IGN started hosting a contest put on by the folks behind the upcoming sci-fi film District 9 looking for someone to perform “journalistic assignments” connected to the film at SDCC. The catch? According to the original contest rules:
This sweepstakes is open only to males who are both legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and Washington D.C. and who are at least between 18-24 years of age as of July 23, 2009
Well, Comics Worth Reading got ahold of the story, and so did Feministing and Tor.com, none of which failed to note the irony of a film that would reportedly deal with themes of prejudice and exclusion literally excluding a whole gender.
As the online backlash picked up, IGN posted a response:
The eligibility requirements for this contest were determined by Columbia TriStar Marketing, the marketing team behind the District 9 film, and were passed on as a directive to IGN as Sponsor of this particular Sweepstakes running on the IGN.com site. While IGN supports gamers of all ages, genders, shapes and sizes, these guidelines were created to foster a buzz for the film among a very narrow target group that the film’s promoters felt would be extremely passionate about the film’s subject matter.
The contest rules were eventually amended, somewhat: a separate, womens-only contest was started, with a later deadline.
As bad as that was, the L.A. Times almost trumped it with its Girls' Guide to Comic-Con, a photo slideshow offering helpful tips like these for fans of the star of Prince of Persia:
Women will be rushing the stage, offering to do star Jake Gyllenhaal's laundry on those washboard abs that he acquired for the film, since he spends much of it fighting, shirtless or both.
Lest you think the Times is only cooing over guys, here's their take on Angelina Jolie:
With any luck, her luscious-lipped holiness will be around to hawk her upcoming action film "Salt," which is already being likened to a female-powered version of "The Bourne Identity." What's not to like?
Now, obviously, SDCC isn't to blame for these misguided attempts to "build awareness" for the event. But in the wake of past instances of harassment and sexism at Con, somebody at IGN, or the Times or at Tristar really showed a lack of understanding for all of us as fans, male or female. I'll leave the final word to Tor's Torie Atkinson:
We just want to be fans, and we're tired of being utterly invisible despite the fact that millions of women play games and read comics. That climate is entirely unwelcoming to women, and it's a testament to women's persistent interest in gaming and comics that we continue to try to be part of the community despite the overwhelming myth that we don't exist.