Vividcon 2009: Some observations about race, gender, and accessibility

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Title: Vividcon 2009: Some observations about race, gender, and accessibility
Creator: Laura Shapiro
Date(s): August 19, 2009
Medium: online
External Links: Vividcon 2009: Some observations about race, gender, and accessibility, page 1 [1] and page 2[2]
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Vividcon 2009: Some observations about race, gender, and accessibility is a 2009 post by Laura Shapiro.

There were 495 comments.

One response to this post was On inclusion and exclusion in vidding fandom: personal reflections.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts from the Post

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.

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.


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 manpain 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.


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.


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.


Vividcon and Accessibility In this post, accessibility is the topic I know least about, so please correct me if I'm wrong.


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.

Some Excerpts of Comments to the Post


Vidding CoCs means absolutely nothing if someone fails so hard in real life. Celebrating fictional characters is all well and good, but they shouldn't be given more consideration than ACTUAL PEOPLE. My vid for the challenge was not about race. The theme was "IDIC," which I researched and found the concept to be a joke. The concept of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations within Star Trek was marketing ploy to make money that the actors didn't even want to be a part of. I don't think the challenge vid submissions HAD to be about race. If the challenge was supposed to be about race, then that should be been the theme "race", not "IDIC." The themes are left up to interpretation and I took the theme of IDIC to the term Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations and made a vid about that.


I don't know this backstory on IDIC, with the actors and all. Do you have a link? I'd be interested in reading up on that. My referent for the concept is the source itself, and I find the way it's used in Star Trek to be relatively inoffensive, albeit with a bit of "we're white people trying awfully hard" floating around. I'll admit I assumed that the diversity reflected in the challenge vidshow would be racial and/or cultural. Even if I step outside that expectation, I'm having trouble understanding how some vids fit the theme -- including yours. But then, I don't watch Supernatural, so there's a lot I am probably missing....And I get that not everyone dances. But there's a space at the con for people who want to watch the Club Vivid vids and not dance: the overflow room. These guys were on the sidelines of the dance floor, watching us gyrate in our slinky outfits. As I said in the post, I wasn't bothered, but I know some people were.


The wikipedia entry that I pasted was the first thing I read and it put me off doing a challenge at all because of falseness of it, but I went a different direction than expected because I couldn't get behind the concept. Within the show it's a prestigious Vulcan award of merit, celebrating the vast array of variables in the universe – the sea of possibility that a Vulcan-trained mind can navigate. In the real world it's a cheap ploy to sell replica merchandise to fans that the actors wanted nothing to do with. The challenge was kind of hollow for me. I decided to go with how the Vulcans went from violent wars to generally adhering to a philosophy of non-violence. The vid [I made] explores if Dean could trade his violent life for a more peaceful one, which is a lie. In hindsight, I think the theme turned out more apt than before considering recent happenings within fandom.


I wasn't going to mention it, but there are people that feel their opinions are valued within fandom because they differ from mainstream vidding.

I've seen a lot of people saying this recently. It saddens me. I don't even believe there is a "mainstream vidding" anymore -- there's a community with its roots in traditional vidding, and there are a jillion other communities, and I wouldn't want to be the one to say "this one's mainstream" (if anything, it's the YouTube folks that are mainstream). I'm constantly on friend of mine for referring to "the vidding community" as if there were only one, or talking about "feral vidders" (which term and its implications sets my teeth on edge).

I am always up for learning about different communities and learning from different communities, and I think the art can only get better as different aesthetics blend into the mix. But I know not everybody thinks that way.

grey bard:

My vid-mentor jmtorres considers herself to be a feral vidder, with pride. I think there's a place for the label, at least in a self-applied fashion.


I don't think of feral as dismissive takes a lot of energy and imagination to get anywhere without mentorship or yes...pride and power :) but as with all these terms, reappropriation's different than use by others!


I'm very happy to see people reclaiming the term! I've nothing against that. What I don't like is when people use it to mean that the vidder in question comes from no community at all, just because s/he doesn't come from the traditional one. That implies that there *is* only one vidding community, and if you aren't in it you were raised by wolves. It makes me cranky. (: But I'm all for people using it to describe themselves from a place of pride.


