynamic. She becomes abrasive and rude when she’s not being outright entitled or completely self-righteous about Danny calling her on her behaviour, or The Doctor not acting the way she wants him to act.

Mainly, it seems to become about her.

Clara and The TARDIS Interface

Because, you know, apparently it would taken too much time and effort to show Clara struggling between these relationships, thinking about others, and actually having some honesty occur: where she, Danny, and The Doctor actually talk about what is going on. Moffat could have worked with this tension and conflict. Remember “Kill the Moon” where Clara delivered what was probably hoped to be an epic verbal beat down on The Doctor’s behaviour complete with the threat of actual physical harm?

Remember how before that, when The Doctor left her to decide what happened to the creature in the moon and it just seemed as though, after all of Clara and the other characters’ arguing with him, that he just got fed up with it all?

They could have talked about that because, from what I saw, that conflict was partially due to the fact that Danny Pink was brought into their relationship without Clara really talking about it with The Doctor, or asking him how he felt about that. Instead,  The Doctor is portrayed as genuinely not understanding why Clara is so upset: and not being affected by this one way or another. It just feels disingenuous: because there is what Moffat and his team want to happen, and then there are the places where the character dynamic wants to go, or at least adapt itself into going.

And that would have happened if we saw Clara and Danny actually befriending each other and get to know one another. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be conflict, but a sense of chemistry instead of that forced feeling of Danny being added onto Clara so that we, the audience, would know that she is “over” The Doctor.

Excuse me while I'm about to go off on an adventure. I'm sorry but you are just a little bit boring.
I’m sorry but you are being a little bit boring. Excuse me while I’m about to go off on another adventure.

Then we have Clara’s lies and hypocrisy. She lies to Danny about who The Doctor is, then she lies to The Doctor about Danny supposedly being all right with their travelling after she tells Danny that they are done. And even though The Doctor is “a part of the Earth” and Clara seems to think she has the power to tell him to leave it, when he quotes her words right back at her “In The Forest of The Night,” apparently this doesn’t take away from the fact that she still thinks he should leave to save himself: because those words only seem to work when Clara wants them to do so.

But, for me, I think the death-knell came with “Dark Water.” You know the sequence: where, instead of asking for The Doctor’s help, she decides to betray him and force him to help her by threatening his age-old home to get a man back, whom apparently she is love with and “is the only person she will ever love” …

I wonder if either of them remember that The Doctor can open the TARDIS with a snap of his fingers.
… because underpants gnomes?

Steven Moffat has stated that, in this iteration of The Doctor’s and Clara’s relationship — as journeying with a time-traveller, that there should be actual consequences in doing so. Yet what consequences did Clara suffer as a result of her actions: especially in “Dark Water?” The Doctor kicked people out of his TARDIS for less than what she did in that episode. And barring that: The Doctor is Clara’s friend. She was there in all parts of his life. In fact, the only episode that I truly respected her in this iteration was “Listen” where she was there at both Danny and The Doctor’s very beginnings and provided them insight, inspiration, and strength while, in turn, she gained a whole other understanding of them. You know: character-development … or so it seemed at the time.

So why, realistically speaking, could Clara fall in love with a man she clearly doesn’t respect and then suddenly betray her best friend and threaten everything that made him who he is?

And even here, there was promise. We saw that Clara was part of Missy’s plan: that Missy had brought her and The Doctor together from the very beginning. Hell, we even saw that nice snippet from “Death in Heaven” where Clara tells a a Cyberman that “Clara Oswald doesn’t exist.”

Oh really. You don't? You didn't? Well, I guess the latter part of Season Eight didn't exist either.
Oh really. You don’t? You didn’t? Well, I guess Season Eight didn’t happen either.

But nothing happened with that, aside from it going to an extremely obnoxious and derpy place that doesn’t even convince a basic Cyberman.

It’s just like Moffat teasing that Orson Pink, the time traveller in “Listen” was just from a branch of the Pink family and not necessarily Danny and Clara’s descendant. Both have tension built up and both end with equally disappointing conclusions.

All of this is just downright frustrating to watch and I have to admit that while I was losing patience with Clara after “Kill the Moon” I lost all respect for the character after “Dark Water”: and the fact that she seemed to have learned nothing from her actions and that even after that she continued to bully The Doctor into other decisions.

Clara and her character dynamic has become more convoluted than any “Timey wimey, wibbly wobbly stuff” and I can sympathize with just why some Classic Doctor Who fans cannot stand the romance written into the program. In fact, I think it’s no coincidence that Steven Moffat, the very writer that created the “Timey wimey” idea of time-travel to explain away all temporal inconsistencies, would apply this same philosophy to character creation and relationships in his own run.

