Category Archives: Film and TV Nerdellaney

Reference and Response

I crossed a big item off my bucket list last month – I traveled solo (sort of) to Scotland. It’s a country that has loomed large in my imagination since I was a little kid (having read Margaret George’s book Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles at far too young an age) and it more than lived up to my expectations. I love travel and exploring new places, and this was the first time I truly felt that I could just drop everything and never, ever leave a new place.

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I haven’t, and (for the foreseeable future) I won’t (although there are some big changes coming soon…watch this space) but the memories made during this trip will live in my heart for a long time. I realize that this reverse-wanderlust has a lot to do with the ‘vacation’ aspect of all this – it’s easy to want to live somewhere when your experience consists of hotels, sightseeing and someone cooking your meals (and washing your dishes), and in my case this was enhanced by the fact that I used a fantastic tour company, so most all of the stressful elements of going to a new place were handled.

Like any adventure, the best part of my trip was meeting fantastic people. I didn’t know anyone in my group when I arrived in Glasgow, but a week later, flying out of Edinburgh, I had connected with and made new friends that I wound up spending a significant amount of time with (which is sort of a big deal, as I really enjoy my ‘wandering city streets and skulking in foreign alleys-alone time’ quite a bit.)

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Edinburgh is made for skulking

Since I’ve returned, I’ve been thinking a bit about how it is that our little crew (or clan, because Scotland), with a 15-year age-span, all engaged in wildly different work, and hailing from different corners of the country, managed to forge such a meaningful connection. It is, as one of our fellow tour-mates noted, because we spoke the same (semi-coded) language: References.

The first time I noticed it was at a castle (we were always at some incredible castle, because Scotland) when I heard, from somewhere in the pile of people, ‘Don’t Blink.’ My head shot up and I started scanning for the person who dropped the Doctor Who reference. We made eye contact and shared a smile. It was on.

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Like a fairy tale or something

As the trip proceeded we began speaking in pop culture, connecting over shared (and sometimes surprising) interests in a way that seemed like we had developed our own language of strange phrases and private jokes. Giggling, singing songs from ‘The Nightman Cometh.’ Quoting ‘Hannibal.’ (I will find my Fannibals anywhere!) Bridging the silence with gentle teasing about our own obscure favorites and clapping with joy finding out that someone else had heard of or loved something we treasure.

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You’re a master of karate / And friendship / For everyone!

It might seem like a superficial way to connect, but this introduction via pop culture lead to expansive conversations (and a sense of goodwill when opinions diverged) over the course of long bus transfers, quiet moments in hotel lobbies and amazing meals in pubs all over the country (Haggis: Delicious!) It was intensely familiar: this is how I talk with my oldest friends and family members near(ish) to my age. It was anything but shallow. These new relationships were quick, comfortable, and thanks to the miracle of the Internet, will likely last for a long while.

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Haggis! With neeps and tatties…and bacon

I think we’ve all had those moments of connection over pop culture ‘ephemera’ at work. One of the most wonderful things about working with teens is getting to witness that delighted moment of recognition when you compliment a shirt or a pin, or can drop in on a conversation about OTPs, or ask them for recommendations on books, shows, movies, or bands to enjoy (I would never have fallen in love with Bob’s Burgers or Steven Universe if it weren’t for my Fandoms group insisting that I get over my ambivalence towards animation.) I have these kinds of interactions with adults, too, but they are more often than not muted and cautious. (Of course, as generations shift and what used to be marginalized as ‘nerd culture’ becomes more and more profitable, universal, and centralized, this is changing.) What do we have to lose when we share our enthusiasm, demonstrate our expertise in the things we love, or allow others to do the same?

It’s important, and often vital, to keep a ‘professional’ distance from patrons in a public library, but professional doesn’t have to mean impersonal. Recognizing and responding to our users in this way can lead to opportunities with lasting value for everyone involved. I’m thrilled to see more and more libraries turning to pop culture as another avenue to expand their reach into their communities and demonstrate that our ‘institutions’ truly see, appreciate, and value everyone.

