Geek Girls Rule! #226 – FanGirling and Objectification

First fangirl crush. Gene Wilder.

Ok, so I’m doing a lot of these analyses of fan culture lately, and that is in part because my twitter followers wade through my goofy tweets and ask really important trenchant questions.  They make me think, a lot, and I love them for it.  So big hugs to all my twitter followers!  You guys rock so hard!!!

So one of my followers (I don’t name names unless they specifically tell me I can) tweeted at me in response to something I retweeted about how there are other ways for dudes to compliment female cosplayers without immediately jumping to their fuckability.  Even my more enlightened rather feminist male friends are likely to, when seeing a woman cosplaying a character, begin their estimation of her costume with how fuckable she is.  Granted, most female characters out there to BE cosplayed are pretty sexy to begin with, which is an entirely other kettle of fish*, but instead of starting with the quality of the costume, the accuracy, the skill with make up, they immediately leap in with “I’d do her.”**

My follower asked me what about the way fangirls talked about celebrity on tumblr, and whether that objectification was different.  My response was that straight up objectification was fucked regardless of who did it, but that there is a power differential that matters regarding gender and the male gaze.  And then I talked about how the fangirl “objectification” of actors like Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, and the guys from Supernatural was different from straight up objectification.

If you ask a Cumberbitch or Hiddlestoner what they like about that actor, they may lead with hot, but that will quickly be followed up with things like, “so talented,” “have you seen the interviews? He’s so smart!” “He’s well-read, intelligent, seems like a really nice guy,” and the list goes on.  The fangirls don’t stop with hot, they’re into the whole package.  I then talked about the fact that if you look at a movie like Avengers, there are more conventionally attractive guys in it, like Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth, but that the biggest squee is over Tom Hiddleston.  Fangirls aren’t just looking for hot, they want the other stuff, too.

I mean, I find Benedict Cumberbatch attractive, but I have to admit, he’s kind of funny looking, and not at all what you’d consider conventionally handsome.  Yet, fangirls are all over that, like whoa. There’s a gif going around tumblr of a fan standing up at SDCC to tell Jensen Ackles that when Supernatural first started, that they all thought he was handsome, but that over the course of the show they’ve come to realize what a fantastic actor he is, and what an all around great guy.   Those comments brought Ackles to tears.

That’s what fangirl objectification is all about.  Yes, they first notice an actor for hotness, but then it goes deeper than that.  Fangirls read all the interviews, dig up past projects they’ve worked on, scour the internet for information and old pictures, and they fall in love with more than the exterior (see recent post The Layers of Sexy).

Then I had to issue the disclaimer that I’m not exactly the go-to girl for conventionally handsome crushes, as my first celebrity crush was on Gene Wilder.  I love funny guys, what can I say?

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*Let’s stop and think about female characters for cosplay.  The X-ladies: all sexy, DC women: all sexy, She-Hulk sexy, Spider-Woman, sexy, Sailor Moon, different category of sexy, but still sexy.  Pretty much all of the Whedon heroines, they’re either straight up conventionally sexy, suffer from Ophelia-syndrome (crazy sexy), or they’re “Hollywood awkward.”
**This is not all guys.  I just had a conversation with the Geek Husband What Rules and our friend Deke about how they think Felicia Day is adorable, but they like her because she’s a good writer, and a nerd and so nice and hardworking.  Or how they crush on Mira Sorvino because she plays videogames and is really smart and in mensa.  Also how the actress who played Kaylee on Firefly is cute, but really, really normal and not that interesting to them. 

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7 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #226 – FanGirling and Objectification

  1. I have a big crush for John Borrowman, and I’m straight as hell, and it’s more than just him being so damned handsome. he’s funny as hell, has more talent in his pinkie finger than I do in my entire body, and he’s just fantastic as Captain Jack Harkness.

    It is disappointing, and not to mention holding a slice of that male privilege, as though they’re going to get the cosplayer who’s dressed so sexy into bed with them.

    And then there’s the view that if you don’t immediately think about how fuckable an attractive woman is, ANY conventionally atractive woman is, then there’s something wrong with you and you must be gay, so yay for heteronomative double standards AND homophobia.

