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Australia’s Supanova Convention Decides to Keep Firefly’s Adam Baldwin as a Guest Despite Outcry

SupanovaAfter weeks of controversy and debate, Supanova Pop Culture Expo has released a statement saying Firefly actor Adam Baldwin will remain a guest at their upcoming June shows.

We had previously reported on a fan petition which aimed to revoke Baldwin’s guest status due to his support of Gamergate. If you recall, the actor was the one to coin the term for the movement which began as a harassment tactic toward women in the video game industry but disguised itself as an effort to ask for better ethics in video game journalism. It’s important to note that while many who call themselves Gamergate supporters actually do want serious discussions on ethics, the movement began and continues to be overrun by misogynistic individuals who want nothing more than to antagonize, harass, threaten, and destroy those looking to make so called “social justice” changes in the industry. It should also be noted that the most widely targeted individuals – Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu, and Anita Sarkeesian – are not journalists.

When we reached out for comment on the situation, Daniel Zachariou, Founder and Event Director previously told us, “The fact of the matter is I’m not a gamer and had no idea about Gamergate. I was basking on a beach overseas during my annual holiday, August last year, when it all started.” They said they would be working through the responses they’d received. When we asked Baldwin for a statement he asked if we’d be lying in our post, as he felt we had when we made an update in a previous article about him on the site to correct erroneous information. He also asked us to include Psalm 109 in our post.

Though a counter petition that gained seemingly equal traction was started to keep Baldwin at the event, it was also accused of forging signatures in order to gain larger numbers. Regardess, after a few weeks of thinking on it and listening to potential attendees, Supanova has decided to keep Baldwin and also received specific remarks from him about the situation. A statement on their Facebook page reads:

Dear Friends and Fans,
Thank you for your patience while we have been absorbing the reaction to Adam Baldwin’s announcement as a guest for the Sydney and Perth 2015 expos this June. It has been a very challenging time for our team, a team that lives and breathes popular culture, in that we have been avalanched by two sets of fans: the first group called for Adam to be removed from the event and the second group called just as loudly to make sure he remained our guest.

As a backdrop to how we arrived at this juncture, Supanova has been trying to get Adam to come to Supanova since 2006 and we previously succeeded in April 2013 when he appeared at our Melbourne and Gold Coast events. The response from you, our fans, was overwhelmingly enthusiastic with a further call to action to invite him back from the fans in the cities that missed out. We again succeeded in securing him last year for June 2015 as part of the Whedonverse ‘Serenity’10th anniversary celebration alongside his co-stars Nathan Fillion and Morena Baccarin.

To exclude someone from Supanova for their views, even if we don’t share them, goes completely against the spirit of the expo that we’ve presented all these years as all our stars appear to discuss their work in pop culture, not their personal political or ideological viewpoints. We similarly embrace all our fans, whatever their various pop culture passions may be, and that inclusiveness is at our very heart.

Further, the concerns are far-reaching and complex, and contain an immense amount of discord. We feel, as Supanova, that we’re not positioned to adjudicate either way.

What we could do, however, is raise the main areas of concern with Adam himself, the concerns you as our fans have raised, and this is the reply that Adam shared with us:

“The harassment and threats being made on both sides of the ‪#‎GamerGate‬ debate shame the games industry and make it extremely difficult for casual observers to see the merits of arguments about corruption, ethics or journalism.

Threats of violence and/or “doxxing” should be reported to law enforcement and handled at their discretion. Such threats are reprehensible and have no place in any debate.

Obviously, I condemn harassment. The YouTube videos linked on Twitter at the outset last September contained no personal information of any individual. I had zero knowledge of what might be in their comments sections. No one can honestly be expected to check vast comment threads below articles or videos before linking to them.

Lastly, I believe that pop culture conventions are inappropriate venues for controversial topics, so I will respectfully not be discussing them at Supanova, or its related events.”

Given that we have Adam’s statement above verifying he will not discuss #GamerGate while stating categorically that he does not condone harassment, bullying or doxxing under any circumstances; given we as Supanova will not allow questions regarding the subject from the floor; given we as Supanova as a professional organisation must fulfil our contractual obligations; given Supanova will be providing the highest level of enforcement of our Code of Conduct (a condition of entry to the event) to ensure our strong anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies are maintained; and given that so many fans continue to support Adam’s appearance as part of our ‘Serenity’ 10th Anniversary celebration, we will be proceeding with Adam’s attendance as planned.

