The Adventures of The Everyday Fangirl welcomes fellow Fangirl Connie Shih as a guest blogger to talk about why representation, diversity and inclusion matters!
Take it away Connie!
Patty, thank you so much for the opportunity to write a guest today!
Why Representation, Diversity, and Inclusion Matter To Me: Having a Seat at the Table an editorial by Connie Shih
Representation, diversity, and inclusion have come to the forefront in recent years as hot topics in pop culture, fandom and society at large. They are multi-faceted, complex topics influenced by a number of factors including background, race and ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Depending on one’s perspective, representation and diversity are either championed or derided as being too political.
In the pop culture realm, discussion and debate surrounding representation and diversity have intensified this summer with the record-breaking box office success of Wonder Woman, the announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th (and first female) Doctor in Doctor Who, the diverse cast of Star Trek: Discovery, and the debut of the new Star Wars: Forces of Destiny animated shorts (with accompanying Hasbro adventure figure merchandise). Although welcomed and embraced by many, there has also been vocal and considerable pushback by some who believe that the spotlight on representation and diversity has detracted from the love of THEIR TV show or film franchise. These detractors perceive that inclusion is used to gate keep entry into fandom and franchise, and believe that representation and diversity do not matter.
In this guest editorial, I would like to provide a counterpoint to the belief that representation and diversity do not matter by sharing my story and perspective as a 42-year-old Asian-American woman with cerebral palsy who has loved the science-fiction / fantasy genre for 34 years. My intent is not to change minds, but rather invite readers to step out their own perspectives for a moment and consider things from a different point of view.
Having a Seat at the Table
Growing up in the 1980s, my two primary science-fiction / fantasy staples were Star Trek and Star Wars. I was first introduced to Star Wars as an 8-year-old with Return of the Jedi and to Star Trek as an 11-year-old with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Those two films were my entry points into both these long running franchises and in both cases I became an instant fan. The United Federation of Planets and A Galaxy Far, Far, Away captivated me and I wanted to absorb everything about them. My favorite characters from each of these franchises, at the time, were Nyota Uhura and Hikaru Sulu from Star Trek, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. I was drawn to them all because I saw a bit of myself in all four characters: Uhura (female linguist and communications officer), Sulu (Asian helmsman), Princess Leia (empowering, take charge princess), and Luke (hero with unwavering belief in his father). In each of these characters, I saw a trait that I could relate to, or someone who I aspired to be.
As the Star Trek franchise continued with TV series The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine, my favorite characters were Dr. Beverly Crusher, Geordi La Forge, Keiko O’Brien, and Harry Kim. Once again, I saw a bit of myself represented in each of them, especially with Geordi. I think it was the first time I saw a character with a disability (blindness) in Star Trek. It was incredibly inspiring for me to watch his progress from helmsman to chief engineer of the Enterprise. All of these characters represented my seat the table.
Does that mean I didn’t like or identify with other characters within these franchises? No, of course not. In the Star Trek franchise, I liked many different characters based on their traits and story. For example, I liked Dr. McCoy for his southern gentility, wit, and sarcasm just as much as I liked Guinan for her wisdom. Seeing representation on screen added additional layers of relatability and personal investment to the story and franchise. When I do not see myself represented, I feel like an outsider looking in to a certain extent. Recently, I was struck by a quote from Dr. Mae Jemison (lifelong Star Trek fan and NASA astronaut) to Nichelle Nichols at the recent Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. Jemison thanked Nichols for being an inspiration and went on to say “You gave me and others permission to be in the room.” Think about that for a moment. Seeing Uhura on TV gave Jemison permission to be in the room. I was incredibly moved by her comment because I felt the same seeing my aforementioned favorite characters on TV and on the big screen.Bullied for Being a Fan
As much I loved Star Wars and Star Trek growing up, I mostly kept my love for Star Wars hidden from others until my mid-teens and early twenties. Why? Because I was bullied as a child (both verbally and physically) on more than one than occasion when attempting to share my love of this franchise with other kids. “You like Star Wars? You cripple. Don’t you know that Star Wars is for boys?” “Oh, you like Star Wars? Prove it. *proceeds with a litany of questions*” “Star Wars is for boys, not girls. You’re Chinese! Star Wars isn’t for you anyways. Go away!”