Many teens in our weekly Fandoms group came to their first meeting knowing they’d be walking into a room full of strangers (a major anxiety trigger no matter your age or experience level) having only met me, the librarian who geeked out for a minute over their Sherlock laptop sticker or Fourth Doctor-inspired scarf. As each new person introduces themselves to the group, they name a few of their beloved fandoms. As they do, without fail, others in the group will whoop, clap, or shout a catchphrase, and the newbie will smile, or wave, or respond with a reference in kind. You can see their tension ease. They have found a place.

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Over time, I’ll see these teens turn up at other classes and events, volunteer for different departments, or use our spaces to gather, study, or just hang out. Many of them will become library-users for life, and it all started with a simple moment of reference and response. They know that the library is theirs, and that someone who works there speaks their language, or at least is willing to learn it.

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Listy!

This is my favorite time of year: List Season! In addition to my passion for the written word, I am a huge film and TV nerd (or, as a coworker once stated, he and I are both ‘voracious consumers of media,’) and mid- to late-December is when ‘top-everything’ notices start to appear, and movie awards start being announced. (I’ve been told that my love of the Oscars et. al.,  and gaming out odds on nominations and winners is weird, but it’s no weirder than fantasy sports if you think about it. I’ve been able to argue this point with sports-obsessed friends and…they seem to get it!).

I realize such things are wildly subjective (and rarely reward who or what they should, but they do form a historical record so they are important, for better or worse. I speak from experience, as a kid whose family was not engaged by art and discovered these spheres through a grocery store-bought encyclopedia set.) but I don’t care, nor do I dwell on what the unabashed joy I feel in ranking things indicates about my personal psychology. I’m passionate about things I love and decided long ago to decline enthusiasm-related shame. 

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I know, but I still feel the need to explain myself…

It was, as most would agree, a pretty rotten year, but there was some great stuff to set our eyeballs on: This is the stuff I loved the most of the things I’ve seen or read. Unlike the lists I make for work, I’m not concerned with balance or signal-boosting (except for TV stuff), or the admittedly problematic nature of some of these choices. Really, this is a personal record, since as I (…ahem…) age I find myself needing touchstones to keep track of all this voracity. Anyway:

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YA/MG

  1. Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Allison McGhee – Still weeping over this sensitive and gorgeous novel about love, loss and the magic of nature.
  2. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine – I need part three of this adventure series right NOW! I’ve called it librarian catnip, but it is pure pleasure for any reader.
  3. Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Bartoletti Campbell – Thoughtful and mysterious NF about justice for those who are defiant – or perhaps dangerous – outsiders.
  4. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand – Captures the moment when you realize your family has a secret history you might never fully know or understand.
  5. The Emotionary by Eden Sher and Julia Wertz – Me, in a book.
  6. Kill the Boy Band by Goldie Moldavsky – A twisted, hilarious, and candid look at the dark side of fandom enthusiasm. I’d read unreliable narrators all day, every day.
  7. The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan – Tan+the Grimms= My dark soul.
  8. Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick – Not perfect, but the 2016 book I’d most like to shove into the hands of the striving, ‘on-track’ teens I work with.
  9. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh – Breathtaking conclusion to a reworking of the Scheherazade story. Steamy, magical, and completely satisfying.
  10. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephardt – A powerful book that sneaks up on you, as two kids forge a friendship in the balmy Florida sun that will melt your heart.

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Other Books

  1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Cheat, but the first thing I read this year. It shredded me, then haunted me, and I knew nothing would surpass it…
  2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – …Although this came close.
  3. Ashes of Fiery Weather by Kathleen Donohoe – A gorgeous family saga about the women who bind generations of NYC firefighters together. A debut masterpiece.
  4. Becoming Unbecoming by Una – Essential reading for every woman. I wish this existed when I was young and struggling with the contradictions of femininity.
  5. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell – Slamming this into the hands of all my Hamilfanatics. My favorite adult NF author to booktalk.
  6. Books for Living by Will Schwalbe – A love-letter to the reading life that is deeply personal and universally revelatory at the same time, like all the best NF.
  7. Havana by Mark Kurlansky – Cheat, as it comes out in 2017, but I’m going to Cuba this summer and found this history of the city unputdownable.
  8. The Trial of Roger Casement by Fionnula Doran – Casement is an complex and controversial figure in Irish history. I wrote my bachelor’s thesis on him, so…
  9. Love that Boy by Ron Fournier – A heartfelt, earnest book about learning to wildly celebrate kids who are not like the ones who you dreamed of having.
  10. The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McElvie – Set the silly concept of ‘guilty pleasure’ aside and indulge in this comics series and all its subversive glory.

