SLCC 2017 – Salt Lake Comic Con
– Jen’s take*
*Jen is a bad person who hates everything and is generally sleep deprived and high AF on paint fumes while attending cons, so her experience may or may not be an accurate interpretation of how crappy things are. Whatever, nobody’s gonna read all this anyway.
Also, trigger warning or w/e, this is a rant, not a review, and is full of colorful language.
TL;DR: don’t go to Salt Lake Comic Con. Ever. Really just don’t go even go to Utah, but mostly don’t go to SLCC.
I really don’t even want to go into all the reasons why Salt Lake Comic Con was a shitfest that should be driven out of business. I don’t want to sit here and be mad again. I just want to rant a bit and hopefully it will save someone else the money and misery.
Somewhere along the line people got the idea that it’s not okay to say negative things. That if they are having a good time, anyone who isn’t having that same experience is some entitled asshole or a stick in the mud, when really it’s those fun-loving assholes, so focused on having a good time — at the expense of everyone else – who are ruining the experience. I’m glad you’re having a good time standing there dicking around on your phone in the middle of a panel, but maybe sit down so the 150 people behind you can see the screen? I’m glad you enjoy day drinking in public at 10 AM on a Thursday, but maybe tone it down just a notch around the kids and families? I know you have no interest in comic con and you have somewhere to be, but do us all a favor and take the 30 seconds to stop and not almost run over the crowd trying to cross the street.
I would say overall about 60% of what made the con shit was other people. The con itself had more than its fair share of poor management, which seems pretty standard when the creators don’t care about comics, the fans, the stars, or anything but profits. When you sell so many tickets that people have to be counted coming into the building and potentially cut off from entering because it’s too full: YOU HAVE OVERSOLD THE EVENT. It was far too crowded and there were not enough volunteers to manage things. We were nearly turned away from the main panel room because it was “too full,” only to get inside and see half the seats were empty because people were being assholes and not moving closer together.
So on the subject of assholes, let’s talk a little bit about privilege. Not white privilege, I know I’ll lose you all on that. Just privilege in general. When you have something that someone else does not, that you both want, need, or desire, regardless of how hard you have worked to get it: that is privilege.
“Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.”
When you get to go to comic con, it is a privilege. Whether you worked your ass off to save up money, or grandma handed over passes and a wad of cash, it is an advantage and special right that you get to have over others.
I don’t take it for granted. I appreciate every minute that I get to spend at an event like this. I am thankful that I got to go at all. I am keenly aware that I am passing homeless people on the street in my cosplay costume that serves no other purpose than to screw around in and show off that I have the time, money, and skills for frivolity, carrying a bottle of water that cost 3 times what it should have, going to an event that, to be realistic, is a pointless indulgence of bullshit that serves no benefit to society.
When you are very aware of the fact that you made a choice between eating anything besides ramen and beans for a week or getting to go to a convention, it makes it that much more of a slap in the face to have rude people ruin the experience, or to miss things like the once in a lifetime Dick Van Dyke panel, or half of the Stephen Amell panel, due to disorganization.
[For those who didn’t hear, Dick van Dyke’s panel appearance was to be a lottery style panel, where people would have to win a seat to even be able to attend. Winners had not yet been announced when, the day before his scheduled panel, they told everyone that the panel and photo ops were cancelled. This fact was reiterated by the local news that night. The next morning at 10:54 am, 6 minutes before the panel, an email went out saying the panel was back on. Because many people commented that they got theirs, ie, they got an email with enough time to be able to drive across town and make the panel or drop what they were doing and get in, I suspect that VIPs or other people who had paid for extra privilege were informed first, and the rest of us plebs were left out of the loop to prevent a mad rush for the panel room. Nobody bothered to put a notification that the panel was back on in the app, where most congoers were supposed to be checking for information.] So we missed the panel that was really the only reason we went.
Understandably, people were mad. The organizers (or rather what I suspect is a pair of 14 year olds running the SLCC page) were unsympathetic, as were those who were privileged enough to have gotten the email in time to see the panel. It’s disgusting to see the organizers and other con white knights jump on anyone who dare say anything besides how great the con was, or to act like people who are upset are mad at the actors themselves. People who are mad about not seeing the Dick Van Dyke panel are not mad at Dick Van Dyke. They are mad at the organizers and their bullshit. Sell too many tickets to an event, to the point where the money people paid to attend doesn’t even get them attendance because there isn’t enough room for everyone, and people who are paying attention, who are aware of their privilege and the work it took to get it, will be rightfully irked. If you bought a bag of chips and opened it to find it full of a bunch packing peanuts and filler garbage with a note that said “sorry, we didn’t have enough to go around,” you’d probably be pissed off — even if there was a bullshit disclaimer on the bag saying that might be the case.
