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AREA OF

September 2017 • Issue 10

EFFECT Blowing up geek culture

SCI-FI

HOW MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3K SAVED MY LIFE (SORT OF) "Sharing life is always messy, but community is worth it." p. 16

SUPERHEROES

MS. MARVEL DEMONSTRATES HOW TO BE YOURSELF "Being someone else isn't liberating. It's exhausting." p. 10

INTRODUCING NONGEEKS TO YOUR FANDOM p. 5

HIGHLIGHTS

Thor • Narnia • Portal • Ms. Marvel • SpiderMan: Homecoming • RWBY Chibi • Mystery Science Theatre 3000 • The Hunger Games • The Clone Wars • Ghost in the Shell


AREA OF EFFECT EXPLORING GEEK CULTURE THROUGH MORALITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, PHILOSOPHY, AND FAITH.

SEPTEMBER 2017, ISSUE 10 Publisher | GEEKDOM HOUSE info@geekdomhouse.com Founder | KYLE RUDGE kyle@geekdomhouse.com Executive Editor | ALLISON BARRON allison@geekdomhouse.com Designer | WAYSTONE CREATIVE allison@waystonecreative.ca Staff Writers | Michael Boyce, Matt Civico, Casey Covel, Kevin Cummings, Sheela Cox, Julia Hamm, Victoria Grace Howell, Alex Mellen, Kyla Neufeld, Charles Sadnick, Dustin Schellenberg, Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry Contributing Artists | Sandara, Claudia Gironi (Wisesnail Art), gin, Monotsuki, Quirkilicious, and Kaela Croft Art Cover art | “Sculptor" by Sandara Back Cover art | “Pet Merchant" by Sandara ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: allison@geekdomhouse.com Area of Effect magazine is published four times a year in September, December, March, and June, by Geekdom House, Winnipeg, Manitoba. To read more articles online, visit www. geekdomhouse.com. WEBSITE Read our articles online at www.geekdomhouse.com FACEBOOK Like our page at facebook.com/geekdomhouse TWITTER Follow or tweet at us @GeekdomHouse INSTAGRAM Follow our posts @GeekdomHouse ABOUT GEEKDOM HOUSE: Geekdom House is a non-profit organization based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The mission of Geekdom House is to be a faith-filled community with fanatics of sci-fi, fantasy, comics, games, and more. Geekdom House is an organization under EQUIP CANADA (BN: 889540738RR0001).

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With Great Offense Comes Great Responsibility: Spider-Man and Porn Do we condone something simply because we've acknowledged it? Ned's line is an opportunity to shine some light on a dark truth. 2 • AOE MAGAZINE


contents Accepting Weakness in Thor

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10

SUPERHEROES

by Ian Hancock

Ms. Marvel Demonstrates How to be Yourself by Alex Mellen

With Great Offense Comes Great Responsibility: Spider-Man and Porn by Tim Webster

The Uncomfortable Racism of C.S. Lewis FANTASY

by Michael Boyce

RWBY Chibi and Escaping into Fiction by Caitlin Eha

Worse Games to Play: Katniss's Gratitude and Depression by Victoria Grace Howell

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SCI-FI

by Michael Boyce

Ahsoka Tano: The One with the Enthusiasm by Cassidy Clayton

VIDEO GAMES

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How Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Changed My Life (Sort Of)

Seeing Chell: Portal and Seeking Approval by Kevin Cummings

KONA: Lost to Justice by Dustin Schellenberg

Why Hollywood is Whitewashing Characters of Minority by Kyla Neufeld

MISC.

Introducing Non-Geeks to Your Fandom

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by Kevin Cummings

Things You Don't Want Your DM to Say

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10

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6

14

18

16

22

7

8

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by Alex Mellen

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3 Non-Stereotypical D&D Classes

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3 Shows to Watch if You've Never Seen Anime

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AOE MAGAZINE • 3


Screenshot of Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

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’ve heard it said that your greatest weakness is your greatest strength pushed too far. There’s some truth to this, because it’s easy to become so reliant on the things we’re good at that we don’t notice when exercising those traits has become counterproductive. In the first Thor movie, we see the titular hero fall victim to this exact phenomenon. A small squadron of Frost Giants have infiltrated his home world, and despite their quick and trivial defeat, Thor prepares a counterassault to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Despite being the most foolish thing he does in the movie, this process clearly shows Thor’s strengths; his charisma, his passion, and his courage enable him to rally his friends and reach Jotunheim to confront the Frost King. Once he achieves his desired battle with the Frost Giants, of course, his plan falls apart. Rather than subduing them, as Thor had hoped, his attack only encourages them to begin a new war. While Thor’s abilities allow him to accomplish as much as he does, his over-reliance on them also leads to his fundamental flaws. He can’t see past his own sense of 4 • AOE MAGAZINE

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AN M A T JUS

power to realize that brute force is useless in controlling the Giants. On top of that, he even becomes judgmental, rebuking Odin for taking a calmer, more rational approach to dealing with the situation. While I’m the polar opposite of Thor personality-wise, I’ve recently become aware of that same type of judgmental attitude in my own life. For example, I tend to be an extremely cautious person. I like to gather as much information as possible and plan ahead before I say or do anything, and this has often kept me out of trouble. This tendency to “play it safe” has also made it easy for me to look down on others whose recklessness got them into problems that I believe I would never have gotten into myself. But when I turn that critical eye inward instead of outward, I realize that I’ve also missed out on a number of experiences and opportunities because I was too hesitant to take a risk or too afraid to speak up. I used caution as an excuse for cowardice. I think that Thor’s most heroic moment in the entire movie is when he utters the words, “I’m just a man.” It’s not flashy, but it’s the first time we see him


accept a position of inferiority. At the beginning of the This humble attitude, not his strength, is what film, we see a protagonist who’s incapable of dealing truly makes Thor a hero, and I believe it’s also a key with weakness. He’s enraged by the idea that enemies part of why he resonates so much with viewers. Becould have entered his home, and he cause at their core, superhero stories boldly proclaims that those enemies are not about demonstrations of power; SUPERHERO STORIES they’re about learning to confront must learn to fear him. He responds with an agonized howl when he learns weakness. ARE NOT ABOUT he can no longer wield Mjolnir. Lately, I’ve been in the process Near the end, though, we see of trying to discern exactly what my DEMONSTRATIONS someone who understands that vulnerand my faults are, as well OF POWER; THEY’RE strengths ability and limitations are crucial aslearning how to overcome my own limpects of life. On the verge of a climactic ABOUT LEARNING itations. Part of this has been getting battle, Thor, a warrior accustomed to myself to take more chances, even— TO CONFRONT having godlike powers, knows that the and perhaps especially—when I’m not best thing he can do is avoid the fight entirely sure how things will work out. WEAKNESS. and help get others out of danger. His The process is hard, and it’s been ugly newfound willingness to face down at times, but I’m not willing to let myhis own insufficiency lets him think like a hero and a self go on making the same mistakes from my past out king rather than a selfish child, and it’s ultimately his of fear or ignorance. Like the heroes I watch, I want choice to sacrifice a small form of power (namely, his the humility to recognize and surrender the foolishability to return to Jane) that allows him to foil Loki’s ness in my life, rather than letting those weaknesses schemes. control me. w

INTRODUCING NON-GEEKS TO YOUR FANDOM by Kevin Cummings

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ne of the best parts of having a fandom is introducing new people to your favourite characters and worlds. Having someone to share your enthusiasm is great, but take the wrong approach and you’ll ruin it for them. Here are a few things to avoid when recruiting new fans. Never introduce them to the wrong point in the story—especially if it’s a series. You’re not a Harry Potter fan? Oh! Here, let me read you the best scene in book six. You’ll cry buckets! You’re going to love Doctor Who! We’ll start with the first Doctor—William Hartnell—and his granddaughter Susan. The show doesn’t really pick up until the third Doctor, but if you don’t watch the later episodes first you’ll never get all the nuances. Pro-tip: Any episode of The Starlost is the wrong episode to start with—that’s why you’ve never heard of it. Never assume that they’ll love a fandom just because it features actors they like in other properties. You like Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone, right? You’re going to love Demolition Man! If you think Han Solo was a great character, wait until you meet Rick Deckard. Yeah, John de Lancie was great in Next Gen, but he was completely awesome as Discord. Pro-tip: Don’t try to sell someone on Interstellar just because Elyes Gable from Scorpion has a bit part in it.