We get it somewhat. We just think it's weird 'cause most of us are from fandom at large where this kinda thing doesn't happen as much. I mean, first filksing I went to they patiently explained everything, including what songs I should hear, and what songs not to speak of (but someone would give me a recording of, so I'd know), etc. And as I recall, Leslie Fish was at that one (the most veteran of all filkers), yet it still felt very open to new folks. niqaeli and I are still boggling about how there can have been a whole vidding group in Phoenix that it seems con going SF fandom generally knew nothing about (and it's not like we weren't looking, Angel and malnisst especially)--and it's not like we were on the outskirts of fandom. We're just used to fannish activities being all interconnected--I think that comes from convention going/IRL clubs fandom.


As the comments on the has shown, there's a lot more "subtle" and underlying racism within fandom than I even I thought.

I heard the same about not many males speaking in the meta panel, my wording wasn't clear....

I keep quiet about a lot of things in fandom online that offend me. Mainly because I don't think my feelings and thoughts on the matters will be valued.

The mainstream is a perceived notion that somethings, vids and vidders in this case, are considered more important than others because they participate in the progressive unfolding of some larger historical purpose, not by virtue of their aesthetic quality. More and more this concept is considered to be a myth of moderism, but the term and the feelings that come with it are still very real to people within our corner of fandom.

I've been called a feral vidder and I don't take offense to it at all. I think it's kind of awesome. I also know where it originated from and I know it came from a non-negative place.


Hi, I was the person who misidentified the vidder's race -- and I'm replying here, rather than to Laura's reply to you, so that both of you will be sure to see it (because you'll both get the notification).

Let me start by saying that I totally let my ass show, made a dumb and possibly offensive mistake, and am sorry for that. FWIW, I apologized and shut up immediately, and apologized to the vidder as soon as the panel ended. But since what I meant to say wasn't at all about "whether or not they should vid a character of color," I wanted to address that bit here. See, Laura, you can know what she was going to say, if you want to...

The vid in question plays with (mis)attribution of race; the lyrics have the narrator saying he's white, but the vid puts them into the mouth of a person of color. Thinking the vidder was white, I was going to say something about the multiple levels of racial identity/identification visible in it: a white vidder creating a vid in which a character of color claims (humorously) white identity. Not that they shouldn't make the vid: more just "huh, that's complicated and intriguing, raises interesting questions." There may have been something else, but I honestly can't remember what it was going to be.

Whether or not that would have been a worthwhile comment if I hadn't been so wrong from the get-go is irrelevant, of course. But I wanted to post this, because what seems to be being rumored ("I heard that the speaker had said that the vid was problematic because it was made by a white vidder") isn't at all what I meant. Though it may have been what it ended up sounding like, since I shut up mid-comment.

And I also wanted to shed anonymity and take my lumps if I have them coming. I very much appreciate Laura's not using my name and letting me make that choice; but one thing I've learned from RaceFail and other conversations is to admit it when I'm wrong, and that full histories are better than partial ones. It was me: I was wrong, I said a stupid and possibly offensive thing, and I'm sorry.


Just to speak to this point, the challenge intentionally wasn't limited to any particular interpretation of IDIC. We try to encourage diversity of all kinds throughout our vidshows, and thought it would make a great challenge, however people interpreted it.


I get that. However, I did anticipate a different definition of IDIC than what was represented at the vidshow. I know some other people were disappointed in the breadth of challenge responses as well. I note, too, that usually during the post-vidshow discussion, we talk about how well we thought each vid fit the challenge. This year, if I remember rightly, that only came up with one of the vids. I would have found it immensely helpful to have this conversation there, in the moment.


Really interesting post. Despite thinking of media fandom as predominately female, I had never really thought about how the presence of men could affect a con dynamic. Kind of a big DUH! I probably also would have been weirded out by a bunch of guys standing around watching the dance floor, if I were accustomed to the lack of such a thing.

With the disclaimer that I have never been to VVC and haven't been to a media fannish con in like, five years...I don't know if there is a good way to market the con to people of color other than, I suppose, from the bottom up. More panels focusing on relevant topics, more visibility about the kinds of vids that will premiere and/or be shown (i.e. what fandom, what characters are featured) so that people can see what the representation will be like, etc. Content rather than dressing.

