Angoulême Organizers Play Cruel Joke on Comics Creators, Presenting Fake Awards
None of the creators were warned ahead of time.
— Sarah McIntyre (@jabberworks) January 31, 2016
After receiving boatloads of criticism for their dearth of female nominees, the Angoulême International Comics Festival apparently decided that they wanted to one-up themselves and pull a really cruel joke on the comics creators in attendance. To begin the ceremony, comedian Richard Gaitet came out to announce that the organizers would rather just drink, dance, and party, so he’s going to fire off the winners and they can all go home. Which, to be honest, would be fine… if any of them were the real winners.
Even if they weren’t the real winners, it still would’ve been fine if any them were told ahead of time to give them the chance to play along. Instead, they were left completely in the dark, so when Gaitet read their names, their publicists, staff, and even they began celebrating on Twitter and other social media. Imagine their supreme disappointment when it was revealed (as part of the show) that they were all fake winners.
Pol Scorteccia, French publisher of Saga, had already shared the news and congratulated Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples for their achievement. After finding out it was all a joke, he had to do a quick backpedal. “We looked like clowns,” he said. According to ActuaBD, one comics creator left in tears when she realized the award she “won” wasn’t real.
The response across social media was about what you’d expect for a cruel joke like this.
— Jessica Campbell (@zappafan1) January 31, 2016
— Doug Wright Awards (@WrightAwards) February 1, 2016
You can find a lot of the responses assembled under the #FauxFauves hashtag.
The gross rotten cherry on top of all of this came in the form of the organizer’s response to, uh… the response. They were defensive, and said that they gave Gaitet the job of “freedom, impertinence, and humor, in keeping with the independent spirit of most comics creators.” Franck Bondoux, the executive director of the festival, then goes on to blame social media. According to Bondoux, all awards shows have jokes, and the real blame lies at the feet of the “dictatorship of the Tweet,” as he put it.
Uh-huh, okay. Clearly nobody gets your ~*~special humor~*~, I guess. Never mind the fact that your festival already copped some extremely bad attention for somehow failing to nominate any women until a bunch of men dropped out, noooo, obviously the problem lies with us. Sure, get angry at these creators and one of the tools they use to speak to the world. My God, I can hear you say from your ivory tower, the proles have voices.
Too harsh? Maybe. But I mean really, come on. It was a low and dirty joke, and came at a time when the Angoulême already had a very negative light cast on them for the way they handled the boycott.
To his credit, Gaitet, the comedian who conceived of and delivered the joke, apologized for the part he played. He displayed a strong awareness and consciousness of just what was wrong with the joke itself, writing:
My fundamental mistake was failing to grasp the range of expectations and hopes, the strong emotions that reigned in the room on such an occasion, nor did I realize the importance of social networks in this context.
I am sincerely sorry for having hurt the professionals who work very hard to support this major art that I love: comics. No, it was neither the place nor the time nor the year to try such a trick.
Only time will tell how the Angoulême will recover from the debacle that was the 2016 Grand Prix. Despite its history as a prestigious award, something to be sought after by comics creators everywhere, it’s sure to have picked up some bit of tarnish this year.
(via Comic Book Resources)
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