Never use their non-geek interests to introduce them to your fandom. You like weddings? You’re going to love season three of Game of Thrones. Politics is your thing? You’ve got to see the senate scenes in Attack of the Clones. Pro-Tip: Don’t try to sell them on the Saw movies based on their interest in anatomy. Never tell them they’ll like a fandom because they remind you of one of the characters. You’d like Sherlock. He’s a high-functioning sociopath too! You remind me of Baltar in Battlestar Galactica. He can’t be trusted either. You’re smart and ambitious. You’re going to go places—just like Kahn in Star Trek! Pro-tip: Never compare their family to the Starks. Never, ever try to convince them by showing off your superior knowledge. The Lord of the Rings? Well, the books are better of course. I suppose, though, the films are a good introduction for most average people. Well, Star Trek is really just Horatio Hornblower in space. I guess if you need flashy special effects and goofy sci-fi stuff you can start there. If you really want good stories, though, you should read the novels by C.S. Forester or Patrick O’Brian. Pro-tip: No matter what you think, your in-depth knowledge of fan fiction won’t help you convince someone to love your fandom. w AOE MAGAZINE • 5


THE UNCOMFORTABLE RACISM OF C.S. LEWIS by Michael Boyce

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ince childhood, I’ve had a strong attachment to C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. My aunt gave me a set of the books, which currently sit in a place of honour in my office. I’ve read and reread the series throughout my life with a sense of wonder and delight. As my critical reading skills developed, and as abandons I began to understand systemic power dynamics, my the “bad” naïve love of Narnia gave way to a more complicated influences and nuanced relationship with the stories. I realized of Calormen they could be almost heavy-handedly allegorical at by embracing times. The characters, particularly in the final novels, his true identity as a are overly broad, almost parodic. And don’t get me noble Archenlander. Just think of the implistarted on Lewis’s class assumptions or Susan and cations of that. The only real redeemable Calormene Lucy’s exclusion from battle. But the most troubling isn’t actually a Calormene at all! He can’t be. The fact aspect of the series came to light a few years ago when that we identify with him at all means he cannot be I was first teaching a class on Lewis and Tolkien. other. Most of the students, like me, had been introI was confronted with the reality that a beloved duced to Lewis’s novels as children. A few had passed text, something I like and value, portrayed race in a the series on to their own children, even grandchilway I disagree with. What do we do when something dren. One student, however, had taken the class to fill we love has elements that challenge us? Does being a an elective and had no prior knowledge of Narnia or fan mean turning off our objective minds and critical Middle-earth. In our conversation about The Horse skills? and His Boy, this student commented, While some people have chosen the “Well, I found this one a little bit racist.” route of vehement defense and consider WE’RE AFRAID The other students jumped to Lewis’s asking questions an affront to their beliefs, QUESTIONING defense with well-meaning but well-worn I have come to see that you can be a fan of OURSELVES excuses—“He lived in a different era with something and challenge its problematic eledifferent attitudes about race and other ments. Much of my thinking has been shaped UNDERMINES cultures.” by one student who, lacking my personal I, too, a lifelong fan, found myself par- OUR WHOLE connection to the world of Narnia, was able roting this same line of thinking: “We need BELIEF SYSTEM. to see something my fandom blinded me too. to read this in its historical context.” After Opening myself up to the possibility that my class, however, I went back to the text, paying close atperspective wasn’t the final word allowed me to contention to representations of race, and I saw what the sider another’s view and be more sensitive to my own student saw. In his representation of the Calormene, blind spots. the inhabitants of the land to the south, Lewis uses My immediate response to someone questioning stereotypes of Middle Eastern culture. Their clothing, my perspective is to defend my beliefs and the things customs, and culture confirm them as different, “othI love. Letting myself ask questions means consider” from the noble and civilized Narnians. ering the possibility that I might be wrong. If I’m not This is a classic example of “Orientalism” as open to that possibility, I will shut the conversation outlined by cultural theorist Edward Said. As the down when others are curious. Too often we’re afraid Calormene are other, we understand them to be the to question ourselves, afraid that if we acknowledge villains of the story. They are perceived as bad because something troubling we open the door to undermining they are different. Indeed, the Calormene slave Shasta, our whole belief system. But if I’m genuinely pursuthe hero of The Horse and His Boy, is revealed to be ing truth, I might find opportunities to dialogue with Prince Cor from Archenland (Narnia’s equally civilized others that I wouldn’t otherwise, opportunities that neighbour) who was stolen away as a child. He’s not not only keep me humble, but can strengthen my from Calormen at all. convictions rather than tear them down. To ignore the Lewis’s bias seems clear. The character we most racism or sexism of something because it’s not my closely identify with couldn’t possibly be from that perspective is arrogance. weird, savage land; he must be from somewhere like Narnia. The whole story is structured so that Shasta continued on next page 6 • AOE MAGAZINE


by Kevin Cummings

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here was a moment in the first Portal game that I remember with utter clarity. I had fired an orange portal at the wall behind me and then a blue one at the wall ahead of me. There, framed in the glowing, blue ring, I could see Chell’s back. As I moved, she moved. A strange, out-of-body feeling flushed through me and for a brief moment, Portal was so much more than a video game. It was a revelation. The phrase “seeing yourself clearly” suddenly took on layers of new meaning. I was, of course, literally seeing Chell from a new perspective. More importantly, I started to think about how others might perceive me. What did they see when they looked at me? When they interacted with me? In my own mind, I was witty and caring and generally fun to be around. Was that really true? Maybe others had an entirely different view of who I was and how I behaved. Maybe I was really a downer who made people uncomfortable or unhappy. So I started paying close attention to what people said and how they behaved around me. I was looking for clues about myself. In the game, Chell spends her time looking for clues about how to escape the Aperture Science Testing Center. The only feedback she gets is from the wicked and slightly manic AI named GlaDOS. After Chell is awakened from suspended animation, she is subjected to multiple tests involving logic, spatial reasoning, and the threat of imminent death. At first, GlaDOS seems helpful, if a bit creepy. But at some point, perhaps after she gives Chell the following warning, you realize GLaDOS isn’t all that benevolent. “Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an 'unsatisfactory'

mark on your official testing record, followed by death. Good luck!” After the test, GlaDOS assures Chell that the there was never any real danger and the threat of death was a motivational tool. As Chell, I learned an important lesson— GlaDOS wasn’t to be trusted. Which is applicable for real life. Looking to others for clues about how they view you is important, but it can also be a trap. It can be super easy to understand how people see you—but it might be less easy to see when their perspective starts dragging you down. GlaDOS tries hard to get under Chell’s skin—cranking up the threats and insults. After Chell solves an “unsolvable” test, GlaDOS says, “Fantastic. You remained resolute and resourceful in an atmosphere of extreme pessimism.” Which sounds fine, except that GlaDOS had intentionally tried to cause the pessimism. As the game goes on,

