#DragonCon Panels — Smashing the Patriarchy One Panel at a Time

So, I originally intended to include these “comments’ in our initial DragonCon post, but they…kind of took on a life of their own. So if you were interested in two of the panels Michelle and I attended about Person of Interest and Supergirl, well, look no further.

On Sunday morning, we decided to hit up a couple of non-Wynonna Earp panels. First up was Person of Interest, and let me tell you, the two guys running this panel had no idea what was about to hit them. It was sparsely attended — maybe 10-15 people — and most of the audience was female, with two male moderators. Little did they know that in our group of five, three of us had very strong opinions about the show, two were obsessed with it while it was on, and one even had a POI tattoo.

First of all, it took 13 minutes for Root to even be mentioned, and though I realize that she wasn’t an original character, that seems…a bit long for what some say is the most pivotal character in the entire series. Then, one of them referred to award-winning actress Camryn Mannheim as “that heavy woman with the ponytail,” and I. Fucking. Lost it. I get not being able to remember someone’s name, but that’s an unacceptable, patriarchal way to describe somebody. Control was an amazing character, and Camryn Mannheim is the shit. Fuck you and your brain that that’s how you describe her, by reducing an amazing actress to your perception of her body type. And let me tell you, moderator-on-the-right, to quote my mother, you’re no Raquel Welch. (Yes, that is a direct quote from Maggie Lesbiyinzer, about one of my exes. Stay classy and current, Mom.)

After Michelle spoke the first time, a moderator cut her off — well, he tried to. When he interrupted her, we both shouted back — some combo of “Let me/her finish!” And they did. They didn’t want to call on her again after that, and when a dude behind her left, he pointed at her, like, “Let the lady speak.” After she finished speaking, I will say that the women in the room mobilized and all began talking, and no one was interrupted again. But I’ve said too much — I’ll turn things over to her and let her shout about her favorite show.

[ Michelle’s opus begins ]

It’s no secret that Person of Interest is my all-time favorite show. When I saw that there was a Person of Interest fan panel at DragonCon, I kind of lost my shit. I love Wynonna Earp and I attended DragonCon for it, but holy shitballs, I was unhealthily excited to discuss POI.

When we arrived at the room and saw who the panel consisted of, I had a bad feeling about what the next hour would entail…and, damn, was I right. The two white guys who were “the panel” didn’t understand Person of Interest on a fundamental level, and it hurt to listen to them talk about a show that means so much to me in such shitty terms. It’s a small miracle I didn’t Lucado all over the room (which I think my friends were expecting, based on their constant worried glances). [ Editor’s note — we were. ] I’ll admit that much of the panel is a blur because the thirty minutes I gave the panelists to prove themselves was thirty minutes I spent trying to control myself and not jump up shouting. Eventually, they said the one thing I couldn’t keep quiet about and thus started my evisceration of the two panelists, who were nowhere near prepared for me.

I’m going to break down every point they made that is false, but I’ll start with the thing that had me forgetting my fear of talking to any crowd bigger than five and raising my hand. They claimed that Carter and Root dying was good for the development of Harold (and his fucking glasses) and John. 

While I agree that both Carter and Root’s storylines had to end in their death (but Root is totally alive), them both dying as a plot device to further John/Harold’s story is a fucking abomination. In my opinion, those two deaths being portrayed as they were ended up being two of the biggest missteps the show made. The Carter and John romance was the brain child of Jim Caviezel (I don’t care enough to look up spelling) [ Editor’s note — I did, and it’s right. ] and the show laid zero groundwork for it. Yes, they used the sudden romance well in furthering John’s development, BUT a woman of color had to die for John to grow? Hello, damaging trope! Carter’s storyline needed to end in her death because that was the natural conclusion to her going rogue to take down HQ. Making her death about John did a massive disservice to Carter and everything Taraji P. Henson brought to the character.

Now let’s talk about Root. These guys running the panel liked that Root died to give Harold the push he needed to give The Machine freedom to destroy Samaritan, but here’s the thing — I STRONGLY DISAGREE. First off, 2016 was a flaming trash heap of a year for female queer characters on TV and having Root die to further the development of a straight white dude was NOT OKAY. As much as it pains me to say, Root dying was an inevitability of the show. She grew from the young girl who lost her best friend to the patriarchy, Samantha Groves, to a hacker assassin who believed that humanity was a lost cause, that we were all “bad code”. Through her work with The Machine and Team Machine, Root learned that while humans are flawed, every life matters. Her sacrificing herself for The Machine makes perfect sense because of course she’d sacrifice herself for her god who was out to save humanity from the oppression Samaritan represented. But was it necessary for her to die to save Harold? No. The show introduced the idea of simulations in “If-Then-Else,” which is quite possibly the best episode of the series. We see The Machine run hundreds of thousands of simulations in a matter of seconds to determine the best strategy to optimize success while minimizing losses. In “The Day the World Went Away,” Root takes a bullet meant for Harold while fleeing from Samaritan. I find it hard to believe that in the time we saw the sniper preparing to when he fired that The Machine wouldn’t have found a way to save both its Primary Asset and Harold. It doesn’t make sense and demonstrates that the show killed Root to further Harold’s development. Had Harold gotten over his PTSD from the 400+ iterations of The Machine he created that failed, listened to everyone telling him to set The Machine free to save humanity, and stopped being a self-righteous idiot, Root wouldn’t have had to die that way. Yes, she would have had to die in service of her god, but not for anyone other than herself.

