Written by Vanessa Agius
Gina Hara’s feature-length documentary, Geek Girls, is a celebration of the many different types of female geeks represented in the pop culture industry today.
It explores the balance women search for between social acceptance within their professional and private lives as well as how their pop culture obsessions impact their credibility and image amongst colleagues, family and friends.
From professional gamers to cosplayers, software engineers to artists, Hara brings light to the countless struggles they face such as double lives, fake identities, harassment and more.
Struggle for acceptance, validation and recognition
Hara explores how women try to find their place in a male-dominated industry, as well as following their journey to seek balance within it. She observes how gamers, scientists and cosplayers alike struggle to be proud of owning their talent and hard work for what it is as it is often doubted or discredited by the wider media and community.
This common occurrence can often lead to roadblocks and disinterest by fellow female geeks in fear of isolation, humiliation and bullying. Hara explores the pop culture communities all over the world, with a focus on Japan and Canada. She finds similarities amongst these communities in regards to the quantity of work and quality of experiences, as well as some stark differences such as how much film, gaming and merchandise are targeted and marketed towards women around the world, and how this percentage varies from country to country.
Turning passion into a career
One thing the women in the Geek Girls documentary have in common is their passion and resilience to not let criticism, prejudice and exclusion deter their involvement within the industry.
Dr Anita Sengupta explains how her exposure to the pop culture industry inspired and drove her dream to become a NASA rocket scientist a reality. Hara explores the positive effect that the female geek community has had on each other, making women feel like no career aspiration was too outlandish to achieve.
The balance within science, mathematics and technology-based workplaces are slowly but surely improving with each day! Other women, such as professional gamer Stephanie Harvey, show their day-to-day work at conventions and championships, sharing her inspirations and highlights of her career, particularly the moment she realised professional gaming could be her career.
Hara succeeds in providing audiences with a wide variety of professions within the pop culture industry and by doing so, seeks to inspire others to pursue their niche hobbies and creative outlets.
What does the future hold?
It is no surprise that the world of geek and nerd culture has risen into mainstream media. It is such a prominent part of humanity from an economical and entertainment standpoint. However, as addressed in the documentary, it has a fair bit to go.
An environment that is described to be so accommodating to difference and uniqueness is sometimes led astray by those who seek to exclude. The community is definitely changing, and it would be a disservice to the industry many people are so proud of to say otherwise.
It is becoming the norm for avenues such as cosplay and blogging to become full-time careers and it is almost certain that there are many pop culture careers yet to be invented. However, it is the equality amongst all, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexuality or other factors that make a community special.
Hara’s documentary definitely exemplifies the talent and creative intelligence many women possess and emphasises that loss the industry faces when it chooses to turn a blind eye.
Click here to find out when and where Geek Girls will screen in your town.
Caution: the following trailer contains explicit language.