Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

May 30, 2014

Festivals Extra: David Glanzer Of CCI On A New Petition Asking For Explicit Anti-Harassment Policy

Here. The petition in question is here.

Glanzer -- the director of marketing and public relations for Comic-Con and its shows in San Diego, Anaheim and San Francisco -- gives a multi-faceted response. You should read the petition and what it has to say and then read the interview to see what Glanzer has to say rather than substitute my characterization of same, which I'll be doing to facilitate a few things I want to say about it.

imageThe first part of Glanzer's response, and I'd say his primary response, is that Comic-Con International does indeed have a formal anti-harassment policy, which they call a Code Of Conduct. It is accessible here. The rest of the interview gets more into whether or not a more explicit, specific and thorough response is necessary or desirable. Glanzer doesn't believe so. He cites the strength of a blanket policy in terms of making sure that all communities at that show are covered, and the detriment of chasing a specific emphasis in terms of things like the distorted public view of the show that such directed policies might enable.

There's also some really interesting side talk, such as how Comic-Con International would almost certainly be held responsible -- at least in the public's imagination -- for something that might happen well outside of their sphere of influence, as the show outside of the actual show has spread to several blocks of the city itself and involves entities sponsoring events that have no formal relationship to Comic-Con. I thought Glanzer did a nice job of putting forward Comic-Con's view in terms of the difficulties involved without backing away from a shared desire to protect their attendees and provide an experience without any kind of harassment whatsoever. I'm more than certain others will disagree.

As I understand the argument being made for a different kind of policy, it is a call for not just greater effectiveness in execution but as something necessary in terms of the specificity involved due to a cosplay community that feels by overwhelming weight of testimony they are more open to harassment than other communities in a way that specific engagement can help solve. That seems a reasonable argument, too. There are articles here and here that get into some of the general issues in play, and I hope you'll take the time to hear from people more articulate and personally involved than I am on that subject.

I'm not sure where this goes from here, to be honest. I do think it's possible to hold either view presented and be completely, equally on board with not wanting the barest hint of harassment at a show. Further, I think the pressure that comes with questioning policy is healthy, at least as long as it doesn't slip into a bad-faith presumption one side to the other. I don't hold out much hope that people will resist doing this, at least not for very long. But one can hope.

It's almost impossible to gauge the success of any policy in this area beyond anecdotal evidence, bad or good, and that can be super-unreliable and we should always be skeptical no matter what's reported -- with an eye always on the prize of zero harassment.

What I actually hope for in this case is that both sides stick by their guns in terms of wanting the best outcome and thinking a particular strategy gets us there. I also hope we really discuss the details without a summary judgment that casts one side or the other in a bad light for the sake of casting them in a bad light or even pressing a point. Let's figure this out a bit beyond our ability to get out an immediate summary tweet. I also hope that we all try to shoulder more responsibility in terms of a bottom-line refusal to accept any harassment as expected or normal or the cost of doing business or even just not worth the trouble to pursue its extinction. This is reality now: a significant cosplay attendance at several shows, with a dubious history in terms of what that's meant for some of the particpants. Recognizing and dealing with that reality needs to have happened yesterday, no matter what form it takes moving forward.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

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