Nerds are frequently bad at naming things. Most of you probably know what “jumping the shark” means – the point at which an ongoing story starts to go downhill. If you haven’t heard of its counterpart “growing the beard” you’d be forgiven, because it’s honestly kind of a terrible name. Like so many fandom terms, it’s a reference to Star Trek; fans of TNG noticed an upturn in the quality of episodes around the time that Riker grew a beard in the second season. In addition to “growing the beard” bringing to mind a bizarre visual out of context, the beard in question isn’t even what caused the show to get better, making the entire thing kind of inexplicable (cue hatemail from beard enthusiasts). Maybe there are better options for how to refer to this phenomenon.
You probably know Yao Xiao’s work already, even if you don’t remember her name. The artist’s recent comic “If you want to say thank you, don’t say sorry“, published on Autostraddle, recently went viral on social media – and for good reason: it presents a simple mental tool for redirecting the impulse to apologize into something more positive. For those of us conditioned to apologize for our very existence, that small reminder of our worth is incredibly powerful.
So I’ve been doing some thinking, and some talking with friends, and some musing on twitter, and I’ve come to a realization: some of my reviews are too mean.
Today I want to talk to you about coding. Coding is a sort of cultural shorthand in fiction, a set of traits and cues that draw parallels between a particular group or character in a story and a real-world demographic. It’s used as a shortcut, allowing writers to tap into their audience’s preconceptions about a real group of people to gain a better understanding of a character and their background without a ton of exposition.