31 MARCH 2014
You know how sometimes you read an email or web page from CCI and you get the feeling that their version of logic is few degrees off from yours? That sense of skewed perception came through loud and clear in their response to the call for a stronger anti-harassment policy.
I would advise reading this excellent article on the Mary Sue in its entirety, but here are the highlights. The petition from GeeksForCONsent was brought to CCI's attention and Albert Ching of Comic Book Resources (who used to work in my comic shop, hi Albert) interviewed David Glanzer, Director of Marketing and PR for CCI. His responses were unsatisfying on the policy front, but did suggest where much of the general fuzziness in CCI communication may come from.
For instance, this was his central argument against a stronger anti-harassment policy: 1) that it might imply other types of harassment are allowed and 2) that the media might get the idea harassment is an actual problem at Comic-Con. Oh no, not that! 3) He later said he doesn't want to "create a situation" where someone takes a policy as a challenge to push limits.
I feel like David Glanzer might live in a snow globe where real human dynamics are a dim memory. One, policies are written every day that ban all types of harassment. Secondly, Con harassment is already in the news. Putting out a "we won't tolerate such behavior" hard line is the obligatory gesture organizations make to quell any bad press. All of the current petition coverage and CCI's refusal to comply is a thousand times more damning than an actual good policy would be. How does an organization not understand that? As for the fear of a challenge - we're talking about Comic-Con attendees, not angry World Cup fans. Good grief.
When Ching brought up the "Costumes are not consent" posters at Emerald City, Glanzer drifted down another vaguely-worded rabbit hole. "I think we’re comfortable in the policy we have.... I think the precautions that we have, and the elements that we have in place have made it an issue that I think we certainly are addressing."
He ultimately threw in some classic prevarications - "If there are additional specifics that people have, I guess we would address that as it comes up" and, "anyone who feels unsafe — even if it’s one person — is clearly one person too many.” The specifics have come up. There are people who feel unsafe. Write a new policy, CCI. Put up some posters. It doesn't have to be this complicated.
(To anyone who points out the SDCC already has a policy, it's buried in the fine print and quite broad. And honestly, it's not the policy itself that creates the change - it's the dialogue around it. It's seeing signage and hearing official statements in the media that make people think twice about asking cosplayers to bend over. And of course, the threat of being banned from the nerd Valhalla that is Comic-Con.)
For me the most interesting part of the interview was seeing the CCI mentality in action. Like the part where protecting paying customers isn't nearly as important as conveying a good image to outsiders. Or the part where silence is viewed as more effective than clear communication, and the status quo as safer than change. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?