Arming the nerd girls – an appreciation post for Kelly Marie Tran and Millie Bobby Brown

Cinders Arming the Nerd girls one.jpg

Cinders was conceived as a free online haven for nerd girls. Fandom, the internet and popular culture are our absolute favourite things. And that’s why it upsets us so much to see bullying and toxicity win on platforms that we use to spread our stories and others. So, in the spirit of Hear me Roar Méabh McDonnell decided to share our anger for actresses Millie Bobby Brown and Kelly Marie Tran. 

I was going to call this post ‘In defense of the nerd girls’ but you know what – I’m not writing in their defense. These girls are talented and powerful and shouldn’t need defending. It shouldn’t be any sort of controversial opinion that young women who are hard working, good at their jobs and take the time to be considerate and open online are in the right.

The fact that the last few weeks has seen both Kelly Marie Tran and Millie Bobby Brown driven off of social media, because of the actions of despicable bullies is a truly sad and desperate state of affairs. It is one that reflects the toxic atmospheres that can develop around fandoms. 

As a magazine that celebrates fandom and pop culture (particularly female fandom and pop culture) the treatment of these actresses fills us with sadness for them and extreme anger at the people who felt that they could collectively bully these young women. 

As a magazine that celebrates fandom and pop culture the treatment of these actresses fills us with sadness for them and extreme anger at the people who felt that they could collectively bully these young women.

This culture of people – often women – being driven off of the internet because of the place they occupy in an industry that many people take ownership over is so despicable. It is the dark side (pun fully intentional) of fandom that should be at the forefront of our discussions. 

We’ve seen this in gaming, where female gaming reviewers have been victims of cyberbullying. We’ve seen it in reactions to the announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor in Doctor Who. We see it when girls part-take in cosplay and are quizzed about their inherent knowledge of whatever aspect of pop culture they are portraying. 

The fact that we see it time and time again in a community called ‘fandom’ is truly upsetting. Fandom is about celebration. It’s about finding something: a tv show, a movie, a book series, a comic book, a game; that you fall in love with and then finding all of the other people who love it as much as you do. It’s about passion and creativity. 

Fandom is the experience of enjoyment and so it always hurts that little bit more when we see that experience being tarnished for anyone. It hurts when we see it tarnished by the experiences of some fans and it hurts when we see it tarnished by the actions of so-called ‘fans’ against actresses, producers and reviewers.

Fandom is the experience of enjoyment and so it always hurts that little bit more when we see that experience being tarnished for anyone. 

It’s also worth noting that it is within fandom that many who find themselves on the fringes in life find a tribe. It is the refuge of those who are often struggling and trying to find something they can hold onto. 

And in finding that community and that shared experience people’s lives can be saved. Fandom is often the thing that shows those of us who felt alone, who felt different, who felt under-represented, that there are others who see us and that we are valued. It’s not just within the shows and books that fandom springs up – but through the creativity and community that those stories inspire. People create art and stories inspired by the things they love and share them with a group who love them too. Fandom is a place of inclusion. 

Or at least it should be. 
This is why it is so very heartbreaking to see self-declared Star Wars ‘fans’ drive the wonderful Kelly Marie Tran off Instagram. Kelly Marie Tran, who portrayed Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, was a ray of sunshine online. She happily invited people into her experience of being a part of one of the world’s biggest franchises – something she did not have to do – and was repaid by bigoted, short-sighted bullies who accused her of tarnishing a series that they saw as something they had ownership of. 

Here is something we are very clear about – fandom is not ownership. It is celebration, it is inspiration and it is community but it is not ownership. No one person can claim to own Star Wars. The same that no one – save maybe JK Rowling, and even that could be argued – owns Harry Potter. They are shared commodities.

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Because of The Last Jedi Kelly Marie Tran is a part of the Star Wars Universe and because of her portrayal of Rose Tico the universe just got a bit more inclusive – something it always should have been but better late than never. She is in that world. I’m looking at her face on a piece of merchandise right now. She’s in. So the idea of her being forced out of a space where she no longer felt free to be herself because they are unaccepting of her – that’s unacceptable. 