But, ironically, with time and patience we could have seen a very different Clara Oswald. As I said before, the ingredients were all there. The Doctor could have met her in more timelines. He might have tracked her down to 2013 where she was in a mental institution after being overwhelmed by all of her other memories. Perhaps he takes her out of there and, together, they explore how she can integrate those memories and just how this was all possible. Maybe The Doctor could have actually been Clara’s boyfriend because heaven forfend that he have a different relationship with a new Companion. Imagine how the rest of those events could have played out: with River Song wanting her husband to actually be happy and live on, and the impact of Clara saving The Doctor — again — by using her own sense of agency to jump into his time-stream without those very unfortunate words.

"Oh Clara ... My Clara ... I have chosen well."
“Oh Clara … My Clara … I have chosen well.”

Or maybe Missy created Clara. I mean: just how did Missy know about Clara to begin with? Perhaps Victorian Clara died and Missy took her essence in the Nethersphere and used her hypnotic powers, which are canon, to re-engineer her into a new personality that would be The Doctor’s worst enemy. After all, Missy seemed to like violating the human dead for her ends. I mean, imagine The Doctor travels with Clara for all that time and even thinks he’s figured out how she existed in other times, only for her to betray him and claim that she had been Missy’s agent the entire time? It might have explained why the TARDIS was so dead set against her being there.

And just think of one sequence, modelled after the minisode “Clara and The TARDIS” where the TARDIS forces Clara to see all the echoes of herself: her past selves at different emotional points, her molten undead selves from “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” and even her iterations in other timelines to seemingly hurt her and protect her Doctor, but also to snap her out of that malignant, treacherous self and get her to accept those parts of herself, and take control of her own life.

Would the real Clara Oswald please stand up?
Would the real Clara Oswald please stand up?

Perhaps Clara dies to save The Doctor and every time he goes to another timeline or world he has to be reminded of the fact that he will never see her again. But if you don’t want to go all potentially Women in Refrigerators on this, maybe she just leaves after finishing her own A Game of You: discovering her own sense of identity separate from The Doctor and both her and him realizing that he is not the person she fell in love with any more and she has to move on.

So long and thanks for all the jelly-bellies.
So long and thanks for all the jelly babies.

At the very least, when she betrayed the Twelfth Doctor he should have helped her get Danny back while telling her that there was a price for her actions: namely, never being allowed to travel with him again.

When I first started thinking about all this, I thought that Clara Oswald shouldn’t have been the Twelfth Doctor’s Companion. If anything, she felt like more a part of Eleven’s life and could have fit into that dynamic a lot more efficiently. But after a conversation with a friend of mine, I saw that she was just a reflection of both incarnations of The Doctor. Eleven’s Clara represented all of his wonder and his need for her. Twelve’s Clara is all the former in addition to his angst, conflict, and uncertainty magnified a thousand-fold: the ephemeral breath on Virginia Woolf’s mirror instead of the refracted crystal of herself that she could have been.

Mirror Clara

Because Clara is neither a reflection of The Doctor, a plot device of his, nor a heavy-handed hint of there being a female Doctor in the future at all ...
Because Clara is neither a reflection of The Doctor, a plot device of his, nor a heavy-handed hint of there being a female Doctor in the future at all …

I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that Clara Oswald’s main problem is the fact that she just isn’t written well. There were so many storytelling and character-driven possibilities that just weren’t even explored. The attempts to develop her character have been awkward and jarring to say the least and just thinking about some of her more lucid moments and what could have been just makes the experience all the more painful.

Clara and Leaf

I will admit: when I heard that “Last Christmas” might be Clara’s last show, I felt a tremendous sense of relief: even as I feel some dread that due to rumours about Jenna Coleman wanting to return, she will be back. Despite some particularly touching moments, the character of Clara has gone from being a sonic screwdriver supplement to an attempt at a haphazard marionette portrayal of an actual human being.

It’s just sad. Clara started off with a lot of potential but it became clear that no one really knew what to do with her. Clara Oswin Oswald deserved much better than what she got, and I hope that Steven Moffat gives her at least the dignity of “Last Christmas” being her final adventure and letting us, and The Doctor, remember what could have been and finally move on.

Con Fail

This is what it was like to be me, on Sunday, attempting to look for the Toronto Fan Expo.

Me and my Head

You find yourself walking out of Union Station through the Toronto Train Station to get to the Skywalk. Unlike the other times you’ve been here, there aren’t any cosplayers or people with Fan Expo bags to follow, but you make your way to the Skywalk.

You know that, in the past, all you had to do was open the glass door on the left-hand side in order to take some escalators down the stairs in order to get to the lobby. All you would have to do is get your prepaid ticket scanned, get a wristband, wait in something of a line and get in. And because it’s Sunday and almost 3 pm, you think that you won’t have to wait very long. You would get in, meet with your friend from London, Ontario and explore for about two hours. The only issue would be the line that might form as you are all leaving like last year’s.