As we’ve already mentioned, Supanova Expo has an incredibly inclusive array of fans who kindly share the space with each other, based on their mutual passions for imaginary worlds. Our programming crosses all demographics, celebrating diversity and a wide variety of genres. Supanova does not condone or allow bullying or harassment in any way, shape or form at our events which ensures a friendly, safe and welcoming environment. Both the Code of Conduct and the spirit of Supanova are agreements to treat with honour and respect every single fan and friend at the expo. You’ve always made us so very proud with the positive atmosphere you have created at every event.

We ask you, the Supa-fans, to maintain those principles and standards so that we as a community can positively influence the future of fandom, and its direction, through our shared love of pop culture and the heroic values that define it.
Yours in fandom, always,
— Daniel Zachariou, Supanova Event Director

This is the first time Baldwin has publicly acknowledged the video he linked to back in August of last year which contained doxxing information of Quinn in it’s comments. He says in this statement he had no knowledge upon posting the video, which in entirely possible considering how many comments were on the video, though after tweeting it he was certainly made aware of this fact by Quinn and several others replying to him. In this case, it could be seens as a gesture of good faith if Baldwin echoed his important statements on his Twitter account with over 200,000 followers instead of making light of harassment.

As you can imagine, the response to the statement was mixed with several fans congratulating the convention for supporting Baldwin, while others vowed to form picket lines at the show. Albert Santos, who started the petition to have Supanova removed the actor from their lineup made this statement:

These past three weeks have been tough. My relationship with my girlfriend has been put to the test, my chronic illness has been exasperated, and my sleeping patterns are completely out of synch at this stage. I had to delete a seven-year-old blog that had a lot of my professional writing because it was compromised, as well as change my name on Facebook. Several of my mutual friends have had their personal information compromised. There is so much more that has happened behind the scenes, that I cannot discuss because the safety and security of those involved is paramount.

All this, for Supanova Pop Culture Expo to say that they are standing behind Adam Baldwin. They are standing behind a renown cyber-bully. That they buy his plead of ignorance, despite the threats and harassment that have gone on under the ‪#‎Gamergate‬ hashtag. In light of the ongoing misogyny in Australia and cyber-bullying culture, as we near the anniversary of the death of Charlotte Dawson, someone who was cyber-bullied herself, it’s concerning that an event devoted to supporting and cherishing pop culture for all ages has sided with someone who is so firecely against those tenants.

Baldwin has a history of calling for aggressive action, including doxxings, on others. He has called people “dipshits” and “morons”, has aggrivated key GamerGate tagret Zoe Quinn directly, has threatened former Supanova guest Wil Wheaton, has called Thanksgiving “Victory over the Savages Day” and has suggested that antivaccination campaigners all be “doxxed and tortured”. These are all things that he has said and done, primarily through his twitter handle, which he regularly wipes clean. These go directly against the code of conduct of Supanova, which they kindly in the statement supporting him.

Throughout all of this, the most concerning thing is how little consumer input Supanova have seeked. Not once was anyone formally asked about means to alleviate the matter. Instead, they actively seeked out prominent feminist figures, including Brianna Wu and Kirsty Mac, in informal and dubious settings to ask for ways to “better” the situation. In addition, not once did they seek to clarify if the counter-petition (which, for the record, was started by a teenager in Washington and filled with fake signatures from 8chan) was legitimate or created in good faith. They instead went with responses to their original post,

As a former Supanova attendee, cosplayer, volunteer, stall-holder and friend, I and many others, are disappointed beyond belief. However, now that we know where Supanova stand, will we regroup, and we will continue to put the pressure in any and every way we can. This does not end today. It never ends.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition: https://www.communityrun.org/petitions/revoke-adam-baldwin-s-invite-to-the-supanova-pop-culture-expo
I await Supanova’s call.
Albert Santos

We reached out once again to Supanova’s Zachariou to get specifics on any attendees wishing to get refunds on tickets. However, as of today, tickets for the June event have not yet gone on sale. Zachariou told us, “That said, refunds are only issued if particular guests are attached to specific tickets and that guest cancels. So a guest that someone doesn’t like being announced would not be a valid reason to provide a refund. However our general admission tickets are transferable so they could be sold to a third party should that fan decide not to attend.”

It’s very important to mention this isn’t simply a matter of disagreeing with someone’s “political or ideological viewpoints” for many of the petition signers, it’s about a real fear for safety they feel is involved in Baldwin’s inclusion at the events. The Mary Sue will keep you updated if any changes happen between now and the event.

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