Saturday, October 25, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014 Panel Discussion #4: Ethics in Comics

(Image:  GGC Logo)
We now come to the last panel discussion I attended at this year's GeekGirlCon (GGC).  
Ethics in Comics was hosted by:
While the term ethics is often described as "moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior," Reece referred to ethics as "the space between people."
That the differences between individuals will get in the way of respect.
(Image:  Reece, Rebeca, Tanya and Walter)
Comics are escapist entertainment, but there are few stories of heroines for little girls.

Which leads to what the panelists refer to as the Twelve Questions of Ethics, the first one being the concept of "skin."

The skinny on skin was led by Rebeca--

--Women's clothing looks like it's painted on.
--A female superhero's powers are related to her femininity.  Power Girl and Wonder Woman are prime examples of this...

(Image by James Denton)
(Image by Dan Oliveira)
--Women are drawn in poses that highlight the contours of their body, even when in combat.
--The orientation of a woman's image is based on the "male gaze." 
In case you're wondering, here's a reminder of a proper gaze when encountering women cosplayers at conventions, like GGC:
(Image by Alexas Rosa)
Now let's turn our gaze back to the Twelve Questions of Ethics, moving on to #2, the market. 

Walter, led the discussion on this--

--Most authentic are is like lightning, that is, it's fleeting and people try to tap into it.
--People will consume products, even art for the namesake, or brand loyalty.
--The market panders to an audience.
--However, artists can't make a living as artists without the market.
--Therefore, one must find a balance between creating art that's authentic, and art that's marketable.

Then the discussion veered off a bit into some tangential, but relevant subjects.  While we didn't get to the other 10 Questions of Ethics, here are snippets, which I'm sure relate to them--

--We tell stories to tell us who we are.
--Readers become invested in stories because they see a little of themselves in it.
--Pandering makes an audience feel betrayed.
--Try to find more than a single story for a character, otherwise you could be stereotyping.
--Art gets through people's psychological and emotional defenses.
--Art becomes a legacy that pushes the boundary of established perimeters.
--Art can assign values to life.
--You can't talk about an issue unless you acknowledge, or display the issue.
--When people become a symbol for a cause, then they stop being a person, even when they're a fictional character.  (Apparently, Batwoman caused a stir for being a lesbian who proposed marriage to her partner, only to have DC Comics put the kibosh on the wedding).

There was only time for a couple of questions at the end.

The first woman asked how the panelists could talk about race relations, when they're all Caucasian.  She was also irked that one of the panelists made a joke which she thought was sexist.  (I couldn't remember the joke/comment).

The panelist apologized and said the topic of ethics is something that is in a constant state of trying to improve itself.

Reece had a good response, in that as artists there will be people who will love your work, while there will be others who will hate it.  The question is:  What ethical choices will you make on what you create and can you live with those choices?

The second woman was also irked and asked:  But what if a woman artist wants to portray heroines in a sexy, alluring manner?  Not to mention the women cosplayers who dress this way.  She felt women "couldn't win" the Ethics Wars.

Before the panel could come up with an answer we ran out of time.

As you can see, we didn't solve any issues, such as racism or sexism in comics, within 50 minutes.  We probably couldn't if we were given 50 years.  But most the panelist have hosted ethical discussions in the past and plan on continuing their work.

This ends my GGC coverage.  I hope to make next year's con.  See you then!

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