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Contemporary Film

  1. Moonlight – It’s perfect. I felt it in my bones. Essential viewing.
  2. Midnight Special & Loving – Cheat, but Jeff Nichols had a YEAR, with two films about strength and solace derived from the unbreakable bonds of love.
  3. Arrival – An intellectual sci-fi thrill ride about the power of language to shape our perception of the world. Librarian catnip.
  4. Manchester by the Sea – Guilt and grief and return. I know this story. This version is almost unbearably true. Lonergan is a master. Lucas Hedges is startlingly good.
  5. The Nice Guys – My eternal love of Russell Crowe: He’s perfectly paired with Ryan Gosling in a rare comedic role. The most fun I had in a theatre this year.
  6. 13th – If you can watch this and not shake with rage I question your humanity. Ava DuVernay is an unfathomable talent.
  7. Sing Street – A sweet and sour story about growing up through music, with what should be a star-making turn by Jack Reynor: He is a jet engine.
  8. Hail, Caesar – My eternal love of Ralph Fiennes. Anyone nervous about the upcoming Han Solo movie: watch Alden Ehrenreich in this and be relieved of doubt.
  9. The Lobster – Best audience moment of the year: A seemingly-sweet senior lady yells over the pre-closing credits darkness ‘What the ever-loving f*ck was that?!’
  10. Deadpool – Maybe I’m God’s perfect idiot, but this brought me so much joy.
  11. TBD: There is still more to see…High hopes for La La Land, Elle, Jackie and Fences.

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Classic Film

One of my resolutions this year was to continue my film education. I’ve managed to connect with a group of film-loving teens at the library and they’ve been gloriously, enthusiastically instructive. (Also: Are you on Letterboxd? I am! It’s a fantastic app/site and you should check it out!)

  1. Andrei Rublev – A stark look at the struggle to make art in the brutal world of early czarist Russia, with an explosively gorgeous coda that shook me to the core.
  2. Tokyo Story – They all said start with Ozu and they were right.
  3. M – Expressionism is my favorite artistic ‘-ism.’ Knowing the story ahead of time didn’t diminish my astonishment.
  4. Paths of Glory & Barry Lyndon – Cheat, but I Kubrick-ed hard this spring. Two stories set in Europes of wildly different circumstance, about falsehood, fate and futility.
  5. Broadcast News – “I can sing while I read, I am singing and reading both.” That should be carved into my theoretical tombstone.
  6. Make Way for Tomorrow – BRB, I need to cry my eyes out just thinking of this
  7. Brief Encounter Why did they even bother with contemporary star-crossed love stories after this one?
  8. Burden of Dreams – I can only imagine what a Jason Robards/Mick Jagger-led version of Fitzcarraldo would have been. Young Herzog was foxy? I feel weird.
  9. Marat/Sade – My college staged this play and I avoided the film for a long time because the experience warped me. I remembered every word. Deliriously terrifying.
  10. The China Syndrome – My eternal love of Jack Lemmon. The Apartment is one of my all-time favorites but this might be the best of his legendary performances.

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TV

(I watch a lot of television. It’s my favorite thing and I’m not shy about it. I can’t order this list: I could probably list 50 shows I adore. Here are the ones I wish more people would watch, and/or I most consistently talk up to friends and library users:)

  • Rectify – A slow-burn gothic true crime novel brought to life. Languid, character-driven and unforgettable. I’ll miss these characters when it ends this season.
  • The Americans – It had me at ‘Soviet spies living and working in the American 1980s.’ It has never let me go. All together now: Poor *insert character name here.*
  • Atlanta – Surreal, heartfelt, uncompromising and as funny as anything you’ll see on screen.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Feminist musical perfection. My Fandoms group has adopted as it as a new and surprising obsession, leading to countless great conversations.
  • You’re the Worst – Delightfully demented. My most frequent recommendation for the little characterization callbacks alone. *sings* ‘New phone, who dis?
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race – I like reality shows that show craftspeople at work, and this is the best. Mama Ru’s Emmy win this year gave me life. Always: Purse first.
  • High Maintenance – Don’t be turned off by the ostensible premise: This is a tone poem about individuals connecting (or not) in the not-so-anonymous big city.
  • Halt and Catch Fire – Five actors at the top of their game in a sublime piece of computer-age historical fiction. Catch up before its final season airs next summer.
  • Transparent – What it all comes down to, is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine.
  • The Path – Cult stuff, so of course I love it. I’d watch Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan and Hugh Dancy (Will Graham, always in my heart) in anything.
  • Fleabag – Breaking the fourth wall is annoying, except for when it’s perfect. Bonus points for outstanding deployment of Olivia Colman.
  • Game of Thrones – I’ve been reading the books longer than I’ve known some people in my life. This season deep speculation became (show, at least) canon.
  • Black Mirror – Still morbid, still twisted and still scarily on-point. I like having an idea of where we might be headed, as I am a well-known catastrophist.
  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee – Righteous rage might be the defining emotion of 2016 and Sam Bee wields it like a razor.