However, it is precisely because of your knowledge of last year that you know that the door is locked and you have to go the long way around, down stairways and across a street or two to get to where you need to go. You get out of the Skywalk and you are outside on the roof. You wander around. Finally, a really nice young lady–whose costume you can’t even recall now and who isn’t a staff member or a volunteer–asks if you’re lost. You admit it and she points you to where you need to go: a Pavilion entrance down below the Convention Centre.

So you travel down the steps. Your thin tight black Dr. Who T-shirt is sticking to your body in the summer heat. You walk to the Pavilion entrances and notice that there are either “Priority,” “Vendor” or “Re-Entry” entrances and exits. So much for that. You keep walking: past a large Aquarium, the line to see the CN Tower and even the Blue Jays booths. You still don’t find the entrance.

You go back and move onto the streets. In fact, you follow a large group of people across a street or two. You even notice some signs that say “Fan Expo” on the sides of walls. They are few, and scattered, and far between. There are no arrows on them pointing anywhere or even a map. You walk past a place where someone, who may or may not be a staff member is talking with a driver. You find another sign. You follow it to a dead-end.

You go back to a park area where you see a young woman standing in a grove of trees dressed and posing as Saber from Fate/Stay Night. It is very awesome and you see her friends taking pictures of her. You try to ignore the lonely feeling, wishing that you could contact your friend or someone that can help you, and continue on. And then you see that you are back in the same place you started at: the Pavilions. A small train ride, that you passed before, nearly runs you over as you are clutching your ticket papers in your hands: which you’d gotten out beforehand so you would be ready for the booth and your wristband.

You have been steadily losing your patience. Finally, you get fed up and go through the Re-Entry to ask the people in charge where you need to go. The security woman in her red uniform is nice enough, but her directions are long and vague. She mentions the Aquarium as a land mark that you’ve passed more than twice. You are tired and hot. It has already been something along the lines of twenty minutes or so that you have been lost in the non-Euclidean geometry of this part of the city or, let’s face it, Toronto itself.

Or at least it might as well be non-Euclidean because this is a vast space and you have spatial issues and difficulties with direction to begin with. You can’t follow the vague map on your papers–if that is what it even is–which has no written directions whatsoever. You keep to the Aquarium and because there are no signs indicating where the Fan Expo ticket-scanning booth is, you walk up some stairs and find yourself at a Hotel.

Then you see two men and a child. You see they have Fan Expo bags like everyone else. You ask one of the men where the ticket booth is. He points vaguely in back of you and asks if you are going to pick up a wristband for sentimental value because the Expo is essentially over. You say that is impossible because it says, specifically on your sheet that they close at 5 pm. He says that this is not possible.

It is 3:45 pm by this point. You walk back down the stairs and across the Blue Jays booths to see if you can find this place. You are feeling a weariness begin to creep into your very being. At 3:55 pm or so, knowing that by the time you find this fabled ticket-scanning place you will have less than hour assuming the vendors weren’t packing up at this point, you realize that this venture is over.

You can feel the bitch-face–that cold unsmiling mask–forming over your features to cover the growing rage you feel inside. You pass by two kids that have shirts with the words “Game Over” and you can’t think of anything more appropriate than to call this waste of an outing. The anger is doused by pure exhaustion and sheer disappointment as not only do you realize that you have wasted $45 for a Sunday ticket to an event you couldn’t even access, and time you could have used to rest, but you also know that your friend is probably heading back to London by this point.

Seeing all of the cosplayers, con-goers and young couples with their loot is just another slap in the face: as though their mere presence this point just rubs in the fact that you couldn’t partake of any of this. You look at the papers in your hand and feel like a fucking idiot. Everything around you feels as cold and as impersonal and uncaring as the business that Fan Expo has begun to represent to you and so many others you know. You’ve already folded the un-scanned papers and now you just crumple them into one fist.

Under your breath, you whisper the words, “Con Fail.”

Then because you went so off-track trying to find this booth, this booth that you wonder ever existed to begin with, you can’t even find the Union Subway Station again and, when you do, you end up sitting in a subway car that takes too long get there, pauses at points and decides to go out of service at Eglinton without even waiting for another back-up car to be there. And all that time, you get to sit there and see more Expo-fans sitting around with their comics and their bags: just reminding you of everything you did not experience that day before your week begins.

You are told later, after you post on Facebook, and after a polite but brutally honest letter to the latter that is probably buried under a high volume of many other incoming emails that Hobbystar–the company that has “organized” the Fan Expo–is going to have new ownership and perhaps things will be better next time. Perhaps they will have volunteers around the streets with signs, or clearer signs on posters, or perhaps just greater organization itself. At the very least, they could have a ticket booth is not in the centre of Pan’s Labyrinth or long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Because right now, just as then, you vow to yourself–having already had issues with Hobbystar and knowing that your other friends have experienced the same–that you are never going to try to go to Toronto Fan Expo again.

