"PoC" abbreviation changed to "people of color" thanks to a comment here
I want to preface this post by saying that, as always, I had a great time at the con, and I continue to remain in awe of what the concom is capable of. Everyone I asked said that they were having fun, too.
That said, some stuff came up for me, and for other people, and I want to post about it now before I lose hold of it.
If you recognize yourself in my vagued-up anecdotes below and would like to self-identify, or if you want to add information, please feel free to do so. If you recognize racism, sexism, or ablism in my post, I would appreciate knowing that my ass is showing. This is crossposted to my Dreamwidth and my LiveJournal, and comments are open on both posts.Vividcon and Race
There appeared to be more people of color at the con this year than ever before, based on my entirely unscientific observation (I've been every year except the first one, but I've never actually counted). From my point of view, that's a good thing, but unfortunately it meant that some of the people of color had to deal with racism at the con.
- One woman of color was mistaken for another fan of the same race, multiple times, even though everyone involved was wearing name badges. I read that this happened recently at other cons as well.
- One woman of color was mis-identified as white by a white fan, at a panel. Fortunately, when others spoke up and informed the speaker of her mistake, and she quickly withdrew her statement and apologized.
- At least two vids I saw at the convention were racially problematic -- one of them I found outright offensive. Few people were willing to speak up about the racial aspects of the vids at the subsequent review panels. I include myself in that; I didn't speak up, either.
- Few vids shown at the con centralized characters of color, though many CoC did appear in vids.
IMO, the challenge vidshow, themed IDIC
, was a fiasco. Of the 8 vids in that show, only two of them made sense to me in the context of diversity: Red Cliff
(Chinese movie about the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, set to a song in Chinese, with titles in Chinese) and Swing
(Uhura-centric Star Trek:TOS vid). One of the remaining vids, Right in Two, is the one I mentioned above as offending me. It was a SPN vid, and I don't know the show, so it may be my perspective is skewed. But it used a lot of outside source, primarily of people of color beating the shit out of each other, to highlight Castiel's white
angel-emo, and it pissed me right off.
The other vids in the show were mostly about white, able-bodied people doing various things. Several of them were excellent, and two of them I loved, but I couldn't figure out why they were in this particular vidshow.
Another thing I have noticed in the past couple of years is that there are usually several vids featuring CoC in Club Vivid, but there are always fewer in Premieres. I myself have done this, so I'm not exempting myself from it: both my Club Vivid vids featured as many characters of color as I could cram in, but my solo premiere was about two white people. It's almost as though vidders feel it's just fine for people of color to be musicians and entertainers, but they can't be heroes. The Vividcon Premieres show has been called the Academy Awards of Vidding, but we rarely seem to take characters of color that seriously.
I did speak with one fan of color after the con who said it was great to see so many other people of color there -- that she felt like she could look around and not be the only one. So clearly, it wasn't all fail all the time.
I had a long conversation with absolutedestiny
Saturday night about how the con can be safer and more welcoming for people of color. The best immediate suggestion I can come up with is to integrate the concom, which is AFAIK entirely white. I wonder also if outreach would be valuable, but I'm not sure what it would look like or if there's a good way to do it without making it all about how the white people want validation and participation from people of color. I would welcome thoughts on this.Vividcon and Sex and Gender
We had more men at Vividcon this year than ever before, and while that didn't radically change my experience of the con, I did notice some problems -- or other people pointed them out to me.
- Although men made up less than 10% of the overall attendees, they seemed to take up a lot more floortime at panels. I only went to a couple of panels, but I noticed that in a room of 35 women and 2 men (on average), the men seemed to hold the floor for almost half the time. I don't think it's that they got called on more often than women who had their hands up. I think they just had their hands up more often.
- Some of the men who attended for the first time didn't seem to be part of the community, particularly. This was a big change from past years. I noticed this in the quality and content of the things they said in panels, the fact that they didn't have any vids to show and often hadn't seen vids that were used as comparisons, the fact that they didn't seem to socialize much outside of one or two people they knew. It was a bit weird.
- One woman said she noticed that several of the men did not dance at Club Vivid. They stood or sat around watching the rest of us dance. While I didn't notice this, I can totally see how that would creep people out.
Vividcon has been a very safe space for white women in the past, where our gaze is privileged, our opinions are valued, and our sexuality and our bodies are celebrated and safe. Club Vivid is the apotheosis of this, and to have a handful of men standing around gawking challenges that on a fundamental level.
Some of the men who attend Vividcon are very close friends of mine and I want to be sure they feel welcome as well. But these men are already part of the community, they know and respect its traditions, and they don't stand around watching: they dance.
I'm not at all sure how to address this issue. The con welcomes men, and people who don't vid, and we can't very well demand that everyone dance -- some of the women prefer not to, after all, and some have mobility limitations. But I do note that as vidding emerges further into the mainstream, we are likely to keep having the occasional new guy show up, and they won't always have a clue.
One other thing I want to mention: there was a vid in Premieres, Go Baby, that really rubbed me the wrong way. The source was the "Charlie's Angels" movies, and the vid felt like it was all about their bodies and using their sexuality (I learned the song is actually about a man, but it wasn't used that way here). Any power the women might have had is overridden for me by the knowledge that they are merely extensions of "Charlie". The vidder enjoys making bright, splashy, fun vids and I might not even have noticed the ick factor if the vid had played at Club Vivid, but as it was I felt like I was getting mainstream sexist objectification at my con, and I didn't like it. And yes, I say this as the vidder of "I Want Candy
In terms of gender, one of the highlights of the con for me was when a friend of mine who's recently had a mastectomy took of her shirt and danced topless. I felt her power in that moment and was thrilled that she felt safe enough to do it.Vividcon and Accessibility
In this post, accessibility is the topic I know least about, so please correct me if I'm wrong.
The con hotel seems pretty accessible from what I've seen. The front doors open automatically at the touch of a button (height-appropriate for people who use wheelchairs), there are three wide elevators in good repair, and the public restrooms all have a large stall with bars. Doors to panel rooms and guest rooms seem wide enough to admit a wheelchair, but I would like to get confirmation on that if anyone can.
The concom does a great job making sure that people with mobility problems can attend programming, from providing an overflow room for Premieres and Club Vivid, to working individually with fans with disabilities to make sure their needs are met -- including welcoming partners and other loved ones who are providing assistance and/or care to con members.
One thing that is not offered is signing for panels. So far as I know we haven't had any deaf attendees, but I'd like to think the concom would move on this if it became a need.
One new thing for next year is that the con DVDs will provide subtitles for vids, provided that vidders submit a subtitle file for each vid they submit. As frequenters of this journal know, I'm doing my part to promote that and assist vidders with getting their vids subtitled. I think it'll be great to have them available on the con DVDs. If possible, I would recommend that the con consider turning on subtitles in the overflow room during Premieres and Club Vivid as well.In Conclusion
Vividcon is still the one don't-miss event of my year, and I have every expectation that it will continue to be so. But I am white and able-bodied, and I know and trust most of the men who show up, so I recognize that my perspective skews toward "VVC YAY!" I look forward to hearing other opinions.