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Movie Scenes & TV Episodes

  1. You’re The Worst: Twenty-TwoDesmin Borges is perfect. Mandatory viewing for all, and vital for anyone serious about supporting veterans.
  2. Hail, Caesar: Would that it were so simple – I used to direct theatre in college. I still have to give direction at large library events. This is my new manta.
  3. Moonlight: Learning to swim – My heart…
  4. The Nice Guys: The bathroom stall – Gosling and Crowe are comedy gold.
  5. Black Mirror: San Junipero – The queer tech romance I never knew I needed. Beautiful, emotional, with just a hint of the usual creepery.
  6. A Bigger Splash: Emotional Rescue – Ralph Fiennes doesn’t have an Oscar. He should get one for this role and he should have to dance in everything from now on.
  7. Manchester by the Sea: All the scenes in the car – Supposedly, men communicate most authentically sitting side by side. Maybe that’s not true, but in this movie it is.
  8. SNL: Diego Calls His Mom – A transcendent, deceptively subversive moment that stole my breath. Real and true. Thanks again, Lin-Manuel Miranda…for everything.
  9. Rectify: Therapy – In a show that is uplifting and traumatizing in equal measure, this scene from the penultimate episode encapsulates the series’ tone perfectly.
  10. Jane the Virgin: Doing It – After an animated sequence that felt like a rare misstep, the second-time around was pure magic and had me howling with joy. Go Jane! 
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Still my favorite awards show moment ever. Thanks for reading. Bye!!

 

Required Viewing

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I’d been trying to write: about despair, about teens and politics, about closets and queerdom and the guilt of passing, and how it all relates, however tangentially, to what I believe is the dangerous and outdated myth of library neutrality. (Yup. My brain connects things in mysterious ways.) It was all swirling around, becoming more and more inflammatory, as well as less and less coherent, so I decided to take a break. Instead of writing, I took myself out for my impending birthday, and in doing so, am once again irrevocably changed by art in its highest form. Seek this film out and see it as soon as you can.

Fandom Foundation Films ‘Fail’

When your teen community asks for something, you should do all in your power to provide it. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that (the same holds true for pretty much any of us, anywhere, engaged in public service.) We have a fantastic Fandoms group that, up until this point, suspended for summer each year. For the first time, the teens who attend that weekly program asked for it to continue over the long, hot, sweaty break. (Yeah…I’m not a summer person.)

I’d love nothing more to carry on with our weekly ‘pop culture book club’ year-round, but it’s not so easy to find new ways to approach fandom-ry each and every week (as fast as our culture moves, it’s not that fast, especially when you are limited to a PG-13 and under version of it.) As I’ve said before, it can sort of drain your will to live. I wanted to find a way to honor their enthusiasm, though, so I proposed that, instead of our usual meetings with its familiar agenda (gather, decompress, catch up, share news, dive into the days topic/viewing) we might do a film series instead. The teens were ALL about it – Perfect! they declared. I gave them two options: A summer of documentaries or a summer of classic films. I presented the choice neutrally, hoping they’d opt for the latter…Without any prompting from me (I swear!) they chose classics, much to my delight. My brain started turning thoughtwheels instantly: A movie for each decade that reflected contemporary fandom! If I selected the films carefully it would be fun and insightful and in keeping with the spirit of the program these teens love!

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For fun: Why did I pick each film?

