Comic-Con Has a Hardwick Problem

Hardwick

Photo by Megan Bagnall

Chloe Dykstra has written a piece on Medium outlining long term abuse she states she experienced while in a relationship with a person who, by all context clues, is no other than pop culture commentator Chris Hardwick. The news has triggered a lot of discussion in the geek community regarding Chris’s strong presence at conventions and other pop culture events.

TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses potentially triggery content regarding abuse allegations against Chris Hardwick.

UPDATE 6/16/18: Chris Hardwick has been removed from his San Diego Comic-Con panels.

Chris Hardwick is a known presence in geek culture and in the pop culture convention circuit.  This year he’s been chosen to moderate the Doctor Who panel in Hall H.  He’s hosted many other panels at San Diego Comic-Con as well, but this year’s moderation of Doctor Who is a particular honor as it marks the first appearance of Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to take on the iconic Doctor character in the long 55 year history of the show.  Now that the moderator has effectively been #MeToo‘d, it casts a shadow on what should be an empowering panel for women geeks everywhere.

While there have been false accusations against celebrities in the wake of #MeToo (see: George Takei), I’m not here to question the legitimacy of this particular story.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m inclined to believe victims of assault, especially ones who were abused by those in power.  But even if accusations DO turn out to be false, it takes time for facts to come out and for stories to be confirmed.  It took six months for George Takei’s accuser to recant his story and for the dark cloud to finally lift for fans who wanted to continue to enjoy Takei’s work.  With only thirty-three days before San Diego Comic-Con, I don’t see this as something that can be resolved in time.  Even if Hardwick were proven innocent (as his supporters insist he will be), a panel room filled with a largely feminist-positive crowd hosted by someone accused of something like this is going to lead to a tense atmosphere.

Bottom line, this is the wrong panel for Hardwick at the wrong time for fans. Should these allegations be proven false, there are countless other conventions and other panels he can host, but this one should be about a historical moment in fandom.  There is no way fans who have read Chloe Dykstra’s heart-wrenching article will be able to fully enjoy the panel with that in the front of their minds.

As previously mentioned, it’s not as though this is the last opportunity Chris will ever have to ever host a panel.  He’s made a name for himself as a professional geek and has inspired many who wish to start their own geek culture empires.  If proven innocent, he could easily be redeemed, much like Takei.  But right now people should not be put in the position to choose between supporting a ground-breaking moment for women in geek culture, or avoiding complicity in supporting a potential abuser.  I implore whoever makes these decisions at San Diego Comic-Con to strongly reconsider the moderator of this panel.

Author: Angel Wilson

Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.



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