Because I dunno, I tend to think I would also feel a bit weirded out if I thought the con was trying to "recruit" me, for lack of a better word. (Some of that may come from where I'm at mentally with diversity issues right now. I think it is an admirable thing to want to make a space safer for people of color. But I don't want to be cradled or handled with kid gloves either -- the world I live in is not generally full of "safe spaces" for people of color, and fandom for me does not need to be better than the world.) And...I have more thoughts on what "safe space" means for people of color, based on my own experiences, but that is getting tangential. Suffice to say, you've got me thinking (as always)!


I was not "weirded out" in any way shape or form. I just assumed they (actually I only saw one sitting on the sidelines) did not care to dance but wanted to take in the vibe of the active room. And he was paying way more attention to the vids than to the dancing. The vibe in the dancing room is much, much different than the vibe in the overflow room and I can definitely see why someone would prefer to take in the vids there than in overflow. In addition, some of the other comments--hanging with the people they came with, not having the same library of reference as the rest, and, yes, not dancing--could apply to any newbie con goer. It could apply to me, and I've been to the con four years in a row. I'm frankly uncomfortable seeing that group of people lumped together and generalized in that way just because they're dudes.

katie m:

Hmm. I think that if the challenge was meant to be "racial diversity," then it needed to say that explicitly (which as I recall was specifically rejected, due to concerns that weren't described--that sounds snotty, but it's not meant to be. I just feel like I remember the possibility coming up at... last year's Dead Dog? And having concom say it'd been considered but concerns had been raised). Anyway. I agree that if the goal of the challenge vidshow was to encourage vids about human diversity (racial, orientation, whatever--I was surprised we didn't get a sexual orientation vid, actually), and I agree that I thought it was, we ended up with a racist outcome. In essentially the same way that Premieres comes out racist; individual decisions made in good faith that add up to a suboptimal outcome. But I guess I do want to defend at least some of those other vids--Land, Internet Porn, maybe When You Wish...--as legitimate interpretations of the challenge as issued.


Right, that's why I said "proportional". Men were something like 7 out of 140 con members, right? That's 5% of the membership, and I'm pretty sure they made more than 5% of the comments. When you say that there wasn't a greater number of comments from men, are you talking in absolute terms (meaning 50% or fewer of the comments) or proportional? (I'm an empiricist! I love that you have hard data!)

dharma slut:

It's so damn frustrating, too, especially since you say the con wants to be open to men... And men, to make a horribly sweeping generalisation, tend to turn any space into *their* space. I *love* men, with all of my queer heart. At the same time, I love men-free spaces because they are so damn rare.


I mean, I can start mentally counting you as one of the guys, if you prefer. I really don't mind, either male or female feels equally inoffensively inaccurate to me. I'm usually perceived as female. I just wondered if, with my deep voice and a lack of visual cues in a sea of con-goers, assumptions might be running the other way.


while some of the more experienced fen were running a bingo game on the themes they'd heard a dozen times before.

Yeah, I noticed that. It was... not the most welcoming thing ever, shall we say, given that in most online discussions bingo cards are a means to mock your opponent. Maybe it was a page full of fond community in-jokes or something, but when you raise your hand and say something, and people giggle and whisper and circle something on the paper on their lap, it's hard not to wonder if a laugh is being had at your expense....It was not a huge deal. If we weren't all embroiled in a massive, multi-journal discussion about whether VVC is exclusive and elitist, I wouldn't have brought it up. But we are, so I did, because I think that's the sort of thing that people need to pay attention to if they're serious about changing that perception.

Once I figured out what people were doing, two things went through my head: (1) Whoa, are there factions here? Is there a dispute? Did I somehow end up in the crossfires of some fight I didn't even know about? And (2) I see I'm not insider enough to get a bingo card.

It was an unwelcome distraction from actually *talking about the vids*.

harriet spy:

I was depressed about character-of-color representation in Premieres--I think if you merely count vids in which you saw a character-of-color face, as M. did, you get a moderately high total, but I suspect that if you count the way I did when I did my count two years ago (only vids that were that-character-centric, pairing vids featuring at least one character of color, or an ensemble vid with major presence from a character-of-color), the number becomes depressingly low. I felt like I was looking at Summer Glau and Elisha Dushku all Premieres. Part of it is fannish trend. Two of the most popular characters of color, Teyla of SGA and Martha of DW, are no longer on the air. Merlin didn't catch on quite the way I think many people expected it would (and Gwen doesn't seem as popular anyway). And Leverage's DVD set didn't drop until July, so people didn't have access to the kind of quality source they of course want for a Premieres vid. But it's still frustrating, and it's not as if vidders are actually constrained by currency of source. Heck, we had a Hammer Horror vid.