GlaDOS turns up the heat—literally. When a test requires that Chell bond with a “companion cube” before disposing of it in an incinerator, GladDOS notes, “You euthanized your faithful Companion Cube more quickly than any test subject on record. Congratulations.” At that point in the game, I was so upset that I replayed the level and waited a full 20 minutes to incinerate the cube to see if GlaDOS message changed. It didn’t. I should have known. I had internalized GlaDOS’ continued on page 11

"The Uncomfortable Racism" continued

I still love the Narnia books. I don’t read them every year these days, but that’s more about demands on my time than anything else. When I teach that Lewis and Tolkien course, I set aside time to discussing these troubling aspects of the stories—race, class, and patriarchy. I often get pushback from students who aren’t prepared for the idea that something they love so much can include such troubling elements. To bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything’s fine, to defend something because doing otherwise might mean admitting we’re wrong, does not leave room for growth and the pursuit of truth. And acknowledging something troubling does not mean we must abandon the things we love. Rather, we can accept them with humility, acknowledging that the author, just like us, might not have everything right either. w AOE MAGAZINE • 7


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I HELD ONTO MY PAIN AS IF IT WOULD SOMEHOW LEAD ME TO JUSTICE, BUT ALL IT DID WAS FILL ME WITH ANGER.

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n Canada, we imprison people who have committed serious crimes with the intent to rehabilitate them. The hope is that, when removed from society, they will have time to consider their actions and get the help they need in order to become better citizens and no longer commit crimes. By reporting a crime and hunting down the one who committed it we are supposed to be serving justice and restoring people. But more often then not, we hunt down people and prosecute them in order to make them suffer for their crimes. I’ve seen many interviews of victims’ families where they say things like, “I hope they rot forever behind bars for what they did,” or “I can’t believe all they get is X years of jail when they’ve caused us such pain.” In a lot of cases the hurt party wants to see the offender suffer and we call that justice. I wonder if this is less justice and more vengeance. Society doesn’t have a problem with equating punishment with justice. In the video game KONA, you play a private investigator hired to visit a small hamlet surrounding a mine in northern Quebec to look into a case of vandalism. Upon arriving, you find the landowner, Hamilton, dead and the small community shrouded in an unnatural blizzard. You aren’t getting out of town any time soon, so you start investigating the absence of people and the mystery surrounding your would-be employer. Almost immediately, you find some glowing blue snow (for our non-Canadian Screenshot KONA 8 • AOEfrom MAGAZINE

readers—snow doesn’t glow) that leads you to a human encased in ice (also something that doesn’t normally happen, even in Northern Canada). It doesn’t take long to realize that everyone in the hamlet has died from being encased in ice or are strangely missing, and every person has some sort of secret that puts them at odds with someone or something else. But behind the petty arguments and secret affairs, a larger story begins to unfold. Several of the townsfolk were out hunting one day and Hamilton accidentally shot a young Cree woman. Rather than give her a proper funeral and admit what happened, they hired a lackey to bury the body out in the woods. The Cree woman’s fiancé, consumed with grief and anger, offered himself to the spirits of justice and vengeance, becoming a wendigo in order to hunting those involved in the murder. The town is consumed in a blizzard because of the wendigo magic. And at his touch, the warmth of life that he lost with his love is drained away and people are left frozen solid. This spirit of Justice is unstoppable and when you finally face it, all you can do is flee or be killed. The whole town was destroyed because the wendigo no longer recognized friend from foe and killed anyone who crossed his path. The fiancé’s response is a perfect example of what happens when there is no room for forgiveness in someone’s heart. Becoming obsessed with seeing people hurt because they hurt you causes you to lose


yourself, your ability to love, and even your identity. Being unforgiving changes a person and leads them into a cold and lonely darkness. I know because I’ve been there. For a lot of years, I harboured hatred and anger at my father for his addictions, violence, emotional abuse, lack of financial support, and involvement in our lives. The frustration and anger at being treated in a way a child never should be led me to hope for some sort of justice. I held onto my pain as if it would somehow lead me to justice, but all it did was fill me with anger. It wasn’t until someone helped me see I needed to choose to forgive him, even though he would likely never realize the hurt he caused, that I knew peace. There is no peace in punishment without forgiveness. The wendigo of KONA is forever trapped in agony, locked in a frozen reality. He will never again know the contact of someone who loves him. He will never know the peace of living in community. The blizzard follows him, ice wolves haunt the land devastated by his grief, and his touch forever steals the warmth from others’ hearts. No more joy, no more peace, just a frozen existence of pain seeking justice. He didn’t even get to be the one who killed Hamilton (who died at the hands of the town’s doctor instead), and even though he has killed all the other people complicit in the death of his loved one, he cannot have closure because he allowed himself to be consumed by the wendigo spirit.

That same reality, of being consumed for vengeance, exists for all of us. On June 17, 2015 Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel AME church and opened fire on a prayer meeting. Nine of the 12 people attending were killed. Families mourned, people were outraged, but I’ll never forget seeing people on the news and coverage of the trial where many of the family members looked at the young man responsible for killing their loved ones and said, “I forgive you.” He didn’t say sorry, in fact he was proud of what he did, but that didn’t stop them from offering forgiveness. There is something extremely powerful in that offering. People around the world were moved and the battle against racism was significantly advanced by those acts of forgiveness. If they had remained in their anger and embraced hatred, it could have sparked violent actions between the races in Charleston, but offering forgiveness eased tension and created a place to advance love and equality. There is power in demanding retaliatory justice and in losing yourself to see a wrong avenged, but that power always costs us. In the case of the wendigo, it cost him his very soul to see those who hurt him destroyed. But there is greater power in forgiveness. It too costs, but the price is letting go of your pain, sorrow, and anger. Only then can you know peace. The people who forgive go on to lead lives of peace, the people who do not become lost in their suffering. w AOE MAGAZINE • 9


by Alex Mellen

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erds may not be the long-suffering social group they used to be, but I still don’t feel like I fit in any place where Star Wars isn’t a useful conversation starter. Hanging out at a bar isn’t fun for me. Fashion doesn’t intrigue me. I get more excited about a new superhero movie than a famous singer coming to town. I find working out boring, and I don’t even like the taste of coffee! But if I think I stick out at Starbucks with my hot chocolate and Boba Fett hat, I need to remember Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel, and how drastically different she feels from everyone around her. Kamala is a second-generation Pakistani Muslim teen living in Jersey City. Sometimes her heritage isn’t a big deal, but as a 16-year-old, she’s fed up with restrictions. Her religion means she eats different foods, dresses modestly, and celebrates holidays most people are unfamiliar with. Her parents want to keep her away from boys and wild parties, but she claims they won’t let her out because she’s a girl. Plus, her nerdy interests distance her from her straight-laced family and draw ridicule. She spends her time drooling over bacon sandwiches, writing superhero fan fiction, and questioning traditions at her I want to give up all emotion mosque—such as why women have to sit after a frustrating day at work; I separately from men. want to be a selfless hero (and She imagines that if she became sport an awesome costume) a hero, she’d take a page from her role when someone’s in need; I want model—Ms. Marvel, now to fearlessly battle rebranded as Captain Marvel: monsters and unlock BEING SOMEONE doors to treasure “I would wear the classic, politically incorrect costume ELSE ISN'T rooms. and kick butt in giant wedge Sometimes my LIBERATING. IT'S heels.” regular, unmasked EXHAUSTING. It’s fun to spend a few self seems boring in hours pretending to be somecomparison. one vastly different from me. Whether I’m Kamala’s tired of being cosplaying or playing a roleplaying game, herself too. But she’s given a I get to put on a mask and act in ways I “reboot” when Terrigen mist otherwise wouldn’t. I can be impeccably covers the city and awakens her logical as Spock, heroic as Batgirl, or latent Inhuman powers. She's adventurous as my rogue in Dungeons suddenly transformed into her and Dragons. idol, Ms. Marvel, complete with I choose these characters because long, flowing blonde hair, a they possess qualities I’d like to have. skintight leotard with a red sash 10 • AOE MAGAZINE

