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Why can't you just spit it out?

revolutionaryjo and others linked to this Daily Dot article on Facebook, and it got me to thinking about some stuff I hadn't bothered thinking about for a while - mainly because aside from Detour, I'm not on staff with any conventions* and while there are folks at Detour who respect my opinions, the fact of the matter is that what I want for Detour is not terribly relevant. It's in other folks' hands now and they seem to be doing just fine without my advice. Still, I have some thoughts about fandom in general and its evolution, and kicking Aja Romano's parochial little piece around seems like a productive way to spur the thinking.



What do you do if your anime con stops being an anime con and starts being an “everything” con?


The leading question is deliberately provocative, but makes some assumptions that as far as I can tell aren't true of any conventions outside the Midwest. People from other fandoms having unofficial get-togethers under the umbrella of an anime con are not making it an "everything" con** any more than a convention that allows drinking in its room parties is becoming an alcohol con. Even at Anime Detour, which solicits programming ideas from the membership, there is a definite bias towards panels that address the main purpose of the convention: anime, manga, Asian culture, and Asian history.
The notion that fans might be interested in more than one fandom is hardly a new thing, not at all unique to today's young anime fans; it goes back to the roots of modern geek culture in SF fandom.***

The question of whether you want to let your convention develop into a geek culture convention is another question altogether, and one that will ultimately be decided by the convention membership either directly or indirectly. Speaking strictly for myself, I'd prefer to let anime conventions (and particularly Detour) remain concentrated on their original reason for being and not dissolve into an aimless assembly of panels and workshops about a dozen separate fandoms which have nothing whatsoever to do with anime or manga. There's already one multipurpose geek culture in the Twin Cities, Convergence, which does a very good job of addressing the multiple fandoms and subcultures that make up what is now known as geek culture. Not only that, the Geek Partnership Society provides advice and support to people who want to start a new convention, so if you think your own particular subculture isn't getting enough coverage, you can slope off, find a different weekend, and do your own thing with the hundreds of people who feel the same way.

This may sound a little weird, coming from someone who once ripped MnStF's infamous High Resolution Minicon Proposal from stem to stern and deliberately organized Anime Twin Cities and Anime Detour in such a way as to avoid the many hideous mistakes of the HRMP, but it was never my intention to build a copy of Convergence. I and the people who founded ATC/AD were founding an anime convention, damn it, and in fact for years most of us regarded Convergence as R&R, a place to go and relax and tend to our other fannish interests. To allow Anime Detour to become just another geek culture convention would be a betrayal of all the time and effort and money invested by the thousands of people who have worked to make AD what it is today. I'm not in charge there any more, though, and if ATC wants to do that, well, that's their prerogative.

Anyway, back to this monumentally annoying article...there's a paragraph or two marveling at the lack of Homestuck programming at anime conventions despite all the unofficial interest. Frankly, if you have a fandom prone to doing stupid shit like this, I'm not surprised that it's not being welcomed with open arms. "Indelible impression," indeed. Perhaps more pertinently, if Homestuck is so popular, where are the Homestuck conventions? There's a wide-eyed disbelief that anime fans aren't more open to other fandoms****, and a completely stupid parallel drawn to the wide range of subjects covered in anime and manga. Romano is apparently unaware of the cultural rejection experienced by fans of Star Trek and other SF movies and TV series when they showed up at science fiction conventions, which at the time dealt mainly with books and magazines and (to a certain extent) art. Contra Mr. Woodard from Dartmouth, geek culture isn't a globalization thing at all - the elements are drawn almost exclusively from the Anglosphere, and the parts that aren't come from Japan and Korea, whose cultures are heavily influenced by the United States in ways that have served as fodder for a dozen dissertations. Now, as for Charles Dunbar, I'm interested in what he has to say about conventions, seeing as how he's an anthropology major who seems to have been spending his time studying fandom. Unfortunately, I get the impression that he, like Romano, is not aware of the deep roots and tangled history of fandom, and thinks everything began in the 21st century.

All in all, a remarkable compilation of ignorance and pontification from people who don't seem to know much more than the author, all in the service of a bad cause.


*Nor do I want to be, considering I'm leaving the DC area next year.
**The term you are looking for, citizen Romano, is "geek culture". Do some fucking research.
***Which Romano could have learned in no time flat, had she bothered to do any research for this article.
****Which in my personal experience is complete bullshit. I can't think of any anime fans I know who aren't also interested in at least one other fandom, whether it's TV, movies, SF, fantasy, My Little Pony, or something else.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
chibitoaster
Jul. 10th, 2014 01:27 am (UTC)
I also think there needs to be some distinction between fan cosplay and convention content.

I think there's no possible way that any convention can be for one genre or one fandom anymore. Take a look at SDCC. There are so few comic book creator tables there, it's even difficult to find them, and yet it still calls itself "Comic Con."

At least Convergence is honest about what it is. And Anime Boston and Anime Detour both focus primarily on Anime and manga for their convention content.

Americans don't want genre and fandom specific cons. You'll always find someone wearing a Doctor Who costume or button at a Star Trek Convention. They sell Star Wars memorabilia in the Dealer's Room at Doctor Who conventions.

Whether it's good or bad, I don't really care. I just think that the main offer of the convention should remain true to its name. And that's the main reason I've made no efforts at all to go back to San Diego Comic Con.

Two cents.
wombat_socho
Jul. 10th, 2014 01:49 am (UTC)
I think it's possible to focus on one fandom - but you shouldn't expect thousands of people to show up if you do.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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