Harry Potter is a pillar of civilization by this point. What began as a series of children’s/young adult novels is now a virtual empire, with eight movies, several spinoff books, movies of the spinoff books, theme parks, and the website Pottermore to ensure that the franchise is constantly alive and being added to. Given the impact this series has had since its release in the ‘90s, you’d be hard pressed to find someone in the Western world who hasn’t been influenced by it—and it would be nigh-impossible to find someone who hasn’t read the books that have shaped a generation.
You’d think that, but you would be wrong—Mike Schubert, a twenty-four-year-old American man, has never read the Harry Potter novels that so defined the childhood of his peers. And so, in a grand experiment, he’s sitting down to read them all one after the other, and discuss them with his Potterhead friends in this week’s web crush: the Potterless podcast.
If you’re a regular on this blog, you’ve probably seen that we’re a fan of podcasts, myself especially. I feel that they are a unique medium, giving a literal voice to a vast group of content creators. Plus, you can listen to them while doing other activities, giving a busy listener ample chance to consume the content. This is important because, as we’re finding, content consumers aren’t a single, monolithic group with a large amount of spare time.
Gamers are a diverse group, despite what some stereotypes may want you to believe, and this diversity includes the types of games we enjoy. It’s increasingly noticeable that much of games coverage is dedicated to a “hardcore,” long-invested, console/high-end PC demographic, but they are far from the only people playing games. In fact, this may be one of the factors that put off new gamers; the insular “if you aren’t in the club already, you shouldn’t be” mindset pervades gaming. This totally ignores the growing mobile space. But this week’s Web Crush Wednesday, the punnily-named Unconsoleable, does not.
The horror genre is a tricky one. It’s very hard to get the impact you’d like from your audience, or to get people invested enough to see your story through to the end. I’ll admit that I’m personally very picky when it comes to horror stories that I enjoy. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared was something I never would have considered watching if it didn’t continuously pop up in my related videos on YouTube—it must be interesting since millions of people loved it, right? The video starts out with a bunch of puppets learning to be “creative” and express their emotions, but by the end of the video they’re cutting into a raw meat cake. It wasn’t what I expected, but I loved the video anyway.It wasn’t because of the shock value, or just how outlandish it was; I liked it for the deeper meaning.
The puppets act like they’re hosts of a children’s television show (like Sesame Street), and make fun of the way children are being told exactly how to act and think. It’s the kind of satire that’s not done very often, especially in the horror genre, and I’d love to see more of it! For a while I thought it was meant to be a one shot bit, possibly a student project and nothing more. Luckilythe creators produced a second video, and a Kickstarter for more videos of the same nature was funded in 2014. Two more videos have come out within the past year, and they’re still as dedicated, satiricaland creepy as their predecessor.
A couple of weeks ago, blogger Pamela Ribon stumbled onto a travesty. A children’s book had been unearthed that set pretty much everyone’s teeth on edge. Aimed at young girls and titled Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer, the book ostensibly should have added another skill set to the wide scope of jobs that Barbie has laid claim to. However, instead of actually showing Barbie as a talented programmer, it instead portrayed her struggling with the basics. She works on a website as part of a team, but isn’t doing any of the programming—she’s just contributing the graphic design. And while graphic design isn’t a shitty profession or anything, the book isn’t titled “I Can Be A Web Designer”. While creating her cutesy puppy designs, she accidentally crashes her own computer, and when she switches to her sister Skipper’s laptop, she gives it a virus and wipes all her sister’s files. She takes the computer to make her male programmer friends fix it, and they do so easily—and when Barbie gets home, she takes full credit to Skipper for fixing both.
Whoever thought this was a good idea???
And people wonder why women are underrepresented in STEM careers. What girl who reads this is going to think they actually can be a computer engineer? As Ribon’s friend pointed out:
Steven and Brian are nice guys, I’m sure. But Steven and Brian are also everything frustrating about the tech industry. Steven and Brian represent the tech industry assumption that only men make meaningful contributions. Men fix this, men drive this and men take control to finish this. Steven and Brian don’t value design as much as code. Steven and Brian represent every time I was talked over and interrupted — every time I didn’t post a code solution in a forum because I didn’t want to spend the next 72 years defending it. Steven and Brian make more money than I do for doing the same thing. And at the same time, Steven and Brian are nice guys. (x)
Needless to say, the blogosphere was appalled. Thankfully, though, a hashtag movement (#FeministHackerBarbie) quickly began, and the heroine we needed stepped up. Programmer Kathleen Tuite created the Feminist Hacker Barbie site by uploading images from the original Barbie book and allowing other people to re-caption the pages so that Barbie actually sounded like she knew a thing or two about computers.
I can’t remember how I discovered the Millennial Gospel on Tumblr, but now that I have, I don’t know what my life would be like without it. As someone who studied theology and is a feminist active in social justice, it is sometimes difficult for me to find people who feel the way I do when it comes to God. It’s difficult for me to find people who believe Christ would be marching on the streets in Ferguson, telling someone off for slut-shaming, or chastising churches for their hostile attitudes toward the queer community. So imagine my surprise when I found the blogs of two lovely ladies who were embarking on a project to show what the radical nature of God’s love would, or should, look like today. This is exactly what the Millennial Gospel is.
Thanksgiving just happened; I shouldn’t even be thinking about food outside of items I should donate to the food bank. But despite stuffing myself like the very turkey that used to exist outside of the spirit realm, I find I’m not dissuaded in any manner by looking up foodstuffs on the internet. Ignoring my slew of cooking/cake blogs I’m following on Tumblr, I’ve been led to another site which, once more, combines food with my favorite hobby, gaming. I’ve already covered a couple of these types of sites before, and I’m sure this won’t be the last one either, so if this kind of thing strikes your fancy, be sure to check those out too. But today we look at the journey of one gamer, kierpanda, as she learns her way around the kitchen in addition to kicking some patoot in games.
As our longtime readers well know, I spend pretty much all of my time either cosplaying, working on cosplay, or earning money for future cosplay. And although I have had plenty of experience being the victim of sexism while cosplaying, as a thin person, I have the privilege of not being shamed for my weight when I dress up. The same is not true for heavier cosplayers, who are often mocked or shamed for daring to commit the crime of having fun while fat. That’s where this week’s web crush comes in. Chubby Cosplay is a fan-run blog that celebrates cosplayers of diverse body types. Continue reading →