puppetmaker: (Caroline at Nasa)
It was announced recently that Chi Fi a science fiction convention in Chicago proper (as opposed to a convention in the Chicago area) was cancelling its 2014 convention due to problems with the hotel, which was the venue for the convention. Chi Fi has a pretty strict anti harassment policy that states that it forbids "harassment of any kind, including verbal assault, physical assault, battery, deliberate intimidation, stalking, or unwelcome physical attentions.". Apparently the hotel manager was uncertain if his staff could help maintain such a policy and expressed concern about some of the more colorful characters that can attend these kinds of conventions. The manager used the word “freaks” or rather “those costume freaks”. Thus creating a rather uncomfortable atmosphere right off.

The hotels and management who have learned to embrace the fans have had repeat business during sometimes that rather slow to dead for them and help keep the business in the black. Hotels that have hosted certain conventions for years know what to expect and how to accommodate them.

Dragon Con is a good example of this. They took a dead weekend for a lot of the hotel industry (labor day) and made it worth the hotels while. The host hotels know what to expect from Dragon Con. A lot of the employees have been there for years. I know a number of the staff by first name and I know about their families too. They have watched Caroline grow up and have told me that they are impressed as to how polite she is to everyone. Yes, we see each other for a short time every year but they have gone above and beyond to make sure that everyone has a fun and safe time.

Not that there haven’t been bumps or misunderstandings over the years but they have been worked out. The Marriott removes a majority of its furniture so there is more room for people. I do wish they would leave some seating on the second floor but that is their choice. They also put out chairs and tables on the 10 floor making easier for large groups to meet up there. All the host hotels are golden about making sure there is water for everyone. You can decide which hotel to stay in based on how much noise and how much sleep you want to get.

I remember the first time I had to sign an agreement to not destroy the hotel at a convention. It happened the year after someone had taken a battle-axe to the elevator creating 1000s of dollars worth of damages. These have become pretty much de rigueur with science fiction conventions and now seem pretty much a part of checking into any hotel.

I don't think that fans are the only group that can be hard on hotels. I have heard from various hotel employees that the science fiction fans are much more polite than some other groups they have through there every year.

I have been at hotels where there has been a certain amount of point and laugh from the staff and the other guests. Those conventions are uncomfortable outside the convention area. Those hotels tend not to be used in the future by the convention. Also conventions that decide to do major construction work during the convention and not tell the con committee doesn’t get very high marks either.

I think that Chi Fi did the right thing. There were signs that this was not going to go well and that the guests of the hotel that were attending the convention were not going to be treated with the same respect that the hotel would give any other convention that was at that hotel.

And I think that is the bottom line. You want the hotel to treat the science fiction convention the way it would treat a Shriners convention or a religious convention or a group of bankers. The fans are the customers and should be shown the same respect that the hotel shows to all its other customers. They shouldn’t be considered “freaks”.

I am grateful for hotel management that gets it.
puppetmaker: (Peter David and Me)
Last night after watching Face Off, we watched the last episode of Heroes of Cos-Play which was the second half of the costume contest at the Planet Comics convention in Kansas City. This was the group rather than the individual contest. This is the episode that Caroline has been waiting for since she saw the previews and knew somewhere along the line there was going to be an Astrid costume from How to Train Your Dragon.

Now this is a “reality” show where it is edited within an inch of its life to creates stories and drama that the audience will find interesting. Most of life can be pretty mundane and that doesn’t make for good television. I talked to both Yaya and Monika at this past Dragon Con and they were rather frank about the whole thing along with the editing process that either made them look good or bad.

In the first episode the Internet exploded because there seem to be an elitist attitude being portrayed. Only costume to your body type and the like. It was as I expected that choice lines were pulled out of context, which is was evident because they didn’t show the person talking but a reaction shot from another person. There was a lot more to that conversation than was portrayed.

Most of the other episodes were pretty much edited the same way. There was always a bit of drama some of which seemed pretty made-up and the music they were using wasn’t helping matters.

Then we came to this episode and the costume Caroline has been looking forward to since the show started. The drama was high. Costuming contacts were left in eyeballs overnight which begs the question of why she forgot to take them out. Another individual might have the flu or food poisoning. But the show must Go On!!!

This was bad enough but the capper to me was when the heckling started both by the audience and some of the costumers who were not part of the show. That was such bad form on so many levels.

One of the individuals did put up her version of events on the whole matter on her facebook page. You can read it here.

When Caroline saw it this morning she said, “They aren’t being nice. I always try to be nice even if I don’t win.” And a little later, “why are they being so mean to them?” We had a talk about reality TV and editing and the like but she still felt that the words shouldn’t have been said.

I understand being ticked because the rules have changed. I understand being peeved because the contest has been taken over by a reality show. I understand the hungry and tired after competing. That, in my book, does not forgive bad behavior. And the "they provoked us" defense just drives me crazy. As my mother would say, “Monitor your mouth.”

