Tor.com is reporting that the rules for IGN’s contest to promote the science fiction film Section 9, about extra-terrestrials in Johannesburg, South Africa being denied rights and being declared “not human,” explicitly exclude women from participating.
The contest, which gets the winner a trip to the San Diego Comic Con, and would also entail that he participate in promotion of the film, says in its rules “This sweepstakes is open only to males who are both legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and Washington D.C. and who are at least between 18-24 years of age as of July 23, 2009…” (Emphasis is mine.) IGN has said that the rules for the contest were passed on to them by Colombia Tri-Star, which is releasing the film.
I’m going to echo a few points that Ms. Atkinson raises, and possibly raise a few of my own. One, while I am not a lawyer, this is possibly illegal, due to laws in the United States preventing discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, or creed. As a general rule of thumb, breaking the law in the promotion of your film, video game, or book isn’t a good idea. Not that this didn’t stop Sony or EA before, but still, the best case scenario, it makes you look stupid. Worst case scenario – well, I’ll get to that.
Two, what legitimate reason would there be to prevent women from participating in the contest? Even if the film’s target demographic is males 18-25, there will still be women who are interested in the film, much as there are women who saw, and enjoyed, Transformers, Iron Man, Star Trek, and other science-fiction blockbusters. Shutting women out of this is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a dick move.
Three, where was IGN’s legal department during all of this? Even if the laws against discrimination against women don’t apply explicitly contests like this one, this rule could potentially open them up to a class action lawsuit, a lawsuit that will be theirs to lose. The same criticism, by the way, can be leveled at Columbia Tri-Star’s legal department.
Four, as I mentioned in point #2, this makes Columbia Tri-Star, and IGN, look like a giant inflamed butthole (I’m trying to refrain from using the profanity I’d prefer to use – as this is a family site). Tri-Star for insisting on the contest rule, and IGN for not having the genital fortitude to tell Tri-Star to remove that stipulation, even if it meant the contest went to a site with less of a spine (or just less ethics). Due to Tri-Star’s action here, I am pissed with Tri-Star, and I’m not going to see the movie, and I’m not the only person who is angered by this (among others, Mur Lafferty, who posted about this on her twitter, which is how I learned about it).
Now, I might be inclined to change my mind if Tri-Star and IGN drop the gender restriction, but they’ve gotten themselves in a rather impressive hole, one they’ll have to work to get out of.