Over the weekend there was a kerfuffle or two! Are you shocked?
These involved comic cons which had promotions that seemed to forget that about 40% of the con going audience is now female.
The first kerfuffle involved Capital City Con, which will be held in Austin, TX in July. To promote the show, they printed a bunch of postcards, and among them was the above. This was first noted by Texas retailer Richard Neal of Zeus Comics on twitter,
— Richard Neal (@captduckstogive) March 8, 2014
As I noted in my tweet, I’m sure a picture of giant breasts is a suitable promotion for some things—a plus sized bra store perhaps—but a comic con isn’t one of them. Women are going to be squicked out by this ind of promotion and it certainly doesn’t promote a family friendly image.
And then DC Women Kicking Ass got involved. You’d think when confronted with the obvious problems I mentioned above, they’d say, oops sorry we were just maing a joke and it was wrong, but…NO. Apparently, in a NOW REMOVED post on their FB page, this was their first response:
I wasn’t going to go into full battle rage over this but…”if you’ve ever been to a comic con?” WTF? These jokers think that a comic con is a place to ogle women and buy comics by Jim Balent? What year is this?
Luckily, a saner head prevailed and the following statement was issued by the Capital City Comic Con organizers, but only after several professionals said they were planning to withdraw from attending the show:
In response to our prior ad campaign, the proper steps are being taken in regards to this situation. Capital City Comic Con did not mean to offend or harm anyone, in any way. Our advertising department has been contacted and changes to our marketing material and plan are being made.
We respect everyone’s opinion. We are glad this issue was brought to our attention. We want everyone to feel safe at our convention and not feel offended. As a comic book convention, it is primordial that we do not send the wrong message to fans.
We were contacted by a few female fans who wish to support the distribution of our initial flyers, to which we respectfully declined. As for our future plans, we will no longer use the image of superheroes (or any character) in such fashion. We wish to apologize to anyone we may have offended with our initial promotional campaign.
We would like to invite all of you to comment on our new campaign once released. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
From the staff and management
YA THINK? This story did require the use of our much-loved Citizen Steele image, above, and also this tweet:
— Nerd Jokes (@nerdjoke) March 9, 2014
BUT THAT WASNT THE ONLY CON KERFUFFLE!
Jill Pantozzi at The Mary Sue expressed alarm last week , about the Toronto Comic Con, which is run by the same people who put on the mega huge Fan Expo, when they sent out a promotional piece as seen below:
Now this may not seem like as clear a slam dunk of idiocy as the boob shot postcard, but several people noted that the “cuddle a cosplayer” contributed to the idea that it’s okay to touch cosplayers without their consent, or they are there to be grabbed, neither of which is true. However, the show organizers once again put their foot right in it with a leaden response as reported by Pantozzi:
They stated that their attendees and their team were adults, and it was all a bit of fun that people wouldn’t take seriously. A direct quote from the email ’We thought about clarifying that cuddles must come with consent, but we thought if we’re always putting the rules in front of the fun – well that hurts the spirit of Fan Expo as much as the people that try to abuse our rules.” They also stated that they hadn’t gotten around to putting their harassment policy up yet, but had made it a priority.
Eventually the show—which was just held this weekend—did put up their harassment policy and I guess everyone had a good time
I think both these incidents show that some convention organizers are not hep to the fact that along with the growth of con culture, as more and more people attend these shows, and more and more attend to see the cosplay and the audience becomes more and more diverse, cons have become a big, hot petri dish of social interaction, with all the potential for disaster that entails. There have been rapes at conventions; there have been stalkers; there have been all kinds of harassment, and this is not an imaginary thing or crying wolf but real incidents.
Convention organizers need to get it into their heads that no one is trying to “stop the fun” by pointing out inappropriate promotions; what people who call them out on it are trying to do is MAKE SURE that everyone has a fun time, and it isn’t ruined by an ugly incident. That should be the goal of everyone in a position of authority at all times.
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.