that just barely covers her hips, and thigh-high boots. As she experiments with her new ability, she notices she can polymorph into anything she wants. But Ms. Marvel is her default; it’s the identity she’s always wanted—or so she thinks. After she rescues a civilian and gets lost in a mist-filled city, she struggles to control her powers and un-morph. And she discovers her new form isn’t all she thought it would be. “Why don’t I feel strong and confident and beautiful?” she asks. “Why do I just feel freaked out and underdressed? . . . Being someone else isn’t liberating. It’s exhausting. I always thought that if I had amazing hair, if I could pull off


great boots, if I could fly—that would make me feel strong. That would make me happy. But the hair gets in my face, the boots pinch . . . and this leotard is giving me an epic wedgie.” Even though I love cosplaying, it’s not something I can maintain all the time. It’s like being an actor on a stage, and I have to go back to being myself eventually. It’s not bad to find traits to emulate in my favourite characters, like stoicism or bravery, but those will look different displayed in me than in Spock or Batgirl. When superheroes put on a mask, they embrace their qualities and quirks instead of hiding them. Peter Parker can be as snarky as he wants as Spider-Man without fear of getting beaten up by the school bullies. Steve Rogers doesn’t need a star-spangled uniform to act like Captain America, it just goes well with the shield. In Tony Stark’s words, he is Iron Man—why bother pretending otherwise? Even superheroes with drastically different alter egos, like Superman, are their true selves in costume, not out. As Kamala tries to figure out a new look, she realizes all she really wants to do with her powers is help people. And this desire comes from her parents’ teaching, all the differences

ART OF

that make her stick out, and her heritage. Maybe no one else in her high school—certainly not the flaky teenagers Kamala admires—would use superpowers for good. But that’s what defines a hero more than a costume. As Kamala puts it, “Good is not a thing you are. It’s a thing you do.” So Kamala claims the Ms. Marvel lightning bolt as part of her costume, but her look is unique. Her getup is a red-and-blue burkini minus the head covering, low boots, a red scarf that pays homage to Carol Danvers’ sash, and a mask— not to disguise herself from the public, but to make sure her parents never catch on. Being a superhero is still an intimidating new challenge, but she’s no longer afraid of what people think of her. She’s still hiding her identity, but she’s showing the world her character. That’s the confidence that I want. I want to unashamedly be my nerdy self who enjoys quoting the Bible and being a perfectionist and laughing too loud. I want my heritage—my Christian values and my desire to be more like Jesus—to guide my actions, and I don't want to hide anything that makes me who I am. I’m still growing and changing and learning from my mistakes, but the only person I’m learning to become is me. w facebook.com/ArtofSandara3 etsy.com/shop/sandara3 society6.com/sandara

SANDARA

"Seeking Chell" continued from page 7

message and thought of myself as a bad person because I’d been willing to sacrifice my beloved companion cube just to keep playing. I’d started out by seeing myself, but now I was letting someone else tell me how I should feel about myself. It’s easy to cross the line from seeking feedback to seeking approval. Instead of looking at people to see who I am, I can start looking at them to see who they want me to be. In this, Chell is a good role model. Despite the constant taunts and threats, she keeps fighting for her freedom and her life. In the final confrontation in the first game, GlaDOS unleashes the full scope of her nastiness: “I’d just like to point out that you were given every opportunity to succeed. There was even going to be a party for you. A big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend, the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn’t come, because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn’t come either, because you don’t have any other friends. Because of how unlikeable you are. It says so here in your personnel file: unlikeable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikeable loner whose passing shall not be mourned. ‘Shall not be mourned.’ That’s exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says you were adopted. So that’s funny too.” Undeterred, Chell continues her methodical assault until GlaDOS is destroyed. Somewhere in her past Chell learned to weigh the opinions of others and apply them only when they were consistent with what she knew about herself. That skill involves spending time alone getting to know myself and having a close, trusted friend who can give honest feedback. For me, that person is my wife. She is loving in her assessment of me and willing to tell me both the good and the bad. Sometimes it can be hard to hear the negative about myself. I’d like to believe that I’m a great guy. If the feedback gets too hard to hear, it helps me to remember that there’s someone else who sees me. As a Christian, I know that I’m held in God’s loving gaze and that His love for me is constant. That doesn’t mean that I can ignore the negatives, but it reassures me that I have safety as I work on improving. The love of my wife and the love of God give me the courage to see myself clearly and to work on making the necessary changes. w AOE MAGAZINE • 11


WITH GREAT OFFENSE COMES GREAT

RESPONSIBILITY

by Tim Webster

I

’m offended.” This phrase has become emotionally I stewed over this for a couple of days before I filaden, and all too often used in North American nally worked out why I was irked: Kayser was offendculture to gain unearned power over whatever or ed. Reading his article and review, I realized that he whomever has caused the “offense.” But if I’m offendwas offended that Spider-Man: Homecoming didn’t ed by someone, does that give me special rights? measure up to his values. This is illogical because the If anything, being offended confers responsibilonly way to ensure that any artistic endeavour meaity: responsibility to address the source of offense, to sures up to your values is to produce it yourself, by explain my point of view, and, perhaps most imporyourself. As any artist will attest, the moment another tantly, to listen to the other perspective. That’s a lot of person becomes involved in your project, compromise work, however; no wonder the path of least resistance begins. leads to Internet trolling and flaming tweets instead. I don’t agree with Kayser that people of faith So, here am I; I’m offended. have to compromise anything in watching this film. I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming in theaters and Despite Kayser’s offense, porn consumption is loved its portrayal of a kid struggling to understand normal, or at least it has become so in our society. what it means to be a hero. The next Most famously, Professor Simon Louis day, I read a review by Ben Kayser, Lajeunesse of the University of Montreal NED'S LINE IS AN Managing Editor of Movieguide, had to restructure his study comparing OPPORTUNITY TO the self-described “Family Guide to men who consumed porn with those Movies and Entertainment,” which hadn’t because he couldn’t find any SHINE SOME LIGHT who not only described the film as poorly control subject in their twenties who had written and badly directed, but also ON A DARK TRUTH. never consumed porn. On this point, I took issue with a single line that the agree with Kayser: this is not acceptable, headline claimed “might have ruined” the entire film. for a variety of reasons. I don’t agree, however, that Kayser took offense at the line “I was… looking it’s a cause for hand-wringing and finger-pointing, at… porn?” Peter Parker’s friend Ned says this during or throwing rotten tomatoes at an amazing film. I the climactic battle when he’s providing logistical suggest, rather, that this is an opportunity, a chance to support in the school’s computer lab. Doing his best have a discussion. to assist his buddy as “the guy in the chair,” Ned gets Porn users are not a proud bunch. We might be busted by a teacher who demands to know what Ned willing to acknowledge and detail usage in an anonis doing. Not wanting to betray Peter’s secret identity, ymous Internet survey, but none of us are going to Ned offers this plausible but shameful excuse. Kaylist it as an accomplishment on our curriculum vitae. ser found this “irresponsible and frustrating,” believThere won’t be any “Porn Pride Parades” coming to ing the line to be an attempt to render porn consump- your community anytime soon. You might know sometion “normal and acceptable.” one who is upfront and casual about using porn, but