As a young girl, these questions stung like being swarmed by wasps. I cried myself to sleep several times. I just wanted to connect with other kids and didn’t understand why they were being so mean. My parents, bless them, tried to soothe me the best they could. They told me that I still had my imagination and the ability write and draw, so I should keep Star Wars to myself and have fun. I didn’t have Star Wars toys at the time, so I acted out scenes from Return the Jedi with my Barbie and Ken dolls, pretending they were Leia and Luke, respectively.
I also hid my love for Star Trek because there weren’t kids my age who liked it and I was already bullied for Star Wars, so why even ask? It was pointless and I did not want to be subjected to another round of heartbreak. It was not until several years later that I came out of hiding with Star Trek and Star Wars. One of my father’s work colleagues had a daughter ten years older than I. Despite our age difference, we had so many life circumstances in common including a love of Star Wars and Star Trek. I can’t tell you how genuinely happy I was to discover another girl who loved both of these franchises much as I did. The floodgates opened and we chatted for hours, talking nonstop about Luke, Leia, and Han and Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov. That was 30 years ago. We remain close friends to this day and still go to see Star Wars and Star Trek movies together. I consider her a science fiction / fantasy kindred spirit and I have her to thank for introducing me to other awesome franchises, such as Doctor Who, Babylon 5, and Stargate SG-1.
Being a Fan in the Present Day
Much has changed for the better over the past 30 years, especially for the Star Wars franchise. There are now also so many more entry points for fans of all ages to experience Star Wars across multiple mediums (film, animated series, books, comics, video games, virtual reality, and theme parks). Along those lines, I have to say it has been fantastic to witness the number of diverse characters grow exponentially, particularly with female characters. Star Wars now includes Padmé Amidala, Shmi Skywalker Lars, Rey, Ahsoka Tano, Maz Kanata, Satine Kryze, Bo Katan, Steela Gerrera, Korr Sella, Greer Sonnel, Hera Syndulla, Asajj Ventress, Sabine Wren, Ursa Wren, Norra Wexley, Shara Bey, Jyn Erso, Lyra Erso, the Nightsisters, Captain Phasma, Mother Talzin, Dr. Aphra, Ciena Ree, Rae Slone, Arihnda Pryce, Iden Versio, Rose Tico, Amilyn Holdo, and Kordi Freemaker. While their stories have been told (or will be told) in varying degrees, each of these female characters have been introduced in a medium. To say that I am thrilled is an understatement. In addition to female characters, there have been recent attempts to ethnically diversify with Finn, Poe Dameron, Saw Gerrera, Bodhi Rook, Cassian Andor, Baze Malbus, and Chirrut Îmwe. Of these characters, as a disabled Asian American, I connected to Chirrut Îmwe the most because it was refreshing to see an Asian character who wasn’t stereotypically portrayed as a villain and also overcame his blindness. There are now so many more seats at the table and I hope the trend continues because the galaxy is vast with infinite possibilities to tell stories from different perspectives.
As geekdom has become mainstream, it is easier for female fans to openly embrace their love of the science fiction / fantasy genre. While bullying and discrimination still exist, we no longer have to hide in shadows. I’m delighted there are companies and online communities such as Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe (geek fashion) and Jamie Broadnax’s Black Girls Nerds that are thriving because they create spaces where all female fans can connect, step into the spotlight and be proud of their inner geek / nerd. There is also much more merchandise available for fans of all ages to purchase and enjoy. Collectibles, toys and games, action and adventure figures, kitchenware, bedding – all come branded with one’s favorite franchise. While the merchandise was prevalent when I was a kid, it is everywhere now. It’s a wonderful time to be a fan!
Into the Future
The futures of both Star Trek and Star Wars are bright with exciting, each with new projects on the horizon. In addition, both recently celebrated milestone anniversaries with Star Trek turning 50 last year, and Star Wars turning 40 this year. I consider both to be legacy franchises as the love for them has been generational. At the same time, we have started to see both (particularly Star Wars) evolve to reflect the society and times they reside in. As author John Knowles said, “Everything has to evolve or else it perishes.” I view representation, diversity, and inclusion (both on screen and off screen) as integral to this evolution, and believe that these three will help both Star Trek and Star Wars continue to stand the test of time. They have the potential to the present new stories to keep things fresh while still retaining the core characteristics of what makes the respective franchises appealing. Potential is the keyword because I acknowledge that representation, diversity, and inclusion alone cannot exist in a vacuum. Ideally, they should be coupled with quality storytelling that resonate with the audience and fans. This is something that the entertainment industry as a whole is currently struggling with, and is subject that is worth exploring in a separate article. Overall, representation, diversity, and inclusion DO matter to me because I believe that everyone has a voice, has the right to be in the room, and has a seat at the table.
