Posted in supplementary material

Games, Gaming, and Educational Space

(Written by Martha S.)

This is a topic I would like to see us devote a whole episode to, if we can make it work, because it is a vast, rich vein to mine and has a lot of useful information for us to impart. But as an introduction to the idea, let me say: games and gaming are an incredibly useful tool in one’s educational repertoire. I have spoken myself at conferences on the benefits to having RPG resources and programming in the public library; others have written at length on the benefits of gamifying learning. I hope we will be able to add our voices and experiences to the conversation.

I am thinking about this at the moment because I spent the previous weekend at GenCon, the largest gaming convention in North America and the longest-running gaming convention in the world (this year marks its 50th anniversary). It is a celebration of gaming of all kinds, from board games to tabletop RPGs to miniatures and more. When I attend, I play as much of the Pathfinder RPG as possible, in addition to a handful of other tournament games over the years (I have played in WarMachine, Conquest, and Imperial Assault events). It is INCREDIBLY fun and I imagine my husband and I will continue attending until we’re physically unable to do so.

Look, I’ve given you two introductions to justify the fact that I want to tell you how amazingly inclusive Paizo is as a gaming company, and now I can’t figure out a way to transition easily into that, so I’m just going to say it: Paizo works really hard to make their “iconic” characters really, really diverse and I love it. (An iconic character is the example character for a particular class, that usually participates in the fluff or art in some way. Merisiel, for example, is the iconic rogue, and she is a gay elf who is in a relationship with Kyra, the iconic cleric, who is a gay brown human.) Additionally, the adventure paths that Paizo publishes (pre-constructed campaigns designed to get you from level 1 to level 20) are full of LGBT+ characters, frequently included without any kind of fanfare or controversy. The world of Pathfinder is rich and diverse, and while the writers are nowhere near perfect in representation (adventure paths are frequently weighted with hot women the players can romance and much fewer, less attractive men), it never feels exploitative or gross.

I’m sure that using RPGs as a way to teach empathy and compassion will come up if we are ever able to do an episode on games in the educational space. For now, I just wanted to say that I appreciate what tabletop gaming is doing to increase empathy in geeky circles, since there are so many other geek subcultures where it is lacking. I’m gonna go write my android space priest multi-personality collective now, for Paizo’s brand new science fantasy game Starfinder.

Posted in extra credit

Episode 14.5: Extra Credit

Welcome to a special summer school edition of Did You Do Your Homework! As we rework the podcast a bit and settle in to a slightly new format, we’re taking a brief break from homework to talk about what we’ve been experiencing this summer: the good, the bad, and the ugly. What’s been awesome, and what has been a disappointment.

This is also our first episode featuring a guest. To keep our three-person dynamic going, and to introduce fresh new voices to our discussion, we’ll be including super awesome guest stars for every episode. Allow me to introduce our first: Maren, Pete’s wonderful fiancee!

Our Pop Culture Credentials:

Pete: Lemonade, 2017 album by Beyonce
Martha: Black Sails, 2014 tv show
Maren: The Ezra Klein Show podcast episode featuring Julia Galef on how to argue better

In a three-truths-and-a-lie format, we’re each giving you three pop culture picks of the summer – and one disappointment, or dud. These are not things that debuted this summer necessarily, but rather things we experienced this summer, and are bringing to you, the listener.

Our disappointments may be unpopular! Don’t @ us. Go forth, and experience the good things in life, such as gay dad dating sims, the first Christopher Nolan movie to clock in under 94 years long, and cinematic scenes of the sweeping Scottish highlands.

Pete’s Picks

  1. Dunkirk (Film)
  2. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (Book)
  3. U Talking U2 2 Me (Po’cast)

Dud: Arcade Fire Everything Now (Album)

Martha’s Picks

  1. Dream Daddy (2017 PC game)
  2. Wynonna Earp (2016 TV show by Emily Andras, starring Melanie Scrofano)
  3. Motor Crush, vol. 1 (comic by Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr)

Dud: An Ember in the Ashes, 2015 novel by Sabaa Tahir

Maren’s Picks

  1. Outlander (2014 TV show by Ronald D. Moore, starring Caitriona Balfe)
  2. The Big Sick (2017 movie directed by Michael Showalter and starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan)
  3. An Extraordinary Union (2017 nov by Alyssa Cole)

Dud: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 (TV Show)

Our theme for August 30 is going to be Forgiveness. Your homework for next episode:

Maren: Atonement (2007 movie directed by Joe Wright, starring Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy)
Pete: Doctor Who S9 e6 “The Girl Who Died” and s9 e7 “The Girl Who Lived” (2-parter)
Martha: The Walls Around Us, 2015 novel by Nova Ren Suma

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook!