As is the awful treatment of Millie Bobby Brown, a 14 year old child who has the difficult experience of growing up in the public eye because of her talent and has bourne it very gracefully. Yet despite this she was chosen as the target of a series of homophobic memes. This is a truly horrible and cowardly way to treat anyone, let alone a child who has always supported LGBT causes. Their actions led her to leave Twitter, a platform she has been vocal on and has been open about her experience as a young actress in Hollywood.

Unfortunately these are the actions of bullies and of cowards. People who are getting a lot louder in this Trumpian nightmare. They hide in groups. They hide behind people they see as powerful. They anonymously torture 14 year olds! Because they think it’s funny. Because they think they have something to prove. Because they are terrified someone will see just how small and insignificant they are. 

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We know this. I hope Millie Bobby Brown knows this. I hope Kelly Marie Tran knows this. But it still doesn’t stop the words from hurting and it doesn’t make the pictures go away. 

Even if they come back to social media – something that I hope they do if it makes them happy – this experience will have always happened for these girls. These bullies will always have been people they had to deal with in a community that these girls did their best to nurture. 

So we can’t undo the past but we can try and fix the future. We can commit to making our own fandoms better. To promote inclusiveness, to celebrate creativity, and to discourage negativity as much as possible. We should respond with acceptance, constructive criticism, and encouragement. We will shout back with our message of inclusiveness and happiness! 

We shouldn’t defend the nerd girls. We should arm them.

Goodness knows we need them now, more than ever.

Daydream Believer – Interview with Dayeanne Hutton

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For webseries and gaming fans Dayeanne Hutton‘s voice is no stranger to them. From starring in the Emmy award winning Emma Approved to voicing Kate in Life is Strange Dayeanne is a bright ray of sunshine in the web content world. We were lucky enough to chat with Dayeanne about voice acting, webseries and the wonder that is Harriet Smith. 

1. What is your first memory of acting? 

I’ve been surrounded by theatre for as long as I can remember due to both my parents’ involvement/enjoyment of it! My first memory of being in a show is from Kindergarten. I was about 5 and my school did Wizard of Oz. I played a Jitterbug as well as a member of the Lullaby League! My mom choreographed both pieces.

2. When did you know that acting was something that you wanted to pursue?

I’ve always enjoyed books and fantasies and the idea of playing around in a life that is different than mine. I began to take acting more seriously around age 12 or 13. I had to choose between acting classes and soccer (which I’d been doing poorly for years). I chose acting and began expanding from just theatre to also submitting for film projects! There was never a moment I even considered not having acting in my life somehow.

3. What was the experience of Emma Approved like for you? Were you familiar with the novel beforehand?

Emma Approved was an incredible and joyous experience! We all worked together for a whole year, and the cast and crew are all phenomenal people. I was also thrilled to be bringing a Jane Austen character to life. Pride and Prejudice has been a favorite book of mine since school. I read all of Emma before my audition so that I would have a good grasp of the original piece!

I continue to do my best to create a safe and positive space on the internet during my own Twitch streams.  

4. Did you enjoy translating Harriet’s story into a fresh medium? 

Absolutely!! I’m so honored to be among the handful of actresses that have brought Harriet Smith to life. And I really connected on a special level with her. There is definitely a piece of her in me all the time, and I brought real aspects of myself to my portrayal as well.

5. We assume you can’t tell us anything about the current hints of a revival, however can you tell us if you’re excited by the activity happening on Twitter and the moments App? 

Ah yes, spoilers… I’m quite excited over the characters renewed social media activities!

6. Since Emma Approved you’ve moved into voice acting – how was the experience different from traditional acting? What are the aspects that you enjoy? 

Voiceover is so much fun, but a very different experience. You’re not being filmed, so you don’t need to focus on how you look, or where the camera is. You just have to connect with the characters and feel what they’re feeling; so you can breath life into them. It’s so much fun providing different voices to animated characters. I’m a big nerd, so being in a video game is a dream, I can’t wait to do more!

