Denver Comic-Con 2016 : Diversity in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Steampunk

| July 14, 2016

This year at Denver Comic-Con, I attended a panel that had the purpose to discuss the constant problem of Diversity in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Steampunk. The panel evolved beyond that, and became a discussion involving diversity in media as a whole, but this is where it started.

I should state off the back, that I am a Straight, Cis-Gendered, Middle-Class, White, Dude whose one of his favorite movies is Dude, Where is my Car?. I really hit the genetic lottery this time around. If this will stop you from enjoying this article or will make my opinion invalid, then you probably don’t listen to the podcast. But regardless, let’s talk about Diversity.

I’ve been to a couple of these kinds of panels and discussions. I’m all of those things stated above, but I’m not an asshole. I can see that these things are actually problems for people who aren’t me, and they effect the industry that I want to work in. I think it is in everyone’s best interest to solve this issue, at least it is in my mind. Of all the panels and discussions I’ve been to, this is by far one of the best.

It is very easy for people like me to become the bad guy in these stories. The people on these panels are almost always, the victims of these issues. And they will share their horror stories, which often the bad guy in those stories are people like me. This really didn’t happen in this panel like it usually does. The writers and reporters on the panel followed the philosophy of “we’re in this together”, which is very refreshing. Yes, there were moments that became heated, but never became so heated that it was like watching your parents fight. It always ended nicely.

The big take away from the panel is that, yes we have made progress in terms of Diversity in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Steampunk. That doesn’t mean we have made a lot of progress in these mediums. One thing they pointed out is that many claim that big franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek are much more diverse, when they really aren’t. One panelist pointed out that in Star Wars we get Rey, who is a Mary Sue, and the other new women to the story are either put behind a mask the entire film or are CGI Aliens. Pointing out that the characters and actors they added really didn’t help much. With Star Trek, the pointed out that the big female character they added to Star Trek: Into Darkness had to get almost naked for no reason other than to slap it on the poster and trailer. The host of the panel also said some statistics at the beginning of the panel, showing how White Dudes still hold almost all leads in film. It was a nice way to start the panel to get the audience to think, “Oh shit, really?”.

Overall the panel was a huge success in my mind. They did one of the best jobs I could see in terms of establishing the problems and trying to find a solution to these problems and a calm and confident manner, something you sometimes don’t see in this discussion. I want to give extreme props to the panelists, Chaz Kemp, Ellie Ann, Emily Singer, Jason Evans, and Stant Litore. You can listen to an interview with Ellie Ann from this year, 2016, and an interview with Stant Litore from 2013 here on ReelNerdsPodcast.com.

Reel Interview: Ellie Ann

Reel Interview: Stant Litore

 

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.
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