Posted in supplementary material

Episode 14 Follow-Up: A+ Leaders Who Are Also Women

(By Martha S.)

You may have deduced by now that gender portrayals are important to me in the media I consume – I am very prone to loving things that feature fully-realized, interesting, multifaceted women (notice I did not say “strong” – strength means many things, and I am just as likely to love a female character who is whiny and evil as I am to love one that is strong and likable). The gender disparity in the materials we talked about last week is bugging me, because I do try to pick media for the show that presents a range of experience and characters and obviously I need to do better. With that in mind, here is a bevy of women who lead in some way, whether successful or not, charismatic or not, likable or not. Because it is important to remember that while there are obviously brilliant and inspiring women leaders in fiction, there are also women who fail, and their failure as leaders does not equal their failure as characters.

Wynonna Earp, Wynonna Earp (2016 tv show by showrunner Emily Andras and starring Melanie Scrofano)
Long have I searched for a show that could ease the Supernatural-shaped hole in my heart, ever since it went to hell and I realized it hated women. Wynonna Earp seems to be doing just that. In brief, the titular character, the great-granddaughter of the infamous Wyatt Earp, is back in her hometown with Earp’s gun and a mission: kill the outlaws Earp originally laid to rest, who are cursed to come back from the dead every time the heir to the Earp name dies and the mantle is passed to a new heir. Wynonna is a booze-soaked, vulgar, rude, and frequently selfish character and I love her – she’s also becoming an increasingly more effective leader of her ragtag support group with every episode. The qualities that make Wynonna worthy of following? Pragmatism, street smarts, efficiency, and a strong sense for when her people need to take a break (also her little sister Waverly is the best and cutest exposition-fountain anyone could ask for).

Mirabel, Arsinoe, and Katharine, Three Dark Crowns (novel by Kendare Blake)
This fantasy YA novel features three wanna-be queens engaged in a fatal battle for supremacy. In the world of the novel, when the queen of Fennbirn dies, the crown is passed on to one of three sisters – each has a magical gift that they use to try and eliminate their competition. In Three Dark Crowns, the perspective rotates amongst the three sisters, who each are raised by a different group of people and trained to rule. It’s an effective story about the people who shape leaders, the influence they can have, and how a potential leader can either mitigate or succumb to that influence. By the end any one of them could be an effective Queen (although you’re getting very different flavors of leadership: clear and direct from Arsinoe, traditional and regal from Mirabel, cunning and grabbing from Katharine).

Eadlyn Schreave, The Heir (novel by Kiera Cass)
Gonna put this out right in front: The Selection novels (of which this is technically #4) are cotton candy novels. They are wonderful fluff. They are full of romance and pretty dresses and sometimes occasionally Cass remembers there’s kind of a story? This is more true in The Heir and its follow-up The Crown, wherein Princess Eadlyn is conducting her version of The Bachelor and also learning how to be Queen. I will also put this out front: Eadlyn is a TERRIBLE leader. She has no sense of how to inspire loyalty, is incredibly entitled, has no work-life balance, and can’t read a room to save her life. She’s intellectually intelligent and completely people-stupid. I would argue that the novels she stars in are actually the story of someone realizing they should absolutely not step into a leadership role, finding an alternative, and implementing that, rather than the story of someone learning how to be Queen.

Dorothy Vaughn, Hidden Figures (2016 film directed by Theodore Melfi and starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae)
I’m singling out Octavia Spencer as Vaughn in particular because she’s in charge of the team that Henson and Monae begin the film working out of. She’s overworked, underpaid, and has no guarantee that she’ll ever get the recognition she deserves – but she still identifies a threat to her staff, learns its ins and outs, teaches her staff the skills necessary to operate the giant computer, and makes them all instantly indispensable. Not only is Vaughn capable, intelligent, and resourceful, but she cares about the women who work with her, and goes extra lengths to ensure they have job security as well. Everyone in Hidden Figures is admirable, but Spencer brings a steely determination to Vaughn that I found incredibly admirable.

