Recently, Moviefone posted an article called “One Girl’s Guide to ‘The Avengers,’: What You Need to Know if You Know Nothing,” and geek girls everywhere picked up their torches and pitchforks and vilified the author.
The article takes the perspective that a gal has no interest in seeing a superhero movie unless her boyfriend persuades her to go. And, to help with understanding the various characters in the film, she offers “cocktail introductions” to help the poor ignorant gals who know nothing about comics. (I’m being sarcastic).
The article didn’t offend me, but by the time it came across my radar, the editor had already updated it with a note indicating it was satirical. And I can kind of see how it was meant to be so. Even if it were serious, I still doubt it would have offended me. Everyone knows that women can like comic books, and female fandom is far larger now than it was in the days when I attended my first Dragon*con. So why get so riled up about it?
I think, in general, geek fandom has mostly ignored females. Marketing is usually directed at males, focusing on scantily-clad, big-busted women. There are a lot more action figures than, say, Barbie dolls based on comic book movies. (And yes, I know girls play with action figures, too, and boys play with dolls. I’m just providing a possible marketing perspective).
And I know I’ve often had a lot more difficulties finding the female characters in a film than the male characters. A lot of times this is because the manufacturers think fewer girls will buy the toys and therefore create less. I never did own an April O’Neil action figure. She was nowhere to be found, so I had to use cardboard and markers and created my figure when my brother and I played TMNT. It was kind of sad, looking back. But I think things are slowly changing. I was in Toys R Us just yesterday and saw a Queen Amidala figure. So either things are improving or that was just because The Phantom Menace came out in 1999. Not sure which.
So, the article hit a sore spot with fans. And I’m sure there’s a different reason for everyone who responded as to why it got them so riled up. But it did open up some dialogue, and that’s usually never a bad thing.
Now, Film School Rejects has posted what appears to be a response to the Moviefone piece, and this takes the female ignorance of superheroes to a whole new level. Written by a guy pretending to be a gal, it’s obviously meant to be humorous. Again, people were offended, but I read some of the descriptions out loud and thought they were hilarious. And there may be people out there, male or female, who are completely out of touch with the superhero world. It’s scary to think that, but it can happen. But even I, who rarely reads a comic book, am fairly familiar with the Marvel world. And even DC.
So let’s be clear on one thing: women can like geeky things. We all know this. Why, we have the Big Shiny Girlcast podcast that is made up entirely of the women of Big Shiny Robot! We may not all like the same geeky things (I’m less into comics and video games and way more into Star Wars and books and TV shows), but it’s not a man’s world anymore at the conventions. We are there, beating you at Dragon*con Star Wars trivia. Twice. (Not that I’m boasting or anything). We are making dresses that look like the TARDIS or R2-D2. We are carrying cleverly painted Nerf weapons and wearing peace-bound swords and we are awesome because of it.
And no article on the internet, whether sincere or tongue-in-cheek, is ever going to change that.