When you are in public or in the public’s eye like being in a costume contest or on a panel, for the love of glob think before you speak. These sorts of things do go around especially since the costuming community is not very large. Heck fandom maybe larger than it was but still it is a small group of people compared to some other groups.

I can remember way back in the mists of time that if people heard that the Stringers were competing then it was a lot of bellyaching and people complaining that now no one but them would win best in show. The Stringers turned their hobby into a business and have worked their hardest to make costumes that are wonderful to look at and easy to wear. But just because the Stringers were in the contest didn’t give them an automatic win. They were judged harder than everyone else because the judges knew what they could do. Eventually there was another group that came in and started winning various contests. It is almost the circle of cos-play that the vets cycle out and the newcomers become the vets. I competed against the Stringers. I participated in costumes with them. I won and lost against them and with them. All in all it was pretty even handed.

We have been fighting the elitist tag on costumers for years especially if you participated in the International Costuming Guild. I am a very inclusive person. I want to learn from others and teach what I know to others. I want to help people become better costumers and make some amazing costume that I couldn’t even contemplate making. The ICG is inclusive too. Marty Gear worked for years to convince people that the ICG was not just for those who made historical costumes, but for all costumers no matter what skill level. You just have to have a passion for costuming.

And maybe this “reality” show might encourage some new blood to join us. I am more concerned that it may have chased some of those who were about to dip their toe in to just forget the whole thing. Cos-play as a business is a very small group of individuals who have worked very hard to get where they are. A number of people I know have gone onto jobs in films, television, and theater along with numerous haunted houses that are staffed by fans. It just doesn’t help when they can make it look like we eat our young.

I am grateful for all the costumers and cos-players I have seen over the years that help each other rather than snipe.
puppetmaker: (Peter David and Me)
Come over here. That’s right. * Twap * What is wrong with you? Seriously!?!?

The past month or so I can’t swing a sehlat without hitting some group of fans upset about something and swearing to “do something about it” including “never watching again”. And the perpetual “they are ruining our show” is echoing a lot right now too. I think part of it is that the new fall season is about to start and people are antsy about things that they have discussed/fantasized about all summer.

Most recently were the promo photos that ABC pulled from the third season of Once Upon a Time. Yes, they were a little rough but I was enjoying them. The group shot looked like the group shot they did last year and the year before for the show but it is being compared to LOST. Guess what kids, the guys who are running this show are the same guys who did LOST but the comparisons really stop there other than some really solid character arcs and storytelling. And frankly I was revamping Mr. Gold’s costume to reflect what I was seeing in the photo which I can’t do now because the photos got pulled because of a vocal minority.

Then there are the pitch and pitchforks that are going after “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. To the point where the actors are coming in to defend the film that they enjoyed working on. It is not the worst Star Trek film of all time. I am not saying it is the best but woe betide you if you admit that you liked it because apparently then you are wrong about everything in the world. And then there are the Star Wars fans that are in a sheer panic because JJ Abrams has been handed the keys to that kingdom as well. Original Star Trek isn’t vanishing off the planet because of the new franchise nor will original Star Wars.

There is the kerfuffle about Mr. Affleck and Batman. Which I heard back in 1988 when it was announced that Michael Keaton was tapped to play the cape crusader. That film and his performance changed the superhero movie forever. Like your dark superhero films? Thank Tim Burton and Michael Keaton. Interestingly Mr. Nicholson’s performance as the Joker was never questioned at the time. But Heath Ledger was bashed right out of the gate and for many his became the definitive Joker. Yes, these changes aren’t all gems but I would plea for people to give it a chance.

Supernatural has been a fan whining magnet. They always seem to complain that the creators don’t understand the characters. They don’t give them what they want and if they do, then the complaints about “that’s not what I meant” or “no I didn’t want this” fall from the lips of the same people who were clamoring for the thing that they got. I have to say that the writers have been very clever in the way they have responded to the fans with some rather tongue in cheek. I think Chuck is one of my favorite characters in the city with Charlie a close second.

I am not going to even get into X-men Days of Future Past.

I am not saying that I have never rolled my eye or said ‘oh come on’ from an announcement/spoiler from a show. However I have never started a petition to get someone fired from their job or get a show to do what I want. I have never boycotted or asked other to boycott a show because I don’t like what they did.

Give the creators a chance to tell their stories. If fans want to tell theirs, they have options to do so. Just don’t get upset when something that you wrote gets used in a show or movie and try to sue the creators of the show for using your idea. They aren’t reading your fanfic, you just happen to be thinking along the same lines that they are and they are the ones that laid the pipework that brought you to your conclusion.

The noise of a minority is causing a majority to go silent because they don’t want that sort of vitriol directed at them. And I find that a sad state of fandom.

I am grateful for fans that are willing to give things a chance and allow other fans to have different opinions.

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