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.

This comment didn't make me wince, and I think it's because I saw it through the lens of a *fannish* identity, not a vidding identity. I see VVC as a fandom con, one that happens to focus on vidding (the way Escapade focuses on slash, or Cabrillo is a gen S&H con). I interpreted this comment, then, not as "who are these non-vidders and what are they doing at our vidding con?" and more "who are these non-fen and what are doing at our fan con?"

I was attending a panel (I'm fairly sure this was the recruiting-vid panel but I honestly don't remember for sure) where the moderator asked a guy--it was definitely a guy--if he read fanfiction, and he said no. I remember being honestly startled by this. I don't think I know any fen who don't read at least a little fanfiction. It made me really start to think about who the members of this con were, or were supposed to be, and it was actually a little uncomfortable thinking that maybe not all of them were as fully immersed in fannish culture as I had assumed.

As I see it, your concern is this: if attending members aren't part of *fan culture*, then is VVC just becoming a technical convention about various aspects of video editing and mashups? Because I'm not a vidder, and euphoric post-con aspirations aside, I will likely never produce a vid. But I *am* a fan, and I've been one for years. I attended and enjoyed VVC immensely for it's role as a fan con, and only after that for it's role as a vidding con. For what it's worth, I don't think it's exclusionary to say "this is a fan con" and ask non-fen to learn the language and check mundanity at the door.

harriet spy:

I remember I posted a little about this post-last year's VVC, how the vidding culture is opening up and expanding and thus inevitably provoking anxiety about change, especially when it comes to male participation. I value the quality of the VVC atmosphere as really making it possible for women to participate freely in the conversation, but I have to say this comment of yours made me wince. I don't believe there's a threshold level of knowledge you have to have about vids to attend VVC, just a desire to experience them, learn, and enjoy. I'm imagining potential woman attendees reading these remarks, thinking, "Well, I don't know the right people, I haven't made a vid myself, maybe people would think my comments aren't informed enough, I wouldn't be welcome at VVC." That would be a great loss. To the extent people aren't adhering to established VVC mores (and, well, I find dancing boring, and there's nothing marking off the actual Club space as for participants only), I think the thing to do is to educate and model the behavior we want to see. And, you know, to be open to what new people have to contribute, as well. Because change is coming whether we like it or not, and I don't think drawing rigid boundaries really works to preserve cultures.

harriet spy:

I think defining "being a fan" as "knowing the fans *I* know, being familiar with the vids *I* am familiar with, and taking as read the aesthetic assumptions that *I* do" is both exclusionary and...just wrong-headed. Your perception of what constitutes fandom will not be the same perception as that of someone whose primary experience is of vids via Youtube, or even someone coming out of the AMV world. I think it is really wrong to say that someone is "mundane" because they don't happen to be on chatting terms with astolat or laurashapiro or sisabet or whoever, or because they haven't seen "Women's Work" or "Closer." Or because they don't read fanfiction. (For what it's worth, I know many male fans, especially, who are passionately involved with a source, spend a zillion hours analyzing it, buy the DVDs, etc., but aren't interested in fanfic. THEY ARE FANS, TOO.) For these purposes, at least, I'm not comfortable with any definition of "fan" more exclusive than "someone who is interested in the source and in some kind of engagement with other people who are, too."

alias sqbr:

Agreeing with harriet_spy : if your definition of "fan" assumes reading fanfic you are excluding a LOT of fans, maybe even the majority of fans. I was into vids and not fic for years because all the fic I'd had recced to me was Not My Sort Of Thing. And I was a committed sff fan for a decade or so before that. It makes as much sense as "All true fans have watched Star Trek". But I tend to react badly to anything that feels like cliqueish "It matters more that The Right Sort Of People come to this con than that we attract people who are actually interested in the subject matter".


I spectacularly failed to explain what I meant, and I can totally understand why people would feel that I am hostile to newbies, unaware of other vidding communities, or believe that only vidders should attend the con.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and regular readers of my journal know this, but unfortunately I didn't talk about that here. I was trying to describe why I felt uncomfortable, and I didn't do a very good job! This stuff is difficult to define, but what I should have said is that I, like many people I know with roots in the traditional vidding community, feel a great love for our historically women-dominated fannish spaces and a great tension when it seems as though those spaces are changing.

