The Representation of Women’s Issues in Science-fiction

Introduction Video: Sci-fi has a Women Problem

Video Two: Female Sexuality in Sci-fi

Video Three: Reproductive Rights in Sci-fi

Video Four: Equal Representation in Sci-fi

This digital artefact does some things well and other things, mainly from behind-the-scenes, could have been done better.

My original concept was to do three video essays which analysed how speculative fiction represents, warns, and comments on women’s issues. I chose three which are particularly relevant in today’s society; sexuality, reproductive rights, and equal representation. My original concept did not change throughout the project, except to add a fourth video as an introduction to the concepts of science fiction as speculative fiction, futurology, and some background information on what the science-fiction genre has historically been like for women creators and characters.

I chose this topic because I am very interested in how women are represented in media and the real-world consequences and implications of these representations, and so being able to explore this while considering the future was both entertaining and genuinely interesting to research. However, I did not stick to some elements of the FIST principles; my idea was not fast or tiny, and while I thought it was simple, it ended up being bigger than I thought. Each video essay runs between five and ten minutes long, which means there is around half an hour of content total. With this length, a podcast would have potentially been a more achievable medium to deliver the information through, as making the four video essays took a significant amount of time.

There is significant literature on gender representations in genre fiction so finding academic studies and research went well, and I was able to find predictions for all three of the topic I chose. One of the most interesting papers I looked into was Eva Flicker’s paper on the marginalization and sexualisation of scientific competence I used in the final video essay, as well as the website which did the analysis of all the spoken dialogue in Star Wars. I think both of these were really great finds and good resources to back up my arguments. All of the papers, studies, surveys, books, articles and webpages I reference have links in the video themselves so people can do further research themselves if they’d like. An interesting fact of the DA was I was able to find actually futurists discussing sexuality in the future, but no ‘futurists’ discussed the other two issues that I could find.

Time management regarding the project was the biggest limitation I faced as I did not stick to any kind of upload schedule, so even though I feel like I made relatively in-depth video essays about how science fiction uses societies issues to speculate about possible futures, and I feel like I did well covering how futurologists and other experts ‘actually’ predict the future, and how these two things relate, they weren’t uploaded with enough time for me to really get the most out of sharing it them on relevant Reddit threads, or for much audience engagement. I did share the videos with my housemates prior to uploading for any feedback to counter the lack of outside comments. My main aim for the video essay series was to create something which would make people think about why the representation of issues in speculative texts is important, or why they could be important, and to make my arguments about female representation in science fiction convincingly, and the people I have shown said I achieved this, so all in all I am happy with the outcome of this DA, but not with my time management with creating and uploading them.

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Tweets Part Two

Since the first few weeks of live-tweeting, I definitely think I’ve gotten better at critically analysing the movies we’ve been watching, or at least taking parts of the film and looking at them from a particular lens – Blade Runner 2049 and my Bechdel Test rabbit hole is an example of this. I’ve also tried to improve with my engagement with fellow classmates, and I believe I did this to varying degrees of success, whether through retweeting with a comment, or replying to tweets.

Most prominent tweets

Week 9:

This tweet was an attempt at improving on combining my joke tweets, which seem to get more engagement, with a critical thought or idea about the movie. I was questioning the possibility of a robot performing a task which goes against its specific programming, but then the ‘loophole’ was addressed by the movie while I was writing the tweet. This tweet got three likes and one retweet.

While watching the movie, I was noticing a lot of people feeling conflicted about the ethics of a robot being given to the elderly as a companion and caretaker. I realised the movie was touching on these issues but not really providing a clear moral position on it. When I was doing research about the movie, I found an article where the director said this was a very intentional choice, so I shared this in a thread so others could think about this fact as well. The thread total had 11 likes.

This was a simple observation I had that a lot of sci-fi films or content that focus on an emotional relationship and connection to artificial intelligence often have a scene where the robot ‘dies’ or has to be shut down/reset/rebooted. In The Good Place, this is repeatedly played for comedic effect and in Robot and Frank, it was for emotional effect. This tweet had two likes.

Honourable mentions:

This tweet was a joke and a reference to early 90s robot toys/pets. It received eight likes and two replies, one of which had three further replies. This was the best engagement I had this week.

