Wednesday 20 December 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi [Spoilers]

I have so many things to say about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, that I almost don't know where to begin. That's why I have decided to devote this blogpost to what I see as the message of the movie, that of social justice.

One thing I loved about Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the way it stays true to The Force Awaken theme of challenging the idea of the patriarchy, as well as the thought that "where you come from matters". It talks about the problems with machoism and misguided heroes, and uses it's untraditional storytelling to surprise us at every turn. It is magnificent.

For example, in the very first scenes we see Poe taking the hero role, directly disobeying orders and risking his own life and that of others to take out the cannons of the Dreadnought. Leia demotes him for his arrogance and for challenging the command of his leaders, but he learns nothing, echoing the sad reality that many women feel in their heart, that men just don't trust women to know better.

Further into the movie, he tries to be the hero again and commits mutiny against Admiral Holdo, another woman, to do it. It ends in another epic failure.

Leia blasts him into a wall for it, and then carries out Holdo's plan, which ends with Holdo being the real hero. In the end, it finally humbles Poe enough to realize that he was being an ass and that having a cocky confidence doesn't always make you a hero.

We see more of this theme of cocky confidence and misguided heroism with Finn when he plans to lead Rey away from the Rebellion with the beacon. He is about to do it, and consequently take the choice of helping the Rebellion away from Rey, when Rose appears near the escape pod, realizes what he's doing and stops him from leaving, causinf them to work together to come up with a better plan. Rose actually stops Finn several times from doing the wrong thing or trying to be a hero, and we just never see it coming because we're so used to men getting away with things. It's so great!

Another subtle but honest point is made when Finn takes charge of the situation by stepping in front of Rose when she tries to explain their plan to Poe. Rose won't have it and quickly steps up and interupts him, a small but important move for women.

Kylo Ren is another thing all together. He suffers from the chosen one-delusion, prancing around like a dark prince with an overwhelming sense of self importance because of his family's connection to the Force.

What I especially love about this film is that the importance of his or anyone else's heritage gradually diminishes. It happens when Rey admits that she's the daughter of some nobody, and when a mere stable boy use the Force to pick up his broom.

Staying true to his inflated ego, Kylo agrees that she's a nobody, but says 'not to him', thinking that she will hang on to his approval. He's so entitled and full of himself that when Rey doesn't see his side of things, it completely knocks him off centre. She realizes he's not going to turn, turns him down and leaves and he responds by deciding to destroy her. Because how dare she refuse him?

She takes her loss with a stride and goes on to save her friends, and shuts him out, showing that she doesn't need him.

It sets the pieces up nicely for next movie to have an epic show down between toxic masculinity and feminism.

Challenging multiple tropes like "the chosen one" and "the hero's sacrifice", also challenges the idea that men must save the day or die trying. That it's always up to the men. That only men can decide what's best for everyone. That men get away with shit because they are men.

The Last Jedi shows that it doesn't matter where you come from, whether you're a princess, a prince, an ex-storm trooper, a scrap collector or the Rebellions greatest pilot, it's what you *do* that matters.

It shows that you don't have to be macho to stand up, lead the resistance, defy expectation, and save lives, especially your friends' lives, when they're trying to be stupid heroes for no good reason.

I think this is also the reason that a lot of young men have trouble buying the message of the movie, which makes it all the more important.

Friday 18 August 2017

The Road to Worldcon 75

For most of you, Worldcon 75 lasted 5 days. For me, it has been my favourite project for over 2 years.

It started in the fan village of Loncon 3, 2014, with the Helsinki party. I helped by serving tar soda and buckthorn & rhubarb drinks, and also hung out with a lot of lovely Finns for the whole convention-week, I knew by then I needed to be a part of Worldcon 75. And so, when they won in 2015 I volunteered.

To my own astonishment, this tweet gained a lot of traction, being retweeted by over 100 people during the course of a few days. It was my first taste of Worldcon 75 Social Media awesomeness and resulted in me being assigned to work as a Social Media (SoMe) staffer. 

I've since then been working Worldcon 75-Social Media almost all of my waking hours for 2 years, save for a few breaks, work, and other cons. I did expect to work a lot, but in the end I worked a lot more than initially expected, just because it was such a wonderful experience, and unexpectedly rewarding. I love interacting with people online, and working customer service. Another benefit of working Social Media is that it gave me an overview of the all the different corners of the convention and included working closely with all the other divisions, meeting with and chatting with lovely staffers from all over the world. It's the best position I could ever have hoped for.

But I must admit, I feel slightly bad for what I put my Worldcon-bosses through, they had a hard time getting me to log off during my days off. (Sorry Outi, Paul, Colette, Karo and Jukka!) 

Me and Sini

Worldcon 75 at Eurocon

Karo,  Hanna and Tero

Of course, we've had our share of rough patches, but what Worldcon doesn't? For me, the fun greatly outweighs any difficulties there have been.