This message has been brought to you by Con Fail. I’m glad that everyone else, who managed to make it to the Expo had one. I just wish I had been one of you. As it is, I’m pretty ashamed that I had to spend valuable time and space writing this piece out when I have so many more interesting things planned, but it just had to be said.

As I Miss the Point: Pixel Girls and Broody Men

I saw Laurie Penny’s article I Was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl through a tweet that Neil Gaiman made: with him questioning whether or not his character Death–in The High Cost of Living–actually fell into that stereotype. I’ve actually heard this term before, in passing, but I think I kept mishearing it as “the manic pixel girl,” or something along those lines. Maybe it was after watching and reading Scott Pilgrim that my brain started to make that reference.

Still, the definition of that term still stands: as a female character created specifically to make some dark, broody, introverted young man open up to life and not that much else. You know: the quixotic help-mate that comes and goes and whose only purpose in life is to help some guy “lighten up.” There are many conceits about this kind of character–this stereotype–that rub me the wrong way. I mean, I can talk about how she isn’t a whole human being, how she probably doesn’t eat, drink, sleep, eliminate in any fashion or probably even menstruate. I can describe how she is more of an elemental than anything material and is more of a shadow or a mirror for a man than anything else: at least when taken to the nth degree.

But I think what really bothers me, as a man and as a human being, is that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl always seems to have a kind of knowledge–inherent in her being–that she gives to the man, and he gives her nothing back in return. It’s insulting, really, to both genders in this dynamic.

I mean, think about it for a few moments. What this dynamic says, as a narrative, is that a brooding, insular man needs some agency outside of themselves to become a full being: that for all of their knowledge and skill, they really aren’t that bright as it were. They are not “naturally happy.” In fact, they are so hopeless that only one kind of woman can give them what they need and not, you know, come to some kind of understanding from personal experience or begin to help themselves. And is this pixie girl so whole and so unselfconsciously perfect that she can’t learn anything from him in return? That maybe he might also know something about life and it is not all about an Apollonian shallow self-centred view of the world in which everything has to be positive all the time, or someone’s view has to be saccharine sweet all the time to the point where they can’t stand the negativity in the world or other people and will either ignore or phase out someone who is “not positive enough” or try to change them?

As Thomas Mann points out in “Tonio Kroger,” some people dance and some people watch people dance and appreciate it for what it is. But I posit that this is no reason for either dancer or watcher to not interact or learn something from each other’s perspectives.

And I think that if I had to really go into this, I would say the following: people cannot fix each other. They can’t. The only way that a person can be “fixed,” whatever that means, is for that person to decide that they want to fix themselves: or to change. That person can ask for help, can accept it as well, but the agency is ultimately with them. Also, what is a “main character?” Is a main character someone who has to be in charge and in control all the time: making everyone else into an extension or a side-character in their own personal odyssey? If so, then it’s just so … tiring. It’s tiring and unrewarding because you are losing out on some experiences when you are like that.

You know what story would really intrigue me? Honestly? Something that began like a Pixie Dream Girl meeting a brooding dark young man and she presents this stereotypical face to him. And it isn’t all bad. She and him have fun despite himself and, god forbid, he actually begins to remember or know what happiness feels like. But as this relationship goes on, he notices that she is a human being too: someone who needs to use the restroom, sweats, passes gas, gets tired, gets periods, doesn’t get periods, gets cranky and has her own shit to deal with. And maybe she in turn learns things from him too. Maybe he shows her exactly what he perceives as wrong with this world. Maybe she learns that sometimes it is necessary to sit down and take things in: that there are times when it is appropriate–and healthy–to be solemn and really look at what it is that you are doing. Perhaps she can see that sometimes he just doesn’t want to be the main character anymore and that he just wants to be an interesting side-character–the kind that is generally unplayable, a strange NPC–who can come and go with her as she pleases, or as they do.

Perhaps they can dance in the sun and the night and enjoy being alive together. Maybe they can sit in a peaceful and non-threatening silence. And why does she have to be “simple” and he be “complex.” Why can’t they both–or all–just be intelligent and different as human beings? Why can’t they both be wrong, and be right at the same time? In fact, when it is all over in some form or another, why can’t they both go home at the end of the day changed for having met each other?