Week 10:

This is a thread of a thought I had that the movie was commenting on – the infantilising of the elderly in regards to their health and upsetting news. It wasn’t critically engaging with the content of the film from a future perspective but was an interesting thought about the themes of the film. It got four likes total and one retweet.

This tweet highlighted that this movie was another in which humans had tried to replicate real human consciousness and emotion in AI, and was presented in a way which showed more ethical and moral issues than potential benefits (in my opinion). I couldn’t think of a film in which this was achieved and represented completely positively, and so was asking the hashtag if they could think of any in an attempt to engage others. This didn’t really work out. The tweet got three likes but no other engagement from the class.

This was my attempt at engaging with the tweet and thought of another classmate. The original poster was commenting on the film positioning technology as something the elderly rely on and asking if this was predicting a switch in who used technology the most in the future, from the young to the old. This reminded me of the shift Facebook has seen recently, and so I shared an article referring to this. This tweet received two likes and one retweet.

Another engagement with an idea from another classmate, this tweet was responding to a comment about the film focusing on memory, but that our memories are infamously fallable. I noted that in the film, the protagonist actively asks the AI to change her memory to something more exciting. This tweet got six likes.

This was my answer to the question “Why should artificial intelligence be valued in relation to people rather than other thinking beings?” posed in relation to how human-centric sci-fi is. This is also a massive theme in a lot of sci-fi films, so I thought it answered the question the best it could be answered. It received two replies.

Honourable mentions:

Joke tweet, because Twitter always loves a thirst tweet. This thread about the attractiveness of the two leads got four total likes.

Week 11:

This week was super interesting to me because Bladerunner 2049 is a movie I kept coming across when researching my DA on sci-fi’s representation of women. So this article was one I had read and was saving to share for this week. It questions the positioning of the love interest in the film, as she is literally owned by K. This thread got five likes and three retweets total.

This question is interesting to me. The characters in the film don’t want the world to find out replicants can reproduce because this could lead to war, which means it would change the way people thought about the replicants’ humanity. So I was asking the hashtag their thoughts on this; why does the reproductive status of something change the way we think about treating it? This tweet did get engagement; someone replied with “Good question. I think maybe they don’t believe people were actually ‘born’ and they are replicants of others and others before that.”

The Bechdel Test is something I’ve been referring to in some of my videos in my DA’s, so I looked up this movie to see if it passed. While it’s not a comprehensive test, it is an interesting jumping off point to see how a film represented women. Bladerunner has a disagreement about if it passes or not, so I lay out the arguments in this thread. I also asked a question about what others thought about this issue and the representation of women in the movie. The thread got eight likes in total and resulted in the most engagement I’ve gotten all session, with seven replies and 17 likes among these replies.

The previous thread I did inspired me to look up all of the films we’d watched so far and find out if they passed the Bechdel test or not. Most of them passed at least one of the criteria, except for Ghost in the Shell and West World and Johnny Mnemonic, which hadn’t been logged online yet. I had to do this with the condition that clearly female-coded AI/robots/androids counted as female characters, as so many of the films do have these kinds of characters. This thread got four likes and one retweet.

Honourable mentions:

This was an example of engagement with a fellow classmate in the replies of my original tweet about Blade Runner 2049 and the Bechdel test. It recieved three likes.

Same as above. This tweet got five likes.

Week 12:

I hadn’t seen The Matrix and people are very unimpressed when they hear this, usually. I’d tried to watch it a few times but hadn’t liked the beginning – I’d never gotten to Morpheus before. After seeing the movie, I understand why people think it’s a must-watch. It’s a pretty freaking good movie. This tweet got six likes.

This tweet thread was a thought I kept having seen my classmates tweets about how not knowing what is real or not would mess with their heads. It was a pretty personal tweet with information about me in it, but the thought was interesting enough I wanted to share it. This tweet thread received twelve likes total, and one retweet.

Just a damned good quote and part of the movie. Trinity is amazing. This tweet received five likes.

This was an example of taking a comment about the movie from a classmate and having another thought from it. In the OP’s tweet, they pointed out that at the beginning of the film when Neo is introduced to the world, in 88 lines of dialogue, 44 of them are questions. This was interesting to me as too often in films, I feel to move the story along, characters are very quick to accept without much question a new, unbelievable thing. I thought it was good that Neo’s character was questioning things – especially when the entire film revolves around not knowing what is real or not. This tweet didn’t receive any likes or retweets.