In the winter of 2016, my lovely Area Head Dave Hogg, and my lovely co-worker Nina Niskanen sadly decided to step down, and I was appointed Area Head of Social Media. Me and my right hand woman Lucy Huntzinger have since then mostly been managing things by ourself. It worked really well! In May 2017, we recruited two more staffers: Kat Grimsley and Minna "Loviathar" Hiltula, to help prior to and during the convention. I had a lot of fun working with and getting to know these people, and together we managed to respond to things online all day, 24 hours. There was some really amazing SoMe teamwork going on there and I am super proud of us.

Lovi, Fia and Kat

Fia and Lucy

Aside from the monitoring of SoMe, I've attended three staff weekends, May 2016, November 2016 and May 2017. I highly recommend going to staff-meet ups before the convention, as you get to know some of the people you'll be working closely with, get time to wander around the venue and get your bearings. Also, planning is way more efficient when you're all gathered in one room talking things through.

My great leader, Outi, posing with the sleeping mask.

Me and Michael

Saija and Gareth, scheeming 
The greatly amused Colette and Nicholas

Kisu, John-Henri and Hanna

The programme DH and DDH Kisu and David

If I could do it again, I would. I have made hundreds of new friends through out the years, and absolutely love Finnish fandom. 

Thursday 17 August 2017

The Finnish Fandom

On Sunday the 13th of August 2017, I had the great honour of being formally adopted as a member of Finnish Science fiction-fandom, together with the lovely Colette H. Fozard and Regina Kanyu Wang. Taking up the role as my fairy god-parents are Jukka Halme and Saija Kyllönen, the best god-parents a girl could wish for.

To say I was ecstatic about being included into the Finnish Fandom family would be an understatement. I can't really find the words to say how much this means to me, but I am going to try to, anyway.

As a young woman, I've often felt that I wasn't taken very seriously in the fandom community. I'm sure a lot of other young women have felt the same. But the Finns, they not only invite me in as a fan and a con-runner, they gave me more and more responsibility, showing me in many different ways how MY opinions matter, how I matter, and that they believe in me. Heck, they even thought I was suited to be a Social Media Area Head for Worldcon 75.

It all started at my very first convention, Eurocon 2011, I met the the wonderful Jukka Halme. He was doing a quiz of some sort and was being hella funny. I love quizzes, so I joined,  and I had a blast.

Jukka also did an amazing job as fan GoH. During the con, he talked about the fandom family, his own wow-moments and how much fandom meant to him, which really opened my eyes to the community behind the convention, as well as the impressive backstory it carried with it. It made me want to be a part of that.
After only a short acquaintance I decided Jukka was the coolest guy on earth, so I went up to Jukka and told him (in a very non-creepy way, I promise!) that I was his biggest fan. A fact that remains true to this day. And now he's my fairy god-father! 

Jukka has always been incredibly kind and including, he has asked me to assist him as quizmaster or join in the quiz-teams several times, and he has also let me stay at his and Sari's place during the three Staff weekends I attended, to which I am ever grateful.

Throughout the years, as I got more and more involved in Swedish fandom, I also met more and more Finnish fans. They let me help them with the party in the Fan Village at Loncon 3, they asked me to help recruit Swedish fans for Archipelacon and they asked me to help with twitter for Åcon 8. 

I've also been talking a lot about my hearing disability throughout the years, and Finnish fandom has always have been super attentive when it comes to helping me get the best and most accessible con-experience. They've even consulted me before conventions, making me feel so very welcome. 

Remembering back, one of the people I met first was Saija Kyllönen, at Eurocon 2011. Memories are fleeting from that convention, but I do remember meeting Saija again at Loncon 3, where she quickly established that she was my fandom mother. (Well, Saija, now you sort of are!) And by now, she's even met my real mother, which seems suiting. 

At Loncon 3 I also got to know Hanna Hakkarainen, Jukka Särkijärvi and Mikko Lammi, in particular. The were kind enough to explain how a worldcon works, and the whole puppy-debacle, to a noob like me. And they introduced me to people. I don't know where I would be now if I hadn't met them.

I can't really remember when I met the brilliant man Tero Ykspetäjä, but I am glad I did. He's the pun-master of Finnish fandom, who I've shared lots of laughts with throughout the years, and we've also bonded over our passion for effective organisations. He, and all the others, has really made me feel like Finnish fandom cares about me.

All of these people, and so many more, I am proud to call my friends. And with the years, they have become like family to me. And now they officially declared that they want me to be a part of theirs.

Kiitos paljon, my Finnish family.

Tuesday 31 January 2017

The Art of Gilmore Girling.