In fact, I love that the con welcomes vidders and vid fans who are new to the traditional vidding community, and I am thrilled to see the cross-pollination that occurs as a result. I'm constantly on people who say "THE vidding community" as if there were only one!


Y'know, I think people need to take charge of their own desires. I don't vid for other people, I vid for myself, and I vid what I'm interested in. My first two vids had people of color (if you consider a Spaniard portraying a Persian to be a person of color, which...might be more offensive, but I can't control casting), but my next vids probably won't. If people-of-color vidders want more character of color vids, they should vid them. Maybe that will inspire me to vid them too, but I don't feel it's a requirement to vid people of color in order to be a good vidder or a good person.

Your condemnation of the challenge show on the factor of racial diversity was interesting, because that's not how I took the challenge, and I'm sure that the reason the other vids failed in your estimation was because those vidders had a different interpretation of the challenge as well. I read the "Red Cliff" vid to follow the challenge only in that the viewers could bring their own interpretation to the unfamiliar and relatively unaccessible material—bringing infinite combinations of ideas in an infinite diversity of universes or meanings. "Land", "When You Wish", "Convenient Parking", and "Choose Life" were all vids that I thought dealt with the challenge in interesting ways, reinterpreting the words of "infinite" "diversity" and "combination", and they were in no way intended to address race. I think you just didn't get the vids because you were looking for something that wasn't supposed to be there.

As for the gender inequality: I think that change starts at home. I did not in any way have the experience of the men at the con overpowering the panels, and if they did, here's my response: women, speak up. I can't believe that we went through decades of feminist activism to end in a situation where women whisper to each other, "I feel uncomfortable but I can't say anything. Won't someone be my voice?" In a convention where women are the majority and our voices are discussed through our art, how the hell could we possibly do better? If someone can't speak up, clearly being at Vividcon is not going to help them, because I can't think of a safer venue for self-expression.


I think coming to vividcon can be difficult to those not closely familiar with its community and culture - there's a fast learning curve both intellectually and emotionally. I made a point of doing a *lot* of research before the con and getting in touch with vidders ahead of time but this isn't always possible. Then you have the social side which you have no preparation for. My first year, I almost didn't attend Club Vivid because I felt out of place not knowing people. I hid in my room for about half an hour after the start and panicked. Then I came back into the room and was yanked onto the dancefloor by permetaform and lierdumoa which was the best thing that could have happened. That broke the ice and I danced away and had a really great time. Without that, I'd have never plucked up the courage to dance. It actually broke the ice for me for the whole con, that evening, and I can't imagine how I would have felt about vividcon had that not happened.


Wow, I thought you were going to go in the opposite direction with the Sex and Gender section.

I'll just say that my con experience was quite different in that sense, and that I often felt sorry for the guys who attended for the first time this year. I personally don't speak up in panels because I rarely feel like a male voice is wanted or welcome by much of the audience, but that's probably all in my head. You know me.

Still, I don't want to dismiss the points you make here, which are all valid. I just think (hope?) it's a matter of lack of communication and lack of understanding on both sides, and that in reaching out to each other we could solve almost all of these issues.

jetpack monkey:

Speaking as a male who needs a few drinks in him to dance, I understand the general oddness of being a dude getting his boogie on. It's an act of exposure, of creative expression, and we're taught at a very young age that this is just not done if you're male.

That said, once I've had my inhibitions sufficiently quelled (as I did at Club Vivid), I have a metric ton of fun.

I'll own up to not being a part of the community. Part of the point in going to Vividcon for me was to rectify that. As much as I loved being in my little Apocalypse West enclave, I felt it was maybe time to branch out and meet other vidders and become part of the general flow of things. I'm really excited by all the people I met and the viewpoints I encountered.... I never once felt unwelcome and that hasn't changed. If anything, the warm welcome I received was overwhelming and sent my Groucho Marx response ("I would never belong to a club that would have me as a member") into overdrive. You and I didn't interact a lot at VVC, but I do remember you as being someone I liked quite a bit, someone who made me feel quite welcome.