7. What are the challenges you face when voice acting, particularly voice acting for a game? 

Sometimes roles can be very vocally demanding, however my experience with Life is Strange didn’t involve much screaming or yelling.

8. What was the best part of voicing Kate Marsh in Life is Strange?

The best part is being a part of the beautiful Life is Strange community. The fans are amazing; supportive and kind, they really love this game and appreciate the actors involved. Kate’s storyline in particular has helped many people come to terms/deal with their own depression and struggles. I’m honored to be even a small part of that. I continue to do my best to create a safe and positive space on the internet during my own Twitch streams.

9. Can you tell us about any upcoming projects that you have? 

I’m currently focused on the growth of my Twitch channel and some Approved secrets!

 

 

We Love Lucy – An appreciation of the Timeless leading lady

Timeless - Season 2
TIMELESS — “Darlington” Episode 202 — Pictured: Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

For Co-editor Grainne Coyne Timeless protagonist, Lucy Preston, has been one of the best feminist characters to hit our screens in years. In the wake of the series cancellation announcement we decided to sing our praises for the wonder that is Lucy. 

We’ve discussed how fantastic this show is in past issues of Cinders, but season two of Timeless somehow managed to surpass season one, which was not easy, given  they only had ten episodes.  Timeless is a show of total  perfection for so many reasons. It’s received 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it has nuanced looks at parts of history that are often ignored, and raises stories of  feminism, LGBTQ stories and racism to the forefront. It is really up there with one of the best fun and moving fantasy, drama shows at the moment. So much so, I am totally dumbfounded that it  hasn’t been renewed for season three. 

There are so many things I could discuss about what I loved about this season, but there is one person who stands out to me consistently, and that is Lucy Preston. Lucy is literally having the worst time during season two. 

(Spoilers ahead for those who have not caught up). Not only has she learnt that her parents are both high up in the chain in an evil organization known as Rittenhouse, but  as a result of this, it makes her “Rittenhouse royalty”.  

From this she has lost her sister as a result of time travel, lost her mother because she chose not to become a part of Rittenhouse and lost her once close relationship to Wyatt, because Rittenhouse decided to bring his wife, Jessica back from the dead, and he decided it would be a great idea to have her move in the bunker with them all.  

So she really doesn’t start off season two great. Despite all of this, she still carries a strength and resolve to do the right thing, even if she hurts herself as a result.

So, you refuse to confess to being something you’re not. That’s brave, and I’m proud to be in your company

This was evident in season one where despite being constant life threatening situations, she isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right,  and stand up to villains be it Rittenhouse, and even tries on many occasions to get through to their then “enemy”,  Flynn. But in season two there is a lot more vulnerability and pain from Lucy that we witness from the get go. Lucy is hurting(understandably so) and I am so glad that we got to see that this season in a realistic manner.  I love that Lucy is a historian, who uses her smarts when it comes to meeting these amazing historical icons, but  she always manages to connect to them on a personal level. From Irene Curie, Grace Humiston to even a young Denise Christopher, they all eventually open up to Lucy and she to them, and helping each other as a result. Lucy puts herself on the line for others, but all too often, doesn’t seem to do it for herself. This is evident, when we see her on her own in the bunker that we realise this is a woman who has been through a lot and is still going through a lot. 

Perhaps she isn’t handling it the right way but that’s what makes her more human to me, more real. 

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My favourite episodes  are definitely the Salem Witch Trials and Suffragette Movement episodes.  For what sticks out to me in these the most, is how Lucy again stands and defends women(a constant theme throughout their time travelling adventures). In the Salem episode, despite having an opportunity to escape, Lucy chooses to stay with the women who are accused of being witches.

“You don’t have to defend your reputation to me. You’re not like the other women, and that makes people uncomfortable. So, they mock you and they tell you you’re stupid. But you refuse to change, and then that makes people mad. So, they attack you, call you evil. I know that none of that is true. So, you talk to birds, or you like dolls. So, you refuse to confess to being something you’re not. That’s brave, and I’m proud to be in your company.”

