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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, February 3

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Events Tue Sep 03 2013

Pop Goes Alicia Live! Will Burst Gender Issues Wide Open

1157572_10153160583515096_1725995775_n.jpgLet's face it, in a summer chock full of news, you've probably spent more time debating Skyler White's virtues than, say, discussing Syria. This might seem like another sign of humanity's imminent demise, but the truth is pop culture influences our society beyond meme creations. When you consider that Americans consume 1.27 TRILLION hours of media, you can't help but wonder the effect these messages have upon our psyche, especially when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality.

Alicia Swiz, founder of a new show at The Hideout called Pop Goes Alicia Live!, knows you're already having these conversations. The three-month run of this pop culture and gender talk show begins today, September 3 at 6:30pm. Pop Goes Alicia! isn't a reading series (though one of the September 3 panelists is a writer), nor is it a comedy show (though two comedians are participating), nor is it a lecture (though Swiz is a teacher). In fact, Swiz isn't exactly sure what will come out of today's debut. One thing is clear, though: she wants to create a safe space in which to further explore these topics. If she can raise consciousness through humor and lively discussion, even better.

"I'd love for this show to be a space to encourage people that maybe already are sticking their toe in the water [of gender issues]" Swiz said. "I'd definitely love for it to be a learning space for anyone who's in the audience to feel like I got something new out of this."

Swiz has been interested in gender and sexuality from an early age, when she learned about the Becky Bell case in 7th grade. After taking her first Women Studies class in college, she went on to get a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and a Master's degree in Women and Gender Studies. She now teaches courses on the subject at the high school and college level. The idea for a live show came out of certain frustrations with the social media behemoth, Facebook. Swiz would post about gender topics on her page only to have "trolls" come out of their cyber caves for a fight. She created a closed Facebook group, FemLab, as a refuge in which to have discussions, not arguments, over gender and sexuality issues. From there, the idea of bringing those dialogues into the real world was born.

Swiz credits shows like Chelsea Lately and Real Time with Bill Maher for the format. Pop Goes Alicia Live! will have three rotating panelists, one host, and its very own Chuy in Carly Oishi, who will provide the requisite snark. This month's panelists are comedians Kristin Clifford and Bill Bullock, and Thought Catalog producer and Huffington Post contributor Nico Lang. Much like Chelsea Lately and Real Time with Bill Maher, the show will touch upon specific pop culture moments that have been making waves. Tonight, panelists will take a stab at explaining Robin Thicke and Myley Cyrus's appearance at the VMAs as well as discussing Neko Case's new single, "Man." Future topics could include sports and teen phenomena. She's also open to the idea of making videos, taking the show to different venues and cities, or even creating one specifically for a teenage crowd.

The response so far has been positive. The Hideout embraced the idea enthusiastically, and they've committed to an initial three-month run.

"I've had so many people come up to me and say, I want to be part of the show or I support what you're doing," Swiz said. Though nervous as any newbie producer may be, Swiz is also excited about her new creation. "My whole motivation is that these conversations are happening on some level, but how can we bring them to a larger audience?"

Come and partake in the conversation tonight, September 3 at 6:30pm at The Hideout. Doors open at 5:30 and tickets are $5.

Image courtesy of Pop Goes Alicia Live! Facebook page

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