I don’t expect shit from celebrities. To imply that fans don’t care about the health of a 91 year old acting legend because they’re mad they missed his panel due to the organizers being assclowns is hypocritical coming from a convention that treats the man like a prop (watch a video of the Dick Van Dyke photo ops) in an effort to jam more people through and maximize profits.
So enough on that debacle.
Because, for the most part, it was a pretty enjoyable event. What made it such was the fans. Not the assholes there to buy an exclusive signed whatever to turn around and resell on ebay. Not the droves and droves of bros with backpacks who looked disdainfully at people in cosplay. Not the people who came for a photo op so they could pretend they were best buds or had some kind of genuine experience with Dick Van Dyke when all they had was a staged 10 second experience in a production line sort of photo op (seriously, find a video of it on DVD’s Facebook page). (Give me 10 minutes in Photoshop and I can pretend I had some kind of great interaction with a celebrity for a lot less than $100. And you know I’d put a Photoshopped picture of Dick Van Dyke and myself in space with rainbows and lasers and kittens and all kinds of stupidity in it, but I respect the man too much.)
I realize this borders on the “gatekeeper” kind of attitude regarding fandom (if you don’t like the thing I like the way I like for the same reasons I like then fuck off, etc), but if you are the asshole who has to shove through people so you can get in line for an exclusive Funco Pop or product that you’re only going to resell on ebay for 10x the price: Get the fuck out. If you’re only there dressed as Mary Poppins because you saw Guardians of the Galaxy and you thought it would be a clever cosplay and you don’t know or care who Julie Andrews is: Get the fuck out. If you’re going to bring your whole crew of 8 year old kids into a Twisted Toons panel (PG13+) to talk and rattle packages and play grabass in the seats the whole time: Get. The. Fuck. Out.
Because, while these people paid to be at the event too, paid for their privilege along with everyone else: they’re also ruining it for everyone else. When your freedoms start infringing on the freedoms of others, they stop being okay. Not to be a jerk and say that every neckbearded guy in a backpack and backwards hat is a bad person. I play devil’s advocate. I play devil’s advocate so hard that it’s ridiculous. “Well maaaaaybe that kid who nearly trampled my umbrella in a panel room instead of going the other way – the clear way instead of pushing through 6 or 7 people who were still seated because the panel was only just ending — out of the row of chairs and didn’t even acknowledge that I had to physically stop him from destroying the thing I worked 12 hours to create really had to leave the panel room to go throw up. Yeah. Sure. And also maybe his mom or whoever he was with were in the same boat as they nearly knocked the rest of my costume to pieces shoving through after him. Yeah. That’s it.” Because really, I kind of would understand that, since I was forced to chug down a bottle of juice for the “no food and drinks in the panel room” rule (that was apparently being selectively enforced judging by the entire row of obnoxious children smacking down on bags of snacks), and I felt like throwing up on someone for the next few hours myself.
I try not to let all the greed and selfish behavior overshadow the good. I try not to forget why I go to cons.
The Trekkie who found us in our Trek cosplay and showed us the side room where the Artemis Bridge Simulator was being played, which turned out to be one of the highlights of our con. The incredibly nice Mr. and Mrs. Banks who we chatted with at a meetup. The Beetlejuice/Jack Skeleton mashup cosplayer who we danced with. The Lord of the Rings cosplayers who gifted us with a precious. The charity booth cosplayers who use their time, energy, and cosplay skills to help others in need. The artists and creators who have a genuine passion for art, comics, and general nerdery. The many, many people we took photos with as Mary Poppins and Bert, who were excited to see something near and dear to their childhood brought to life. All of the cosplayers, too many to list, who were in character and full of joy and energy, representing and sharing their fandom.
Real people. Nice people.
If the continued commodification of geek and nerd culture is something that is unstoppable, then I say let them have it. Let the assholes have their “comic cons” that have nothing to do with comics, culture, fandom, or anything besides making the organizers rich. Let them have their event pages with nothing but positive reviews pretending that everything was great. Let them eat cake. Let them eat cake and elephant ears and cotton candy on a lightsaber (wtf?) and taco plates in their Rob Schneider panel (srsly, SLCC? Rob Schneider?), and let them spill their $6.00 coffee on one another as they push and shove like animals to be the first to get their limited edition prints, made-in-China con swag, and $100 pseudo-interactions with rich people who don’t give a shit about them.
The rest of us will support our local cons, true artists and content creators, and people who are worth interacting with.
Or maybe I’ll just stay home and read comics. That kind of sounds good too.