SDCC Agent Carter Press Room: Addressing Sexism and Racism
Since Agent Carter burst on the scene in Captain America, there’s been an enormous amount of buzz about the character and the role she’ll play in the Superhero genre. Our own writer Undie made note of this in her article Stop Saying the Future of Female Superheroes is tied to Agent Carter’s Success. While we as fans can speculate, theorize, and discuss this topic in depth, I had to know what the cast and crew had to say on the matter.
Writer Michele Fazekas had an interesting take on the topic. While at this point it’d be difficult for her to not be aware that Agent Carter has become a huge feminist icon, she’s very focused on just telling the best story she can.
“It’s fun to tell a great story. If you start thinking about, oh, what is our place within the Marvel universe… [Instead I think] ‘let’s tell a really awesome story with a really awesome character.'”
This is a valid way to look at it from a writing perspective. It’s a lot of responsibility to think that you’re writing a character that could open doors for women in a genre that often under represents them. This method seems to be working out pretty well because so far the show has delivered incredible material.
Hayley Atwell, however, experienced this topic from a different perspective. While she doesn’t have control over the writing of the character, she’s been on the receiving end of fan reaction.
“I spent the last few weeks going to conventions around the world, even meeting young women in the Middle East who write about how women can be heroes, too. Young girls coming up, and a couple of young boys as well, going, “I know my value, too!” It gives my work a lot more meaning. This is hardly just a self-serving kind of job where I get paid to do something that I love that I find really fun. It just means that it’s given me more of a sense of responsibility that this role has kind of given to me, which I welcome … It’s something that as a kid, I would have liked to have had to look up to. And all the parents have been very happy because it means that, for their sons as well, there’s a woman that they can stop and reflect and learn how capable she is just as much as a guy. In all ways really, it’s been quite moving.”
Not going to lie. Many of the reporters at my table teared up at this story and it was a little hard to maintain professionalism. She’s had some very powerful experiences because of her role. Regardless of what’s to come in the superhero genre, I’m grateful we got this and overjoyed that Hayley has shared these experiences with us.
But Peggy as a feminist icon isn’t the only topic to come up in regards to diversity. Fans have begun the hashtag #DiversifyAgentCarter in an effort to bring more POC to a show that’s so diverse in other ways. Fazekas had some thoughts on that as well.
“In 1947 [Los Angeles] was very segregated, even more than New York. So we’re actually going to use that to tell the story to talk about that. In the way that we talked about sexism, not that sexism is over.”
Overall the press room was very rewarding. Our fandom has been blessed with cast and crew that are very in tune with the fandom and what’s important to us. I’m excited to see how it plays out next season.
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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