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SHOWS TO WATCH IF YOU'VE NEVER SEEN ANIME

As recommended by AoE staff

12 • AOE MAGAZINE

MY HERO ACADEMIA Harry Potter meets Marvel in My Hero Academia, where the most promising students in the world with powers, or "quirks," attend a school that teaches them to be superheroes. A story of growth for a boy born without a quirk.


for the rest of us, it’s a source of shame and we are only as healthy as our darkest secrets. If nothing else, Ned’s line is an opportunity to shine some light on a dark truth. I took my eleven-year-old son to this movie, and I will be using this moment to have a frank and open discussion with him about pornography; where Kayser takes offense, I see opportunity. My son wants to be like me; I want him to be better. Kayser also doesn’t seem to understand that acknowledging that something is occurring is not the same thing as condoning it. If Ned had actually been watching porn, or if the teacher had replied: “Oh, never mind, then,” that would have been rendering it acceptable. The line, “I was… looking at… porn?” was delivered, however, with trepidation, as if the character knew what was going to happen to his reputation thereafter. Kayser seemed particularly affronted that a mother at the screening he attended found this line particularly funny (Um, it’s funny ‘cause it’s true?). When I heard Ned’s excuse, I laughingly groaned: “Oh no!” ACKNOWLEDGING because I knew what it was going THAT SOMETHING IS to cost him, and OCCURRING IS NOT that is my other bone of contenTHE SAME THING AS tion with Kayser’s CONDONING IT. assessment. Ned’s intention was to protect Peter and honour his promise to keep Spider-Man’s secret. He chose an excuse that was plausible, but cost him his reputation, sacrificing his own well-being for another. Kind of reminds me of another example in the discourse of faith of someone accepting undue shame in order to protect someone else. In that context, the brilliance of the writing shines through in the juxtaposition of the sacredness of Ned’s self-sacrifice and profanity of his lie. Be offended—that’s fine. We are all going to be offended about something sometime, and we none of us have the right not to be. Accept the responsibility of being the change you want to see: “With great offense, comes great responsibility.” w

"Spider-Man" by Wisesnail Art.

FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST

ATTACK ON TITAN

The story of two brothers who try to break the taboo of alchemy by trying to bring their mother back to life, the series follows their attempt to make amends for their mistake and get their bodies back.

Attack on Titan takes place in a world where humanity lives in cities surrounded by giant walls, living in fear of attack by the Titans, gigantic humanoids that live outside and eat humans.

AOE MAGAZINE • 13


RWBY CHIBI AND N O I T C I F O T N I G N I ESCAP

w RWBY, I hen I became a fan of the sho racters, their cha couldn’t get enough of the ir epic fight sethe and , ers hilarious one-lin BY fans, I was delighted quences. So, like other RW ies, RWBY Chibi, hit the ser ff last year when a spin-o , lots of laughs, and more web. Full of goofy scenarios s I love, RWBY Chibi ter rac screen time for the cha and I eagerly awaited its became a favourite of mine r. new season this summe of the spin-off is that it One of the best parts reak that occurs in the ers rev es some of the heartbcharacters are still atoriginal show. In Chibi, the ich remains standing), tending school at Beacon (whare easily and comithe few enemies that appearracters that perished in cally thwarted, and even cha RWBY reappear in Chibi. uum” includes my favouThe episode “The Vac resurrection.” The JNPR rite example of “character their fallen comrade, a, rrh team reintroduces Py e Three of RWBY caused whose tragic end in Volum en Pyrrha walks onto the Wh s. a lot of trauma for fan mbers of Team RWBY scene in this episode, the mestion her presence. But que to are shocked and start

W

"Rwby Chibi" by Monotsuki.

shouts down any insinuNora, a member of JNPR, emphatically stating, ations about Pyrrha’s death, . . . Everything’s fine. Pyr“NOPE! Never happened! r happened. EVER.” rha is fine. Nothing bad evence of Pyrrha and other While the reappeara nderful element of Chibi, departed characters is a wounrealistic resolutions I find myself wishing these BY show, too. Although occurred in the regular RWhout conflict, I’m the type good stories can’t occur witg to turn out perfectly at of fan who wants everythin ney-princess kind of endthe end. I want the rosy, Dise, the hero has succeeded, ing where the villain is gon e and well to celebrate and all the good guys are aliv their victory. RWBY be if But what kind of story would and conflicts nce ste exi o int k bac characters popped feel good, ht mig It es? magically resolved themselv me would get bored. but eventually, even fans like utes is the character One of RWBY’s best attribh conflict, pain, and even oug thr growth that occurs appear if RWBY mirrored loss. This growth would dis RWBY Chibi. two shows are The differences between the


"Team Rwby" by Monotsuki.

THE TRUE MARVEL OF FICTION IS NOT ITS ABILITY TO ROB US OF LIFE, BUT TO ENHANCE IT.

perhaps best revealed through emphasized the preciousness of their theme songs. RWBY Chibi’s life and the value of what was being end-credits jingle says, “This is the fought for. way we want to spend every day, It’s easy to say that conflict laughing with our friends and keep- has a purpose in fandom, but much ing sadness away,” but RWBY’s Vol- harder to admit the same about ume Four theme proposes, “Let’s real life. If I struggle with accepting just live, day by day, and not be pain in my fandoms, you can imagconquered by our sorrows.” RWBY ine how much less I want it in my Chibi’s lighter-hearted themes reality. I became a fangirl because have their place, but at the end of I love characters and stories, but the day, it’s RWBY’s also because I wanted the message that helps me escape. As a child, usually handle the real conflict IT’S EASY TO SAY I was just escaping the THAT CONFLICT in my life. monotony of school days, The importance but as I progress further HAS A PURPOSE of conflict holds true in my adult years, I find IN FANDOM, BUT for other fandoms, as myself trying to escape well. I’m sure most MUCH HARDER TO more painful problems. fans wish that BoroI don’t believe there ADMIT THE SAME mir in The Lord of is anything inherently ABOUT REAL LIFE. wrong with escaping the Rings had been given a second chance into a good story; on the at life, or that Fred in the Harry contrary, storytelling reflects part of Potter series had been able to stay God’s personality as the Master Stowith his brother. As a teen, I read ryteller of the universe. My tendency many of the novels in the Redwall to enjoy stories and my passion for series, and it seemed like every creating them is part of who He destory included one major character signed me to be. However, like any death. This always saddened me as good thing, too much of it becomes a young reader, but the deaths were dangerous. I’m often tempted to necessary to the storyline. Not remain in a fantasy world and never only did they show the importance return to grapple with my own life. of the war being fought, but they But if I don’t invest in my reality, I’ll

become a shell of the person I’m meant to be. Losing myself doesn’t eliminate my problems; it just eliminates a part of me. If I allow myself to become addicted to escapism, I miss all the beauty and adventure that real life has to offer. The true marvel of fiction is not its ability to rob us of life, but to enhance it. RWBY Chibi gives me some laughter medication and the original RWBY teaches me more vital truths through the actions of its characters. Weiss reminds me to be brave even when life takes me somewhere I never expected. Ruby shows me how to stay strong for those I love—even the ones who are no longer with me. And departed heroes like Pyrrha challenge me to dare to love even in an unfair world. By taking the lessons I learn from fantasy and applying them to my real life, I give the stories purpose and bring them to completion. Stories are not meant to remain as static pieces of fiction, but reach their full potential when they are incorporated into reality. When that happens, they become part of the grandest story of all, the story that God is writing with every day of our lives. w AOE MAGAZINE • 15


