I have been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about Cecil Gershwin Palmer.
If you've got no idea who I'm talking about, stop what you are doing and go discover Welcome to Night Vale. Aside from what it is on its own (i.e. podcast theatre/storytelling in the format of community radio from a brilliantly bizarre desert town), it's also a thing with a significant and creative following composed of people who like to make art, and cosplay, and write stories.
Which, you know, without visual cues means that the community decides what things might/could/should look like.
Given that WTNV is entirely audio, and given the nature of the show -- a literal five-headed dragon is running against The Faceless Old Woman who secretly lives in your home in the mayoral race! -- Cecil could look like anyone and/or anything.
He could look like Chiwetel Ejiofor. He could look like Jim Morrisson. He could look like a pastrami sandwich (though this is unlikely given the policies in Night Vale regarding wheat and wheat byproducts).
The way fandom visualizes Cecil (the voice of Night Vale) fascinates me. I initially came to the show because I kept seeing dream casting on Tumblr suggesting Richard Ayoade in his role, and had misunderstood that to mean he was actually involved in the podcast. I later became aware of what's become one of the most common Cecils -- white, blond with-or-without dark roots, lots of squiggly purple tattoos, into sweater vests, may or may not have a third eye -- as well as what Cecil Baldwin (the voice actor who plays him) looks like.
I like the uncertainty. I like the different possible Cecils. I like that there's a Cecil I can be for Halloween (white Cecil with the tattoos) while having a very different headcanon (my Cecil has always been multi-ethnic, dark-skinned, tattooed, and a snappy dresser in an punk-ish sort of way). The openness and variety is really satisfying to me because anyone can play.
(Well, everyone but Steve Carlsberg. That guy's a jerk.)
Of course, that may be the reason I resist getting too deeply into the WTNV fandom. Because as much as I want to believe that everyone on that particular train thinks as I do -- that an abundance of Cecils is much to be desired -- I keep seeing hints that this is not the case often enough. Or that white Cecil is just "Cecil" while Cecils of color are perceived as special variant Cecils. Which is annoying but not surprising, given how race works in our culture.
So yeah. I'm chewing on this a lot.
And now, links:
- This is Anxiety
As someone who struggles mightily with anxiety at times, I was excited to see that this exists. It's not just a matter of calming down and being rational. It's a matter of body/mind doing things that make even a rational person crumble in bizarre ways.
- Shovel Your Fucking Walk
Not that we have done this at my house yet, but given that the city can't seem to be bothered to deal with our street, I've kind of chosen Skyrim over shovels.
- The BBC's Social Media Problem With Sherlock
Given how spoiled I've been with Doctor Who (in the "given many things" sense, not the "early information" sense), I'd actually forgotten that the UK is getting Sherlock before us until the .gifs hit Tumblr.
- Trans Housing Network
Kind of like "need a penny, take a penny" but with couches and people whose gender identities tend to make us homeless and stigmatized.
- Sneak-Peek: Top 5 Sky Events of 2014
Look up a few times this year, yeah?
- Why Some Parents Are Refusing HPV Vaccine For Their Children
A really solid look at why some of the common reasons parents resist having their kids immunized against HPV, some rebuttals, and a fantastic visualization of the data.
- Words, Words, Words: On Toxicity and Abuse in Online Activism
The evolution of call-out culture in online environments is increasingly broken if the people it's supposed to help are the ones being hurt. Just putting that out there.
- Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet
This is a long read, but it's a powerful one about the extent of the hostility about half the wired population experiences daily, and the lack of seriousness with which it's treated by our current culture.