It’s been over a week since I last posted about Comic-Con, and I think I’ve mostly recovered since the convention’s ending Sunday. Because I got a really bad seat, I live-tweeted the Community panel while my friend (and fanartist) Julieta took pictures with my really nice camera from the fourth row. Unfortunately I haven’t uploaded many of my pictures from either my phone or my camera (will post when I do), so here’s a picture of cosplayers dressed as Cowboy Jeff and Geneva I tweeted:
— Geek Research Girl (@lexiingram) July 24, 2014
While waiting for the Community panel I sat through panels for 24 (much to my disappointment, Kiefer Sutherland did’t mention Lost Boys), Under the Dome (two of the actors came in cosplay), a new CBS show called Scorpion about geniuses solving crimes (think TBBT if Sheldon and Leonard were more competent and weren’t being mocked by the writers), and Reign (OMG! I got to see Anne of Green Gables – Megan Follows, who played Anne in the old Canadian TV movies from the 90’s plays Queen Catherine Medici on Reign. Anne was my childhood hero).
Finally, the Community panel began, with Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna (who was brought on as co-showrunner with Dan because Dan is an admitted over-demanding, alcoholic jerk), Jim Rash (Dean Pelton), Gillian Jacobs (Britta Perry) and Joel McHale (Jeff Winger). Probably the best line is when Dan was talking about the move to Yahoo Screens, where season 6 will be streaming: “You’ll be watching Community the same way you always do, only now it’s legal.” Dino Stamatopoulos (Starburns) was also there, and mostly spent his time promoting his new graphic novel – whenever he said anything, he somehow made it relate to the graphic novel. I got to meet him after the panel, and he signed the Community fan art I’ve had almost everybody I’ve met from the show sign (still need Jim Rash, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, John Oliver, Jonathan Banks, Donald Glover, and Joel McHale – I waited two hours for a lottery ticket to go to a signing with the cast, but didn’t get it). He had a ball-point pen instead of a sharpie and signed over the cartoon face of Jeff, which now looks like someone scribbled all over his head.
Dave and I called it an early day and went out for Italian. The next day, Friday, I met my friend Lara to wait for the Orphan Black panel. We got into the room at 2:00, watched panels for Outlander (hot guys in kilts by the guy who rebooted Battlestar Galactica into one of the best post-9/11 parables on television), Vikings (hot guys with axes, and the actress who plays Laegertha is awesome), and Bates Motel (the cast is absolutely charming, though the show is a little bit twisted, as a prequel to Hitchcock’s Psycho should be), before the Orphan Black panel started. The unfortunate thing was that the Arrow and Sleepy Hollow panels were at the same time, and one TV critic tweeted that this shows how out of touch SDCC is with television.
Lara and I decided Orphan Black was most important. Lara’s getting her Master’s in screenwriting, and we had an interesting conversation about the author of the Outlander books, Diana Gabaldon – she is against fan fiction, which irks me as a fan studies scholar. Transformative works are how fans display their love for media properties, and as Outlander becomes a phenomenon, there won’t be any stopping the fan fiction from being written. The same thing happened with George R. R. Martin, who didn’t like fan fiction either, but once Game of Thrones became big he had no choice but to deal with it. I wasn’t brave enough to ask her about it during the question and answer portion of the panel, but I think she’s going to have to come to grips that her preference for fan fiction to not be written about her works will be ignored as the fandom widens to include people unaware of her anti-fan fiction policy.
As Firefly fans know, you can’t stop the signal, just like you can’t stop shippers from shipping or vidders from vidding . Transformative fan works are now such a large part of media that they’re becoming properties in their own right, as is the case with 50 Shades of Grey, which started its life as Twilight fan fiction (the trailer premiered while I was at Comic-Con, and all I can say is ugh – I’d much rather watch Jimmy Fallon’s horror version). Other fan works are becoming real books (there’s something about One Direction fan fiction becoming a young adult novel that I’ve heard about), and I think that stances like Gabaldon’s are really out of touch with the way media works these days – fan works are the mark of success now, and media companies court fans through social media, encouraging them to be creative with their fannishness. As I told my mother, Gabaldon will have to put on her big girl panties and deal with the fact that fan fiction based on her works is now inevitable.