Now, having done this job in this place for a while, I reminded them that, in fact, most of them would likely be absent for the bulk of the summer – jobs, assignments, camp, travel, the challenges of geography and transportation in regards to their homes vs. the library…I practically never see most of these teens at the library once school is out. Ah, no! they insisted. They asked for this and I was giving it to them! They would totally, definitely, 100% turn up for this!

They didn’t. (You saw that coming, of course.)

Of the 30 or so teens who come each and every week to our Friday Fandoms United program, maybe 4 turned up to Fandom Film Foundations with any sort of regularity. A few other film-loving teens turned up from time to time, but in terms of audience size, this program was not what you’d call a success, at least not in relation to our own high standards (developed over a decade, with the benefit of multiple Teen staffers running things and with libraries in very close proximity to schools…any success we have is tied up with these privilege factors.)

However, in terms of the quality of experience…this program was a home run! We know because we’ve heard raves from the teens who attended (and I’m always sensitive to cues that they might only be saying nice things because they recognize my own personal enthusiasm and don’t want to disappoint me…this wasn’t that), kudos from parents, and intriguingly, the post-program circulation of our selected films and the speed at which we are running out of our Classic Films by Decade bookmarks and a few requests from parents and other adults for a ‘guide’ so they can replicate the ‘class’ at home, at their own speed. (I’m totally going to do that now that our other summer programs are winding down.)

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I was so excited for this one!

The What & How:

  • Select a classic film from each decade that reflect common tropes/archetypes/themes prevalent in contemporary fandom.
  • Start with a 5-10 minute librarian-led talk/instruction session before each film on what the ‘foundational’ ideas that link the classic to fandom, touching on the production history of the film, collaborators as well as the state of film in each era, etc. – research that was a joy for this film-obsessed librarian to do…
  • Toss out a few questions for viewers to consider as they watched, along with a half-sheet flyer with the key ‘thinking points’ for each participant.
  • Snacks, of course.

Will we do this again? Maybe…?

Things to improve on/adjust if there is a ‘next time’:

  • Summer Friday afternoons are not great, even though it works so well for Fandoms -> Change to a weekday evening, where we’ve had more success with our Book Into Movie series…or maybe the weekend, in the doldrums of winter?
  • Accept that new initiatives sometimes take time to grow -> Create a ‘family guide’ so program can be replicated at home, as well as adult-area display and try to create a buzz and build excitement for a second run in the future..
  • There wasn’t enough ‘brand-recognition’ with an unprecedented program -> See if school film club people are interested (and active enough) to advise on/promote future iterations and spread the word.
  • Consider converting into a family program -> This might require different, more kid-friendly films…a challenge when connecting classic films to modern fandom culture, which is increasingly not PG or G-rated.
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I’ll never do a bullet journal…

Do I wish I had just said no when our Fandoms-ers asked for a 9-weeks-long film series over the summer, having guessed correctly that most of them, sincerely wishing for more Fandoms while simultaneously agreeing that our traditional meeting structure was too much to continue over the summer, wouldn’t be there in the end? I could have said no, and it wouldn’t have been a big deal…

Nah. You have to give them what they ask for, after all. Asking for something is not easy (usually) and you have to honor their bravery and celebrate that fact that they are comfortable enough with you and their place in the library to do so. You also have to try to not get too down on yourself if the teens don’t (or can’t) turn up. It’s not exactly failure (there is a difference between failure and disappointment.) It’s another learning opportunity and a chance to improve.

I’ll still tease them about it when Fandoms starts up again in a few weeks, though…

UPDATE: For now, I’ve made a guide/syllabus for the program geared to families, converting my speaking notes into questions to consider, and gathering the suggested films from each decade’s bookmark to create a display for the front of the library, just in time for the Labor Day weekend:

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Fandom Madness!

brackets and notes

I grew up a soccer orphan. My brother played and my dad coached so my weekends were full of fields and watching kids run around and being bored and contrary. My dad also played in an adult intramural league. His teammates were mostly European and Asian transplants to Long Island and they called themselves ‘Inter(national) United.’ They were great fun to watch, although I’d have never admitted it at the time, as they played and shared a camaraderie that transcended language. (The guys also exposed me, at too young an age,  to an infinite world of exotic curse words…but anyway.)