I've only been to VVC once, but panels and vid show reviews, as I remember them, were not as formally structured as all that. Sometimes people speak up and then go on and on and on and on and branch out on tangents-- which, again, in a discussion with a time limit, is rude behavior. Sometimes people talk over each other. Sometimes a mod will point and say "yes, you in the back" and two (or more!) people will start to talk, and then look at each other and one will defer to the other, etc. It's not as formally structured as a college classroom or something like that, and social interactions do factor into who decides to speak up and who decides not to. A lot of people will just shut up if someone starts talking over them-- do they really want to be "that person who wouldn't shut up at Vividcon?" And a lot of that is where cultural conditioning comes into it.


I'm in a weird fannish place in that most of the vids I saw in the early 1990s when I first became aware of vids were anime vids made by guys--and they were most definitely media vids the way that we classify media vids, in terms of aesthetics of the time. Thingfish's vids, for example (Ken was in JACK at U of I the same time I was there, and I think some other members of the club and other university anime clubs all vidded because it seemed the natural next step, since they were already fansubbing series with their setups) weren't that different than the Cally Crew vids I saw being made at the same time. Parallel evolution led to radically different aesthetics 20 years later, but at the time, those worlds weren't so far apart.

Plus I came from conventions which were both fan-run female-majority media cons AND corporate-run male-majority comics cons. So while I'm continually surprised to find guys who aren't at VVC because they're someone's partner, I'm not at all surprised that there are male vidders who might want to come to the show, having no connection with the show.

And then there's Doctor Who fandom, which is a rare media fandom that was for over a decade primarily male, yet with many of the aspects we in the states associate with female fans (fanzines, fan fiction, fan-run cons, etc.).

ETA: however I will note that Who fandom, the large percentage of the guys are gay. And in Jem fandom they're almost exclusively gay. Which does change the dynamic.

I do hope that, the way that comics fandom has reached gender parity even if the draws for both genders differ (as do the fannish behaviours and trends do fall along gender liens for the most part with guys still reading more mainstream superhero books while chicks read more manga), we'll see media fandom becoming more gender-balanced with each new generation. Or at least slightly less insular along gender lines. I think it's inevitable, as the internet introduces fannish behaviour to folks who might never have encountered it otherwise, and the previously considered "cultish" or niche becomes more mainstream (and socially acceptable).

I think this is why, when I see the strong, visceral reaction online and off to men in what fandom perceives as specifically/solely female spaces, I cock my head and look at people funny. Because I have an atypical fannish history to my peers.


I also was introduced to vidding via AMVs, and I also got the impression that male vidders are much more common there. It actually seems like a more friendly fandom for newbies in general, given that while the technical skills required to do the really flashy, effects-laden vids are high (and the software is not cheap), I didn't see as much backlash against things like schmoopy shipper vids (of which there were plenty...


I went to an all-girls Catholic grammar school and high school, so believe me when is say I was seriously the only chick in my school (of 60 students total student population) who read mainstream superhero comics. Also, I'm 35. Which means we're talking 1987-1991, here. MUCH has changed in both anime fandom and comics fandom since then. The fact that anime and manga went from cult/underground to mainstream is a HUGE change.

Translated manga in the 1980s and early 1990s was a rare beast indeed, whereas now, it accounts for something like 90% of bookstore graphic novels sales. The very idea of that--of Japanese comics in translation marketed almost solely AT WOMEN being massive bestsellers--was beyond the scope of anyone's imaginations in 1993. Even Enrique Conte's...

I am sure the 18 year old fangirls of today have a very very different first comics con experience than 18 year old I had in 1992. And I continue to hope that by 2029, fangirls of the future will have even more (positively) changed introductions to comics fandom. Considering the last WizardWorld Chicago I went to the DC kids imprint panel included a 20-something Asian female editor and a 20-something year old female penciller comics professional cosplaying as Supergirl? The world is already a better place :) I hope it keeps on getting better.


I found it interesting that a lot of the Newbie guys were perceived as outsiders. One was in Apocalypse West, another moderates a vidding forum on Ning, and a third sets up the vidding tech for 5 different anime conventions every year and independently started VCR vidding live action stuff in the mid eighties when he was unaware of anyone else doing that. Of course, none of us knew that unless we talked to them and I probably wouldn't have had the nerve to talk to any of them ('cuz I tend to be nervous around guys) in many other spaces.


Simply as a new person, I knew enough coming in that the community is mostly women and mostly caucasian. I knew from being at live journal that there is a bent towards Women's issues. This was a given to me and I knew going in I would need to be responsible for my own paranoia about that but being a newbie to the con loomed larger. Friendliness I think crosses most barriers very easily and greases the wheels of social interaction.

