Recently Marvel’s Director of Content Development Sana Amanat met the President of the United States during a Women’s History Month event. Evidently she liked the White House so much she returned yesterday for The United State of Women Summit where she appeared on a panel called “REEL Change: Advancing Equity and Opportunity in Media.”
This Tuesday, at 2:50PM ET, Sana Amanat will be one of the prolific voices to be featured on the panel devoted to furthering women’s roles in corporations, academia, the media and the public sector, “REEL” Change: Advancing Equity and Opportunity in Media. Also joining Amanat will be panel moderator and author of Awesomely Luvvie, Luvvie Ajayi, Global Head of Diversity, Dropbox Inc., Judith Williams, President and CEO, Association of National Advertisers, Robert Liodice, Award-winning writer/director/producer, content creator of Shondaland, Shonda Rhimes, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Muslim Girl, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Feminist Activist, Gloria Steinem, and Showrunner & Co-Chair of Writers Guild of America, Glen Mazzara.
“It’s an unbelievable honor to be invited to participate in one of the most influential summits devoted to gender equality,” says Amanat. “I am thrilled to represent Marvel in a conversation devoted to the media’s role in a more inclusive future.”
While this seems like quite a nifty achievement, at least one comics website took this as an occasion to point out how shitty Marvel is at representation and throw shade at the event because Marvel announced it day of. I get their point, and that’s what the Outhouse does. While the piece also points out what a strong executive Amanat is, it would be nice if a successful woman in comics could do something cool and have it just be something cool instead of having that achievement tied to generations of shitty behavior and how shitty comics are now in general. I guess I’m doing the same thing here, and one brown female exec doesn’t make up for all the other crap things going on, but…I’m guessing Amanat has enough objectification to deal with from people who have no intention of being allies. The comments on the piece (only two to be fair) also use the shade to drag down her accomplishments. Not what the author intended, surely. Amanat is a savvy editor who earned her spot as Marvel’s rising star and increasingly public face with her actual accomplishments, and she doesn’t need to be tokenized by people who mean well.
On the other hand, if you do want an overview of why Marvel still has a long way to go where representation is concerned, Emma Houxbois wrote a very good piece here that gives a lot of background and perspective.
We’re in the midst of a generational shift prompting a calling into account of the exclusion of female, LBGTQIA, and POC voices that has persisted since the collapse of the CCA that enforced provisions designed to exclude them as examined by Saladin Ahmed in 2014. The wave of talent that crested in the mid to late 1980s was almost exclusively white and male, a reality that has changed little in the intervening years. A critical reappraisal of that era has been underway since Gail Simone’s Women in the Refrigerator polemic at the latest, and isn’t going away any time soon as the incoming generation of creators and critics from a diverse range of marginalized groups demand to be heard.
Even when much welcome change occurs like the hiring of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze to revitalize Black Panther, the major publishers are slow to metabolize the perspective they bring. It’s a fact clearly evinced by the e-mails in which Coates, the foremost writer on the contemporary black condition, cautioned his peers at Marvel against killing off War Machine in the Civil War II event to no avail. It’s a pattern that has repeated itself numerous times over the last year alone as major publishers actively court readers from traditionally excluded groups and, in most cases, reject their critiques when those attempts misfire.
These kinds of objections aren’t going to go away. But for those calling for the comics industry to burn to the ground so something better can rise up, a lot of the industry is actually doing a pretty good job of burning themselves to the ground as far as failing to find new audiences goes. So, just give ’em time.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.