ALSO, these guys tried to rebuff my statement by explaining that Root had to decide to save the people she cared about because Shaw and Harold were in the car. FALSE! Anyone who loves the show knows that Shaw forced Root to leave her behind again to save Harold from his own stupidity. Root told Shaw she was a shape tracing a line through the infinite, then she fled with Harold because he decided to go back to a coffee shop he frequented with Grace.

I made quite a few other comments that led the panelists to try and pretend I don’t exist but I don’t remember them, so I’m just going to break down everything they got wrong.

  1. POI was a story about horrible people doing horrible things

This is the most nonsensical idea about POI one could have. Yes, POI is a story about people doing “horrible” things. And yes you could classify them as horrible people. BUT “horrible” is a completely subjective term. Yes, Team Machine did some horrible things in the name of The Machine BUT are they horrible? Each and every person in POI was fighting for what they deemed was right; yes, each of them did something that could be classified as “horrible” but when in the name of what they believed was the right thing how horrible can it be? As Harold once said, “I suppose that everyone feels that he is the hero of his story. But there are no heroes; no villains. Just people doing the best they can.” Every single individual on POI was a person doing everything in their power for what they believed was right.

  1. The Machine represented and “old” style of thought while Samaritan represented a “new” style.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! If you don’t get that they represent the extreme sides of surveillance culture, I don’t know that to tell you.

  1. John’s romances

After the masterful job the show did in portraying John and Jessica’s relationship early in the series, I have no idea why they felt the need to try and shove John into other relationships. His no-strings-attached relationship with Zoe was everything we needed for his character. The ridiculous relationship with his therapist was the writers not understanding the story they were telling.

  1. The shows that POI is in syndication with.


  1. John & Harold being the most important characters.

*chokes on bullshit*
I’m sorry, if you believe the show hit its stride before Root and Shaw were introduced, you must have irreparable brain damage. I could rant for thousands of words on why this is fact, but will refrain until asked. (Ask me, I dare you.)

[Thus endeth Michelle’s portion]

Thank you for that, Michelle. Does anyone else think she feels pretty strongly about that subject?

Buoyed with a dislike for the patriarchy and a passion for seeing our favorite female characters represented accurately, we headed over to the Supergirl panel, where none other than the amazing Bridget Liszewski was a panelist. We sat ourselves near the front, where a group of similarly minded panel attendees had brought a loaf of white bread. Anytime they said “Mon-el,” we were to all take a bite of the bland, bland square of “nourishment.”

It was so hard, guys. Much like it is impossible to stomach that bland piece of crap who’s been forced down our throats under the guise of “loving Kara,” with each bite, I had to force my jaws to chew the tasteless cube, trying to push it down my throat with an increasing nausea.

Unfortunately, the panel was similar. Bridget started things off with the right tone. When asked what her favorite relationship on the show was, she answered, “Kara and Lena.” One of her co-panelists said that their relationship never even struck him as romantic and that it was much like Lex and Clark on Smallville. Counterpoints to that argument:

  1. Lip bite, or lack thereof, between Clark and Lex.
  2. Lex never filled Clark’s apartment with flowers.
  3. I love both Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling’s performances as Lex and Clark, and they had good “frenemy” chemistry. You know what they didn’t have? Romantic chemisty. You know who does? Lena and Kara.
  4. Lex and Clark didn’t have more chemistry together than Lois and Clark OR Lana and Clark. Lena and Kara have more chemistry together than Jimmy and Kara, Mon-el and Kara, and Adam and Kara COMBINED.

Some people in the audience (men, I believe) had all kind of Bread-splaining ready to go about why Mon-el wasn’t the actual worst, and let me tell you, I (and many others) were having none of it. At one point, I got so incensed (I think it was to the “point” that Mon-el had no good examples of how to be a good partner and he was acting that way because he cared about Kara) that I did the unthinkable. I RAISED MY HAND TO COMMENT.

Oh, I get nervous just thinking about it now, days later.

Of course, the panelist calling on people channeled Michelle’s BFF from the POI panel and tried to move on to a different topic (I guess he was tired of being shouted at?), but my pal Nic was like, “WE HAVE ANOTHER ONE OVER HERE,” pointing at me. Problem is, I get really nervous talking in front of people, so my face instantly turned red as I spoke (and was maybe still red for our 12:20 photo op), but I persisted. I pointed out that Mon-el doesn’t treat Kara like he cares about her; rather, he treats her as someone he wants to control. But, hey, what do I know?

Unfortunately (or fortunately, maybe, to be honest), we only could stick around for half of that panel because of said photo op, but I did get one takeaway from what we saw. Bridget Liszewski is a true ally of the LGBTQ community and is willing to call out queer-baiting when she sees it. Bridget is one of the good ones, and we’re lucky to have her.


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