Because I tell you right now: whenever you do meet someone, you change them. I don’t mean you force to be what you envision them to be, but even if you don’t teach them new things even something as seemingly superficial as your mannerisms sometimes rub off on each other and get adopted in strange ways. And even if you ever get reduced to the point where all that easy conversation and love becomes stilted and somewhat embarrassing after at least one of you moves on with your lives–when you are just a little sentimental enough to make the person you once loved uncomfortable after … whatever the fuck it was you had–you know that just for one moment you both understood each other and held each other for dear life as human beings. And who knows: it might well happen again.

Maybe there is a film or a story like that which uses these two stereotypes–the Manic Dream Pixie Girl and the Brooding Young Man–and subverts them like that. Or I’m just amalgamating another stereotype and some cliched human dynamics together: like from some romantic comedy. But whatever the case, stories about actual human beings are nice: even when you don’t want to live them.

And I will just end off by stating one thing. Ramona Flowers is not a Manic Dream Pixie Girl. If anything, she is more like a Depressive Dream Pixel Girl: at least in the film. She is too detached and ironic to be manic and, frankly, is just another stereotype. And don’t even get me started on Scott Pilgrim. Sometimes, he doesn’t even have the intelligence going for him.

But I will say this: that just because someone isn’t a main character doesn’t mean that they aren’t–or they can’t already be–a protagonist.

Star Wars: Different Forms of Revenge and the Knights that Could Have Been

I have to be careful. If I keep this up, I will have to make an entire section for Star Wars. But I really wanted to articulate something that I have–throughout the years–discussed time and again.

The Jedi Knights.

When I first thought of the Jedi Knights, with what little we were told through the Old Trilogy, I pictured them as something not unlike the X-Men–people born with strange powers–who are somehow also like a galactic police: in that they have their roles as peacekeepers, but they are also a distinct people and citizens of the Republic.

Of course, in the gap between the Old Trilogy and the New, there were other details that formed as well due to the Expanded Universe. Tales of the Jedi established that, at the time, there were many decentralized enclaves of Jedi: with some ancient and wise teachers guiding multiple students of various species, genders, and social backgrounds. Some Jedi had families, partners, spouses, and children while others served as full-time guardians, scholars, and diplomats. Some were born into the Order, others adopted, and still more joined voluntarily. They also had ties to the Galaxy: to people who were not Force-sensitive, while others investigated the glorious mystery that was the galactic energy field known as the Force and defended against the abuses of the Dark Side and injustice.

I admit, I was probably one of those people that was pretty spoiled by reading the Expanded Universe stories after Return of the Jedi and getting used to how Luke Skywalker developed and ran his Jedi Order, and thought it and the precedent in Tales determined how the Jedi Order had always been before its first destruction.

But then, like many others, I found out I was wrong. I found out that the Jedi Order was essentially a highly centralized monastic organization that took children from their parents–mostly willingly–when discovered to have a “high midichlorian count” in their bloodstreams, and trained them to essentially be apart from Galactic society while also somehow still serving only the Republic and, well, being a part of its judicial branch. Jedi were not allowed to own anything save their lightsabers–and apparently “the lightsaber is their life” though I always used to think true mastery of the Force was evolving past needing to even use it anymore–and they were not allowed to marry, or have children of their own: though they could have relationships provided that their duty to the Order and the Force came first.

Basically, in the Prequels the Jedi Order became a religious group with various psychokinetic abilities that somehow served to enforce and mediate a Galaxy of secularism and a multitude of other beliefs. And while they were encouraged to accept the diversity and multiculturalism of the Galaxy at large as peacekeepers and diplomats–trained specially to know that everyone and everything has “a certain point of view,” for the most part they couldn’t really apply this philosophy to themselves and their own internal practices.

In short, from my perspective the Prequels made most of the Jedi bland, unrelatable, forgettable and, some cases, really unlikable. These Jedi, compared to the ones of Luke’s time and the ones that predated even them, do not seem to have passion for anything, they do not fight as well and only defensively (which mostly is not in their favour against Dark Side opponents), they seem to have a whole lot of prohibitions–more than just being mindful of your feelings–and they make themselves separate from people who are “not like them.”

https://i0.wp.com/images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090320221711/starwars/images/5/59/ThreeJedi.jpg

There are exceptions–such as the Cerean Master Ki-Adi-Mundi having a polygamous relationship to help save his species–and I even admit I understand the structure involved too. After all, you would want to regulate a group of people with advanced abilities and keep them from potentially misusing them–even by accident–and they have to be very careful in what they do. But there is a point where reasonable caution becomes fear. The irony of course is that in the films and the books, the Jedi like to say that, “Fear is a path to the Dark Side.” But here the Jedi are, trying to eliminate the potential for attachments and conflicting interests in their initiates before they are even cognizant of them for fear that they might turn to the Dark Side out of passion. Essentially, they were forced to ignore the will of the Force–in their basic reproductive and emotional urges that most life is programmed with–in order to serve the will of the Jedi Council and the Order.

