Charlie Jane Anders (again) rounds up the two most recent clueless dissings of female genre fans. In the first, as Johanna reported, the huge, Fox-owned gaming site IGN ran a contest for a trip to Comic-Con that was originally only open to
males who are both legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and Washington D.C. and who are at least between 18-24 years of age as of July 23, 2009
Well, this spawned a bit of hue and cry. As some pointed out, this was not just a “lucky winner gets a ticket” contest but “the lucky winner gets to be IGN’s lucky guest blogger/video talent/reporter.” And so, IGN explained the contest thusly:
The eligibility requirements for this contest were determined by Columbia TriStar Marketing, the marketing team behind the District 9 film, and were passed on as a directive to IGN as Sponsor of this particular Sweepstakes running on the IGN.com site. While IGN supports gamers of all ages, genders, shapes and sizes, these guidelines were created to foster a buzz for the film among a very narrow target group that the film’s promoters felt would be extremely passionate about the film’s subject matter. Thanks for listening, we hope this provides some clarification…
…which, amazingly, calmed things down entirely, if by “calmed down” you mean “threw a can of gasoline wrapped in excelsior into the fireplace.”
Torie Atkinson at Tor.com pointed out the irony in that the movie DISTRICT 9 is about societal tensions caused by the arrival on Earth of insectoid aliens.
The tagline is:
They are not welcome
They are not accepted
They are not human
That sounds painfully familiar. Women in the gaming and comics community have been hearing this for too long.
Another takeaway is confirmation of all paranoid suspicions that if you’re a woman who likes this kind of material, you just don’t count. A poster at Tor.com suggested entering the contest disguised as a guy, a strategy adopted by women who wanted the same things men got going all the way back to Fa Mulan and Joan of Arc, so, you’ve come a long way baby!
IGN and Columbia eventually added a separate (but equal?) contest for females. It’s a shame, because when we saw the DISTRICT 9 trailer, we were really intrigued and definitely wanted to see it.
But now that we know that women over 25 aren’t the target audience, I guess I’ll save my 64¢ dollars for something that has a Prada bag in the ad.
The SECOND incident involves a recent LA Times piece called The Girls’ Guide to Comic Con 2009, which explained that there was life outside TWILIGHT, and it involves doing the laundry on Jake Gylenhaal’s abs. We’re personally a little more ambivalent about this piece — certainly we have noted many times the rigidity of Gylenhaal’s Prince of Persia abs, and we continue our tradition of senseless beefcake as a wink and nod to the tradition of senseless cheesecake embodied elsewhere. Our personal philosophy towards mot things is bets summed up as “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” The problem is the Times piece didn’t seem to acknowledge the real female fans at Comic-Con. Or as Radio Comix publisher Elin Winkler put it:
Because, you know, that’s the only reason women go to Comic-Con. It’s not to get comics, toys, art books, anime goods, trading cards, autographs, video game premiums or free geek swag from all the major producers of such. They also don’t go to the con to work booths, do the portfolio rounds, or network to find jobs in the industries. Oh, heck no. Women only go to Comic-Con if they are DRAGGED THERE by the men in their lives, DUH! But hooray! Now they can ogle hotties while they wait for their bearded compatriots to get out of the Hasbro Exclusives line, instead of having to stand there all bored and stuff.
WInkler also praised fellow comics editor Mariah Huehner’s Geek Girls: A Guide That’s Actually Helpful which does include much useful info for the practical.
While, the idea of women at Comic-con as mindless slaves to Robert Pattinson and Jake Gylenhaal is obviously one that’s problematic for the working women in the biz, Cinematical’s Elizabeth Rappe was also less incensed by the Times piece:
That’s why I don’t care that the LA Times runs a fluff piece about girls and ComicCon. At least they’re acknowledging that women exist, and might have an interest in attending, unlike IGN or Columbia’s contest. That’s a giant leap for womankind after months of sneering when we complain about superheroines or Star Trek. Plus, if I may be terribly blunt, if there’s an image geek girls could live comfortably with, it might be one that suggests we have a healthy appreciation of the opposite sex. Who knows? Maybe they’ll start hiring us Booth Beefcakes.
If some good came out of this, it’s that lots of people posted their own guides to surviving Comic-Con, including All Things Fangirl which offered useful cocktail advice:
1. Tiki Bar at the Marriott Marina. First off, ask for a Tijuana River. Hand over ten dollars. Prepare to be drunk for the rest of the day. Best investment you can make at Comic Con. Second, be prepared to calmly observe and possibly interact with various genial, relaxed, also-drinking guests of the Con such as the talented, accomplished, and polite Ron Perlman or that dude Kevin from Attack of the Show, who is awesome to tiki with. But I’m serious about that Tijuana River, it’ll mess you up but quick. My first experience with it culminated in me falling asleep on the table at dinner, but right before that, when passing comic book legend Stan Lee in the lobby, moved me to greet the most honored creator of Marvel comics with: “Lookin’ good, Hef.”
In summary: it is good to know we are not alone in feeling that Hollywood, comics and other big media empires are going out of their way to dismiss the Femmenerd audience. Is it because we really are insignificant? Or is it because, for some boys, knowing girls like the same nerdy things they do gives them cooties?
Reading the comments at other message boards we were somewhat c omforted to see that other blogs have the same kind of partizan fighting that The Beat does. But the lack of empathy between those saying “I’s just marketing!” and those saying “It’s just sexist marketing!” remains puzzling.