Posted in episodes

Episode 14: Leaders and Leadership

The homework for the episode:
Martha: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Calee: Firefly, episode 1.09: “Ariel”
Pete: Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

A widowed mouse learns the secrets of her husband’s past (and his connection to some interesting rats) in her quest to save her son and move her family, before the farmer’s plow can destroy their home.

The crew of the Firefly turn to an unexpected source to help lead them through one of the biggest heists of their careers.

What if: Superman had landed in Communist Ukraine instead of the heartland of America? Generally, not great things.

Our episode is painfully topical as we discuss and examine what makes a good leader. What do we expect from our leaders? What happens when leadership turns toxic? Let’s get into it.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Hipster Jock Jam playlist for the Riverwest 24 bike race
Martha: Lore podcast by Alan Mehnke
Calee: Adventure Time animated show

Pete’s pop culture credentials are inextricably tied to him spending an ungodly amount of time riding a bike for charity, which, you know, is pretty cool. Martha’s prepping for a podcast live show (hey, you think we’ll ever be cool enough to do one of those?) and Calee is enjoying the frenetic, animated joys of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human. Mostly, Martha is plotting how she can use Pete’s expertise in the world of charity cycling to fuel a library program, because that’s basically how she processes everything these days.

Big Questions for Leaders and Leadership

  1. What traits to effective leaders tend to have? Are the traits of IRL leaders similar to the traits of fictional leaders?
  2. What makes people follow a leader?
  3. Is it dangerous to glorify leadership?

Leadership plays a strong role in most narratives, and it behooves us to take a closer look at the strengths, weaknesses, and character traits of some of the many leaders we find in media. We generate a list of characteristics we appreciate in our leadership, Martha gets salty about Superman and Mark Millar, and we have a lot of fun talking about rats. Some sensitive topics are broached re: our current political state, but for the most part this is a bipartisan episode. (J/K our president is a toddler and our country is a trash fire, hooray!). Plus we all take a moment to reminisce about how much we miss Firefly.

Also, this is sadly Calee’s last episode with us as a regular co-host. Next episode we’re taking a small break to talk about what we’ve been enjoying this summer, to give Pete and Martha the chance to assemble some choice guests to bring you more of that good, good content.

Your homework for August 9:
See something cool! Read a good book! There’s an excellent thread on Twitter that The Fug Girls retweeted, full of juicy and salacious Hollywood memoirs if you need a good starting place.

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Uncategorized

Pre-Reading: Leaders and Leadership

By Pete R.

Tomorrow we’ll be dropping out 14th episode. The topic this week is Leaders and Leadership. Martha, Calee, and I will be talking about

  1. Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
  2. Superman: Red Sun by Mark Millar
  3. Firefly season 1 (and only!), episode 9: “Ariel”

Tune in to hear us discussing what traits make a good leader, what makes people follow leaders, and if there are problems with glorifying leaders and the idea of leadership.

We get into it with regards to Superman: Red Sun, but we all loved “Ariel” and Mrs. Frisbee. 

In addition, it’s Calee’s last episode!

Listen to the episode on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, GooglePlay, and anywhere else podcasts can be found. Or, better yet, set you iTunes to automatically download the episode each fortnight when we drop it! And certainly rate and review us on iTunes.

Posted in Uncategorized

Episode 13: Fandom Follow-up

Written by Calee S.)

I don’t know about you, but I find the concept of a fandom fascinating. I mentioned it in this episode that I consider myself a part of a fandom. It’s amazing how fans can build and expand on existing worlds in such a way where the line between canon and fandom becomes blurred. But what happens when these blurred lines become a bit too fuzzy?

I’ve witnessed fans lashing out at the creators of their favorite mediums when what they want isn’t the direction the creators planned to take it. I  personally believe this is due to a large emotional investment from the fans. But why turn this on the people that brought you your favorites? It’s okay to find fault in your medium, and wish it was better, or more issues had been resolved, but it can turn a good fandom ugly when creators are harassed. It’s a delicate line to walk. Creators are human too, but they shouldn’t be expected to cater to everyone’s whims. It’s important to trust that they know what they’re doing.

Supplemental Materials

  1. Anthology of Interest II – Futurama

This is a three part episode, so we’re just going to focus on the middle section, Raiders of the Lost Arcade. Fry teams up with Colonel Pac-Man in the hopes of using his extensive video game knowledge to defeat the Nintendians. What? Yes, lead by their fearless leader Kong.