If you have read this far, I want thank EACH of you for allowing me to share my personal perspective of why representation, diversity, and inclusion matter. I welcome all perspectives and the chance to dialogue with fellow fans. If you would like to reach out, please feel free to reach me at my twitter handle @connieshih. Live Long and Prosper and May the Force Be With You!
Some items of interest for further reading, listening, and viewing:
• Listen: Beltway Banthas podcast: Episode #36: Race, Representation, and Reconciliation
• Watch: Dave Filoni Speaks at the National Center for Women & Information Technology
• Read: Netflix Talks Diversity and Representation With #FirstTimeISawMe
• Read: Are We as Inclusive As We Believe We Are in Fan Culture?
• Read: Dear Hollywood: Five lessons we hope you learned from the success of ‘Wonder Woman’
• Read: Diversity in Movies Largely Unchanged Despite Increased Awareness, Study Finds
Connie Shih is a graduate student and teacher who loves astronomy and music, is an avid reader, and is a science fiction / fantasy nerd who loves Star Wars and Star Trek. She can be reached at her twitter handle @connieshih.
The Freemaker Adventures Continues Today!I am a big fan of the LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures and I am really excited that the first episodes of season two, “A New Home” and “Trouble on Tibalt” air today starting at 10:30AM EST on DisneyXD! I cannot wait to see what new adventures the Freemaker Family gets into next! Are you a fan of The Freemaker Adventures?
Are you looking forward to Season 2 as much as I am?
At Star Wars Celebration We Are Family
Many of those that attended Star Wars Celebration Orlando were all about getting autographs from Star Wars celebrities, like Mark Hamill or Hayden Christensen, watching the latest Star Wars trailers with thousands of fellow fans or buying exclusive Star Wars merchandise for their collections. However, for me, the goal for this Star Wars Celebration was to meet and hang out with my friends in the Star Wars Fan Community, who I met via social media. I am happy report that I not only met this goal was met, but well exceeded my expectations! I felt that each one treated me like a member of their family, one big happy Star Wars Family!
My Many Encounters
I knew that as an active member of the Star Wars community, I had a small following. However, I did not realize that so many would recognize me among the sea of people at Star Wars Celebration Orlando. I was very surprised at how people many shouted my name while I was walking around and wanted to meet me. I am very humbled by all this attention and I really appreciate every single one who stopped and talked with me! It was a real honor to encounter each and every one of you!
Fellow Star Wars FangirlsAt this Star Wars Celebration, I was able to meet many of the Fangirls in the Star Wars community that I have been wanting to meet in person. Many of these Fangirl encounters were unplanned and unexpected, but made my Star Wars Celebration Orlando experience so much better! Because of these unexpected, unplanned encounters we got got to hang out and Fangirl flail over all the things we just did or saw on the convention floor. One of those Fangirl Flail moments was when John Boyega walked by four of us Fangirls while we were just standing around talking behind the Star Wars Show Live Stage. There was much love and many Fangirl flails from all these encounters, especially when many of attended the Fangirls Going Rogue Podcast Panel. Thanks to all my fellow Fangirls! I really appreciate each and every one of you as Sisters in The Force!
Families in The Force
Star Wars Celebration Orlando not only gave me many opportunities to meet, in person, many of those I met via social media, but I was able to spend time with them as well. I would not be the person I am today without all the people I have met and interacted with on social media. Each person I encountered really made me feel that I was indeed part of their family, a big, happy and supporting family! Thank you to everyone I met and interacted with at Star Wars Celebration Orlando and for confirming that we are all one big Star Wars family!
Patty Hammond, Pattybones2, is the Everyday Fangirl from Michigan. You can find her on Twitter @PattyBones2 or blogging at everydayfangirl.com, TheFutureofTheForce.com, TheCantinaCast.com or TheBeardedTrio.com talking about Star Wars and much more!
