ReedPOP has done it again. They messed up the Emerald City Comicon. It’s not permanent damage (at least, I hope not), and they’ve taken steps to fix things, but I suspect that they still don’t entirely understand what happened.
I don’t know anyone at ReedPOP, nor do I have a source who clues me in on their inner workings. Everything I say is speculation, nothing more.
Last week saw the release of the first issue of The Discipline from Image Comics by writer Peter Milligan and artist Leandro Fernandez. I have loved Peter Milligan for more than 20 years, and eagerly bought the issue. I’ve read it, don’t entirely understand what’s going on, and look forward to more story.
Image is holding its Expo, formerly a free-standing event, at Emerald City this year. As a result there will be a lot of Image creative talent at the show, and I imagine a fair amount of cross-promotion. One of the elements of this marketing concept is to put Image art on the badges for attendees.
And that’s where the problem began. The Sunday badge sports the cover image from The Discipline #1, a woman in shadow, her blouse being opened by a monster’s hand. If you read the actual comic, you’ll see that this is a complicated situation, unsettling but consensual. On the badge, with no other context, it just looks creepy and rape-y.
Social media blew up, and many women said they found the artwork offensive, even triggering. As a comic book cover, they have the option to walk away and read something else. As a badge to get into a convention they already paid for, the choice is to throw away the admission price or suck it up.
ReedPOP admitted they had a problem and offered a solution. To quote from the link, “We would like to extend the offer to all Fans who are concerned that they may exchange their Badge on Sunday at Will Call for a different Badge that does not feature that art.”
I’m not sure I like this solution. It means that, if I have on the replacement badge, I’ve identified myself as a person who was abused, or a feminist, or some other political position that I might not want to discuss on a day when I just want to look at comic books, meet creators and other fans, and maybe dress up like my favorite super heroine.
Who am I kidding? I’m always delighted to be identified as a feminist. Still, I would like it to be my choice, not ReedPOP’s.
This could be chalked up to a simple misstep if ReedPOP hadn’t made almost the exact same mistake two years ago. And they responded in almost exactly the same way.
It’s not as if ReedPOP isn’t trying. They have an excellent anti-harassment policy that demands respect and consideration for everyone. Even better, that sentiment is echoed in the convention’s general rules. Both of these documents demonstrate an understanding of what fans want and need in their convention experience.
And it’s also interesting to see how far ReedPOP goes to show their customers they get it. This article illustrates how they are bending over backwards to celebrate cosplay and cosplayers on their own terms.
So what can we do about the badge business?
I don’t think they do these things maliciously. To paraphrase Chris Rock, this isn’t Boko Haram sexism, it’s sorority sexism. It’s an attitude that is so entrenched in our society that, unless it affects you directly, you might not notice.
Therefore, the solution, it seems to me, is to collect people who will notice. Form a committee and, before finalizing these kinds of decisions, run it by them. I’m not saying that victims of sexism (and racism and ableism and homophobia and xenophobia and holy crap we have swallowed a lot of hate in our society) should have a veto over creative content. Instead, I’m suggesting that they might notice a message ReedPOP doesn’t intend to send before it is sent. The committee would not act as censors who ban things, but as copy editors who improve clarity.
A well-timed survey indicates two out of every three people do not trust self-driving cars. Amusingly, this survey was released just as a Google self-driving car in California became the first of its ilk to cause an accident in traffic. It hit a bus; thankfully, nobody was injured.
Well, gee. When we started our space program, a whole lotta rockets went blooie either on or shortly after leaving the launch pad. We’ve mostly worked that out, although statistically space travel remains just about the least safe way for humans to travel.
One of the top-selling gifts of the recently concluded holiday season (screw you, Donny Trump, it is the “holiday season”) was the hoverboard. This was a locomotive device that did not actually hover. However, it did have a tendency to burst into flames. Retailers pulled the product, and some refunds were offered.
Americans who are all to willing to buy a pig in a poke (screw you, Donny Trump; quoting Mussolini and not rejected the support of white separatists were the most honest things you’ve done since Hector was a pup) rapidly created a nice black market for hoverboards. They still do not hover. They still burst into flames. And they’re still selling like hotcakes – particularly now that they are sold tax-free.