There is interesting story behind the Order becoming an almost purely monastic one: in that there was something called the Ruusan Reformation: where after a major galactic Dark Age the Order instituted all of these reforms after the Sith supposedly “destroyed themselves” to prevent or at least diminish the potential of more Dark Side-users rising. Basically, it is like our world: in that when we have times of peace, we tend to be more liberal as societies, whereas in war or great tragedy we tend to become more repressive or, at best, conservative with many groups within these structures becoming both self-censuring and self-policing. But as I said with regards to the Jedi, this was still something motivated by fear and, well, fear at least indirectly led to the inevitable.

I also think that these back stories, while really clever, are obviously retroactive and kind of a cop-out by George Lucas: made specifically to help the plot in Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the Dark Side. You can name a whole of cultural precedents for me in our world–the Knights Templar, the Vestal Virgins, the Guardians of Plato’s Kallipolis and many other orders of monks, celibates, idealized communal police forces and their roles–but I still think it is a cop-out.

There were many ways that the Jedi could have been left as peacekeepers and equal galactic citizens while also retaining the tensions that would have led to their destruction. Things that would have allowed them to remain, at least to me, as human and relatable beings while making their deaths that much more horrible. Even Anakin’s fall could have been made even nastier this way. I understand that film has different requirements as a medium for expression as opposed to books and that an idea simply conveyed–especially in a really clear archetypal form–can be the most effective, but that still doesn’t detract from my point.

I’m going to tell you now about the fall of the Galactic Republic as I imagined it. I saw the Jedi living side by side with other Republic citizens: some revering them and others fearing what they can do. Hence my X-Men reference. Palpatine manipulates his way into power and engineers the Clone Wars as per usual: save that when I heard about Clone Wars I thought both–or all sides–used clones in their battles as terrifying and disposable legions of soldiers. It does not take much these days to imagine whole lifeforms being engineered simply for the purposes of warfare: threatening the very nature of the Galaxy and life itself. That is what is at stake.

In the meantime, Palpatine is slowly and surely turning the populace against the Jedi Knights. He is being clever and not coming out and outright saying anti-Jedi rhetoric, but he has others do it for them. Pretty soon, members of the Order have to be watched, are excluded from places, and measures are taken–a few from the EU–to make areas and situations where their powers can be neutralized. Incidents happen where people get into fights with Jedi and, save for the Masters–and in my vision I thought that Masters were the pinnacle of a Jedi’s power and wisdom and on par with Yoda and Obi-Wan–they cannot prevent the conflicts.

Anakin is Luke’s age when Obi-Wan finds him on Tatooine: and he trains him. Yoda is Obi-Wan’s Master and has long evolved past his need to use a lightsaber. Owen Lars is Obi-Wan’s brother: which explains their strained relationship in that Obi-Wan had the Force potential and was the hero, while Owen was essentially a “mundane” and liked being a moisture farmer. Anakin and Obi-Wan go around the Galaxy together and eventually become drinking buddies and friends. Anakin is exposed to all of the conflict going on and he does get befriended by Palpatine. Anakin also meets Padme, or whomever at the time I thought would be his wife, and they plan to have a family and Anakin flat out tells Obi-Wan that he wants his son to have his lightsaber should anything happen to him. I could see Anakin a lot like a combination of Han Solo but with moments of wise Luke: a far more relatable and likeable person than in the Prequels.

But War takes its toll and Anakin starts to go crazy: each conflict inflicting a toil on his stress level and mental well being. Obi-Wan tries to save him, but they are fighting on Mustafar and Anakin accidentally falls into a volcano or gets burned and injured. Obi-Wan thinks Anakin is dead and takes his lightsaber. But Anakin lives on through sheer hate and the belief that Obi-Wan tried to kill him and abandoned him to die. Palpatine retrieves Anakin and influences him further to blame Obi-Wan and the Jedi for the entire War and for Anakin’s injuries. Then we see the slow, painstaking physical transformation of Darth Vader. Then in the third film we see a cybernetic Darth Vader leading an assault on the main Jedi Temple–with now Imperial troopers who can also be birth-born recruits because we all know that normal people can commit atrocities just as well as any clone–and slaughtering powerful Jedi we have come to relate to and care about. You know: the Jedi Purge we expected.

Purge

In the meantime, we see Jedi children being taken away by the new Imperial government to places unknown: along with adults and Jedi sympathizers. Collaborators turn them in for bounty and out of fear. But some are still sympathizers and try to hide them. We also see Purge troopers and Jedi hunters come up with energy cages and ysalamiri: creatures that can neutralize the Force around a captive Force-sensitive. This is a nice lead-in for the Dark Times where we see the Jedi fugitives fighting for their lives and being murdered by Darth Vader and friends. It is also made clear that only penultimate masters of the Dark Side can use Force Lightning: and not everyone and their grandmother. And then we see Bail Organa hiding and raising Leia and Obi-Wan taking Luke: and we know that there will be hope for some kind of justice and restoration … and eventually the return of those strange and wonderful Jedi Knights.

