Jul 232015

There is no doubt of the importance that San Diego Comic-Con has in the mainstreaming of geek culture. From a small gathering of comic book enthusiasts and dealers, the convention has become a juggernaut that takes center stage in the entertainment world every summer. The casts and crew of the biggest TV shows and movies show up to hype their products to a slavering horde of fans, and countless TV news outlets do their usual “let’s look at these funny geeks” reporting that we sadly expect. I love going to these types of conventions for a multitude of reasons. One, I enjoy attending panels that feature the stars of shows and movies that influenced me as I grew up, and I love meeting them and getting their autograph. Second, it’s nice to meet other people that share my interest. I live in a small semi-rural town that isn’t high on the geek scale. (I’m not knocking where I live as I love the area. It’s just that there are almost no people who are into the same things that I am on the geek side of life.) Yet I have zero interest of ever going to San Diego Comic-Con, so allow me to tell you why.

One reason is the crowds. I’ve heard estimates from 130,000 to 160,000 attendees at San Diego Comic-Con. When you have that many people crammed into a specific area, then things just get overwhelming and hectic. When you factor in how long people wait in line to get into a panel, then the insanity really begins. I saw this year that people started camping out a full day in advance to get into H Hall at the con for all the big panels, such as Doctor Who. That is absolutely insane to me to wait in line that long to get into a panel. The longest I’m willing to stand in line is an hour. The cost for going to any convention runs to over a thousand dollars when you factor in the costs for the hotel room, travel, and food. I can stand in line far cheaper by just going to my local Department of Motor Vehicles.

San Diego Comic-Con line
And what do you get for standing in line so long at San Diego Comic-Con? The big reveals on most panels is a trailer that will show up on YouTube about fifteen minutes after the panel ends. Personally, I don’t go to cons to watch trailers. I will admit that the guests who attend Comic-Con are of the highest caliber. There are very few other conventions where you’ll get the majority of the cast for Game of Thrones and other shows to appear together. Still, seeing a multitude of stars is not worth it if I have to stand in line for 12 hours or longer.

The other main reason why I have no wish to attend San Diego Comic-Con is the corporate nature of the event. The major studios have completely taken over the convention. While some may sneer (such as Wil Wheaton) over fans complaining that the convention has forgotten its comic book roots, the reality is that much of the con is devoted to the great Hollywood hype machine. The biggest panels (not to mention all the nearby hotel rooms) are commandeered by Hollywood productions, many of which have zero connection to geek culture. What does the new TV Land series Impastor, where a con man pretends to be a gay priest, has to do with geekdom? I’ve heard that industry people love SDCC as the parties are incredible, but, to me, this convention has gone the same route as the Sundance film festival. That festival was created to showcase truly independent films and allow its creators to network. Now it’s simply a big Hollywood schmooze fest that has pushed independent films off the center stage.


What does a show like Impastor have to do with geek culture?

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that San Diego Comic-Con is terrible or that it needs to be replaced. SDCC has every right to do what they do, and they’re incredibly successful doing it. I’m just saying that such a convention is not for me. I prefer going to conventions that caters to fans, such as Dragon Con. That is why I have no intention of ever attending SDCC.

SDCC H Hall line

The infamous line for H Hall at San Diego Comic-Con.

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