This blog will probably go on a bit about our success with pop culture programming, but it is likely true that no one library program has brought as much joy to my nerdy heart as our Fandoms group, which began back in September of 2013. I’d been thinking about extending our pop-culture events from one-off bonanzas based on movies and book series into something that could be done on a weekly basis and that would look more like a traditional book club, a type of program that I had consistently failed at for seven and a half years. (And still. For the life of me, I can’t make a teen book club work. And I’ve tried every last permutation. And this is a reading town...) I was looking for a way to treat this stuff as seriously as libraries traditionally treat books: a program that would facilitate careful and  considered analysis of TV, movies, music, comics and whatever pop culture ephemera might arise. For teens. That was inclusive and universal. And fun. And weekly.

After struggling with these vague notions of bringing Tumblr to life in my library (oof) while vacuuming my apartment (cleaning = brainstorming), I remembered, for some reason, my dad and Inter United. Why not catch-’em-all (I’m sure I’m not Pokemon-ing right…), a program that any one in any fandom could come to? A Fandoms United!

Here we are, almost three years later and this little idea has blossomed into something very special, and something big – an average of 32 teens each Friday afternoon. I couldn’t be prouder of the teens who come each week – they really get what we are trying to do. The goal of this program is to help foster a community for these teens. I’m happy to say, despite some inevitable bumps in the road, we really have!

Teens mourning Li’l Sebastian

While fandom-ry is infinite, finding teen-friendly material to run a weekly program with original content will eventually drain you of the will to live, particularly if you’re invested in finding ways to get some of that good library stuff (analysis, concept introduction, learning) jammed in there in between all the squees and screams. It’s good to organize your meetings based on themes (more on the technical stuff in the future with our forthcoming Fandoms Manual) and it’s good to switch it up so you’re not just viewing stuff endlessly. Enter my favorite activity: Fandom Madness!

We are about to come to the end of our third-annual tournament, where we use formal debate skills and drill down and select our champion character.* Like any repeated program, it has evolved (and mercifully simplified) over the years. We set up a bracket system (4 groups of 8 characters as seen above), and let teens nominate fictional characters from any fandom universe one week, then vote for finalists the next week using a weighted system (1st place = 5 points, etc.). That’s where we get our brackets and the real fun begins!

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Fandom Madness Motto

Each character battle is heavily debated by the teens: pros, cons and contrasts. (You haven’t lived until you’ve anticipated middle schoolers making the Leslie Knope vs. Deadpool argument). People get 45 seconds to make their points according to a strict set of guidelines with which to evaluate each bracket battle. Talk about actions. Talk about friends and enemies. Talk about what groups they represent and how well they do so. Talk about character arcs over time. Do not talk about perceived hotness. Back up your statements with examples. And most of all, remember that everyone has a right to state their opinion – if it falls into these parameters. Just because someone disagrees with you it doesn’t make them less of a person and it certainly doesn’t make them stupid.

To do this right, you have to trust that your teens can go deep and then get out of their way. (Lots more on that to come…) To watch them confidently line up to make their arguments about these silly-seeming works of fiction warms my cold little civil servant soul. They come in with notes prepared, ready to defend their points of view (as seen at the top of this post.) They are so passionate, so clever, and so persuasive. They know this stuff. They know they know it, but they rarely get a chance to confidently share their expertise at home or in school, heck, in any setting. Best of all – for all that they know, they are willing to listen and be swayed. More than once I’ve seen high schoolers reconsider their position based on a sharp observation laid down by a little sixth-grader (or fetus, as the older kids uncharitably call the littles, who, of course, are the same age as when they started coming to Fandoms. It’s horrible and cute at the same time) who had, up until this point, been too shy to speak, but wasn’t willing to see Shego get bumped from the game without a fight. (Truth: I still don’t know who Shego is…)

tinaI’m a big nerd who watches an insane amount of TV, argues with her siblings about comics minutiae and reads film criticism for fun. These teens show me new angles on the things I thought I knew backwards and forwards each Friday afternoon, but never more so than in this month when we Madness.  It’s my favorite thing we do in Fandoms, apart from the Tina Belchers they make me for my birthday each year, of course.

* Our champions: Leslie Knope in 2014, and Harry Potter in 2015. Both characters are ineligible in future brackets as past winners.

UPDATE: Our 2016 winner is Toph Beifong from Avatar: The Last Airbender!