This sarcastic tweet was referring to incel/MGTOW/etc communities on the internet taking the phrase “Take the red pill” to mean choosing to ‘realise’ the world is skewed towards females and men are superior.” This tweet got two likes and one reply thread with three tweets.

This one was a commentary about how Trinity is a well-written, strong female character, which can be rare in Sci-fi, and especially because her actions have a direct impact on the plot, another thing female characters in sci-fi often don’t get to do that often. This tweet thread got four likes and one reply thread with three replys.

Honourable mentions:

Relevant sci-fi joke referring to the terrible aim of the Stormtroopers in Star Wars. None of the many army men shooting at Neo and Trinity in the final gun scene hit them. This tweet got two likes and one retweet.

Commenting On Other’s Blogs Pt 2

Here are the comments I wrote on the DA betas for three of my classmates. Being so close to the due date of the DA, the majority of the comments were just pointing out things I found positive about their projects and suggesting extra research. I’ll go into more detail about each comment below.

Dakoda: Insects impact on the future of agriculture

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I liked Dakoda had taken on the feedback about downsizing her project as she definitely had a great idea, but it was going to be very difficult to achieve everything she set out to do. I also thought that finding a niche area to explore helped with this, and with making the project have more of a utility as it is now more specific. A lot of the research I did for extra information to offer her was US-based, so when I found an article from the ABC I thought it would be relevant and interesting for Dakota to read, even as background issue or extra information for her piece.

Matilda: The Glossy Project

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I’m very excited about Matilda’s project, as it’s very relevant to my degree and my current job as the assistant editor of an online publication/magazine. Knowing the ins and outs of how funding an online publication in 2019 works, I thought that the model Bitch Magazine was interesting and something Matilda could potentially look into for an article in her online magazine. I thought this would be helpful as people are very familiar with advertising, sponsorship, and paywalls, but the Hearken tool is a little bit different – closer to Patreons than anything. I thought her method of presenting her DA was great – and online magazine about the future of magazines – and so I passed on this feedback as well.

Kiana: Youtube channel

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For Kiana’s DA, the feedback I provided was mostly in reference to how she is addressing the future in her project. She had mentioned wanting to monetise her channel using Google Adsense as this was a good way for Youtuber’s to make money. This is true, but there have also been pretty drastic changes to the Youtube algorithm and way it gives money to content creators recently, and so I found some articles online about these changes, and alternative ways channels make money. As Kiana’s channel is still in the early stages, some of the suggestions in the second article might be ways she can try to reach the goal of monetising her channel in the future sooner.

 

BCM325 Beta Pitch

In my Beta Pitch video, I outline the original project idea, as well as the changes I made based on the feedback and things I learned whilst making the first video in the digital artifact.

Originally three videos, while making the first one I realised I needed to create an introduction video explaining the history of the genre and concepts needed to understand the utility of the project in order to keep the videos at a consumable length (less than 10 minutes).

I also addressed issues I had not mentioned in my pitch video regarding target audience, release schedule and length of the videos.

I have done most of the background research for all three of the other videos and have a lot of skills and footage to use so I predict I will be able to stick to my planned schedule and complete the DA effectively.

Live-tweeting: like my analysis, not just my jokes

I have live-tweeted films and television events before but usually for entertainment instead of for critical analysis. The biggest issue for me for the first few weeks of live-tweeting was to engage with my classmate’s tweets. I feel there is an importance to balancing the tone of live-tweeting between serious tweets and “shit-posting”. In the first six weeks of this class, I’ve found my joke tweets are usually my tweets with the highest engagement, although as the weeks have gone on, I’ve found my critical analysis tweets have been getting more engagement also.

It’s also clear to see which weeks I enjoyed the most; I was still finding my live-tweeting-for-class feet in Week One and had an already-held dislike for Week Two’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey and therefore I found it harder to critically engage with these texts, as well as to engage with them on an entertainment level. However, I enjoyed and understood the films from weeks three and six, and so my tweets are better, got more engagement, and more closely look at the texts.

I’ve embedded the tweets from each week I want to talk about, as well as a section for honourable mentions (which are the tweets which got the most engagement because they are funny, not necessarily because they’re good examples of critically live-tweeting). I was absent for weeks four and five.