I know there is a great irony implicit in this essentially fanboy rage article: in that my previous post dealt with how I hated how dark Star Wars had become beyond what was necessary. However, I recognize that the events leading to the Empire and Darth Vader and the genocide of the Jedi were not pleasant moments. But it could have still been Dark and very real: something visceral that people could relate to. What would you relate to more: seeing a bunch of distant Knights you barely know get shot by some command predisposed clone troopers, or some characters you know and families you saw even tangentially being carted away to the Imperial Palace for death … or worse. Or even seeing some well-developed characters die because of how they were born. And then when Luke has his confrontation in the Old Trilogy, you know what is at stake and you see Vader too beginning to actually realize what a fool he has been and we could have watched as he acts accordingly. You also see that even though what Luke and Anakin do can never truly make up for what was lost, there is a least, you know, “a new hope.”

Instead, we got a cookie-cutter “Execute Order 66” on some people we barely knew and saw a bunch of relatively forced characters fight. That is how I feel, and the sad thing is I also feel like it could have been so much better than it was. I was really disappointed about how the Jedi were portrayed. I expected better. A lot better.

I am almost finished this. I could easily end this off by stating that my issue with the Prequels and the Jedi in them was not that they were the lead-up to a tragedy, but they were a lead-up to a very contrived tragedy. No. I think what also really annoys me is what happened afterwards.

In the Expanded Universe, there was a book called Traitor. It was written by Matthew Stover, before his excellent adaptation of Revenge of the Sith. And in this book, Darth Vader’s grandson Jacen Solo essentially touches both sides of the Force and is taught through some hard, brutal but necessary lessons that the Force has no sides. The Light and Dark Side come from within the practitioner and not the Force itself. It was a well-written and well-reasoned book. Unfortunately, writers afterwards came to take Vergere — Jacen Solo’s Master’s — words as complete literal truth: that “everything I tell you is a lie.”

It turns out that Vergere was a secret Sith and she was feeding Jacen something called The Potentium Heresy: a philosophy that states that as long as a Force practitioner intends no wrong, they can do no wrong. In the end, Vergere was working with another Sith who eventually turns Jacen into something like his grandfather: even though he should have really known better.

Caedus EA

Of course, neither this Heresy nor the “shades of grey” approach are mutually inclusive things. The fact is: whether the Force has two exact sides is irrelevant. If you seriously take the time to look at your actions and guide them appropriately, it is beyond this really simplistic binary opposition of black and white. No person is either pure good or pure evil. The view of the Light and Dark Sides of the Force is really Manichean–an absolutist dual morality of good verses evil–and even the Old Trilogy questions it when Luke almost a few times gives into his anger, but ultimately looks deep into himself and stops. Hell, I can even argue that just as the Force influences peoples’ actions in Star Wars, people’s actions influence the Force and create its Light and Dark Sides: though that becomes a question of the chicken or the egg.

And also, in the Expanded Universe, there are species that have no concept of Light and Dark and have different forms of morality. Some have entirely different spectrums: like the Aing-Tii monks. So how do you deal with that?

There are some who said the retconning back to an absolutist Light verses Dark mentality after Traitor was due to the dislike of some fans, but I also read somewhere that it was Lucas himself, or his company, that essentially towed the line of the Force having a Light and a Dark Side, and nothing in-between: which was what Revenge of the Sith was apparently made to illustrate. And this in itself doesn’t even have to downplay or render everything someone like Jacen learned. As I said, the Force–no matter what it is or midichlorians or not–is only part of the equation. There is the freewill, sentient part of the character to put into question as well: the very thing that makes a person stand out. Especially a Jedi Knight.

Of course, you can argue that this last part of my post is neither here nor there: in that it is not a part of the films. But all I am saying is that the Jedi Order, and the Force itself, could have been handled in a much more mature and nuanced manner–one that adults and children could have related to–than how it had been.

I am only hoping that the next films at the very least allow Jedi Knights to have families: to have a network of friends and allies so that nothing that happened in the Revenge that was, and the Revenge that could have been, will ever happen again in the same way. It is one of my only hopes.

I Don’t Have a Witty Title for Sexism or Elitists, But Here is What Really Matters

Me and my Head

For the purpose of the rhetoric in this article–its method of expression–I am going to be using the general second-person pronoun of “you.”

