r2 ded

CONvergence: a complaint.

For those of you who live in MN, you've probably been to CONvergence. For those of you who haven't, you probably have something similar near you. A 4 day science fiction/fantasty convention with anime and gamer undertones, where nerds get together (sometimes in costume) to chat and nerd and go to panels and dance and drink entirely too much.

These themes are pretty common among a lot of conventions. I haven't been to any outside of MN (although that is going to change), but I've been going to CONvergence for years and years.
And last year, it kinda sucked.

[Read ALL my thoughts on the subject!!]Part of that was due to the fact that we had a mixup at the hotel we'd booked, and they ended up giving us a hotel room that quite literally smelled like the toxic garbage inside of an outhouse, only we were too Minnesota Nice to complain, and it was a horrifying experiene. Plus our bathroom door had a hole punched through it. WTF, Days Inn. You fail.

But I feel like CONvergence has been shifting a lot lately. More and more as the years have gone on, I've left with a sense of "well, that wasn't as good as last year", and this year I left with a sense of "that actually kind of sucked."
Not because anyone was rude or mean, or because my costumes weren't on point. (They always are. Thanks Diane!) I just feel like it's... become something else now.

For one thing, it's HUGE. Not San Diego Comic Con huge. But we're talking 5-7000 people smushed into one hotel huge. That's A LOT OF PEOPLE, especially for someone like me who doesn't always like large crowds, and at night they all get plastered on free booze and become even more fun. (You couldn't hear the sarcasm in my voice right there, but I promise you, it was there.) It's all volunteer run, so they are consistantly understaffed, and things don't run as smoothly as is perhaps needed. Let me not confuse. It's GREAT that people volunteer, that a convention like this can be pulled off at all! Well done, all you lovely volunteers! But as a result things can get kind of cluster-fuck-y.  And as the numbers of con-goers keeps growing, things continue to get tighter.

The other thing that really struck me this year was that all of the same people run all the panels, and they're all comedians.
Really funny comedians too, for the most part! I am not arguing that! Nerd comedy is great.
But I feel like it's become all about the comedians of late. Opening ceremonies, mainstage shows, really big panels, all of it now has been taken over by the same group of people, and to me it has lost it's nerdiness.

An example. There was an amazing panel that started a few years ago called "Judging a Book By it's Cover", it which someone found really horendously weird old sci fi covers, and a panel of four people split up into 2 teams and tried to come up with a pretend story of what this book was about. It was HILARIOUS. I went two years in a row, and just adored it. The panelists were people I didn't recognize, not one of the "comedic troop" that seems to run everything. But still, it was funny!
This year, three of the four panelists were part of the troop, and suddenly the panel became all about getting the laughs, and not about nerdy literature, or imagination. I ended up leaving half way through, perhaps just because my brand of humor doesn't always match up with the comedians', and I wasn't enjoying myself.

Yes, they still have show-specific panels. Doctor Who, Supernatural, Fringe, etc. I don't really go to those, because I've lost my interest in a lot of nerdy television. (Which is a shame!) But the really creative panels -- the PUN-el, slideshow karaoke, Judging a book by it's cover, etc-- have all become a stage on which these comedians perform. And it's the same group of 10 people over and over.

I think mostly I am looking for other things in my conventions now. I want discussion and discovery. I want to wear my costume and feel pretty, and talk about things I enjoy, not necessarily traverse halls of full of scary drunk people or listen to personalities talk.

So this weekend, me and Dad and Sister are going to Arcana, which is a teeny tiny horror literature convention in St Paul. There was no website-breaking race to book a room, because there will only be 300 people there. There may be drinks passed around (I kind of hope so!) but no one is going to get shit-faced and barf into a trashcan.
In April, I'm going to Odyssy Con in Madison, which is said to be similar to CONvergence but on a smaller and less scary scale. Plus Brandon "I need to read all his books real fast" Sanderson will be there. So bonus. CONvergence really hasn't gotten anyone good in a while. I am excited for that too.

This upcoming year, I actually can't go to CONvergence. Sister has a wedding shower being thrown for her by her in-laws in Wisconsin, and has asked me to come along. And honestly, I was relieved. Maybe i'll go again next year. It is sort of the social hub of the nerd community. At the same time though, for me it has turned into awkwardly dodging exes, seeing people I don't actually like but am too Nice/Chicken not to say hi to, and moments of "OMG, can we please just go to TGI Fridays so I can get my burger on and escape this crush?"

Those are my opinions on the matter. You don't have to agree. But there we go.

Now if you'll excuse me, "The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy" by Sam Maggs just came in for me at the library, and I have to go get my geek on again.

love, Ariel.