Every day that you get to do your job, another woman out there is making sacrifices, so that  you can keep doing it. If you’re not gonna help, then just get the hell out of the way

That speech beautifully delivered by the amazing Abigail Spencer, who plays Lucy, moves me to tears every time.  

And again Abigail delivers a powerful performance as Lucy in the suffragette episode. While it is probably not completely historically accurate, its sentiment is very clear. The suffrage movement is clearly important to Lucy as it is to many women. So when it is put at risk, because of again “Rittenhouse” who at this point is just a really, evil, misogynistic organisation.  Lucy is willing to fight for women’s right to vote and women’s rights in general. There are many moments that hit me to the core in this episode, but my favourite had to be when Lucy  lectures  Grace about the importance of the suffrage and the importance of well, feminism.

It’s a speech that is not only necessary in that moment, but given everything that is happening in the world definitely can be applied to today.

“…you really have no idea what all of this is about, do you? You think because you are smart enough or tough enough to make it into the boys’ club that everybody else should be able to do that too, is that it? So you’re under no obligation to help other women. You think that Alice wanted to be beaten by police, sent to prison, force-fed. She would have spent the next fifty years living the same hell over and over again, so women like you could ride her coattails.  Every day that you get to do your job, another woman out there is making sacrifices, so that  you can keep doing it. If you’re not gonna help, then just get the hell out of the way.”

It’s wonderful to see a female heroine like Lucy expressing traits of empathy, love, understanding and, femininity.

From there, Lucy chooses to take it upon herself to make the important speech directed at President Woodrow Wilson knowing full well, her life would be at risk if she chooses to do so. Fortunately Grace was so horrified by the women being beaten at the march, that she took it upon herself to do speech directed at President Wilson. I reckon though Lucy’s passion and fury helped too. 

While there are so many shows that are putting female characters to the forefront, Lucy stands out to me not just for her clear feminist objectives, her affirmative beliefs and her big passion for history, but mostly for her determination to constantly do the right thing and is probably why I love her as much as I do. 

Timeless

While with most sci-fi shows, when it comes to depicting a “strong female lead”, they seem to follow a narrative that a woman is deemed often to be only “strong”, if she appears tough, Timeless is different. While there is nothing wrong with that in some senses, in this era of post Wonder Woman, it’s wonderful to see a female heroine like Lucy expressing traits of empathy, love, understanding and, femininity. She also unapologetically stands up for herself emotionally throughout, which I think is very important for young women to see and realise that their emotional needs to be valued by themselves and others too.  I only hope somehow get more of Timeless, so we can explore this from Lucy’s prospective and for Lucy to realise just how amazing and capable she really is.

Follow Grainne at @grainnenewsie on Twitter

Coping with the future – an interview with Stefanie Preissner

Stefanie Preissner is not a new name to the Irish writing scene, but is one that’s getting called all the more frequently. Through her work in theatre, her critcally acclaimed series, Can’t Cope Won’t Cope and her new book, Stefanie Preissner has gone from ‘one to watch’ to someone we’re all watching closely. We sat down with Stefanie to discuss writing, advice and the new season of Can’t Cope Won’t Cope. 

1. Can you remember the first time you thought ‘I want to be a writer’? 

No. I don’t think I have, even to this day, thought that sentence. I still feel like ‘writers’ are very serious, intellectual people and I’m just here in a café on my laptop. I wanted to be the first female Garda Commissioner, then I wanted to act, and now… while I still see myself as a performer I feel like I have too much to say to speak someone else’s words. The world is chaotic and the only way I can process it is to write. I’m just fortunate that I get the luxury of being able to combine what feels like a contribution to society and my passion.

2. Did you feel more pressure approaching season two of Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, given it’s success in Season One? If so, how did you combat this? 

