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It's happening again...I can feel it

Ironically enough, I'm writing this on a Friday afternoon before the monthly PRSFS meeting.

P returned from the Great American Desert, where Convergence is held every Independence Day weekend, and had much news, most of it amusing in a "ha-ha, funny!" way and some of it amusing in a bitter, cynical "LOOK HOW STUPID YOU ARE" way.

I hear some folks in MNSTFMISFITSLORANGPS (or whatever they're calling it this week) have become nervous and fretful about all the young, energetic and costumed anime folk who have been showing up at CONvergence for the last few years. Some of them are sufficiently ignorant of their own organizational history as to talk out loud about how much better off their convention would be without all these annoying anime fans around. Gee, this sounds horribly familiar. Where have we seen this before?

I said in the comments to that post that I don't really give a damn about CONvergence or any other con outside the Washington area with the sole exception of Anime Detour. That was stretching the truth a bit; I care about Arcana and miss it a lot, and I am concerned about CONvergence to a certain extent since a lot of people I know enjoy the convention quite a bit and would like to continue doing so. That may be a bit difficult if parts of the CONvergence staff start treating anime fans like second class citizens or worse. I don't think I have to get all Glenn Beck and draw pictures for people here, do I?

I suppose you could make the argument that if all the anime fans decided to stop going, for one reason or another, it wouldn't be a fatal hit to CONvergence. That may very well be true in the short term. However, SF fandom in general is not getting any younger, and the new blood is mostly coming from anime fandom. A lot of those younger fans are enthusiastic about volunteering, helping out, and doing other things to support the convention. Can you really afford to alienate them? Your call. Just remember what happened the last time fandom decided it was better off without one of its tribes. Hilarity ensued, c/d? Guess it depends on whether you were pointing fingers and jeering, or being jeered at.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
huladavid
Jul. 9th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
From what Chris & Sue have told me Convergence was targeting crashers more than any particular group (unlike Minicon), and just badged the entire hotel. They both said it felt less of a crush than last year.

On a related note, I signed up as a "maybe attending" for next year.

Pointing and Jeering was a hell'a fun! (Aw, the poor bruwsed egos...)
wombat_socho
Jul. 9th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
This is correct, the main effort was to get rid of crashers & ghosts. I am given to understand that some room parties invited (literally) hundreds of their friends to drop by their party, whether they were CONVergence members or not, and the change in policy was aimed at preventing this sort of stupidity. Policy change appears to have been a success.

What I'm noting isn't an official policy at all (per burnunit's comment below) but rather some CONvergence staff wanting those noisy kids to get off their lawn.
darksumomo
Jul. 9th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
Which segment of SF fandom did the literature (and possibly movie) fans run out back in the day--the TV show fans?
wombat_socho
Jul. 9th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
The short version
The "literary" fans in MNSTF basically ran off anyone who wasn't into books and/or the Grateful Dead, and their con attendance imploded from ~3400 to ~300/400 - depending on who you want to believe, since during the worst years no attendance figures were made public. I understand similar things happened at Boskone and elsewhere, and (in addition to hotel problems) did much to kill Disclave here in DC.
burnunit
Jul. 9th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Please allow me to crash this party and say...
...We fucking LOVE anime fans! You can mark that as Word, that I am speaking Officially as a Director of Convergence (I don't do that on LJ very often, but I feel it's relevant to do so here because maybe some of the right people will hear it).

Repeat: Like Are You Fucking KIDDING ME? Like serious? Anime fans and especially our friends from the AD crowd are invited, encouraged, urged, and occasionally begged to attend our con. Please come! We would Definitely notice if you skipped. It's fashionable to think that CONvergence doesn't like anime fans, but reality is over here, that other shit be fantasy. And what kind of sick fucker has fantasies where they exclude people from a party we're working so hard to make happen? Not me! Not this organization as long as I'm in it!

Anime fans and the youth in general are completely welcome at our convention.
We'll make bruising adjustments to any of our staff who behave otherwise (can't fix thoughts, but can Demand Behaviors and hold folks accountable for em). Because as far as we're concerned, the next generation is completely vital. Plus, Convergence people were in attendance at AD this year, we had a great time, and we're borrowing so many ideas from them it's not even funny.

Now, for your record keeping purposes, here are some additional data:
1. Yes, they ARE calling themselves something different this year. It's Geek Partnership Society (GPS) and that's the legal, final, signed and sealed name of the organization which did used to be called the Minnesota Society for Interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy (MISFITS).

2. GPS does not run CONvergence. CONvergence is a production of Convergence Events, a different signedsealedndelivered 501c3 organization.

3. GPS is a valued partner of Convergence and vice versa. We have agreements with each other along a number of dimensions, and Convergence donates a portion of our proceeds to GPS for use in supporting their programs and in the facility we share. But the governance of each organization is different—different people on their boards, and different expressions of their missions (expressions = different stuff we do).

4. Likewise Anime Detour is a partner with GPS, donating a portion of their proceeds to GPS which are used for the shared facility. A facility now used by all three organizations.