Last Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast was the lowest-rated in eight years. According the the early demographics, this is because of a significant drop in white viewers. Hello? Is that because all of a sudden a lotta white people decided they no longer like Chris Rock? Maybe. Is that because they’re tired of hearing about dealing with racism?
Gee, I don’t know. Ask Donny Trump.
Our popular culture has grown somewhat reckless. It’s as if, as a nation, we’ve grown fed up with giving a shit. Overload, perhaps, and maybe that’s understandable. Not supportable, but understandable.
As ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo has pointed out many times, Marvel Comics has retreated somewhat from its commitment to diversity in characterization. What makes this all the more regretful is that Marvel has pretty much led the way in opening opportunities up to a much more diverse range of creators. Go know. DC’s response to our changing times is to hit the reboot button once again, like a monkey in a crack experiment.
Here’s a fact of life that people who try to sell you shit don’t want to know, and this includes manufacturers, politicians, and comic book publishers alike: we “consumers” (I loathe that term; I shall not be defined by what and how much I buy) control the markets. All of them. If we do not like a product, if we think it’s not safe, if we decline to vote for imbecilic megalomaniacs, if we shift our attention from the umpteenth painting of lipstick on a pig towards honest efforts from dedicated storytellers… then all that crap will go away. Ford couldn’t sell Edsels so they stopped making them.
That’s how capitalism works. Let’s use it to our advantage. Let’s not support crap.
I have a serious problem with Reggie Hudlin. I’ve known Reggie for over 25 years and although we’ve never been the best of friends, I liked Reggie and considered him a friend. Denys Cowan introduced me to Reggie when he took me to a party at Reggie’s downtown New York loft all those years ago. The loft was badass but when asked by this incredible looking woman “Isn’t this the nicest living space you’ve ever been in?” I said, “Nope, my cousin has a nicer loft, but this is cool also.” “Yeah, sure he does. Where in the projects?” was her reply.
She assumed my cousin was named Ray Ray and lived in the hood, in reality my cousin is William T. Williams, one of the most important artists in the 20th and now 21st Century. Don’t take my word for it that’s according to the Janson History of Art the definitive art history reference book and acknowledged authority on the subject.
In looking over my journal entry from that night I wrote the woman (now a fairly well known actress) was rather chilly towards me the rest of the evening. Maybe what I said got back to Reggie and when you’re riding high as a new hotshot director in your 20s that sort of shit brothers you. Perhaps that’s what’s prevented me from ever becoming real tight with Reggie, he heard his loft wasn’t the nicest living space I’ve ever been in.
Reggie was riding high after the massive success of his first movie, House Party. I couldn’t wait to tell him how much I was enjoying his house party two, get it? I thought I would get my chance when the circle of worshipers around him cleared for a moment and I said:
“Hi, thanks for having me. I’m really enjoying this House Party tw…”
“Excuse me. This isn’t the nicest living space you’ve ever been in?” Reggie interrupted.
“Well, no. But it’s very nic…
“EXCUSE ME, I’M TALKING! You said your cousin Ray Ray has a nicer living space?”
“I never said his name was Ray R…”
“EXCUSE ME, I’M STILL TALKING! How dare you not agree, this is the nicest living space you’ve ever been in!” Reggie then withdrew a small caliber gun and shot me.
Or more likely that’s my over imaginative imagination running a way with me. Except for the woman becoming a bit cold towards me because of my answer, none of that happened.
At the same party I met Reggie’s producer-brother Warrington. Warrington and I got alone well.
So well in fact when I purchased my first loft Warrington was one of my first guests.
Nowadays I seldom see Warrington but my relationship with Reggie has been constant. I’ve arranged events at San Diego Comic Con International (SDCC) the New York Comic Con as well as introduced opportunities and people to Reggie all with the goal of supporting whatever he was doing.
Reggie Hudlin is an important Playa within black arts culture. His contributions on the film side are legendary both as a producer and director. His comic book work although respectable was not on the same level as his film and television work.
But it’s about to be.
On January 21 2015 Reggie Hudlin, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle changed the world of comics when Milestone 2.0 was announced. Reggie is now at the head of the most recognized African American name in comics, Milestone Media. Flanked by Milestone’s creator Denys Cowan and Milestone’s keeper for the last 20 plus years Derek Dingle it’s hard to see how this could be anything other than ground shaking. The addition of Jim Owlsey on any level makes Milestone’s potential almost scary.