HOW MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000 SAVED MY LIFE (SORT OF)

M

by Michael Boyce

y friend Chris introduced me to Mystery Scitells jokes alone, riffing a film is a group effort. The ence Theatre 3000 (MST3K) after we became experience is communal. In watching a film, the three friends in university, and the show changed my characters would take turns riffing, adding a bit of perspective on community. Chris was an active tape dialogue, commenting on what was on the screen, or trader. The show wasn’t easily available in Canada, making an obscure pop culture reference. As I learned so Chris used a wide network of associates, trading more about the show, I discovered just how commuthings from his impressive collection of VHS tapes, nity focused the show was. The writers would write laser discs, and, later, DVDs to get episodes. I still the show together, building off each other’s best jokes. have a banker’s box full of Seasons Eight through Ten Actors wrote and worked behind the scenes, creatof MST episodes I inherited from Chris in my office. ing sets or answering fan club phone calls. Writers Soon, word of the show spread through my apartperformed bit parts in sketches. Reading the closing ment building and every week a group of 20 or more credits shows just how participatory the show was—a university students would gather in the living room of small group of dedicated people could make a Peamy two-bedroom apartment to watch Joel/Mike and his body Award winning show with limited resources and robot pals make fun of some of the worst movies ever a lot of imagination. made: The Skydivers, Mitchell or, my personal favourIn those few years in university, I learned how ite, Manos: the Hands of Fate (Manos literally means people can connect around a shared love. With the “hands.” So the actual title of this film is Hands: The revamped MST3K, I’ve been thinking a lot about how Hands of Fate. The only thing you need to know about important the original series was in shaping how I this piece of celluloid sludge is that it’s about a fertilizthought of community and belonging. Without that er salesperson from Texas). experience, I don’t know if I would have As someone who grew up well to identify as a geek, something SHARING LIFE IS continued before “geek” was the term of endearthat has been an important aspect of who I ALWAYS MESSY, ment we’ve all embraced, liking geeky am and has impacted the relationships and things could be incredibly isolating. In communities I’m part of now. BUT COMMUNITY various the pre-internet era, there wasn’t an Understanding the importance of easily accessible network of fan comcommunity has been a lifelong lesson for IS WORTH IT. munities. There may have been comic me. Maybe it’s my childhood experiences and conventions in some of the larger urban markets, but feeling like I was isolated by the things I liked, but I have they were primarily about comics (as the name does always struggled with the desire to go it alone. Doing life suggest, though it has since grown to mean so much together is much better than doing life alone. In the book more). I certainly remember being teased because I Community and Growth, Jean Vanier argues that with the liked science fiction and comic books. I had specific breakdown of trust in community and family, people are friends who shared interests, but my fandoms were more in need of community than ever before. usually limited to one or two people. I had a couple I don’t want to overstate watching MST3K of friends who really liked Star Wars, a few who liked with some university friends as some sort of “perfect comics, a few others who liked wrestling, and one who community,” but that experience did offer a glimpse of really liked Battle of the Planets. Those groups rarely community that has continued to nudge me towards interacted with each other and I instinctively believed making close bonds with other people. As Christine they wouldn’t get along anyway. Pohl observes in her excellent Living into Community: But somehow, this low-budget show with pupCultivating Practices, “Religious as well as secular pets and general silliness brought a wide variety of researchers have recently rediscovered the human people together. It was my first real experience of a need to ‘belong’ and describe various versions of our geek community and it was amazing. It started with longing for community—a place where one is known, people I knew, but soon expanded to include friendsor at least a group where everyone knows your name.” of-friends and acquaintances. There was no hiding, I’ve been fortunate to find myself part of many no awkward explanations for why we liked this weird different communities—churches, work, scholarly, and puppet show. We were invested and everyone was fandoms. Not all those communities have been easy, welcome. Of course, not everyone embraced the show some have been negative. Sharing life is always messy; with geek-level enthusiasm. I’m pretty sure, for examhowever each community I’ve been connected with ple, that only Chris and I joined the fan club. has within it a trace of what I loved so much about At its heart, MST3K had a “let’s put on a show” those MST3K nights back in 1996. For me, it required vibe, a community effort where everyone gets involved. stepping outside my isolationist bubble and finding The essential humour of the show is cooperative and people with shared interests to make those important inclusive. Unlike stand-up comedy, where one person connections. w 16 • AOE MAGAZINE


"Red Wings" by sandara.

Y A S O T M D R U O Y T N A W ’T N THINGS YOU DO by Alex Mellen

I

t doesn’t matter what host of deities are included in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign—the Dungeon Master is lord of them all. It’s true, we wouldn’t have a game without a DM… but sometimes we wish they were a little less exultant about putting our characters through hell (sometimes literally). Here’s a list of things we’d rather not hear our DMs say. 1. “Everyone roll a perception check.” *Everyone rolls below 10.* “You notice the sun is rather bright today.” 2. “So, everyone’s up to level 3, right? No one lower?” *announces random encounter* 3. *Rolls dice and looks at the result* “Ooh, this will be fun.” 4. “How many hit points do you have left?” 5. *To players* “What time do you all need to leave tonight?” 6. “Oh hey, I rolled a crit.” 7. *After a really low roll on an investigation check* “You think it’s perfectly safe.” 9. *After figuring out who’s keeping watch* “So you’re the one awake at midnight then.” 10. *After a critical fail on a persuasion check* “Roll for initiative.” w AOE MAGAZINE • 17


W

by Victoria Grace Howell

WORSE GAMES TO PLAY:

KATNISS’S GRATITUDE

& DEPRESSION AREA OF EFFECT IS PUBLISHED BY

GEEKDOM HOUSE To support us financially, visit geekdomhouse.com/support Donations receive a tax-deductible receipt and help support our staff, artists, writers, and programming.

18 • AOE MAGAZINE

hen you go through a deeply painful and life changing experience, how do you move on? The stories I love answer this question again and again through characters like Frodo from The Lord of the Rings and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games—protagonists who go through traumatic experiences. They lost people they loved. They sustained mental and physical injuries that will never fully heal. Frodo could never completely move on, so he had to leave his world for the Grey Havens to find peace. However, Katniss didn’t have that option of escape and had to find a way to be at peace in her own world. After Panem’s revolution had been won, Katniss married Peeta Mellark and together they had two children, something Katniss swore she would never do at the beginning of The Hunger Games. The


THERE ARE MUCH WORSE GAMES TO PLAY.

Screenshots of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.

