Saturday, August 13, 2016

The #PokeMonument is Now #PokeGone

Just two weeks ago, a Pokemon statue mysteriously appeared in the middle of a derelict fountain in Coliseum Square Park in New Orleans with only the words #Pokemonument carved into the base as a clue to its origins/meaning. As of just before midnight tonight, all that's left of the defiant, and sometimes controversial, Pikachu statue is the base structure with a new hashtag (#Pokegone), and a QR code embedded in the structure. I was notified by a source (who, along with the artists themselves, wishes to remain anonymous) that the guerrilla art piece had been "updated" and given a link to a website explaining the statue's sudden disappearance (that same website is where the QR code on what's left of the statue will take you). According to the website, you now have the opportunity to potentially own the statue itself and help repair the defunct fountains in Coliseum Square (some of which haven't been operational for decades). Here is their statement:

Friday, August 5, 2016

Hijab Wearing Cosplayer Proves She's Worthy of Cap's Shield

Cosplay: Hijabi Hooligan Cosplay Photo by: Transwarp Photography
By now, you've likely seen this photo of cosplayer Dania Khalil of Hijabi Hooligan Cosplay (I could not love that name more, by the way) as Captain America. I'd be surprised if you haven't since her photo has been shared far and wide from the She-Geeks Facebook page to Gizmodo to Fashionably Geek, she basically exploded overnight!

Now, Khalil is no newcomer to cosplay. She's got several great cosplays in her costume arsenal (my favorites are her Lady Loki and Assassins Creed), but her Captain America is what's getting all the attention. As of this morning, she's just proven just how appropriate all this attention is.

Right now, being a Muslim in America is difficult with hatred, ignorance, and outright bigotry running wild, but Khalil's patriotic cosplay has cut right through all of that to bring out the best in us as fans. Since her photo started making the geek rounds, she's received a ton of wonderful messages and comments from fans, and apparently plenty of offers to send her actual cash to help get her a more professional shield to compliment the quality of the rest of her outfit. She's received so many offers that she had to address them publicly, and how she is choosing to handle all of the attention she's getting proves that she absolutely deserves to carry that iconic shield:

"Hey everyone! Many of you have offered to donate to GoFundMe to get me a better Cap shield, but I think I have a better cause for your money to go towards. I set up this campaign to aid Syria, as they desperately need our help at the minute. I'm sure many of you are aware of the atrocities being committed in Syria and the hardships the people there are facing. Stories like that of the 12 year old girl who tried to take her own life to give her family one less mouth to feed have rocked the world and brought tears to my eyes many a time.
If you could all spare as little as £1/$1 and share the link with your friends and family, I would be forever grateful.
Thank you all for the love you've shown me- now let's show those in need that same love. <3"

In true Captain America fashion, she is diverting this attention away from herself and on to others in need. Seriously, this woman is just a shining example of the best in all of us. If you'd like to spread the good around, you can find her GoFundMe page here. I think it's safe to say that we could all use a a few more people like her in the world.

Keep making us proud, Dania!!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The #Pokemonument Seen 'Round the World

**UPDATE 8/2/16 12am: I am getting reports that the information I received this afternoon may have been incorrect. There are people reporting that the person I spoke with is NOT affiliated with the artists as he claimed. I am trying to get further information and confirm reports. I have been told by a source claiming Willhem's story is untrue, that those involved have confronted him about taking credit for their work, to no avail. They are currently remaining anonymous to avoid any potential legal action against them for installing the guerrilla art, and are debating releasing a statement about it in the future. I will continue to update this article as new information is confirmed. **

***UPDATE 8/3/16 9:45am: It appears that not everyone is a fan of the #Pokemonument. Instagram user, April Dee (punchy_saucebox), posted a video of a woman attacking the statue with a baseball bat late Monday night. According to a Facebook post by Dee, the unidentified woman came over to the statue Monday night and began questioning the people who happened to be there taking photos. She claimed to be a part of the Coliseum Square Association and began demanding to know "who voted to put up "this fucking piece of shit."" When Dee explained the origins of the statue, specifically that it was not voted on and just showed up overnight, the woman went to her home across the street, retrieved a baseball bat, and immediately began attacking the statue in an attempt to bring it down. When another neighbor intervened, the woman halted her attack and returned home. As of this morning, the defiant Pikachu remains intact and in place. Who knows for how long though?

****UPDATE 8/5/16 12:25pm: In more 'We Can't Have Nice Things' news, a reader has informed me that the  #Pokemonument was vandalized again sometime last night; this time with red spray paint and some very unkind words. No word if this is another attempt at bringing the statue down from the same woman who attacked it with the baseball bat a few days earlier. The reader stated that a neighbor had already kindly covered the vandalism with some gold paint they happened to have on hand by the morning, but the statue just isn't the same now.

--Original Article Below--

Ever since Pokemon GO released in the first week of July, it's taken the world by storm. It's everywhere, and just about everyone seems to be playing the highly addictive game. I'm level 22 myself, proudly Team Mystic, and might love my Snorlax a little too much (her name is Gertrude and she is the best ever). This beautiful work of art seems to have captured our hearts just as quickly as the game itself, despite (or maybe because of) it's mysterious origins.

At around 4am Saturday night seven Artistic Guerrilla Nerds (as I've decided to call them) hefted this over-sized, angry Pikachu into a defunct fountain in Coliseum Square Park in New Orleans. He went surprisingly unnoticed until late last night/early this morning when he started popping up on everyone's newsfeeds, Twitter feeds, and news sites far and wide. The biggest question on everyone's mind: Where the hell did it come from?! Well, my darlings, being a New Orleans resident I couldn't resist investigating for myself, and I happened upon not only the statue itself but one of the people who helped get him where he is today.