Reggie is also producing The Academy Awards. The very same Academy Awards being boycotted by some serious people and the boycott has gained worldwide support. Reggie and host Chris Rock are under real pressure to quit.
It would be so easy to join that chorus. Reggie and Milestone, as Desi would say, still got some ‘plaining’ to do. It’s been a solid year since I was ignored and still not a word as to why. I’ve got more reasons to hope Reggie and Milestone fail than Trump has hoping his supporters never learn to read or write.
A dear friend of mind sent the following text:
Your boy is in the middle of some real serious 1965 shit. What did you do? Payback’s a motherfucking Bitch! LOL!
What did I do? I sat down to write what will surly get me some more haters.
The Academy Awards is 95% plus white, that’s the running narrative in the press. The insinuation is the academy is racist because of that. Is it? The part missing from those reports is the Academy is made up of mostly people working in the industry. You would think that’s general knowledge it’s not, far from it.
Many people think The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences are like the Guardians of the Universe.
That’s the universe, not the galaxy.
From Wikipedia: The Guardians (of the Universe) evolved on the planet Maltus, and were among the first intelligent life forms in the universe. At this time they were tall greyish blue humanoids with black hair, who roughly resembled humans except for their skin color. They became scientists and thinkers, experimenting on the worlds around them.
Many think the Academy spawned from such a (albeit not so comic book) myth. No, the members of the Academy are mostly working professionals in Hollywood. That’s important and here’s why-If you’re an Academy member and you’re worked on a nominated film would that not be the film you vote for? If your film wins you now have an Oscar winning film on your resume. Put another way, how do you not vote for your film?
That alone seems like a screwed up way to conduct a fair vote.
The following is from the Producers requirements for membership into the Academy:
From Academy Bylaws:
Article III, Section 1. Membership shall be by invitation of the Board of Governors. Invitations to active membership shall be limited to those persons active in the motion picture arts and sciences, or credited with screen achievements, or who have otherwise achieved distinction in the motion picture arts and sciences and who, in the opinion of the Board, are qualified for membership.
Minority representation and respect in Hollywood is laughable. It’s very much like the representation and respect comic creators get in Hollywood with one blaring exception. Hollywood isn’t stupid enough to shun black creators of film and TV without trying to appease that segment of the industry when that segment becomes pissed.
That segment of the industry has a voice that carries beyond any award ceremony. You’re hearing that voice now. If you listen carefully you’ll also hear the voice of comics demanding respect from Hollywood for all we’ve done for them…nah, you won’t but that’s another story.
Is the exclusion of people of color racist or self-serving? The answer most likely lays somewhere in the middle. I’d say; having run some entertainment divisions its more the latter than the former but clearly each exists. Regardless if it’s one, the other or both it’s unfair and something drastic has to be done.
The Academy and Hollywood needs to be taught a lesson. That lesson must be loud and clear. That lesson must be bold and take no prisoners. It’s for that reason I support both Chris Rock and Reggie Hudlin.
Yeah, like Chris Rock says, I said it. A billion-person audience is exactly what the world needs to see just how people of color roll. African American culture is the world’s culture. There is no bigger influence in pop culture than us.
Reggie and Chris are well equipped to carry that message. That message can’t be subtle, understated, indirect, or delicate. That message must be brash and filled with swagger. Our intelligence and confidence must be painfully obvious as is our talent. A billion people and then some should have no doubt that we are indeed all that a bag of chips.
To that end, once successful in conveying that message we must then turn inward and tend to our own house. Even if for the boycott don’t throw insult at those who are opposed.
If opposed don’t belittle those who disagree. A disagreement is no reason to treat someone badly. An opinion is no reason to dismiss someone’s contribution. Telling yourself there are no common ground then acting on a decision without talking to the other party is one of the ways African Americans have been marginalized in America.
We should know better than to do this to ourselves. But there’s always a few or as Forrest Gump says, “Stupid is what stupid does.” I’ve said before, I support Milestone and I now support Reggie’s and Chris’s decision to stay the course with the Oscars.
Yes, it would be easy and some would say warranted to go the other way. But I’m not now nor have I ever been that guy. I can’t disregard everything someone does because I disagree with some things. That’s the current state of our two political parties.