25 September 2013

What I learned at Comic Con (part 3)

This is the last post on what I leaned at Salt Lake Comic Con 2013. These two panels I found the most interesting and dynamic out of all the ones I attended over the three days.

The first From Ripley to Buffy to Katniss: A Look at the Strong Female Protagonist. Sitting on the panel were Dani Dixon, Eric James Stone, Peter J. Wacks, John Steiner. They were discussing "female characters who aren’t relegated to arm candy status in film, television and literature have resonated with male and female audiences alike. Join a discussion about why strong female characters continue to thrive in a postmodern world of storytelling."

Feminine qualities, mothering instinct give women strength - think of Riply
with Newt and Sarah Connor with John. 

We see in these strong women the moment when they, like any hero, makes that decision to take on or do the extraordinary or accepts they are the only one who can save the world. 

It was said that any protagonist regardless of gender, race, etc.. who is making decisions based on a strong moral code is a good character. 

Also discussed was the fact that most authors write a character as a woman or as a man and therefor only give x characteristics to women and y characteristics to men. Instead writers should think of these traits as individual cards to be handed out and mixed up among the character with each receiving a verity. A man, can have a nurturing side, a woman can have an in your face attitude and so on. 

John Steiner mentioned Inara on Firefly and how in the Firefly universe a Companion was powerful. They weren't buff fighters, but they are able to influence and change things. It just so happened that I was dressed as
Inara that day. After this panel I went to meet up with my family who had already headed to the car for a bite of lunch. Between the time they left and the time I left they had closed comic con and weren't letting anyone who left back inside. I asked the lady at the door the garage if I, being the holder of a VIP pass, could come back in with my kids who were at the car. She said yes. On our way back up my son, dressed as Malcolm Reynolds (the Captain on Firefly)  was ahead of me. The lady stopped him. I walked up, showed her my pass and she waved us on through- Yes, Companions do have a lot of power. 

The other fantastic panel was Can Science Fiction and Fantasy Save the World? On this panel were John Steiner, Brandon Mull, Tom Durham, Kohl Glass. It started out with just Brandon Mull and John Steiner and the other two snuck in later. Brandon with a focus on fantasy and John his focus sci-fi.
There was a lot of discussion about the ideas and technology that Gene Roddenberry created with Star Trek and how we see so much of what was a futuristic idea at play in our society today. Everything from technology to social structures. At one point Tolkien's Samarillion was brought up. Brandon said, "No one should read that until they retire". My fourteen year old looked up at me, I patted his shoulder. He's read it several times. He's our resident Middle Earth expert. Brandon continued  "I read about half it and realized if I finished I'd know more about Middle Earth than I would the real earth." About five minutes later Tom Durham, who had been showing a screening of his new film The 95ers, in sat down and said, "I disagree with everything Kohl Glass has said and agree with everything Brandon Sanderson had said." The discussion went on and at one point, in discussing how the politics of a fantasy world can help us in political decision making in the real world and how this story is a type for this real thing Tom said, "Read the Samarillion..." What a laugh went up. 

In the end the main points I picked up was that sci-fi lets us look a the possible and fantasy lets us see the impossible. Also, sci-fi and fantasy creates forks in the road- many options and choices on the macro and miro level. These things trains us to be open minded, creative problem solvers. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on strong female protagonists. Also, do you think sci-fi and fantasy can save the world?