I’ve gone to Conventions before. They are some of the few places that have the opportunity to actually relate to people who have similar interests as mine. I’ve been to the crowded, but varied Toronto Fan Expo. I went to Anime North with all of its variance of cosplayers. I have gone to, and volunteered at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. I even went all the way to Atlanta to go to what is arguably a grandparent of them all: Dragon Con.

I don’t go to nearly as many as I should: given what this Writer’s Blog is about, and the fact that I’d like to meet with more people who have similar interests to my own.

So I’m not really going to say anything new. There will be no insight into anything here that you already haven’t read a thousand times before. The sad thing is that I feel like I even have to repeat this at all because you would think, by now, that this would be common sense. But I have two points that I’m going to make.

First of all, when a girl or a woman–or anyone–is at a Convention, they want to be there. Period. If they have taken the time, such as at Anime North, or Fan Expo, or Dragon Con, or any other Convention or Festival to dress up as a fictional character or otherwise, chances are they want to be at this Event and they know who they are dressed as. Some good friends of mine, and people I love create their own costumes from raw sewing materials. Also, I’ve been told that–as such–it is more than okay to compliment someone on their costume–self-made or otherwise–and to ask to take pictures of them. Hell, you might even talk with them and make a friend.

Hey, it could happen, or so I hear.

So please do not talk about who knows what about what character, or series, or franchise and then some.

And even if they don’t, they are there–after paying money and a substantial amount of money at that–to have fun. That is what a Comics, Video Game, Film, and Geek Convention or Festival is ultimately about. To have fun.

They are not there for you and they do not have to fulfill your standards as to what a “true geek” should be. And here is some more common sense, I don’t care what their costume looks like, you do not have the right to touch someone without their permission. This is basic kindergarten knowledge. Do not touch someone without their permission. Period.

Also, here is an exercise. Imagine that women can create, buy, review, play, and add to Geek Culture. Or, you know, simply enjoy it.

Well, you don’t have actually imagine this, because this has already happened. And it is happening right now. Because guess what: women are people. People make choices and sometimes different choices from those you might make. Therefore it is pretty foolish to make generalizations or assumptions based on intrinsically different individuals who happen to have flesh bodies like all human beings do.

So here is something constructive that I can suggest. Talk to a woman like a human being and treat her like one (because well, duh, she is one), and you might learn something about another human being who may or may not share the same interests as you. Encourage them to create and review works. In fact, encourage anyone to do that. Moreover, if you do not agree with what they have to say, insults, threats, and sexist remarks really will not help your case or make you look any more intelligent by comparison. If you have something constructive to say, take the time to say it and remember that you are talking to another human being who has their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

And as your parents will tell you, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t bloody say it. This man here astonishes me not so much because of his views with regards to “a majority” of female cosplayers–of which I don’t agree with in the slightest–but because he is an artist and he decided that it was wise to publicly post this for anyone to see. I can’t really fathom it, to be honest. As an aspiring creator, cultivating an audience is important to getting your work off the ground, and to continue supporting it, and this just looks like a whole lot of personal sabotage of everything he has ever collaborated in. It’s just sad. It’s just really sad and unacceptable.

So I am going to get into the second part of my rant now, which will also begin with the word “unacceptable.”

Just because you like a certain work, or have followed something for a while, or bought a wide range of products, or have Joe Shuster’s autograph, or written ridiculous fanfics, or created other works, or any wide variety of Geeky things does not make you better than other people. I’m now really talking about the overarching issue here in addition to sexism: elitism.

Now, you can find jerks in any human endeavour or culture of some kind. They’re jerks: enough said and you don’t need to waste your time with them if they bother you that much. But–but–that does not give you or anyone else the right to make the judgment that they are not “true geeks” and it doesn’t reflect well on what you love by disparaging others who may not meet “your standards.”

What is a geek? Honestly, I believe that a geek is someone who really loves something to the point of obsession–or bordering on it–and it can be a wide range of different subjects and objects. Just because a geek might not know as much as another, or doesn’t own as many toys doesn’t mean they are any lesser. The term “geek” and indeed any label is problematic at best, so the rest of this is going to be more of my opinion: as if you haven’t already heard enough of it.

Do you know what I think a “true geek” is? I think a true geek is someone that loves something so much that they are willing–and happily so–to share that love with someone else. This could be in the form of education, or telling stories, or hanging around each other, or making things together, or playing games together, or trading knowledge, skills, and experiences, or something even so basic as simply acknowledging that–even if you don’t share the same interest–that you can at least respect it.

Because here’s the thing. When you get to the point of trying to prove you are better than someone, you are entering a pissing match.

And the thing about pissing matches is even if you win, you’re still going to be covered in urine.

So keep that in mind. I actually like Conventions and I’d like to it to stay that way. And if they can be even better, then I am all for that too.

Credit: Matt & Kristy on Flickr, whose picture and costumes these actually are.