This gentleman, Willhem, is apparently one of the team of people who brought the adorable, little rat to his current residence (at least, until the City decides to remove it) and was kind enough to give me some insight to the statue and what we can expect in the future.

The group responsible for the statue are keeping pretty secret, going only by the name of the hashtag they gave themselves, #Pokemonument, but Willhem was able to give me some info about the statue itself: It took a total of 7 people to heft the two to three hundred pound statue into the fountain. It's technically 2 pieces, the base and the Pikachu itself, but it was brought out to the park as a single piece to cut down on time since they had to erect it under cover of darkness. The base is made of coated two by fours, and the body is made of loose chicken wire throughout coated in a mixture of fiberglass and cobalt repeatedly layered to give it that smooth, aged bronze look and the process of creating the statue took about 7 weeks to complete.

Willhem was pretty reluctant to give much more than the technical details about the statue itself, but I was able to get out of him that they honestly didn't think their project would be getting as much attention as it has, or that it would still be standing come Monday evening. The most exciting tidbit he let slip, however, is that "this is the first of many, but [he couldn't] say whether they'll be here or elsewhere", and that there is an "impending story that people will understand within a week or so."

It seems we'll all have to follow #Pokemonument to find out exactly what the story will be, and where the other monuments will show up. (Other NOLA parks? In other cities? Will they all be Pikachu or could there be a Snorlax in our future? Come on, Willhem, you're killing me!!) Until the group reveals more, New Orleans residents and visitors can find the very first Pikachu statue on Terpsichore St near Camp St in the park in the Lower Garden District; but, you might want to hurry before the powers that be decide they've had all the Pokemon fun they can handle and have it forcibly removed. Personally I think, whenever that happens, if we don't immediately start a #FreePikachu movement we never deserved him in the first place.

Oh, and for those wondering, Willhem and most of the rest of the mysterious #Pokemonument crew are appropriately Team Mystic.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Awesomly Accessible Cosplay at Wizard World

Wizard World New Orleans was this past weekend, and I had a blast running amok and snapping photos like an idiot. I saw cosplayers of all ages, more TARDISes (TARDI?) than should be allowed to converge in one place (what with the dangers of paradox and all), and watched the cast of Captain America be sorted into their Harry Potter Hogwarts houses. It was a busy weekend. My full write-up will be done soon, but I had to take a moment to showcase the truly amazing accessible cosplay I found while at Wizard World. These cosplayers are the embodiment of the concept that cosplay is for everyone, and they were absolutely the highlight of my weekend. Behold the power of creativity and sass!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Nerd Culture is Not a Contest

Recently a friend tagged me in a Facebook post requesting the opinions of female nerds on the "place of women in geek culture today" and I may have gone on a wee rant. While I don't think the person/people who posed the question meant anything by it other than to gain some knowledge, the phrasing sparked an unexpected reaction from me. The "place" for women in geek culture (or any culture for that matter) is the same today as it has always been: Wherever the hell we want. There is no more a "place" for women than there is a specific "place" for men in geek culture. This is another example of women being categorized as different, specifically in a way that men simply wouldn't be. This is what perpetuates the notion that women have to prove their worth as nerds. This is what perpetuates the notion that women fit into a specific box to be judged. There is no specific "place" for women in geek culture, because we are complete humans with differing personalities, ideals, interests, and goals in life. Just like men.

We all know about gatekeeping by now, right? It's the notion that a female nerd can, at any moment, be quizzed about her fandom in order to determine her legitimacy as a nerd. It's absurd. It's insulting. It's embarrassing to the entire nerd culture. Every time a woman is grilled about her level of knowledge or dedication to her fandom, or is attacked/threatened for daring to voice her opinion about a fandom (or worse, demands to be treated with respect) nerds as a whole start to look like a bunch of whiny trolls who never learned how to share their toys. It's embarrassing. What's worse is that this behavior is not exclusive to male nerds.

Women have been taught since we were children that we will be judged by others for our every move, and that we should judge others as well. Those lessons may not have been taught in so many words, but they exist all the same. This behavior tends to be even worse among women in stereo-typically male dominated cultures like geeks and sports fans. We judge each other, and build up our cred by tearing down others. We proudly proclaim that we're "not like other girls" as though that's an accomplishment (or even makes sense). We judge other women for showing too much skin, or not showing enough. We proclaim loudly what we do that makes us "real" gamers and geeks instead of the dreaded "fake geek girl." The problem with this, of course, is that there is no magic formula that creates a female geek. There is no specific level of geekery we have to achieve, no ratio of clothing to skin we must maintain in order to unlock the Geek Girl Achievement. 

We need to accept each other for who we are, regardless of how we came upon our fandoms or how revealing our cosplays are. It doesn't matter if your boyfriend introduced you to Star Wars, or if you've been playing with lightsabers since you were 3; what matters is that you love Star Wars and I do too and we should totally talk about our hopes and fears for Luke's role in The Force Awakens. It doesn't matter if you play Halo or Candy Crush, if you have only watched the current Doctor Who or if you grew up with Tom Baker, if you have devoured every word of Tolkien or have only seen the movies; we're all fans. Period. None of us has any right to judge the legitimacy of anyone else's level of geek. Fandom isn't a contest, and the sooner we stop treating it that way, the sooner we can go back to arguing over real issues like whether we need a Miles Morales Spider-Man movie more than another Peter Parker one*.

(*The answer is: If you push the Captain Marvel movie back one. more. time. I will find you, and I will end you. That being said, Morales deserves a movie of his very own.)