Anyway, the Orphan Black panel was amazing. The Clone Club (as fans of OB are known) gave actress Tatiana Maslany an award for being the Greatest Actress in the History of the World, which was especially poignant after her recent Emmy snub (how many characters does she have to play to get a best actress nomination?!). A fan told the cast how she was able to come out of the closet to her mother because the show portrayed nerdy grad student Cosima as being so much more than just her sexuality, and Jordan Gavaris, who plays Felix, gave a speech about how we can’t let things like sexuality define us – our identities are made up of so many different parts and all of them are important. I got up to ask a question, but didn’t get a chance because the line was too long. This disappointed me, though I think I was more annoyed with having to sit on my knees on rough carpet for a half hour waiting for the microphone. I said good bye to Lara, and Dave and I went back to his apartment.
I was exhausted from all the excitement, and spent most of Saturday sleeping. I was sleeping so deeply that Dave actually had to make sure I was still breathing a couple times. We had planned on seeing a few panels inside the 6,000 seat Hall H, but decided we wouldn’t get in because people had been waiting for Saturday Night Hall H seats since Thursday. Instead, we went to see the San Diego Symphony play the music of the 2009 Star Trek movie with Sulu himself, John Cho introducing the film. It was a very good decision, and we plan on doing the same next year.
Sunday was our shopping day, and while we planned on meeting John Barrowman (from Doctor Who, Torchwood and Arrow) and Jamie Bamber (from Battlestar Galactica and Law and Order: UK), we decided to head home, because I was starting to get a cold that would keep me up late Sunday night and require me to go to the emergency room to see if I had an ear infection and wouldn’t be able to fly home Monday. So yes, my first Comic-Con ended with me in the ER. That’s hardcore.
The unfortunate thing was that while I had tweets scheduled to go out throughout the convention via Tweet Deck, only three people responded to my survey. I talked to Dr. Robinson, my mentor Wednesday, and she figured that my use of the #SDCC hashtag had too much competition with the thousands of other SDCC tweets that went out over the weekend. I really didn’t know what to do.
This brings us to the “What’s New” portion of this blog. I had been texting Lara about how I wasn’t getting enough responses to my survey (Dr. Robinson said I’d need at least 100 to start with), and Lara took it upon herself to tweet @SyFyHaven (Haven being her favorite show), asking if they’d retweet my survey. She did this last night, and I woke up this morning to find I had 75 responses! This inspired me so much that while waiting in line at the financial aid office today I began a flurry of tweets to anyone I followed on Twitter who I thought would be interested in my research. My first big win was @N4TVM, or News for TV Majors, an account listing important articles television studies majors would be interested in:
— News for TV Majors (@N4TVM) August 1, 2014
Next was @TheOrlandoJones, actor on Sleepy Hollow, avid tweeter, and fan of media scholar Henry Jenkins.
— Orlando Jones (@TheOrlandoJones) August 1, 2014
I got @DaltonRoss, TV critic for Entertainment Weekly to retweet by complimenting him of his moderation of the Orphan Black panel at Comic-Con.
— Geek Research Girl (@lexiingram) August 1, 2014
It kept rolling from there. I got comic book editor Rachel Edidin, comic book writer Gail Simone, the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, and The Mary Sue editor Jill Pantozzi all to retweet me! I now have 125 responses, and expect more over the next few days! So the “what’s new” is a different strategy for recruitment. I contacted Jennifer Bliss about changes to my Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects application before I began tweeting, and now I have a list of email addresses of people who are interested in helping with further research! As I will be continuing this project for my Capstone in the spring, I’m looking to do focus groups and individual interviews to really get an idea of how gender works in geekdom, and I couldn’t be more excited.