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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Women In Machinima

One of the highlights of the Machinima Expo for me was the Women in Machinima panel. Last year I felt the same way; although this year they took pity on me and allowed me in the panel rather than in the audience chomping at the bit with questions and comments. The panel this year focused less on women-specific issues related to machinima, and rather was more of a chance to get to know some of the female machinimators. It was a fantastic experience and I appreciated the opportunity to be involved. There really are more women in machinima than I think people realize on first flush.

However, having worked up some thoughts on what I would I say if the gender-related questions were asked, I feel the need to purge those ideas from my system – so lucky you, Reader, as you now get to wander through my rambling thoughts.

If you had asked me the question “Does gender matter in machinima?” at different points throughout my machinima career, you would have, over the years, received varying responses from me.

When I first began, it didn’t seem to matter at all. I started with The Movies from its beginning, and as a community we were all on what could be described as a level playing field. There was genuine enthusiasm from the beginning to be supportive of one another’s movies (the need for virtual credits to unlock certain items actually helped spur this on, but that’s a topic for another day). As we matured and the community got a bit more competitive, some of the gloves came off and biting comments were made here and there. I’ll focus on some directed at me that shaped my perspective on this specific topic.

1) If you think some people don’t watch your movies because you’re a girl and they are e-flirting with you, you are being naïve.

My initial response: Hot-headed anger.

Looking back: I hate admitting it, but I do believe this is on occasion true. Sometimes the internet is like a bizarre nightclub and you just never know who is looking for action! However, this happened more often in the TMO days. I haven’t picked up this vibe in a long time, so either I’m still naïve or this behavior has been purged from the community.

2) People watch & support your movies because they hope to have you voiceact for them, as voiceactresses are few & far between.

My initial response: Irritation. Realize, though, that one of the most obnoxious, insulting requests a voiceactress can receive is “I need a girl in my movie and I’m pretty sure you’re a girl. Can you do these lines for me?”. We’d rather be cast because the role fits us, not because we’re the only girl you can think of who voiceacts.

Looking back: This is actually a flattering reason for someone to watch my movies, and I have learned more effective ways to say no to voiceacting roles. If you think I am a lousy filmmaker but a decent voiceactress, I can certainly live with that summation!

3) You play the “girl card” to get people to watch your movies.

My initial response: Paranoid introspection. Huh? What’s the “girl card”? What am I doing that is giving the idea that I’m manipulating people into watching my flicks?

Looking back: Yes, I’m a girl. *gasp* I still don't know what exactly the "girl card" is, but I don't waste my time dissecting this statement anymore.

4) Girls tend to be self-depreciating

My initial response: Don’t lump me in with all the other girls! When I acknowledge my imperfections as a filmmaker, I’m not fishing for a compliment. I’m trying to be honest and I’m looking for ways to improve.

Looking back: If there’s a tendency for women to be self-depreciating, then I would say there’s just as strong a tendency for men to be cocky & self-praising. And if as a man that sentence annoyed you, then now you know how this stereotype makes me feel!

There has also been a general perception that women machinimators make mostly romance & drama movies. In my experience, not just with my own movies but with those I’ve watched, this perception is way off base. Actually, romantic movies by either gender are few & far between in machinima. I don’t know if that’s a product of the environment and software or a conscientious choice.

In my little segment of the machinima world, The Movies Online through to TMUnderground, I have seen an evolution of perception. Granted, some of the more negative elements have drifted away from the community, and I’m sure they are still out there somewhere convinced as they hunch over their keyboards that the reason their movies weren’t watched is because they don’t have girl bits & pieces.

I also feel that people have gotten more comfortable saying when they think one of my movies is bleh. Chivalry I think is just ingrained in many men (yes, I realize I just stated a stereotype) but as we have gotten to know each other over the years, constructive criticism is recognized as a kind, and not negative, gesture.

Do women machinimators have it rougher than their male counterparts? I’d say definitively no. Male or female, we approach our work as individuals and not as gender representatives.


Killian said...


Not to sound crude, but whether your reproductive organs are either inside or outside makes naff all difference to who you are, either as a person or what machinima you like and/or make.

I think we've managed to shake off the old prejudices in the main (though I'm sure they still lurk in some quarters somewhere...) and realise that it matters not a jot whether you're male or female, young or old, human or small furry animal from Alpha Centuri; we all have equal validity, and it's only how you behave or act as a person that makes any difference.

Evonne @ Amoration said...

Thanks for your insights! I've produced documentary, music videos, mashups and narrative fiction via machinima and it's always different....there's a common voice and style that comes through but the intention is always different depending on the endeavor. Sometimes there's a place for romance, but there's also room for talking about genocide, human rights and international cooperation.

~In Kenzo~

Old Folkie said...

You know, your post reminds me of the often heard, "there ain't no women in horror 'cept..."
When everywhere we look we get to see that this statement ain't even remotely true, women make up at least as much of the genre.

And the same naturally goes for Machinima because the need to express ourselves is not bound to any given gender be it female, male or mineral.
In the end we all share the same human desire to communicate our ideas, fears and dreams.

But I tend to agree that men show a greater tendency to be cocky & self-praising. j/k
Actually that's a trait you find with all people that consider themselves to be "artists". ;)

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