I don’t like autobiographies. The authors are often self-involved and make excuses for their bad behavior. The last one I read was Jim Bakker’s I Was Wrong Of course, he was not wrong enough not to go back to shilling apocalyptic survival food on television after he got out of prison. “It’s awful. It’s trash.” So, it was with hesitation I picked up Felicia Day’s book.
Let me also admit, I am a fan of Felicia Day as an actress. She played the potential Vi on Buffy. Not a big role, but I loved her quirky, funny, and given the apocalypse, terrified performance. A fan made a short video of Vi action.
After this, Felicia dropped from my radar. I missed The Guild when it started. (When I found it a few years later, I loved it. It’s a pop culture dee-light!). I was happy to see Felicia re-appear as Charlie Bradbury on Supernatural. Charlie deserved, better. Anyway…
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) is glorious! The book is written with quips and quirks, snark, and hilarity. I laughed out loud so much the other customers at Starbucks thought I was off my rocker. If you are a geek, you’ll appreciate how Felicia discusses her forays onto Compuserve and Prodigy. About how she grew up homeschooled and idiosyncratic. About her awkward teenage years and pathetic romantic attempts, with gross wet lips. About how she was a people-pleasing overachiever, so much so that she graduated university with a 4.0 in Violin and the Maths. Talent and a big brain! (I have a PhD and I can’t do either of those things!)
It’s this overachiever part that leads to trouble. She is not shy about that. She discusses her struggle in Hollywood, being typecast as the quirky “cat secretary” redhead; about casting calls, bounced checks, and going nowhere, either as an actress or as a writer. As an author myself, I am fully aware of what she’s talking about. There’s the writer’s block that won’t let you put anything on paper, followed by the imposter syndrome, where you believe everything you did put on paper is utter crap.
(I think all writers suffer from this. Well, maybe not Stephen King. He’s inhuman.)
She’s forthright about her anxiety and (hidden) depression, which leads her down the rabbit hole of World of Warcraft addiction. This eventually led her to create The Guild, which then consumes her life and home. And afterwards, her anxiety and depression lead to what she calls her “loss of self.” She writes about all of this with self-depreciatingly wonderful humor.
I appreciated that Felicia does not do a lot of name-dropping. There’s none of that “I worked with this genius and this ass and this idiot” nonsense. When she does, it’s often within some awkward context, like when she meets Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura Nichelle Nichols (“I have to pee! Nicetomeetyoubye!”) or the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith (“Want a donut?”). She makes a fool of herself, like we all sort of do at conventions.
This is an important part of her book. It is here that she touches on the concepts of hegemonic masculinity in geekdom. (Art talked about hegemonic masculinity in this post.) Felicia runs headlong into gaming as a male domain. Her geek bona fides are called into question. She’s attacked. She’s hurt. She’s abused. She’s called all sorts of vulgar names, because she’s a woman in geekdom. She does a good job explaining her feelings around Gamergate, and dealing with not only the emotional issues but interrogating the gender issues. And here’s where my one critique comes in: I wish she had done that with her white-upper class privilege. If you don’t know what white-upper class privilege is, you can read about that in this research piece.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) is a warm, charming, and fun read. I could hear it in her voice. I laughed a lot. I may have shed a tear or two. In the end, its basic thesis is this: embrace your freak geek flag, plant that flag in the ground – and dammit – do something with it!
PS: I met Felicia at Megacon Orlando. Her public appearance performance is delightful.