Of course. I think that Season One hit a nerve and while it was good, I think it was received as ‘great’ because people hadn’t seen young Irish women represented on screen in that way. In season one, I was free to sort of write whatever I wanted but in Season Two I had to respond to the reaction to Season One. I think it’s inelegant and a sign of hubris to rebut every single criticism of your work, so I take criticism seriously. I don’t always react but I always consider it. And I had issues with Season One too. So I looked at what worked, and looked at how Ireland of 2018 is markedly different to that of 2015 and I went into the scripts with the intention of writing a show that was relevant and provocative.

3. Who do you identify with more, Aisling or Danielle? 

I identify strongly with different parts of each of them. I identify with Aisling’s impulsiveness and her impatience. I identify with Danielle’s wishes to be a good friend, to be a good student, to put other people’s plans and needs ahead of her own.

4. What advice would you give them if you could speak to them?

I wouldn’t bother trying to give advice to Aisling, I’d be wasting my breath. I’d probably encourage Danielle to be a bit gentler on herself which would inevitably make her see the world and other people with more sympathetic eyes.

The world is chaotic and the only way I can process it is to write. I’m just fortunate that I get the luxury of being able to combine what feels like a contribution to society and my passion.

5. What was it like unveiling your innermost thoughts in ‘Why Can’t everything just Stay the Same?’

It was a beautiful luxury. Writing for TV, the scripts have to be so lean and the writing so sparse. It was a luxury, and –  let’s be clear – an exercise in indulgence. I have always been paralytically indecisive. I ask my friends to confirm my opinions and to guide my tastes so it felt strange to commit opinions, feelings and thoughts to print but that’s why I have the caveat in there that I reserve the right to change my mind. And in one of the chapters “GENDERALISATIONS” I actually change my opinion half way through the chapter but I didn’t delete the first half because I think it’s crucial, if society is to progress in a meaningful, functional and empathetic way, that people are not held to things they have said in the past and they are allowed to change their views and grow if they choose.

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6. Do you find you have to get into a different mindset when writing fictional series like Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope versus writing about your own experiences, like you did for your book? 

Not really. They both come out of my head, my experiences and my imagination. Its more fun being able to construct a false narrative but it’s important in this day and age that we have books and art and theatre that use extreme truth. There’s too much fake news and lies out there. You don’t have to look further than Instagram filters to see it.

Its more fun being able to construct a false narrative but it’s important in this day and age that we have books and art and theatre that use extreme truth. There’s too much fake news and lies out there. You don’t have to look further than Instagram filters to see it.

7.You’ve spoken frequently about mental health and bullying, do you think creative outlets like writing have helped you deal with these experiences?

I mean, they help as much as a nice hot bath helps. But I think it undermines the experience of being bullied or depressed to think that creative outlets can solve the problem. It helps of course, to talk and process but the psychological weight of those things shouldn’t be undermined or underestimated.

8. What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given? 

What other people think of you is none of your business.

 9. What would you like to be working on next?

I have loads lined up for 2018 so I’m going to be working hard on taking breaks. I love my work. But I love not working too.

What other people think of you is none of your business.

 Why Can’t Everything just Stay the Same is available in a bookshop near you now.

Cinders Galentine’s Celebration Package!

In Cinders we are all about celebrating our favourite gal pals and are in complete agreement with Leslie Knope that it is the best day of the year!

In order to share the love with all of you, our loyal readers, we’ve put together a package of the best the internet has to offer in free series, downloads and books to share with all of the best ladies in your life! Because we know that you want to share the love, bit might not always have the funds to do so!

Books, TV and movies

We are all for the enjoyment of a good book, and Galentine’s Day represents the perfect opportunity to enjoy some classics that you might not have gotten around to yet!

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Northanger Abbey

We are massive Austen fans here in Cinders and love all of her works. Here we have the links to free downloads of three of our absolute favourites to enjoy with all of your Galentine’s girls!

Pride and Prejudice https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1342

Emma https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/158

Northanger Abbey https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/121

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

Where would we be without Brontë’s quintessential heroine? Re-live the experience with your favourite gal pals!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1260

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

If sci-fi is your thing then take a turn with the very first example of the genre! Frankenstein is dark and wonderful – you’ll enjoy every minute!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/84

Poems by Christina Rossetti

If poetry and fantasy are your true loves then you will absolutely enjoy Christina Rossetti!