I would have been more interested in efforts that went into introducing Vividcon to newbies. The fact that a newbie generated a newbie meetup was discouraging because they are least well equipped to introduce newbies to Vividcon no matter how well intentioned they were. A sticky half the size of a badge with very small lettering and finger nail skills to detach that is also optional for a newbie to put on, I don't think adequately represented Vividcon's stand for welcoming newcomers and basically left it in the hands of attendees. I would have loved an opening remarks for all attendees along the lines of "this is who Vividcon is, what we stand for, and short history" before going straight to panels and shows. Registration is not adequate enough to equate newbies with the workhorse pace of the upcoming weekend I think.

Just an idea. Maybe good maybe not. I would have liked a newbie/veteran buddy arrangement that does not necessarily need to be too structured but would provide a place for a newbie to ask questions, share lunch/dinners, panels and shows. I don't know half of what is supposed to be right or wrong since it is my first time but having a representative of Vividcon's past cons to buddy up with would have given me more of a centered experience even if I didn't use them that much. Knowing they were there would be enough to ground me in this new experience. Yet, I believed this still happened informally with several really cool people at the con but would have been more natural if it was generated by the con. Just my thoughts.


Just think - a few years ago, the big issue was that the VCR vidders didn't feel welcomed. :) This making sure that you assert your own identity while not stepping on other people is a very tricky business. I am really and truly amazed at the balancing act the con pulls off every year.


Well… There seems to be a LOT of interesting debit on the topic here and some interesting points brought up, however I feel that maybe the original comments made tend to be in some areas a bit offensive sounding in some ways and even feel as one of the minority of guys there more directed towards us where it’s brought up.

I would like to point out that this has been my time at Vividcon and overall I found everyone to be great and real friendly. As my first time there and not really knowing anyone, it’s always harder to interact and be “in” all the conversations all the time. Actually I noticed that there were always others too in the same situation and even sitting around during Club Vivid of “BOTH GENDERS” if you really are going to be specific. I actually enjoyed watching the Music videos and didn’t just want to jump onto the dance floor right away, however I did get pulled on and did enjoy it at the end… I would also assume there was not rules to break by not wanting to dance right away.

I think it seems to be really unfair to assume any of us not being part of the community just because we did not have any premiering videos there. I noticed that there are a great number of people there that do not make videos but are fans and attend and enjoy themselves just like everyone else. Secondly, just because you don’t have a video in the line up does not mean some of us have not make music videos or seem them. I myself have made a LOT of live action videos over the past 25 years and didn’t feel I need to pander them off to people just because nor have nothing to say just because I’ve not shown them.

As for being part of the panels, I also thing it’s unfair to single out the “guys” being the only talkative ones. I think this is more personality based and there were a lot of other people what happen to just be as talkative. Actually I found it to be quite diverse and a lot of people expressed their opinions and thoughts and I think discussion panels should be where people don’t have to be afraid to say something or feel they have to.

Now I assume you are just trying to put down your observations and are not you trying to say things in a negative way, and I myself hopefully don’t come across too angry sounding, however it really does come off a bit insulting in some ways. I would like to think that I myself and everyone else that was mentioned had a good time and met a lot of people and even had some great conversations. I would also assume I would be welcomed back just like anyone else as I was really inspired and even am itching to make a few live action videos for the event!


I may partly be playing devil's advocate here, but: What I find the most problematic is the double-standard of trying to make VVC a welcome and safe place for all kinds of people while simultaneously having an air of exclusivity about the community and calling out newbies for not knowing how VVC "does things" or not having the same mindset/worldview as everyone else. It goes both ways.

The danger to me seems to be finding a way to address these issues (which should certainly be addressed) without becoming so politically correct that it's stifling. I certainly would not want to be a part of a community that *expected* me to go out of my way to vid characters of color just because it is "the right thing to do", same goes for vids about touchy subjects (incest, violence, etc.) - I wouldn't want to go to a con where they wouldn't be allowed because of some higher moral standard or out of fear of possibly offending people.

Vidding is about creativity, which is exclusively in the eyes of the creator. While I think you do bring up some good points, I still worry that the open, free, expressive and personal nature of vidding could suffer from being overly politically correct and overanalyzing everything.