Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slave Leia: Nice Girl, Bad Hype

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

I hope your day is going well. Last year at Gencon I was cosplaying as young Obi-Wan when a girl in a "slave Leia" costume asked me to be in a picture with her. I had no problem being in the pic with her but did not get one taken myself as my camera was put away and I just didn't think I need to get my picture with every random cute girl I meet. This week I wanted to share my concern about the hype around "Slave Leia". This is not about the costume itself or the girls who choose to cosplay as her, but the hype often found around it.

Here are a few things to consider first:
  • Leia Organa rarely ever wore anything that revealing so I doubt that she enjoyed wearing the outfit, particularly considering where it came from.
  • I do understand that actress Carrie Fisher did like the costume.
  • We must remember that there is sometimes a difference between why people choose certain cosplays and what the hype about them really is about.
  • Hype can be a fickle thing; often having multiple motivations
  • The situation of the costume is one of sexually minded slavery
I feel like the hype around this does not come from a good place. I know that some people respect her for killing her jailor, Jabba the Hut (which I am not sure if it counts as self defense but I do think he had it coming). Yet I think much of the hype about it is based on sexuality, not respect.

What concerns me about this is what is forgotten about the real world. In the real world, millions of women are held in sexual slavery through jailing, drugs, and coercing. This takes place all over the world and in every state in the USA.

Here is the point: if some of these women, many who are kept on drugs 24/7 and raped 10-20 times a day, could see us getting excited about this outfit like this, would they really appreciate that? I remember one partner-cosplay I saw (I think in a picture online) where Boba had Leia chained to him with the chain around the neck. I think that was a poor choice of cosplay because it glorified something that is deplorable and treats human beings as sexual toys instead of amazing, wonderful creations of God.

I realize that many of the people engaged in this hype are not aware of the situation that proliferates our world. They don't know that girls in area schools are coerced into this by perverts. They don't know that many girls in porn are told "if you don't want to do this video job you agreed to because it is to much for you, then you must pay 300 dollars".  They don't think about the women in Africa that can not find another job because the men there only see her as a sexual object.

But the thing is, a lot people just don't care. That is what is so dangerous about the hype. The next time you see or consider this costume, please remember the women who are in this situation and the women who are trying to recover from such issues.

If you are unaware of how this kind of attitude has affected our culture, go here. Cosplay is not Consent is a great group with a very important message about how cosplayers have been treated.

I feel like if Leia were to come into our real world, she would not appreciate people choosing this moment of her life to replicate. I think she would like us to choose other moments, such as her part in the battle of Endor or her outfit from the celebration at the end of Epsiode 4 where Han and Luke were given their medals.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fedcon and Slovakia

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

As many of you know, I have served on many overseas mission trips. I enjoy not just seeing but participating in what God is doing overseas. Short term trips can be down really well, or really poorly. It all depends on your attitude toward the people around you and if you are seeking to cooperate with them or just do something for them.

This year I'll be heading to Europe. I will begin my trip by going to Germany for Fedcon, a science fiction convention. Fans for Christ has started a European arm and I want to encourage them and show them that we silly Americans won't forget about them. We will be attending Fedcon but at this point are not sure if we will have a table or if we can volunteer together or how the weekend will unfold for us.

Then, I'll head to Slovakia for 2 weeks. During this time I'll help set-up for a father/son retreat and help around their new base. This will be a chance for me to encourage a team that led the Discipleship Training School I attended there.

I am doing something a little different. I have set up a crowdfunding account to make donating easier. If you would like to donate, you can go to http://www.gofundme.com/ericslovakia2015.

I am looking forward to more time in Slovakia, and not just because of the great ice cream. This will be an adventure with some great people that will help me grow and will be a great opportunity to show Christ in a nation many Americans forget.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

LARPing below the Poverty Line

Hey there Scholars and Warriors.

Saturday my church hosted a "Poverty Simulation" run by a group from Grand Rapids that coordinates food banks and other mercy ministries. As we entered, we were asked to find someone to sit with that we didn't know. I sat down with a retired gentlemen and we were later joined by a college student.

As I looked around, I saw tables around the outside of the room labeled as different things: the pawn shop, clinic, grocery store, employment office, mortgage/rental company, etc. I realized something the organizers would never thing to consider: we were live action role playing. I don't have a much experience with LARPing. I have some friends who do it. But I have not really done much of it.

Our group of three was a family: we were larping as a 25 year old single mom with two kids below 5 years old. The single mom had some income, but not a job and the dead end dad was not around and not paying child support. The youngest son had health issues.

As we went around, we had to use "transportation tickets" to represent the cost of taking the bus or the time of walking. We had to purchase these tickets. We also had to pay mortgage, utilities and make sure we had food each week. For the first 2 weeks (of four) I was one of the kids. Then we switched and I was the Mom for two weeks. (The weeks were 15 minutes long each). At one point, there was a death in the family and we had to pay out 200 dollars to help with expenses for the funeral costs. Obviously the kids could not help with much and could even make things difficult (esp. with transportation passes).

What struck me the most was that the system was not designed to help people get out of poverty. It is designed to alleviate difficulties, but not to fully bring someone out of it. This may not have been as much fun as LARPing LOTR or Doctor Who, but it was eye-opening.