First Class all the way, baby! ;)
Monday, May 25, 2009
It’s always a little sad to say goodbye and have to go home on the last day.
A perk for the day was being bumped up to first class! :)
A bunch of us waiting at the Lansing Airport were bumped up on the twenty-minute flight to Detroit. Pity it wasn’t longer. ;) But we got the royal treatment: a pillow, blanket, and beverages whereas coach got none of these, and the freebie peanuts and biscotti served in a basket. My egalitarian self felt a little guilty, but, hey, somebody had to sit in those seats! ;)
It was great fun. A pity everyone can’t get first-class treatment in this world.
The rest of the trip went smoothly (just the way I like it) and I got home safely.
The con was much smaller and quieter this year. The usual energy just wasn’t there. There were few vids, much less art, door decorations, room dealers, and zines.
Has Media West been bypassed by the changing face of fandom?
This year, the economy and hotel renovation helped bring down the attendee numbers, and the hotel’s complete botch of the room lottery didn’t help. I knew people who were so fed up with trying to find out if they were on the wait list, much less had a room, that they cancelled going this year. And you can’t blame the few years before this with late notifications on new management. It was the old management then.
Fandom is aging, at least the contingent who attends this con. And people are taking care of parents as members of the ‘sandwich generation’, and there are health issues for some.
Next year is the 30th year of the con. Will it be the swan song?
I asked this question last year, but it’s even more relevant this year. I have not put on a con for 30 years. I have helped put on cons, but not that long and with that much responsibility. I speak as an observant attendee with some con organizing experience.
I would see how next year goes if the economy improves. If the numbers are still small or shrink even more, I’d say these were the options (remember, strictly my opinion/speculation):
1) Step up advertising to attract new fans who have never attended before and lure back the old attendees. Have a stronger Internet presence, and get onto LiveJournal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mentioned the con on my LJ and people have no clue that it existed. In years past, the con reached its membership quota quickly so there was no need to advertise. Now if you’re struggling to get half your former number, you need to advertise.
2) Do you want to attract younger fen? Then take a page from other cons and include anime panels and gaming, because that’s what the younger fen want (in general).
3) Consider yourself a smaller con, accept the smaller membership, and celebrate yourselves as such.
4) Fold up the tent and thank everyone for 30 years of fun.
Fandom is changing, and cons have to change with it.
Conversely, if you’re not interested in teens or fans who have no knowledge of zines or the history of fandom, then you can adapt to becoming a smaller con.
Fans are resistant to change. The panels about the decline of the zine showed me that there are people who not only prefer zines, but dismiss anything on-line as being as good or better.
I see pros and cons. A zine gives you a work of art to hold in your hand, and if it’s a good editor, you’ve got good quality in addition to writers and artists. Zines don’t give you feedback for months, if at all, and on-line stories can be posted quickly and feedback received, and that’s helped me immensely.
I entered fandom in pre-Net days and miss some of the anticipation of waiting for zines and eagerly devouring them and reading them over and over again, but I’ve happily adapted to the Internet and have made more friends than ever. I was never a BNF before, and now people are friending me for my fiction and hundreds are reading each story instead of perhaps one hundred for a zine piece.
I like both, but the Internet is comfortable for me. I’ve adapted to changing fandom, and so have many other people. Can the con do the same?
And while I would miss the con terribly, I would not be surprised if it eventually faded, because it was founded to give pre-Net fans an opportunity to get together face-to-face, once limited to private letters, phone calls, and letterzines. There’s no shame in ending it if you’ve served your purpose for three decades.
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