2. When Aliens Attack – Futurama

Again! Another Futurama episode! It’s almost like it’s a pretty great show or something…

In this episode, New New York is invaded by Lrrr and it’s up to Fry and gang to save the day. And how do they do that, you ask? By filming and broadcasting the missing episode of Single Female Lawyer to appease Lrrr and his wife.

Posted in Uncategorized

When Fandoms Rage Against the Dying of the (Perceived) Light

By Pete R.

There are seismic changes happening within many different fandoms. Abe Riesman at Vulture wrote a fantastic article about how his tweenage sister represents the new face of comic fans; the top selling comics and graphic novels now are geared towards kids and teens and are not linked to Marvel or DC. Meanwhile, many people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, orientations have become comic fans through the Marvel or DC (mostly Marvel) cinematic universes. This fanbase is creating something––and expecting different things––than the fanbase that grew out of the comic book store. Buck-Cap FanFic never would have come out of Marvel’s print runs of Captain America, but is almost necessitated by the chemistry between Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan. At the same time, a Marvel exec back in April suggested that sales of comic books were slumping because there was “too much diversity” in their lineup.

the-avengers-infinity-war
I’m overwhelmed by the diversity.

As fandoms continue to grow and change, industries will (and will need to) grow and change to meet their needs. Yet at the same time, older fans might resent the new fans, or the changes that are occurring in their media. The current rhetoric of the GOP and the alt-right only intensify a feeling of assault on all sides for white men, and their last bastions of supremacy––comic books, video games––are being in their eyes co-opted. This is especially true with the total victory of nerd culture in the last decade. In a short amount of time, something that was mocked has become something nearly universally celebrated. Just look at how the Star Wars fans are portrayed in Fanboys and compare that to the cheering throngs waiting for A Force Awakens, Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, or the upcoming The Last Jedi. Previously, being a nerd was hard and gave those who went through the experience a shared sense of solidarity. Now that everyone can celebrate their inner geek without going through serious trials and tribble-ations, the old guard has a feeling of resentment and possessiveness. This is the new phase of the toxic “questioning and testing the geek-girl’s credentials” that shows up in movies like Fanboys and happens constantly in real life.

download
“That was a horrible joke.” – Captain Kirk, probably.

Laying my cards on the table: the changes we’re seeing are clearly for the best. Culture is not zero-sum. Women creators are not “taking jobs away” from men. Telling stories about women or queer people or people of color (or queer or female people of color) is not somehow hurting white men. There will be plenty of media for white men to consume where they (we; I’m a white man) get to be the heroes and the point of view characters. I’m writing this shortly after the BBC announced that the 13th incarnation of Doctor Who will be a women. I am sad that Peter Capaldi is leaving and excited to see what Jodie Whittaker brings to the role. But unfortunately, others have been and will continue to rage against what they see as the dying of “their” culture.

jodie_doctor_who
The Doctor has two hearts and has been played by 12 other people, but somehow having a space alien played by a woman is an existential threat to some people.

Discussing fandoms requires looking at both the positive community that fandoms create and the toxic environments they can foster. If you’re planning on discussing fandoms in an academic setting with students or teens, make sure to look at the problems that can occur within fandoms. Even if you’re not planning on discussing it formally, being aware of the dangers of toxic fandoms is important when interacting with any teen who is involved in fandoms, especially women, teens of color, and LGBT teens. They may have found a safe community to revel in, or they may have stumbled into a harmful community that harasses them. Sometimes those communities are one and the same. Hopefully we can help teens navigate the pros and cons of whatever brings them joy and help guide the next generation of fans to be open, inviting, and willing to accept whatever change inevitably continues to come down the pipeline.

Posted in episodes

Episode 13: Fandom in Media

The homework for the episode:
Martha: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Calee: Fanboys, 2009 film directed by Kyle Newman
Pete: Galaxy Quest, 1999 film directed by Dean Parisot

A new freshman in college finds refuge from all the change in her life in the book series she’s loved for years, and the fanfiction she writes for it.

A group of friends embark on a cross-country road trip to break into Skywalker Ranch so their dying friend can see The Phantom Menace before he goes.

The cast from a classic sci-fi tv show are recruited to help a very real group of aliens defeat the nemesis that slaughtered their people.

