Evan J Palmer's Blog

A blog about learning (code, improv, film and, anything else).

Category: Thoughts

Respect For Women Characters

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A group of women players I jam with were given the suggestion “rock band” in the last class.  They decided to do the role of band members as men.

In another scene, a married couple are having dinner of an evening and discussing their days. The male is a judge and the woman stays home and looks after the kids.

Later, a drunk piano player’s wife enters the room and is immediately endowed with the characteristics of being a floozy and prostitute.

When improvising I do think it’s important to play to characteristics and to recognize archetypes, but I’ve noticed that women are given derogatory or subordinate, low status roles  more often than not. Or, when choosing
a certain type of character, such as a lawyer or a baseball coach, they will choose to play it as a man.

Why couldn’t the band members be women? Why was the male a judge and the woman a stay-at-home mum? Why was the woman in the scene automatically a floozy?

Now, the people in my class are not sexist, and would never speak or act in a derogatory way towards women in real life. And it’s worth noting these character choices were made by both the guys and girls in the class. But I do think there’s an underlying lack of respect for women characters in general in my local improv scene.

There are two reasons why this should change.

Firstly, not respecting women characters reinforces stereo types in real life. Why propagate a shitty stereotype?

Secondly, the scenes will be more interesting without leaning on that predictable flow. Breaking that mold would likely result in cooler scenes and characters with more depth.

I think it’s worth keeping in mind.

Thanks to my awesome teacher, Pete Lead for bringing this to my attention.

 

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Pretend Like You’re Interested.

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I’ve recently been giving series of presentations to large(ish) groups at work. In my opinion they’re good presentations, and I’ve received some great feedback.

While I was giving the presentations I noticed a few different categories of body language given by attendees in the room – there seems to be a spectrum of visual attentiveness.

Some people looked directly at me, and nodded as I made points, leaning forward on their chairs attentively while I explained finer points in detail with a diagram.

Other people looked mostly at the slides, even though there isn’t a massive amount of info on there – maybe a few word or an image. They tended to have a fixed focused on the projection, rarely looking at me.

There was also a third type of attendee who seem disinterested and was on their phone or looking out the window for whatever reason.

I have a few points I’d like to make about this.

Firstly, I was initially disheartened and put off by the latter type. Why weren’t they interested in my awesome presentation? Am I doing it wrong? Am I not speaking clearly? Is my subject complete and utter crap? Have they realised I’m actually just a big phony?

No, I don’t think so. There are probably lots of reasons these people were looking disinterested. Maybe they’re super familiar with the topic already? Maybe they were deep in a debugging session before the meeting, and haven’t fully context switched yet? Maybe they have something on their minds from out of work? Or perhaps that’s just how they listen and learn? For whatever reason, I think it’s important not to be distracted and dejected when presenting to people with this sort of body language – which was my initial reaction. 

Secondly, the people who stared at the slides throughout the presentation. These people were fairly easy to present to. They didn’t give me much feedback, but I felt as if they were letting the information sink in, and it was easy to roll through the motions and get the content out to them.

Thirdly, the more active attendees. The people who looked at me, and nodded. The people who smiled when I made a light remark. The people taking notes. Thank you! Having some feedback or recognition really helped me. When I wasn’t sure if I had explained myself well seeing these people jotting things down in there notpads/laptops confirmed that I was on the right track. I think the more people who were like this in the room, the better my presentation went.

In conclusion, if you’re attending a presentation perhaps it’s worth considering how you present yourself. Show some interest and that enthusiasm may be fed back to you! If you’re the one doing the presentation, my advice is to be ready to expect different types of body language and don’t be too disheartened by blank faces.

Popcorn Time – Awesome Illegal Netflix/Plex Alternative

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If you’re familiar with Netflix, or Plex, or XBMC, you’ll get a kick out of Popcorn Time. It’s this great program that acts like a slick media player with a basically complete library, but instead of hooking into a legitimate library (like Netflix) or your local files (like Plex/XBMC) it STREAMS TORRENT FILES! …hence the illegality.

Well, I guess it’s illegal… if the country you live honours American copyright law… and only if you choose to download content that is under copyright (there’s a lot of public domain stuff out there too).

But whatever. I love this thing  – even though it’s not finished yet (IMO… and it’s in beta). They still need to get the search a bit better, give us some preferences around quality and, make some kind of offline mode (so we can choose some poor-health-torrent flicks to download now, and watch them when we get home).

I’d also love to see offline mode integrated with tablets and phone devices, like Plex does.

Having said all that, this is such a massive awesome step in the right direction, I’m very excited about the future.

One other interesting thing to note is it’s lack of adverts in the app. If there are no adverts to pay the pirateers, and the movies aren’t being paid for by subscribers or movie-goers… I guess no one makes money. Not a problem, since the share of Popcorn Time users is basically nil at the moment, but interesting none-the-less.

Ideally, I’d love to see something like this take off, where the movie industry can still make some money and keep making stuff I love – HAVE THE SCIENTIST WORKING ON THAT IMMEDIATELY!

 

Justin Beiber and Online Bullying.

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Recently Charlotte Dawson committed suicide and people on talks shows have started talking about bullying again, in particular online bullying.

Perhaps that’s one good thing to come out of the tragedy.

I think we can all agree that bullying is shit. It does no good and can end terribly with self destruction and suicide, or violence against other people.

Why do we turn a blind eye to the massive unrelenting bullying to which Justin Bieber is subjected?

Recently, over a quarter of a million people signed an online petition to deport Justin Bieber. In another bullying incident a bill board was erected placing a bet on on hockey game between Canada and the USA,  loser keeps Beiber.

It’s like bullying on steroids.

And as usual, the people who are doing the bullying think this is funny –  I can only assume that Bieber feels the same as any other human being that gets bullied.

I’d just like to point out that what people, the media, are doing to Bieber is on a much larger scale than what happened to Dawson… I certainly hope it doesn’t end the same way.

…I mean, he’s a fucking kid.