So while you were out, so to speak, we've been busting ASS trying to relate to each other in new ways, welcoming, learning from each other, and having fun. Without having to sit around and sing kum bah yah either. So far, it's movin.

Giddyup, Olsen OUT.
wombat_socho
Jul. 9th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Please allow me to crash this party and say...
Hey, the door's always open. Feel free to pull up a rock any time.

I'm very happy to hear all of this from somebody in charge. Even happier to hear that no singing of "Kumbaya" is involved. Man, I hate that song. ;) Detour owes a lot to CONvergence and the people that make it happen, and it pleases me no end to see that the two organizations are working together, synergistic improvements are happening, and Good Things in general are coming out of the relationship.

I'm not trying to start a witch-hunt for "non-inclusive" people. I'm also not trying to stoke any drama, appearances to the contrary. I'm just saying, "Hey, this is what I hear." In any group of people there's going to be some folks who aren't on board with the program, so I'm not entirely surprised that some people are saying dumb things. I do think it's worth noting, though.


(Actually, I was aware of the evolution of MISFITS into GPS and Convergence Events, but I couldn't resist the temptation of a joke involving navigation systems.)
badger2305
Jul. 10th, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
Re: Please allow me to crash this party and say...
Good to hear. MinnStF/Minicon never did learn this lesson; part of the reason why I got out of Twin Cities fandom and con-running. Hope things work better for you.
jamestrainor
Jul. 9th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
Dad, I know you're paranoid about this kind of thing, but in the case of Convergence, you should probably lay off the Ovaltine. :)
wombat_socho
Jul. 10th, 2010 01:24 am (UTC)
Step away from the Tub of Happiness and nobody gets hurt.
phoenixalpha
Jul. 9th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
Extra delicious irony for hearing this out of CONvergence staffers, who seem to have forgotten where their con comes from in the first place. It's worth mentioning that obviously this isn't the main line of even a majority of the staffers. However, the fact that the sentiments exist at all, and exist enough that other people, especially Detour staffers are catching the edge of it, is concerning.

I like CONvergence a lot. I don't want to see it go the way of Minicon, and I don't want to see any kind of rift between Detour and CONvergence.

Now that I've said that, I almost feel like I should add a disclaimer saying I DON'T SPEAK FOR DETOUR, because people tend to miss that point easily.
wombat_socho
Jul. 10th, 2010 01:26 am (UTC)
"... I almost feel like I should add a disclaimer saying I DON'T SPEAK FOR DETOUR, because people tend to miss that point easily."

Good luck with that. I've been saying it since May 2007, but nobody (except people actually on Detour staff) seems to believe me for some reason.
burnunit
Jul. 18th, 2010 02:45 am (UTC)
Well, come on, if we're being honest
To be fair the likelihood is manifestly HIGHER that AD staff would be among the first to catch it, not just dim reports from the edges. Because the way we gossip in this culture, someone overhearing awful sentiments would waste no time getting back to someone on AD staff in order to tell them about it. Just like I tend to hear tons of CVG scuttlebutt or interweb dramaz very quickly, even if people think it's "secret" or "off the radar."

I strive not to perpetuate the idea of being overly vigilant (read: paranoid) about people slagging CONvergence (or our attendees), but I'm sure if someone had said likewise about our people at Detour, I would have heard about it really quick from some enterprising person. I would have likely said "meh, come on guys, chill" but still. My point is, people tend to hurry bad news along, so i'm not so sure if it's possible for the people most intimately involved—and therefore most likely to be concerned about such maters—to just "catch the edge of it" in our current environment.

BTW, I attended AD this year, hosted a room party (for mnzero) and had a Great Time. And I said so to a number of staffers, verbally and in writing, and to anyone who would listen. I'm looking forward to going back next year—assuming I can swing the hotel expense!
tokenfanboy
Jul. 10th, 2010 01:49 am (UTC)
While security was much tighter this year and I did not agree with their blocking one of the entrances to the 1st floor cabana walkway with security tape on Thursday, I did not hear of anything that was directed specifically at anime fans.
wombat_socho
Jul. 10th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
Good.
badger2305
Jul. 10th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
Glad to see that mistakes of the past aren't getting repeated. Mind you, I haven't been to Convergence recently, so I'm not sure what things are like now. But definitely glad.
wombat_socho
Jul. 16th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
For what my opinion is worth, I think you'd like it. It is what the Big Minicons were, but larger and better run.

It is ironic that Minneapolis fandom now has what you proposed way back when, only even more so. Last time I looked, there were seven other conventions catering to fans of one sort or another, not counting the gaming convention(s). It's a good thing.
huladavid
Jul. 16th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
I hope they don't blow up the con until I get a chance to taste the Kool-Aid. (I'm leaning towards attending next year. Could be a big mistake, but if I wanna run screaming into the woods I won't be far from home.)
wombat_socho
Jul. 16th, 2010 08:01 pm (UTC)
Well, from what burnunit said, the problem is not a general one, and it is going to be Addressed. So, yeah. Sign up early, you'll feel better about not wasting so much money if you do (God forbid) run screaming off into the night.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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