Many in the Australian pop culture scene have been neck deep lately in the ferocity of controversy now surrounding Supanova Expo and their upcoming guest Adam Baldwin. As creators who have exhibited at Supanova and who are passionate about making inclusive books and building new readerships, Chad and I wanted to respond.
Now I’ve long been out of the loop on this one. I’m not a gamer. I don’t play video games or write for video games. My knowledge of gaming culture kinda ends with playing Mortal Kombat as a 13 year-old. Until last month, Gamergate was a hashtag with ramifications of which I’ve admittedly been ignorant. We booked a stall at Melbourne Supanova earlier in the year, particularly due to the event coinciding with our attendance at The Ledger Awards. Since then, the issue of Baldwin’s attendance exploded (I found this to be a helpful summary of the situation). Some of the Gamergate gang, which Baldwin is closely linked, have been involved in misogynist crimes such as doxxing- a word which required a google on my part to understand- online abuse, rape threats and there was even a maniac with a knife at one point. Suffice to say, we think people have good reason to view many that Baldwin attracts as unsafe.
In response, some are positively campaigning against this particular decision, some are boycotting Supanova altogether and some on both sides of the debate have pushed back against Supanova very hard. In responding we wanted to make sure we were honest about our feelings and constructive about our position. While we are booked to exhibit at the Melbourne Supanova, we have taken the decision to not exhibit at any Supanova Expo where Baldwin is a guest. I have discussed our feelings with Supanova management and Chad and I have signed the petition arguing that Baldwin’s attendance at those events should be revoked. There has long been a significant problem with women not feeling safe and included in the pop culture scene and we have always wanted to be part of the solution. And it’s not all doom and gloom. There are good things happening too. We recently donated some copies of DEAD ENDS to the super cool All Star Comics’ Women’s Reading Club and would encourage any female fan looking for a fun and safe community in Melbourne to check it out.
My past experiences with the Supanova crew have always been positive. Some good people work hard to put these events on. I feel for the Supanova personnel who have been targeted and harassed over this. I feel particularly for those who have been targeted, harassed and assaulted by some members of the movement that Baldwin named, fostered and still supports. As someone who’s new to this issue, I can see how complex the whole thing appears and like to believe Supanova have nothing but the best intentions for their audiences. Ultimately, this situation is just disappointing. I hope there’s further resolution to a scenario that legitimately makes so many feel unsafe.