Girl on Fire has watched countless could have killed herself to avoid the people die and even caused death work it took to find peace after the by her own hands. She’s seen her trauma. But she didn’t. She chose friends tortured and severely injured. to make an effort to heal. No, she Katniss has gone through so much, would never be the same. No, she yet somehow she finds peace. At would never forget what happened the end of Mockingjay Part 2, when to her. But that didn’t mean peace her son cries as he awakens, she was unreachable for her. explains to him and I’ve gone the audience what has through a lot of changed in her heart: BITTERNESS COMES tough phases in my “Did you have life: emotional abuse SO EASILY TO a nightmare? I have and rejection from THOSE WHO HAVE nightmares too. family members, Someday I’ll explain leaving the ENDURED DEEP PAIN abruptly it to you. Why they home I’d had for came. Why they won’t AND TRAUMA. ten years, endurever go away. But I’ll ing shaming in the tell you how I survive it. I make a list workplace for having depression, in my head of all the good things I’ve and a traumatizing car wreck. I seen someone do. Every little thing I won’t forget those experiences. At can remember. It’s like a game. I do times I still fear that those same it over and over. It gets a little tedious family members will hurt me again, after all these years. But there are that I’ll be ripped out of my home much worse games to play.” again, that I’ll get written up for not Hate and bitterness come so smiling enough at my job again, easily to those who have endured and that I’ll get into another car acdeep pain and trauma. Katniss cident that will leave me in pain for could have easily become hard and weeks. Like Katniss, I’ve had these calloused after all she’d seen and memories haunt my nightmares. done. She could have chosen never But if I let those hurts from to have children because of her the past stop me from trusting experience watching children die in people again, I would live in conthe Capitol and in the Games. She stant fear, always worrying about could have stopped hunting because the next disaster. Instead, I choose she remembered killing people to enjoy where I live, combat with a bow. She could have pushed depression, and get into my vehieveryone who loved her away. She cle to drive every day. I survived

those bad experiences and I’m not going to let them make me forget about the good things in my life. Sometimes, like in the middle of depression, it’s hard to focus on those good things. And that’s okay, because I know at some point I will be able to again. Even if I can find one thing to be thankful for that day while everything else seems dark, I count that as a win. Like Katniss, sometimes I have to stop and remember the good things in life so they shine a light on my current condition, whether it’s my experiences traveling, my friends who love me, the stories I write, and even the birds singing in my backyard. Studies even show that gratitude has a “direct effect on depression symptoms (the more gratitude, the less depression).” Our brains are actually wired to function better when we are thankful. I don’t think constant happiness is possible for anyone, mental illness or not, but I do think peace is attainable. I believe it’s possible to be at peace with what has happened in the past and not let it taint your future. Trying to remember something good about life can get tedious over time and even tiring, because sometimes it does take a remarkable effort to pull a piece of joy out of our memories, but there are much worse games to play. w AOE MAGAZINE • 19


Screenshot of Scarlet Johansson as Major.

Panel from Doctor Strange Comic.

Panel from Ghost in the Shell manga.

Screenshot of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.

WHY HOLLYWOOD IS WHITEWASHING CHARACTERS OF MINORITY by Kyla Neufeld

T

wo movies that came out fairly recently—Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell—did so amid allegations of whitewashing after both cast a white actor in the role of an Asian character: Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One and Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi. One response to whitewashing I’ve seen goes something like this: “Well, if you’re upset about [white actor] being cast as [person of colour character], then you should be equally upset about [person of colour actor] being cast as [white character].” And they bring up Heimdall, played by Idris Elba in the Thor movies, as an example. But this isn’t a tit-for-tat issue. Whitewashing is more than just a matter of choosing an actor for a role; money and politics often influence casting decisions. And, when we look at the complexities around whitewashing, we have to keep privilege and cultural context in mind. It’s all about the money Take, for example, Tilda Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One, a traditionally Tibetan character. Cur-

3

NONSTEREOTYPICAL D&D CHARACTERS

As recommended by AoE staff

20 • AOE MAGAZINE

rently, the second largest movie market in the world is China, which also has volatile relations with Tibet; the Chinese Communist party and its army occupied Tibet in 1951 and, since 2009, there have been 148 confirmed self-immolations by Tibetans in protest of China’s occupancy. Acknowledging the Ancient One’s Tibetan ancestry would have caused China to reject the movie, which means Doctor Strange would have lost out on that audience and, therefore, the money. The “safe” move for Doctor Strange‘s producers, both politically and monetarily, was to change the Ancient One’s ancestry from Tibetan to Celtic to ensure that the movie was picked up in China. An actor’s monetary-drawing power can also influence the movies in which they are cast. For example, when Ridley Scott was making Exodus, which cast white actor Christian Bale in a Middle Eastern role, Scott told Variety, “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from suchand-such… I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

GNOMISH BARBARIAN Barbarians are often created to be colossal meat shields: soaking up and dealing a ton of melee damage. What about a character whose physical size isn’t that impressive, but finds their power from another source?


I can’t fault producers for wanting to ensure their movies are successes. I can, however, fault them for not doing more to raise the profiles of minority actors.

and directing. It found that people of colour were underrepresented in every category.1 When white actors are cast for minority characters, they are taking away roles from people of colour when there aren’t Context is everything that many to begin with. This is where cultural context Ironically, the “Hollywood really comes into the equation, and Diversity Report” also showed that I’ll use Scarlett Johansson’s casting films and TV shows with diverse as Motoko Kusanagi as an examcasts actually do better overall.2 ple. On the surface, it seems like So why aren’t we seeing Ghost in the Shell is a pretty simmore diversity in films and TV ple case of whitewashing: a white shows? Remember the #Osactor cast in a Japanese role. carsSoWhite controversy from However, in Japan, most a couple years ago? Part of the fans were fine with Scarlett Joproblem there was that Academy hansson’s casting. In fact, in this members—those choosing which context, casting a white actor was movies were nominated and won likely the better choice because awards—were mostly white men. Japanese fans may have found it And so it is with producers, talent more offensive to see a Chinese agencies, networks, and studios: actor playing a Japathose with the decinese character. sion-making power WHITEWASHING Does the fact are overwhelmingly IS MORE THAN that Japanese fans white men who cling weren’t offended to the notion that JUST A MATTER mean that Scarlett they have to choose Johansson’s casting between diversity OF CHOOSING AN doesn’t matter? I don’t and excellence, when think so, because, in ACTOR FOR A ROLE. that is simply not the our North American case. “Adequately context, people of colour are still responding to Hollywood’s race vastly underrepresented in all and gender problem will require aspects of media. more than token efforts and window dressing. It will require Privilege and power bold gestures that disrupt industry This is why whitewashing is a business as usual, which not only different issue than that of casting adjust the optics in front of the a person of colour as a white charcamera but that also overhaul the acter: it contributes to the erasure creative and executive machinery of minorities in media. behind it,” concludes the study. In 2016, UCLA published its It’s important that those of third iteration of the “Hollywood us who have white skin remember Diversity Report,” which looked at that we have a certain amount the top 200 films in 2014, and over of privilege when it comes to the 1,000 TV shows from the 2013movies or TV shows we watch. As 2014 season, to determine how Peggy McIntosh notes in her essay women and people of colour were “White Privilege: Unpacking the represented in 11 different categoInvisible Knapsack,” we can “turn ries—from leading roles, writing, on the television… and see people

of [our] race widely represented.” I have a lot to say about the lack of substantial roles for women in Hollywood, but I also know that I have seen white actors play a wide range of roles, very often as the hero or protagonist; people of colour can’t say the same thing when minority actors are often relegated to the role of the villain or bumbling sidekick. We are seeing some change already; the Academy Awards overhauled its membership after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and plans to double the number of women and minority members by 2020, and ABC appointed Channing Dungey, an African American woman, as its president in 2016. Wonder Woman, the first superhero movie to feature a female protagonist, was a box office hit and I have high hopes for Black Panther. Audiences have some power to change things; we’re the ones buying tickets and tuning in, after all. We can support films that feature women and minorities if we want movie makers to see that having diverse casts is better for their bottom line. We can call out whitewashing when it appears on our screens. We can support the minority voices that are shouting to be heard. w Footnotes 1 Minorities were three to one among film leads; three to one among film directors; and five to one among film writers. In TV, the study found that people of colour were underrepresented 11 to one among creators of broadcast scripted show. 2 Films with diverse casts had the highest global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment; and the median ratings for viewers ages 18–49 peaked for broadcast scripted shows with casts of at least 40 percent minorities.