Agony and Excitement at SWCO
Well I have experienced two days of Star Wars Celebration Orlando. For me this experience has been both frustrating and exciting.
The Agony: Lines
At any convention you expect lots of lines, but Day One of the Star Wars Celebration Orlando is the worst I have ever experienced.
My husband and I arrived to the convention center on Day One at just after 5:45AM. Due to the organizers having a single entry point into the Convention Center, the line to just get in through security was over 1 hour and 45 minutes and those that arrived later, experienced much longer wait than we did.Even when we finally got into the event, there were lines everywhere, even the vending machines had a line.
Fortunately, ReedPOP was able to correct some of these long line experiences very quickly. Day Two went smoother with less lines getting in due to having multiple entry points.
The Excitement: Seeing and Meeting Social Media Friends
Despite all the lines, my favorite moments of the event so far is meeting and hanging out with friends who I only knew through social media. This is one of the reasons that going to an event like this is worth all the agony that might be encountered.
I am looking forward to the next two days and find out what adventures and of course, the people I will discover while wandering around Star Wars Celebration.
I will be continuing to post my adventures here and of course via Twitter @PattyBones2.
Are you at Star Wars Celebration Orlando?
What adventures have you experienced?
This EverydayFangirl is at Star Wars Celebration Orlando and will be running around covering as much as I can!
This time I actually have some swag to give away! These awesome buttons!
On Saturday January 28, 2017, my husband, my sister and two of our friends went to the CLASH of AGES Renaissance Faire. This is an indoor event held in Birch Run, MI where the Renaissance, Viking, Pirate, Fantasy and Steam Punk cultures collide.
The event organized tried very hard to make this a fun and exciting event. They put a lot of work into the set up, displays and programming. It including activities for all ages including…
Watching combatants fight with swords
Admiring all the creativity, enthusiasm and effort of the Cosplayers. –My husband was suprised by the number of people who were displaying their love of these cultures via Cosplay at this event.
Watching a parade with participants playing instruments, carrying banners and wearing outfits from many different cultures.
Watching a baudy pirate show
Of course, as with any Renaissance Faire, there was plenty of vendors to peruse and shop at. Some our favorites were…
Buying Fairy merchandise
Perusing the ‘Hogwarts Shop’
Shopping for your favorite weapon.
You could even shop for items for your ‘cave’
The only draw back to this event that we can identify was that the usual atmosphere, like the forest or a castle, usually found at Renaissance Faires, was missing.
Overall, this is good event. If you are in the Birth Run area on January 29, 2017, I would recommend checking this event out.
If you have not been watching the animated series Star Wars Rebels and you loved Rogue One, A Star Wars Story, then now is the time to start! Based on the Mid-Season trailer released today, there is some very EPIC Star Wars canon about to be revealed that no Star Wars fan is going to want to miss.
Below are a few of the things revealed in the trailer that I am looking forward to…
Note: All images below are screenshots of the Mid-Season trailer released by StarWars.com via Youtube!
I am looking forward to seeing Saw in action again and hopefully not as crazy as he is in Rogue One. Sabine learning to effectively wield the Darksaber
I am very excited to see that Sabine is getting formal training from Kanan on how to wield the Darksaber. Sabine recruiting for the Rebel cause on Mandalore
I am very excited to see Sabine on Mandalore, especially when we learn more about her Mother! Thrawn finally makes his move on the Rebels
We now get to find out just what Thrawn learned and just what he is going to do about what he learned! Thrawn is getting closer to Fulcrum!
Thrawn in the trailer indicates he is looking for the informant known as ‘Fulcrum’. I sure hope Agent Kallus has an exit plan just in case he is found out. The Rebellion is getting more organized
It looks like we are going to see more on how the various Rebel cells came together to form The Rebel Alliance that we see in Rogue One and of course in the Original Trilogy. Obi-Wan Kenobi
I just knew that we would be seeing an older Obi-Wan, confirmed to be voiced by Stephen Stanton, after all of the Maul centric episodes earlier this season. I cannot wait to see ‘Ben’ on Tatooine during this timeframe and in action! Maul and his quest for ‘peace’
I believe there is going an EPIC confortation between Maul and Obi-Wan before this season ends! Hopefully, we can see Maul finally find the ‘peace’ he is looking for.