Most prominent tweets

Week 1:

As it was a silent film, I thought the way the workers acted in the film had significance to the meaning of the film, which is why I tweeted this thought. I feel it was effective as it got some engagement (four likes, two retweets) including another member of class commenting their thoughts on the idea I posted (they added “When the rich are shown they take up most of the shot, as opposed to the workers who are tiny and minuscule within the scene”).

This tweet got good engagement (four likes, one retweet and one reply) and even though it’s written as a sarcastic joke, I was also making a comment on the nature of films at the time and of science-fiction in general. Films around this time had very little diversity in terms of race and gender, and Metropolis is an example of how films at the time did include these groups; by depicting people of colour as slaves and women as damsels in distress/objects to be saved. I decided to use a gif here as well to encourage interaction.

This tweet didn’t get much engagement (one retweet). While the content of the tweet is an example of how I was critically engaging with the text and content of the class – highlighting elements of Metropolis that were influential to the genre – I don’t think it got as much engagement because it was also a thought tweeted by many in the class. Over-exposure of the same ideas is one factor of live-tweeting that will happen often if people are commenting on the same content, but is not good for engagement or standing out as you’re then competing with several other tweets with the same content. In future weeks, I tried to get better at not just repeating the same thoughts echoed by my classmates to make up my tweet-count but to instead engage with my classmate’s tweets by retweeting or replying with further thoughts (the best example of this is in week three with Westworld).

Honourable mentions:

Week 2:

I thought this fact was interesting as it came out in the 1960’s, which was notorious for drug usage in the United States, and so I thought the fact that young people were taking drugs before seeing the film was relevant. This post got very good interaction, including replies (three likes, three interactions in the replies).

This tweet didn’t get much engagement (three likes) but is an example of attempts to engage with the tweets of other classmates. In this case, I was answering a question about other films exploring the relationship between humans and technology.

Honourable mentions:

Each of my joke tweets this week got better engagement than my critical analysis tweets (four likes and five likes and one retweet, respectively). I would say these got more engagement because they were both relatable.

Week 3:

For this tweet, I ran a poll asking people which of the “worlds” they’d visit. This tweet got very good engagement (three likes, 13 poll responses) because the nature of the tweet encourages engagement. The winning worlds were West World and Roman World.

An example of my engagement on other classmates tweets. I responded to a tweet stating that West World was full of lifelike androids “practically indistinguishable from human beings”. This prompted me to ask what the creation of these worlds asks about human nature. It for pretty good engagement (four likes and one retweet), I think because it cut to the themes of the movie and so people also watching the film could instantly ask themselves the same question.

This tweet got very good engagement (six likes and four retweets) and I think it’s because it summed up a lot of the casual tweets from the West World screening about the tone of the movie being all over the place, but in the words of the film’s writer, and so it was more critical analysis. This is an example of the kinds of tweets I’d like to do more of in the coming weeks – ones that combine the casual, “shit-posting” tone of Twitter, but that still have critical analysis elements to them.

This twitter thread that I replied to got some of the best engagement out of any tweets I’ve done so far (nine likes, one retweet and one response). It’s also an example of how replying to a classmate’s tweet and engaging can yield a positive discussion or be more rewarding than just making a comment about the movie.

This is my second reply to the above Twitter thread which got minimal engagement in comparison (one like and two replies). We were discussing issues about women as sex objects, which are prominent in both 2019 currently and obviously from when the film/book was created.

Week 6:

This thread I created didn’t get good engagement but I was actually very happy to have found this article from 1995 when Johhny Mnemonic came out. It stated that part of the reason Sony invested so much money into the film was because it was on the cusp of the internet blowing up and they thought it was a worthy investment – something companies still do today and something worth thinking about in regards to future studies; what technologies do large conglomerates think are worth the investment?

The second part of this thread got some engagement (one like, one retweet, same person), maybe because of the gif usage. I thought it was interesting as it really “90s’ed” the film. While they thought they were being very technologically advanced. The fact you would load a webpage to look at movie merch, and then call a toll-free number in order to buy that merch, is very interesting to think about in 2019 when you can buy basically anything with the click of a button. That’s why I thought this was interesting.

