If you’ve been paying any attention to the news, you know that the last few months have been a hard time to be a geek girl. Media critics and gamers who have spoken up about sexism in the video game industry have been subjected to online harassment that has escalated into death threats. People who care about pop culture and video games—as well as other geeky pursuits like comics and tabletop games—have devoted a ton of emotional energy to dealing with these aggressive haters. So for today’s show, we’re flipping the script. Instead of giving all this nastiness any more of our time and energy, we’re focusing on six women who are doing awesome work to make geek culture better.
We take a trip to a Magic: The Gathering tournament, get a download from hip-hop artist Sammus about how to turning classic video game soundtracks into brand-new beats, hear game designer Elizabeth Sampat break down sexist myths about women in the video game industry, listen to a Destination DIY profile of an artist who lasercuts mobiles of internet memes, and sit down with nerd-rock sister duo The Doubleclicks to talk about making bad news into heart-warming songs.
This episode of Popaganda is sponsored by If Only Cats Could Talk, an experimental film documenting the true story of two all-American cats eager to explore the world beyond domesticated life.
Individual show segments and more ways to listen are below the cut!
Despite all the recent harassment, many people and groups are successfully changing the image of geek culture—including these "punk senshi" cosplayers at Geek Girl Con. (photo by Sarah Mirk)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... geeks and nerds were relentlessly mocked and bullied. So they found communities through zines and the early internet and congregated in comic book stores and arcades—spaces where they could feel sheltered from the cruel taunts of jocks and buoyed by like-minded obsessives.
Portland nerd-rock band The Doubleclicks have a cute new music video that counters the "Fake Geek Girls" meme. The video for the song "Nothing to Prove" features women from all over the country (and a couple fellows like Wil Wheaton) holding up signs explaining how and why they're geeks.
Nerds are the kings of our culture these days—but what is a nerd, exactly, and who gets to call themselves one? This show digs into gender, race, and nerdery with an organizer of GeekGirlCon, comedy nerd Phoebe Robinson, music nerd turned Yale lecturer Allyson McCabe, and (of course!) a rigorous discussion of feminism in Star Trek with two hardcore Trekkies. Listen in!
Eleven years ago, an article in Wired magazine helped establish the reputation of Asperger's as "the geek syndrome." As the condition has become more prominent in the popular imagination, it has acquired a close association with computer technology. One could write a whole book on the relationship between Asperger's and cultural fascination with and anxiety about technology, but here I just want to begin to question and deconstruct that relationship.