Today’s episode is brought to you by fanculture everywhere. Join us as we take a deep dive into fandom and how media portrays it, from the perspective of male and female fans and even a bit from the creator side.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Two YouTube videos: Angelo Badalamenti describes creating “Laura Palmer’s Theme” from Twin Peaks and Alex Jones as Bon Iver
Martha: Watching her husband play Serial Cleaner
Calee: Mouseguard: Legends of the Guard by David Peterson

Pete cheats YET AGAIN, Martha is basically living inside a Twitch stream, and Calee has discovered the wonderful world of anthropomorphized mice. (J/K she’s probably read Redwall before.)

Thoughts to Think on for The Hero’s Journey

  1. Is fandom portrayed generally positively or negatively in the homework we discuss?
  2. What does fandom add to the conversation surrounding a piece of pop culture?
  3. What, if any, responsibility do creators have toward their fans?
  4. Why is fandom relevant? Why should we care?

We are all fans of something, but it is fair to say that we were NOT fans (ha) of Fanboys, although it provides a rich vein in which to explore toxic fandom and how deeply, deeply dated pop cultural humor can be. We get a little side-tracked and don’t fully explore the idea of plagiarism, copyright infringement, and fanworks, although Martha is willing to admit she’s a big ol’ hypocrite when it comes to Teefury t-shirts. We do finish strong by touching on the relevancy of fandom and how it has moved out of the dark corners of geekdom and into the light because hey, we’re all fans of something around here. (We also get through the entire episode without talking about The Big Bang Theory, which I’m counting as a win.)

Next episode, Pete’s taking us on a guided tour of what it means to be a good leader, what being a bad leader means for a group or organization, and in general, Leaders and Leadership. Plus Martha’s making you read ANOTHER book (but this one’s for kids, and it’s great). Have fun doing your homework!

Your homework for August 2:
Martha: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Calee: Firefly, episode 1.09: “Ariel”
Pete: Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in supplementary material

Episode 13: Fandom in Media, Pre-Reading

(Written by Martha S.)

I’ve been a fan of things my whole life.

I wouldn’t say I’m always a part of fandom, since my participation levels vary based on my enthusiasm and my desire to engage with other humans, but I watch and I lurk and I read the fanfiction and I look at the fanart. When I love something, a movie or a book or a video game, I’m reluctant to give up the worlds I’m in love with. Fandom means I don’t have to leave until I’m done with them.

I chose fandom in media as our topic for the next episode for a few reasons: I thought we earned a lighter, more fun subject after bending our brains in the last episode, and because fandom culture has become so pervasive in the pop culture dialogue that I think it deserves a deep dive. Why do people engage in fandom? What rewards does it offer? Why is it worth talking about?

Our homework for this episode:

Fangirl, 2013 novel by Rainbow Rowell
Fanboys, 2009 film directed by Kyle Newman
Galaxy Quest, 1999 film directed by Dean Parisot

We have a good spread of homework that looks at fans active in fandom, fans passionate about fandom, and the people fandom focuses on. I’d like to offer you some optional extra credit as well, to get a good taste at the good – and the bad – of what fandom can offer.

The story of the infamous MsScribe. MsScribe was a prominent figure in Harry Potter fandom around 2003. Her story is sordid, long, and entertaining in a “I can’t believe this actually happened” kind of way.

For Women of Color, the Price of Fandom Can Be Too High,” article by Angelica Jade Bastien. This article is a pretty ugly look at the more toxic aspects of fandom, which are important to understanding the impact fandom has on actual human lives.

The Big Questions we’ll be considering on Wednesday:

  1. Is fandom portrayed generally positively or negatively in the homework we discuss?
  2. What does fandom add to the conversation surrounding a piece of pop culture?
  3. What, if any, responsibility do creators have toward their fans?
  4. Why is fandom relevant? Why should we care?
Posted in syllabus

Hero’s Journey: Syllabus

Chapter 19 of The Silmarillion, Beren and Luthien (1977 novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien, and edited by Christopher Tolkien)

The Book of Life (2014 movie directed by Jorge Gutierrez)

The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949 book by Joseph Campbell)

Mass Effect 1, 2, 3 (Bioware video game series first released in 2007)

Pokemon (Series of Nintendo video games first released in 1996 for the Nintendo Gameboy)

The Power of Myth (1988 documentary and subsequent book published in 1988)

Shrek (2001 movie directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson)

Star Wars (1977 film directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher)

Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics video game released in 2013)