With an amazing first day on Saturday, I made sure to book my day with panels and events on Sunday. Need a recap of Saturday’s events? Check out what I saw and did here!
Hear me roar! Women Representation in SF/F
A panel of writers and critics discussed the latest women-oriented films and shows released in the last couple of years. Some panel favorites were Atomic Blonde, The Shape of Water, Orphan Black, and Wonder Woman, to name a few. The panel also discussed the behind-the-scenes women who have brought magic to the entertainment industry, such as Ava DuVernay and Angie Thomas.
Despite seeming very progressive, Hollywood is actually doing worse in showcasing women than it has in the past. From the years 2007 to 2017, over 95% of all United States directors were male, a 22:1 ratio of male to female directors. Not only that, only 1% of all films employed 10 or more women. Problems offscreen lead to problems on screen. Issues such as a lack of people of color, extremely coded sexuality, and using fat women as gags are all still problems faced in the industry.
Still, the panelists are hopeful that Hollywood will work to resolve these issues, as well as give us complex characters, more sexually and ethnically diverse characters, and older women characters. Unsurprisingly, this panel had an audience consisting of women of varying ages, with a surprising number of older men in attendance.
Also known as “fringe” anime, outside anime is created by artists outside of the mainstream entertainment industry in Japan. While the art styles are typically self-taught and differ from what we traditionally think of as anime, it is still categorized as such. This panel focused on artists who have worked both freelance and in the mainstream industry, as well as those that never made the jump to the mainstream industry.
Some notable people named are Makoto Shinkai, who started his career with She and Her Cat and worked up to creating Voices of a Distant Star and Your Name. Masaaki Yuasa, who worked on the lesser known animation Cat Soup, also worked on Shin-Chan and directed Devilman Crybaby. Another notable is Kunio Kato, who was a commercial animator that won an Academy Award, then went on to create more avant-garde style pieces. One his his notable works is Le Maisons de Petite Cubes.
One thing you’ll notice about this list is a lack of women, and there is indeed an underrepresentation of women in Japanese animation. This panel was attended mostly by men, with some women in the audience.
Children of Atom: X-men and Representation
This panel was led by longtime X-men fans of varying genders and backgrounds, including fans of the Jewish faith, and fans who are queer. The panel focused on how the X-Men and their struggles are metaphors for the struggles faced by people in today’s society.
From the Holocaust, to AIDS, to queerness, the panel discussed the many metaphors that have made up the X-Men over the years. The general consensus in the end was that there are too many metaphors, which can get lost in the various plot lines and plot holes of the mutant universe. This fun and interactive panel had an audience made up of both men and women of ages.
In Praise of Villainesses and Anti-Heroines
With a focus on women who are more spice than nice, this panel discussed notable villainesses and anti heroines available for your viewing pleasure. Some notable mentions were the Xenomorph Queen and Ursula, with panelists then defending their choice and describing their chosen character. The panelists also discussed problems with how villainesses are typically portrayed. For example, there aren’t enough villainesses with an intellectual motive; they’re typically just “crazy” or “mean”. Female villains also often don’t have conflict, or a road to redemption.
So, what can writers do to make better villainesses? They first need to cast off the notion that women exist to be the moral conscience. Anti-Heroines and villainesses don’t need to have hang ups on being childless. We also need more female villainesses that are not subordinates to the main male villain. With all the writing talk this weekend, hopefully there will be a new batch of complex villainesses and anti-heroines on the horizon!
Everything But the Writing
With a focus on the marketing aspect of the professional writing world, this workshop gave attendees a ton of knowledge on how to protect yourself as a writer. Discussion included different ways to make money as a writer, such as editing or working on resumes. The workshop also discussed how publishers word contracts, and when it may be beneficial to hire an attorney to help you battle for more rights to your work.
With health a major priority for most people, how to acquire health insurance through writer’s unions was also discussed. Since this workshop was at a convention, state tax and how it affects your ability to sell was also mentioned. As someone who is trying to dive into the professional writing world, I found this workshop to be incredibly useful. It also served to ground some of my expectations making money and providing for myself as a writer.
Pagan Circle – Dark of the Moon Ritual
With a new lunar cycle on the rise, it was time to celebrate! As someone who had never attended a pagan ritual before, this was incredibly exciting. This event was led by a group from a local coven who walked all attendees through the ritual before performance commenced. The event leaders were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, and were willing to explain all parts of the ceremony to curious attendees. It was delightful time, and I commend Arisia on being inclusive of other faiths.
What Was Awesome
I really enjoyed my time at Arisia 2018. The schedule of events to be diverse and abundant, which meant I was never bored. When I needed help finding panels several times, and the Arisia and Westin staff were extremely helpful, and were ready and willing to point me in the right direction. On top of that, there were Arisia staff walking around to ensure all attendees were safe and willing to provide assistance if need be.
I also enjoyed the focus on female fans of sci-fi and fiction. Women have always been interested in this genre of entertainment, and it’s nice to see a convention recognize that ladies are nerds too.
What Needs Improvement
While I was in panels for a majority of the time at Arisia, I tried to take some time to enjoy and photograph the cosplayers. Unfortunately, the only area I found an abundance of cosplayers was the dining area, which made it impossible to take photographs. It would be awesome if there was a dedicated space for cosplayers and photographers to meet up. Hopefully Arisia 2019 has some sort of space for that.
All in all, I enjoyed my first experience at Arisia. I want to thank the staff of the Westin and Arisia, the volunteers, and the panelists for an incredible weekend. I highly recommend attending this convention, and am looking forward to attending Arisia 2019. More information about Arisia 2019 can be found here.