Once again, Dr. Alexander and her students and colleagues presented at Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con). This year, they held two panels to a large audience. Here are the abstract for both exciting panels:
Anyone Can Wear The Mask: Diversity, Inclusivity, and Representation (moderated by Dr. Apryl Alexander)
In the last year Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse broke box office records, gained critical acclaim, and won Academy Awards, which was previously considered an impossible feat for comic book films. In addition to the exemplary writing, design, and direction of these two films, the yearning for characters with dynamic personalities and diverse backgrounds has made these films unique and popular. Comics and their associated media are becoming increasingly more inclusive and are making an effort to depict relatively positive images of underrepresented groups. With Captain Marvel and a rumored Black Widow movie on the horizon, it is clear studios are recognizing the desire for diverse content, characters, and perspectives. Further, many comics and television shows based on comics, such as Black Lightning and Cloak and Dagger, are incorporating more social justice-oriented material. This panel will discuss the importance of inclusivity and representation in the media and social justice themes emerging from current content. Also, we will present potential next steps in terms of creating more inclusive media. Lastly, we will pay homage to Stan Lee for his role in creating a more inclusive universe in his material.
Why So Many Orphan Princesses?: Triggering the attachment system in pop culture (moderated by Dr. Tracy Vozar)
Why do Disney princesses lose their parent(s) seemingly before the opening credits are through? Attachment theory states that loss of a primary attachment figure, such as a parent, is a life altering trauma. Loss of a parent is a common fear throughout childhood and into adulthood. The folks at Disney have mastered the art of triggering the audience’s attachment systems to draw in interest and foster an emotional connection with the protagonist. Disney’s not the only master of this method, with numerous production companies including Marvel, DC, Pixar and others harnessing the orphan trope to endear us to their characters’ plights. Further, the loss of parental figures is commonly used as a catalyst for character development, particularly for child or adolescent characters who are then parentified as a result. Unfortunately, insecure attachment and pseudo mature independence from primary caregivers is commonly glorified by these themes. In this panel, we will review the numerous and varied examples of the use of orphaned characters to generate audience engagement. We will delve into the theoretical and scientific bases of the effectiveness of the absent parent plot device, providing in-session exercises and generating group discussion.