This tweet was in response to a scene where Johnny makes a long distance phone call over the internet but it was so much more effort than just picking up a phone, but because it was ‘technology’, it is portrayed as futuristic, when most technological advancements have made these tasks easier, not more confusing. It got decent engagement (four likes). It’s a little fact I’ve seen in a few of the texts we’ve studied, so I pointed it out here.

This tweet got zero engagements but is probably the thing that I was most interested in about the film once I found it out – how would a gender swap affect the movie? Why did they choose to change the source material and cast a male lead instead of a female lead? Is this another example of sci-fi’s women issue? These were questions this tweet made me think about, which is a good sign in regard to my DA as I am noticing these women representation issues and that’s what my DA is about. It would have been good to get this more engagement, perhaps but using a gif, or posting a poll with it.

Honourable mentions:

My joke tweets this week were on point and got lots of engagement (seven likes and two retweets, five likes and two retweets, and nine likes and three replies respectively). The first one makes fun of the amount of computer memory 90s people thought was large compared to today, the second one is a great Law and Order: SVU joke (I am biased) and the last one is just a dumb joke. But these dumb jokes got the most engagement out of any of my tweets this week.

All in all, I think I need to get better at joining my ‘jokes’ and analysis into the same tweet to encourage engagement on tweets other than joke tweets, and finding something to say which critically engages with the source material, even if I don’t enjoy that material (I’m looking at you, 2001: A Space Odyssey). These are both areas I will look to improve on in future live-tweeting sessions.

Commenting on others’ blogs

Here are the comments I wrote on the DA pitches for three of my classmates. With each of the comments, I tried to offer some other research ideas based on my life experience/industry knowledge/general thoughts as well as making a comment about their method of presenting the DA, and any other suggestions I came up with. I’ll go into more detail on each comment below.

Nathan: Lowfee DA 

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I liked that this student was planning on building on an already-established DA idea, and thought they had at least started to think about how to adapt this DA for the Future Cultures subject. I made the suggestion that instead of just looking at guessing what low-fi music would sound like in the future, to back this up with research into the music industry, and how it might change in the future, as well as looking at how the internet influenced the growth of the low-fi genre so much more than other genres. I found some reddit threads I thought might be contextually interesting as background research, and a podcast exploring the origins of low-fi music for Nathan to potentially look at. I appreciated that he had figured out an engagement strategy which worked, as that can often be the hardest part of making a DA – finding an audience. I was trying to sound very nice and polite, but also trying to tell the student that they might need to look for some more academic/research-based information to complement their great idea in order to better improve their DA.

Emma: Water Cooler Chat DA 

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In my comment to Emma, I highlight that I like her idea because my experience working in the industry she’s planning on covering has shown me that there is definitely a market for the technology in the future but that none of those I work with are embracing this technology right now. I also commented that I think her use of a podcast is a good ideas as I’ve noticed a lot of business podcasts trending lately and so it’s the right time for the medium and the content she’s planning on creating. My main suggestion for her was to potentially add other voices, as the content matter could get dry if it was just the one voice, and also, it would be good to get some experts in the industry to talk on the podcast as well. I tried to find at least one academic source for her to look into as well. This was the first comment I wrote and so I feel I was less critical and more simply supportive of the DA idea compared to the other two comments, and so if I made this comment again, I might add some more critical thoughts, such as asking how she plans to market her blog and podcast.

Tanmayi: Past, present and future of AI

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In this comment, I tried to outline my biggest fear with Tanmayi’s DA idea that I could think of and that was using a blog and podcast. From her DA pitch, I got the impression she would be relying on both the podcast and the blog to tell her whole DA story, and so I wanted to warn her that they both need to somewhat stand alone as well, as not everyone will engage with all these mediums (obviously the markers would, but outside audiences can be less thorough).
She was also thinking of covering a range of different ideas and industries including business and medicine, so I sent her some links to articles about how AI will affect my industry, journalism, in case she wanted to look into that as well.

 

BCM325 Digital Artifact Pitch

For my digital artifact, I intend to create a series of video essays which explore how three issues facing women today – reproductive rights, sexuality, and equal representation – have been imagined in texts showing the future, primarily science-fiction films. I will then explain what economists, academics, sociologists, and historians actually predict will happen to these issues in the real future and the impact they will have on society. How close were some of the predictions? What do these real and fictional predictions about women’s issues say about our attitudes towards them in both the past, present, and future?