Sailor Moon R The Movie in Select Theaters Starting 1/19/17
Sailor Moon comes to the big screen in her first dazzling movie! Uncut and for the first time in theaters. Join Sailor Moon on an adventure to save not only the world, but also her true love! This limited engagement also includes the North American debut of the original theatrical short, Make Up! Sailor Guardians and exclusive extras. A special bonus gift will be given to ticket holders while supplies last.
Looking at the list of theaters, this Fangirl is disappointed that only one theater, The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township, MI, will be showing this in my area. However, the good news is that there will be two showings, one of 1/19/17 and the other on 1/23/17, both at 7PM. Tickets are not available to buy for these showings yet. Hopefully, I will be able to buy tickets to one of these. Otherwise, I will have to wait until this is available on BluRay or via streaming.
You can find more details on other locations in the U.S. and to buy tickets here.
Review of Winter 2016 D23 Magazine
As a Gold member of Disney’s D23 Fan Club, I receive the quarterly publication, D23 Magazine. The recent edition just arrived and I decided it is time to share with my blog readers, who may not be aware that this magazine exists or what kind of content is available within it, my thoughts about this issue and what I found within it.
Without further delay, below is my review of the Winter 2016 issue…Front and Back Covers
As you can see both covers are Star Wars themed and feature characters from the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. On the front cover it shows the Main character of Rogue One, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, with Imperial Storm Troopers coming out of the water. The back cover shows the one of the geatest villians of all time, Darth Vader, as he is looking away from the viewer. As a Star Wars fan and a fangirl anticipating this new film in the franchise, these two covers just increased by desire to read this issue.Content about Rogue One
Of course, this issue inclues two articles related to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story…The first is an article that gives readers “…a glimpse into the making of the film, which is centered on a group of rebels determined to steal the plans for the menacing Death Star.”* The article includes conversations with Felicity Jones, Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm, and Director Gareth Edwards. *decription from Winter 2016 issue web page.The second article related to Rogue One is an interview with Actor Alan Tudak, who plays and voices K-2S0 in Rogue One. The article touches on his work in Rogue One and many of the other work he has done for Disney Animation Studios.
More Content Found Within
Of course, there are more articles in this issue than those related to Rogue One. Other Content of interest included are…
- An article focusing on the character of Daisy Duck.
An article about creating theme park maps. (The artwork of the Fantasyland may included in the article is just awe inspiring)
An article with the actress behind the newest Disney Animated film, Moana
An article about the Enchanted Tiki Room Marvel Comic series (I somehow missed that this one was coming out.)
An article on the life and work of Walt Disney through photos of Walt Disney and his family.
An article about the Iron Man Stark Industries Expo attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland (Iron Man is not my favorite Marvel Super Hero. Where is the Thor or Black Widow attraction?)
An article about little known Disney characters. (I have to admit I did not know any of these characters.)
An article about the Disney Wonder and a page that contains Disney Cruise facts (The data analyst in me loves these!).
Overall, some very interesting articles to read in this issue. If you are not a member, like I am, you may want to become one just to receive this quarterly publication full of Disney goodness.
So are you a D23 member?
If not, would you become a member just to get access to this issue?
Did you like the Winter 2016 issue?
Traditional Thanksgiving Dish
I do not have a passion for cooking and baking in general. However on Thanksgiving and other holidays, I have a traditional dish that I make and share. The dish is a cheesy potato casserole that is a variation of a recipe found in many magazines.I tweaked the original recipe a bit because my husband has a food allergy and a few ingredient preferences. These tweaks include using Southern Style hash browns instead of the normal hash browns, not adding onions and adding extra cheese. I also use low fat and low sodium ingredients where I can.
There is not much prep needed for this dish, one bowl and a mixing spoon, and the task can be done and in the oven within 20 minutes. In addition, because of the tweaks I made, the mixed ingredients fill two casserole dishes instead of one.I am very proud of my cheesy potato dish especially since my Dad and friends believe that my tweaks make it better than the original recipe. As a result, I been making this dish for over 20 years.
So do you have a traditional dish you make for holidays like Thanksgiving?