Poems by Christina Rossetti

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16950

Of course, if you and your best ladies would rather sit down with an excellent TV show then you need look no further than some of the brilliant TV shows that YouTube has to offer!

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries

We love everything that Pemberly Digital has to offer but we’re particularly partial to the original series, with all of its drama, love and hilarious scenarios!

Shipwrecked Comedy’s Poe Party

If you love a good murder mystery and a healthy dose of laughter then this one is for you!

Some of us would rather just relax with an old movie – some of the great classics are now in the public domain and you can watch them online, guilt free! Here is one of our favourites:

His Girl Friday

Fast talking, fast moving, fast everything, His Girl Friday is a classic example of the back and forth that forties rom coms were famous for.

And of course, because today is also Pancake Tuesday, what better way to celebrate than to make one of these delicious recipes from the BBC!

American Pancakes

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/fluffyamericanpancak_74828

Buttermilk Pancakes

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/buttermilk_pancakes_10390

Traditional pancakes

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/how_to_make_pancakes_02824

Whatever you share with your friends we hope this is your perfect Galentine’s Day package for spending with the best ladies in your life!

Happy Galentine’s Day, everyone!

Beauties and their Beasts

First published in Cinders issue three

What with the new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast hitting our screens earlier in the year it got us here in Cinders thinking about some of our favourite unconventional interpretations of the classic fairytale. Méabh McDonnell looks at the ways the tale as old as time can be interpreted.

A tiny ladybird edition of Beauty and the Beast was my favourite book as a child. The Disney animated movie also held a special place in my heart – still does in fact. Beauty and the Beast is a complex story. On the one hand it’s the magical tale about how love is all you need . It’s the concept that rings true with most people in love – it doesn’t matter what the person looks like – if you love them, you love them. That being said… on the other hand it’s a story where a young woman’s freedom is claimed by a vicious domineering beast who then proceeds to win her over by granting her ‘freedoms’ within what is a very well furnished prison. It’s hard to reconcile that with the happy story of love conquering all. Some people find that too much of a turn off – others might point out that fairytales were written in a time where they were meant to be more gothic than sweet. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall upon Beauty and the Beast’s enduring nature as a story is undeniable.

This is why I decided to compile some of my favourite interpretations of this classic story that I feel really capture the best Beauties and even better Beasts. Some are closer to the original tale than others but all have a special allure.

Continue reading Beauties and their Beasts

Favourite fictional feminists: part one

Leslie Knope

Leslie Knope is the world’s most optimistic government employee. She is also a staunch feminist, wants to be Gloria Allred when she grows up and is one of the most competent and hard working characters to ever grace our TV screens. Portrayed by the wonderful Amy Poehler in NBC’s Parks and Recreation, Leslie is a woman in a competitive field for women but she manages to never be competitive with the other women in her life. She excels at building them up and celebrating them, and is the creator of the wonderful, Galentine’s Day, which we take as inspiration for this issue! Leslie is  kind, hard working and extraordinarily passionate about where she lives and works. Leslie works tirelessly — and often thanklessly — to make Pawnee a better place and almost always does it with a smile on her face. Leslie is the opposite of what we are so often shown in a female character on television today. She is sincere and uncynical and does her best in every situation. I want to be her when I grow up.

Continue reading Favourite fictional feminists: part one

Why Gilmore Girls is a modern adaptation of Little Women

First published in Cinders magazine issue two.

Little Women is the first ‘grown up’ movie I can ever remember watching and it truly stuck with me. More than 15 years later and it can still make me cry. But that first viewing was like opening a door to a world I never knew existed.

I couldn’t remember ever watching a story that had so many female characters, all of whom had distinct personalities that complemented one another and challenged one another. It is a story filled with women who know what they want in life, who have passion and tempers and fights, mostly with each other.

Continue reading Why Gilmore Girls is a modern adaptation of Little Women