DWARVEN MONK

HALF-ORC CLERIC

Dwarf characters often are given tank roles to compliment their high constitution and many weapon and armour proficiencies. What about a dwarf who entirely eschews weaponry for their bare hands?

Clerics are almost always depicted as shining beacons of divinity, clad in platemail and tabards brandishing the symbol of a lawful god. But what would the normally shamanistic half-orcs look like in a similar role? AOE MAGAZINE • 21


"Jedi Ahsoka Tano" by Kaela Croft Art.

I'M THE ONE WITH THE ENTHUSIASM. YOU'RE THE ONE WITH THE EXPERIENCE.

by Cassidy Clayton

AHSOKA TANO: THE ONE WITH ENTHUSIASM F rom almost the moment Ahsoka first appeared in Ahsoka’s enthusiasm fed her confidence and The Clone Wars, stepping off a shuttle that landed was integral to her identity, but it sometimes led her to in the middle of a war zone, I adored her as a char- make foolish choices—especially early on. It required acter. Promoted at the young age of 14 to Padawan tempering to become a true strength. One episode status, Ahsoka left behind the safety and serenity of early in the series crystallizes this concept. Ahsoka the Jedi Temple and was thrust headfirst into a new is placed in command of a squadron of pilots, but her world of war, struggle, heroism, and heartbreak. As recklessness leads her to ignore orders and results in the show continued, she faced challenge after chalthe death of her men. This incident acts as a catalyst lenge head on, with that same indomitable spirit that for the tempering of her enthusiasm—she makes a she displayed from the start. mistake, and she has only two options: face it and I was 12 when the film premiered in theatres, and learn from it, or let it break her. And she does learn. suddenly I—a young girl, just on the cusp of entering She deals with her guilt, and her grief, and becomes into a new world of my own—had a character I could stronger because of it. look up to; a character I could identify with. Don’t get me Though she begins her story behaving much like wrong—I admired Leia and Padme, and Anakin—brash, reckless, and ignoring took some inspiration from them, but they OUR PERSONALITIES rules—she grows into a skilled leader were much older than I was, and it was with a heart for protecting the innocent. difficult to relate to them because of that Her choice to leave the Order at the DON'T ALWAYS age gap. But not only was Ahsoka close to end of The Clone Wars isn’t one made my age, she was a Jedi. For me, a girl who MATURE AT THE lightly or out of anger; she makes the spent much of her free time challenging decision after careful contemplation as SAME RATE OUR neighbour kids to lightsaber duels, this she realizes she can’t let Anakin or the MINDS DO. was even better than getting a kitten for Jedi define who she is any more. And, Christmas. But what really sealed the unbeknownst to her, this action allowed deal for me was her exchange with Anakin early in the her to escape Order 66 and play a pivotal role in the film: “I’m the one with the enthusiasm”—that line has just Rebellion later. as much of an impact on me now as it did the first time I I feel like I grew up alongside Ahsoka. I saw mysat wide-eyed in that theatre. self in her flaws, but also her strengths. Like Ahsoka, At the beginning of her character arc, Ahsoka I’ve faced loss, betrayals, and challenges. Seeing her is eager to learn, good-hearted, and brave. She’s also face her trials without losing what made her unique stubborn, impulsive, reckless, and snarky. These last inspires me to do the same. Ahsoka learned hard traits made her unpopular with some early viewlessons and experienced betrayal, but at the end of the ers. But to me, she was perfectly relatable. I always day she allowed her trials to form her into a person imagined that the sort of aptitude necessary for early of conviction who could empathize with others. She promotion to Padawan was comparable to the douwould do anything to embody the life of peace and ble-edged sword of being considered a “gifted” child. hope she strives for, including walking away from evOur personalities don’t always mature at the same erything she once called home and sacrificing herself rate our minds do, and sometimes that leads to being for others. That is a role model I can eagerly try to folirritating, impulsive, or even naïve. I’ve certainly been low as I stumble through my own trials and follow my called some of those things. Incidentally, the very thing own beliefs about what is good, right, and holy. Ahsoka that distanced Ahsoka from some viewers early on reminds me to never let go of wisdom learned—but helped draw me closer to her. also to keep that spark of enthusiasm alive. w 22 • AOE MAGAZINE


OUR MINIONS Michael Boyce

Caitlin Eha

Kyla Neufeld

Paranoid Android

Michael teaches English Literature and Film Studies in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He’s published on Hitchcock, Alec Guinness, and James Bond. And he likes coffee. A lot.

Remnant Huntress

Elven Scribe

Dustin Schellenberg

Rose of the Prophet

Victoria Grace Howell Waterbending Elf

A poet and writer, Kyla first read The Lord of the Rings when she was 13, and has been studying Tolkien’s works ever since. She is the editor of Rupert’s Land News in Winnipeg.

Caitlin has her head in the clouds and her heart in a faraway land. When she isn’t devouring a new favourite book, she enjoys archery, cosplaying, jewellery making, and time with her Lord.

Alex Mellen

Kevin Cummings

Ian Hancock

Cassidy Clayton

Tim Webster

Alex Mellen likes movies, books, sports, music, crafts, and Star Wars. She works as a copyeditor for a small-town newspaper while writing and editing freelance on the side.

Husband and father, Kevin is a geek from birth who grew up with the original Star Trek and Star Wars. He enjoys finding expressions of God’s love in the worlds of fandom.

Ian is a speculative fiction writer with an English degree from the University of the Fraser Valley. He enjoys strategy games, hockey, anime, and finding new ways to make fun of life.

As an ENFP, wanderer, and begrudging Slytherin, Cassidy has never been fully content to stay in just one place. She studies Linguistics at the University of Rochester.

Tim is a husband, father of three, and has introduced all of his children to the wonders of geekdom. He's a fan of comics, superheroes, Star Trek, and Doctor Who.

Bounty Hunter

sandara.deviantart.com

Chief Engineer

wisesnailart.deviantart.com

Guest Minion

gin-1994.deviantart.com

Dustin has a current gaming score of 77,797. He is a competent bass player and guitarist, mediocre mid laner and awful FPS player, a pastor, husband, and father from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Guest Minion

monotsuki.deviantart.com

quirkilicious.deviantart.com

Victoria is an award-winning writer of speculative fiction and an editor. When not typing away at novels, she enjoys drawing, blogging, Kung Fu, cosplaying, and a really good hot cup of tea.

Guest Minion

kaelacroftart.deviantart.com

Sandara

Wisesnail Art

gin

Monotsuki

Quirkilicious

Kaela Croft Art

Cover Artist

Contributing Artist

Contributing Artist

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Contributing Artist

AOE MAGAZINE • 23


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Encouraging the mashup of geek culture and deep thought, this issue includes articles on Thor, Narnia, Portal, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man: Homec...

Area of Effect, Issue #10  

Encouraging the mashup of geek culture and deep thought, this issue includes articles on Thor, Narnia, Portal, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man: Homec...

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