So, on Friday Break Media posted a new video, Geeks and Gamer Girls. The song parodies Katy Perry’s California Gurls, and despite getting that song stuck in your head for the next seventy-two hours or so, it’s awesome. The video is by Team Unicorn, a project that includes actreses and gamers Michele Boyd, Clare Grant, Milynn Sarley, and Rileah Vanderbilt. The video also includes appearances from Stan Lee and Katee Sackhoff (with red hair, no less, be still my beating heart) and Seth Green rapping.
Naturally, the internet saw this and went…well, batshit. Because, of course, it’s a travesty that four beautiful women who also happen to be intelligent geeks and/or gamers would let that be seen. The things I saw thrown about generally amounted to some of the following:
* Those girls are too pretty to be gamers. They’re just actors faking it.
* They don’t represent real geek or gamers.
* There’s not enough diversity.
* It’s demeaning for women to be in a video that showcases their sex appeal.
After having had several similar discussions while working on getting the funding for the calendar, my first impulse was to roll my eyes so hard they might get stuck and then eat some ice cream and move on. It’s a debate I’m growing weary of but apparently is one that needs to be had. So let’s go.
First of all, let’s talk about the representation and diversity issues. Nobody who does a project like this claims to represent all people in a group. We’re all individuals, and it’s ridiculous to expect that any portion will represent the whole. I don’t know how this video was imagined or produced, but I know that when I start whatever crazy project I’m working on it, it usually begins with throwing ideas around with my friends, who likely wind up being involved. Which means that there are going to be a lot of similarities in the group, just based on common interests and experience. As for diversity–what does that mean? An ‘uglier’ girl? How do you phrase that request–hey, wanna be the ugly chick in our video? That’ll win you friends and influence people. Someone dressed in a frumpy costume with no makeup? Sure, but the whole point of videos like this is that they *are* produced which means you’re going to be looking a little bit better than if you just popped out to the store to pick up milk and toilet paper at 2 am. Reality show explosion aside, media isn’t reality and we shouldn’t expect it to be. There are times when it makes sense to question a lack of representation of a particular group at a systemic level (how many minority characters do you see on network TV?) but an interent video produced by a group of friends having fun is probably not the place to start. Even if those friends are in Hollywood.
So that leaves us with the trickier part. Girls who are cute, apparently don’t represent ‘real’ geeks or gamers. Or, if discussions I’ve had are any indication, knitters. Or feminists. Or intelligent, well-educated and successful women.
Wait just a minute.
Since when did belonging to any group that falls outside a mainstream stereotype of femininity mean forgoing all trappings of being female? It is not damaging or shallow to care about how you look. Yes, there’s taking it to far–but most people don’t do that.
Look. We’re human. And wanting to appear attractive to others is part of human nature. Putting on a cute outfit–or taking it off–doesn’t automatically dock your IQ points. Or your feminism. There’s not some moment at which you become so intelligent or ‘enlightened’ that you suddenly surpass caring about such things.
Caring about appearing attractive to others becomes a problem when you start to compromise your own standards to be seen that way. It becomes a problem when you take extremely unhealthy measures, or when it becomes the overriding focus in your life.
But filming a cute video? Or being in a pinup calendar? Or putting on a cute skirt and makeup? Doesn’t qualify. There’s nothing wrong with being attractive, or appearing in a way that showcases that. And it doesn’t make you any less of a geek, gamer, or feminist.