There is a secret art to living your life to the fullest. A secret code to feeling good about yourself, your life choices, your personality. When all else fails, you have to go all out Gilmore Girls-style.

1. Find your own Lorelai/Rory.

Find that person that loves you unconditionally. That one person that takes an interest in your life, who wants to talk to you about anything and everything, that friend that will make your favourite dinner, or just shares your love for bad movies or just knows exactly what to say when you're feeling down because they know you so well.

2. Don't take things too serious.

Find joy in everyday things. Get a perspective. Don't take yourself too serious. We're all gonna die anyway.

3. Appreciate your friends

Be happy we're not all exactly the same. Be glad if you have friends with quirks because those are the interesting people, my friend. And don't judge a book by it's cover.

4. Be true to yourself.

When Lorelai got pregnant at sixteen, she made a choice. She could stay at the Gilmore's and marry Christopher. It was the easy solution. But that wasn't what she wanted out of life, so she ran away and made a life for herself and Rory elsewhere. She remained true to herself even when she let her parents back in her life. She thrived. Don't settle, thrive!

5. Wallow.

You are allowed to have emotions. Use them. They serve a purpose. You have to wallow at times.

What do you think? Have I forgotten some rules? Sound off in the comments!

Sunday 8 January 2017

Krigstid & Korpgudinnan

För mer än ett år sen så recenserade jag "Turid - Kungadottern" av Elisabeth Östnäs på denna blogg. Jag har även fått de uppföljande delarna i recensionsexemplar av Berghs förlag. Del två heter "Krigstid", och del tre är "Korpgudinnan".

På grund av livet, kongresser och annat som kommit emellan så har jag inte kunnat fokusera på att läsa och recensera (och jag kommer ha ännu mindre tid över för det framöver, så få inga idéer nu, förlag!). Nu i juletider så har jag haft lite ledig tid och har då äntligen kunnat sätta mig ned och läsa färdigt och skriva detta.

Eftersom Krigstid och Korpgudinnan följer händelserna i första delen om Turid så är det svårt att prata om det utan att spoila, så en varning till er, kära läsare - har ni inte läst första delen kanske ni inte vill veta vad som händer härnäst.

** S P O I L E R **

Krigstid är en intressant och komplex historia som visar på att det finns många sätt att vara stark och modig. Boken är en lång resa, både i det inre och yttre landskapet. Turid är en ung kvinna, som finner sig ensam och utsatt i den hårda vikingavärlden med endast sin träl Unna som följeslagare. Och eftersom det är männens värld gör både hon och Unna det som de känner att de måste för att rädda sig själva. Ibland innebär det stora självuppoffringar och hemskheter.

Den tredje och avslutande delen börjar med att Turid och hennes make Frode reser till Irland för att söka hjälp av Frodes släkt mot plundrarna och rövarna som härjar i Danerna rike. Allt står dock inte rätt till vid den irländska kung Torkels gård. Turid träffar Niamh, kung Torkels dotter, och lär sig om Korpgudinnan, den blodtörstiga. Intrigerna vid Torkels hov resulterar snart i blodiga offer, och Turid träffar en äldre kvinna med synska gåvor som säger att det enda sättet att stoppa ett blodbad är om Torkel överlämnar tronen till sin dotter Niamh, något Torkel vägrar. Turid och Frode inser att de måste stoppa Torkel för att förhindra ett nytt krig.

Elisabeth Östnäs är en lysande stjärna på författarhimlen. Jag har haft nöjet att träffa henne flera gånger, bland annat på min kongress i Lund, där hon var med i programmet och pratade om historisk fantasy. Jag har även hört henne prata om bokserien på Gleerups Akademibokhandel i Lund under boksläppet av Korpgudinnan

Elisabeth har nämnt Sigrid Undsets "Kristin Lavransdotter" som en av inspirationerna för denna bokserie, en bok som jag läst och älskat då det begav sig. Med facit i hand så är förstås Turid väldigt olik Kristin Lavransdotter, likheten mellan verken är snarare sättet de tar sig an historien - ingen av berättelserna förskönar de levnadsförhållanden som rådde under vikingatiden eller medeltiden.

Historien om Turid visar på ett realistiskt sätt hur utsatta kvinnor är, och hur mäns våld och dominans skadar alla, inte minst männen själv. Östnäs behandlar även temat "toxic masculinity" genom att gång på gång lyfta fram unga män, likt Frode, som avviker från normen med en klar brist på macho-attityd. Böckerna för en slags inre monolog om normer och hjältemod, och om vikten av att gå sin egen väg.

Jag älskade denna bokserie! Östnäs har förmågan att skriva på ett sätt som direkt fångar läsaren, och min läsupplevelse har varit fylld av starka känslor. Slutet på Korpgudinnan lämnar nog ingen oberörd, men jag blev rörd till tårar. Vackert skrivet, Elisabeth!