I just wanted to do a quick wrap post on this year’s convention because we really recognized a few things this year that, maybe we had seen in the past but really hit home this year. I just wanted to give my thoughts on the convention and the state of fandom today and why, even though I plan to keep going, conventions really don’t matter today.
I know I’ve pointed this out before, but we just don’t live in the same world that we did 20, or even 10 years ago. This struck me over the weekend when we were sitting in a panel and they had slides running before it started and one of the slides was the one to the right. Seriously? These people don’t know their audience. Every single one of those slides and every single video is going to be posted on the Internet before the panel is even over. That’s reality. Deal with it. That’s one major reason I don’t miss Comicon, because I can sit at home and watch every single panel I might have wanted to see, in its entirety, within an hour or so of it being held. We’ll usually sit through all the content that we cared about from the con a day or two later. Why bother fighting the crowds when you can enjoy it from the comfort of your home?
And the exhibit hall is pointless too. My wife and I spent a lot of time checking Amazon to see if we could just order it cheaper and half the time, we could. There was a time when the only way you’d ever find some of these treasures was at a convention where stores would bring their entire inventory to sell. Today, all of the rare or hard to find stuff is long gone, sold online, and the only things most dealers bring to a convention are things they think they can sell and make a quick buck on. Today, I could literally stand in the middle of the exhibit hall and order almost anything that anyone has to sell as cheaply, or cheaper, than they’re selling it and it will probably be on my doorstep by the time I get home. We did that in particular when it came to Funko Pops this year, we knew what we could get it for on Amazon and if it was more expensive at the convention, we passed most of the time. There were a couple of things my wife was looking for that, of course, nobody had and the only reason she was looking at all was it wasn’t available on Amazon at all. I later found them elsewhere for $50 each. Conventions are pretty pointless for finding things these days.
And what about celebrities? Well, I don’t really care about celebrities, but I’ve gotten to know a lot of famous people at conventions, but that was back in the old days, when celebrities didn’t hide back stage and only come out for panels or signings, when they sat at tables and walked the floor just like everyone else. It’s how I ended up going out to lunch with DeForest Kelley. Like I said before, it’s how I met up with Ray Bradbury every year at SDCC. It’s how I’ve ended up hanging out in hotel rooms playing games with famous writers. It’s how I’ve wound up on TV sets with friends who are writers and producers. It’s how I’ve gotten dragged to movie premieres by friends who are actors and directors. But today, you can’t do that. Celebrities are kept apart from the fans, mostly out of fear for their safety, but because so many celebrities aren’t open to just being people with other people, and honestly, lots of fans are too much into hero worship for their own good. But other than seeing someone on a stage for an hour, or sitting behind a table signing autographs for 30 seconds, most people have little or no contact with their favorite writers, actors, directors, etc. You have more access via social media like Twitter and Facebook than you do at a convention. It’s just a different world.
I know very little so far has had anything to do with this particular convention, but really, conventions just don’t have the kind of impact that they once did and Wondercon 2016 is no exception. I didn’t walk in thinking it would be anything but an escape from the day-to-day world and a vacation for the family and it wasn’t, but years ago, conventions were always more. They were magical. Now maybe I’ve just grown up and gotten old, maybe these little tiny conventions of the past that have grown into professional monstrosities of the present, that’s just a sign of the modern trend toward corporatizing media, but it lacks something important that we used to have. Fans used to mean more to the industry than a wallet. Today, it seems that’s all they are. Go see our movies. Go watch our TV shows. Go buy our video games. Go spend money on our merchandise. Buy, buy, buy. That’s all that matters. Consume, consume, consume. Being passionate is fine, so long as you’re not fanatical, but that’s really what media conglomerates want, the fanatics, the crazies who will buy because there’s a logo on the side, who will watch no matter how bad the show becomes, who will walk into a theater no matter how terrible the movie is, just because they’re fanatics. But as someone who is not now and has never been a fanatic about anything, who watches things that earn my viewership, who reads things that earn my attention and who buys things that deserve my money, I’m just not part of the target audience anymore. I was happier back when a small group of people got together for a convention with creators who were equally passionate about what they do, who were just decent, down-to-earth people that would hang around with fans, both of their own projects and of the genres themselves, and just have a good time.
I really miss that. Too bad it’s gone.