With a focus on “race and gender in pop culture,” the fifth annual ArtMix: Crocker-Con will celebrate all aspects of comic culture at the Crocker Art Museum on September 14. DJs, local comic book legends, vendors, podcasts, live character sketches, a cosplay parade and a special panel featuring Sacramento’s Heroic Girls will set the scene for guests on Thursday evening.
For years now, comic culture has had a strong presence across major mediums, such as movies, books and television shows. Most recently, Wonder Woman surpassed all expectations in the box office as the female-directed blockbuster presented a historic case for gender equality on a national scale. The strong reception was a clear message that audiences are ready for a change in on-screen representation.
Heroic Girls founder, John Marcotte, hopes the message is heard far past the headlines of trending topics. He believes pop culture guides reality, which is the reason he hopes to see more gender roles exemplified by Disney princesses dissipate in the hands of successful counter-examples like Wonder Woman. This requires a better screening of content prior to inception. In other words, women and men from all races need to be taken into consideration throughout the creative process in order to see equality prosper.
“In order to achieve a dream of equality we have to always be able to imagine it first on the pages of a comic book, on the silver screen, in our television shows, in our books,” said Marcotte. “We have to change there first, show that ideal world and that pushes those ideas into our heads and makes it a reality.”
Marcotte has been pushing these ideals, gender equality in particular, into public discussion for at least four years now. As the father of two daughters, he has been doing what he believes is his parental duty. In doing so, he has gone from anonymous parent writing about his kids on Tumblr to being honored by a United Nations committee as a HeForShe Champion for Change.
“I think it’s important that men are involved in talking about equality for women,” said Marcotte. “It shouldn’t be just a women’s issue. It affects society as whole.”
On Thursday, Marcotte will present examples of racist and sexist stereotypes that have permeated our current society and the ways he believes we can combat them.
“Pop culture is kind of the basis of how we learn about the world,” said Marcotte. “If the pop culture itself has a lot of built-in gender stereotypes or racial stereotypes, that’s where we learn those and they’re self-perpetuated.”
From acknowledging our own biases to addressing the potential of sexist artificial intelligence, the examples are ever-present and liable to permeate further into our consciousness without notice. By discussing these issues in a public setting, Marcotte hopes to see a modern discussion where self-awareness leads to equality in the grandest realms of society.
“Everybody has biases,” said Marcotte. “Once you start seeing the world from that perspective and know that those biases are out there in society, you know, racial biases, gender biases, that’s when you can really work and try to make it better.”
For more information on ArtMix: Crocker-Con, visit CrockerArt.org/event.
For more information on Heroic Girls, visit HeroicGirls.com.
Photo courtesy of JD Hancock via Flickr.