Category Archives: media

Geek Culture

“I”m part of a higher ed professional network, called geekEd. For the past 7 or so years, our group has participated as panel presenters for San Diego Comic-Con International.  Our group has several folks who are subject matter experts (and self-identified geeks/nerds who fully embrace geek culture i.e. gaming, comic books, movies/films/TV, cosplay, etc.).

In past years we have presented on geek culture (and the tropes/metaphors) and how it speaks to students in dealing with bullying, feeling ostracized, identity development, and resilience. This year we will be presenting at San Diego Comic-Con again for four different panels (nerd identity as a part of intersecting identities, mental health, games/gaming, and geek culture in secondary education).  If any of you are in San Diego on Sunday, July 23 from 11am to 3pm, this event is free and registration is open right now! (In other words, you do NOT need an ever-elusive Comic-Con badge to attend our sessions.)  Any of us would be happy to speak with you about promoting such kinds of events for students (i.e. Geek Weeks, etc.).

There is a lot of work being done on geek culture not only as part of our American mythology and culture, but as allegory to social issues (even dissertations are being written on the topic). It’s a great way to connect with students from a contemporary culture perspective but it also relates to the emotions of feeling like “the other”.


Yes, students love it, but I’ve also found that faculty and staff love it, too! At UC Berkeley, we have a formal organization called Berkeley HEROES (Higher Ed Reading Org for Employees & Sidekicks) where we not only read a graphic novel each month (this past month we watched the movie Wonder Woman and read a recent WW graphic novel), but we also provide community service events to our campus’ student family housing.  Our group has been around for three years now and is 70+ members strong!

If any of you are interested in more information, please send me a personal message and I can get you connected with other folks across the country who are doing this work.



Rodolfo “Rod” T. Santos
Residence Affairs Supervisor – Office of the Registrar
Campus Film Location Manager
Berkeley HEROES Co-Founder
University of California, Berkeley

Sexism and Violence in Pop Music

What would you add to the extensive history of sexism in popular music, including emo that is supposedly anti-macho? The girlfriend is both the enemy and the prize to be won, as seen in songs by Adam Lazarra and his band Taking Back Sundays or violent songs by Chris Conley and his band Saves the Day. He sings about sawing off flesh from a woman’s thighs “If I could somehow make you mine.” John Lennon talked about hitting his first wife in “Getting Better” (“I used to be cruel to my woman. I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved.”) Mick Jagger sings about a man raping a young black slave in “Brown Sugar.” In his song “Kim” Eminem says, “Sit down bitch. If you move again I’ll beat the shit out of you,” an exceptionally hateful and violent song—search the lyrics online.

Matthew Reyes, “Why Did We Justify Misogyny in the Emo Scene?” The Earlier Stuff, November 4, 2016.

Chinese and Japanese Gender-Bending Bands

Japanese entertainers and fashionistas experiment with gender-bending in their clothes and makeup, including androgynous boy bands.[i] Acrush is a similar group of five young women who dress like boys, intended to replace the South Korean bands that were unofficially banned by Beijing in 2016. A promoter explained, “there are so many androgynous-looking girls these days, we thought they would be more relatable.” [ii]One of the singers said, “My family has always thought that girls should look and act like girls. But for my generation, we think: My life is my own life.”

[i] Jennifer Robertson, “Japan’s Gender-Bending History,” The Conversation, February 28, 2017.

[ii] Amy Qin, “The 5 ‘Handsome Girls’ Trying to be China’s Biggest Boy Band,” New York Times, May 20, 2017.


Adultism and Youth Use of Social Media (Mimi Ito and danah boyd)

Adult bias and projections on youth are described by social media researcher danah boyd (she uses lower case), the author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (2014). She points out that too many adults view youth as “other,” lumping them into a generational category, instead of acknowledging their diversity. Adults think they know about youth because they were teens or parent them. Journalists, politicians, and others too often portray youth either as rebellious troublemakers or innocent and vulnerable—in need of protection. Youth were the focus of most of the 20th century moral panics, in terms of their use of drugs, sex, video games and other media, and rock n’ roll, so that they are surveilled and regulated by adults. They aren’t seen as “deserving any agency, and, yet, they are also judged based on what they chose to do.” Thus, the decision of scholars to “tell their story is often activist in nature, even if heretical to some.”[i]

Mimi Ito, involved in the Digital Youth study, reports it’s important to reveal “how adults often unreasonably curtail young people’s freedom and voice.” She states that, “Age is one of the most naturalized forms of oppression that we have,” the least questioned among racism, sexism, and classism despite ongoing “generational tension and moral panics.” In modern times adolescents are segregated, but electronic media allows them to access adult worlds, to be unsupervised, and have more private conversations than phones may permit. Ito studies girls’ mobile phone culture to explore “girl-led tech innovation.”[ii] Now that more adults join youth in using social media, traits that were attributed to youth such as “drama, oversharing, narcissism, attentional fragmentation, are certainly not age specific.” Ito and co-author dana boyd (she uses lower case) look to electronic media use as a source of freedom for young people.

[i] Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito, danah boyd. Participatory Culture in a Networked Era. Polity, 2016, p. 35.




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