    So no, I don’t want to fuck every woman I see that I think is pretty. I can actually admit to them dressing up in good fashion, even if I don’t have a good fashion sense for myself…

    I do want hugs from John Borrowman though.

  2. Shit, half the male celebs I like have been odd-looking or slobs who can’t accessorize colors, or whatever. But funny is usually a big factor – I like the Red Dwarf guys obviously for humor (among other things), but you wouldn’t think of Orlando Bloom as “funny.” Yet, he has a penchant for comedy and for being willing to be made to look foolish or goofy even in “sex symbol” roles and roll with it.

    (I honestly think this is how Tom Cruise stays in business – sure, he’s a crazy effer, but he’s also willing to poke fun at most parts of his persona; most, not all.)

  3. There are a few hollywood heartthrobs that did *nothing* for me until I found out about who they are as *people*. Vin Diesel is a fine example of this – for a lot of my friends he started as hot for his body, but he didn’t become hot for me until I heard about his dedication to gaming and to his friends.

    Because of my experience with makeup, I know that more than half of the Hollywood actors are actually pretty average looking and just made up very well. This means that it takes much more than being pretty to get my attention.

    I think this all really speaks more to the basic programming that all humans carry for propagation of the species. Most men are wired to look for places to drop their seeds and most women are wired to look for good fathers. It’s not something that I, as a child-free person, am terribly excited by, but I recognize the validity of this aspect of hind-brain functionality. I think that it is a sign of our collective evolution that the more cerebral men are more interested in WHO women are, now, than how they look.

  4. I find that I tend to squee over people that have more than one talent. Real life, fictional or out of my league.

    Lately it’s been Bruce Dickinson. Because, well, he’s Bruce Dickinson and he’s the lead singer to my favourite metal band, he’s a pilot, and he’s world class fencer. How cool is -that-?! Also those dimples? Man could commit murder and very possibly get away with it. 😉

    I found myself squeeing over Greg Graffin of Bad Religion for the same reason – he’s politically acute and he’s a college professor and writer.

    The biggest difference in my thoughts between Graffin and Dickinson are mostly in comfort levels; I tend to think the Iron Maiden frontman would be a little less awe-inspiring once past the initial jaw-dropping “Here I am with Bruce Fucking Dickinson!”

    Graffin, I think, would remind me of friends that I have that I periodically wonder why on earth we’re friends because they are super awesome smart and I’m smart, but not that smart. [Limitations, I has them. Sigh.]

    I was contemplating what I find physically sexy a while ago, and part of what bothers me about Hollywood and celebrities in general is that women aren’t considered attractive as they age. I really, really like the lines on a person’s face. The laugh lines around their eyes and mouths which give him or her character. (I also tend to like my lookers a little meatier than conventional wisdom says is attractive. I’m sure you’ve seen Snatch – the final fight scene between Brad Pitt’s Mickey v. the other boxer? The other boxer has the better body.)

  5. This is a topic that doesn’t get talked about NEARLY enough. It extends beyond non-fictional people too. Why do so many women love the characters of Sam and Dean amd Cas? Why do women fabtasize about Loki? Hell, why do women read romance novels? Or even Edward and Jacob? Yes, women can get straight up obsessed but there’s a reason most women feel a draw toward these characters and these franchises. It’s more than just pretty faces and hot bodies, the shows and books and movies present full characters most of the time and when they don’t (romance novels) they still give us more than just “he was really hot.” There’s a warm, gooey center of feels and some humanity in the characters. Yeah, even in the terrible Edward and Jacob, it’s not just SMeyer telling girls that her boys are hot, it’s because – frighteningly enough – the girls like the intensity of their passion for Bella. Bella may be an empty husk but the male characters are not. I am just so tired of hearing guys bring up romance novels and Twilight as an excuse for why objectification is ok. Or when “women do it too.” You can find examples of women truly objectifying men but it’s not as widespread as the objectification of women or the things these guys bring up to prove their points. No, objectification takes looking at someone as though they were an object rather than a human and that is exactly NOT what these forms of entertainment offer women. (Sorry for the double post)

  6. […] to, based solely on her appearance.  Over there I spoke primarily about the difference between “fangirling” and straight up objectification.  The main difference being, primarily, that once fangirls develop a crush on a cute actor, they […]

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