Welcome To The Con, No Fun Allowed

WonderCon in Anaheim is still set for Easter weekend but there’s one panel that has already been canceled. The panel was “Fan Fic Theatre,” where based on the description, host Chris Gore and other comedians do “dramatic” readings of various fan fics. I suppose it plays out something like this (NSFW or kids):

However, the social media mob revolted, calling the event “bullying.” In spite of the panel getting permission from the fan fic authors (who could find out in about 10 seconds what “Fan Fic Theatre” does via the internet) to present their pieces and in all likelihood, nobody getting their real names used, simpering WonderCon organizers caved like a fragile house of cards and axed the panel:

“Each piece that was to have been read had the approval of the writers and it was never the intent to mock or belittle anyone’s work. The panel description, however, wasn’t clear in that regard and worse still, seemed to imply it was okay to belittle fan fiction. We are deeply sorry for this misunderstanding and it is for this reason that we have cancelled the program. We have a long history of inclusion and celebrating diversity and that includes various forms of art. And Fan Fiction is art!”

You can read more of the sorry story here. I am not a fan of Chris Gore; I don’t like the guy. But it’s disturbing how small groups of vocal people overreacting to something are succeeding more and more often at censoring speech and expression.

We all know how utterly weird and funny fan fiction can be and having a few laughs at some of the over-the-top strange fics is a fandom tradition that goes back decades. Fans used to gather up their zines and do the same thing as this panel during late night room parties. I remember calling people on the phone and chuckling over bad fics in various zines. A friend loaned me her X-Files zine because I just had to see the bizarre tale of Scully’s sexual fling with a leprechaun while vacationing in Ireland. Have people forgotten about the hilarious Summary Executions? No one has heard of WTF Fan Fiction?

Yeah, but you write fan fiction. Would you want people making fun of your stories? I have 20+ years’ worth of fan fiction floating around out there, and not all of it is good. Laugh away, I don’t care. But since I don’t write NSFW stories about ponies or Japanese cartoon characters having orgies, nor do I write slash, my stories are pretty mellow and therefore below-the-radar. But what about fan fic authors who might be sad or really depressed and they might hurt themselves if people make fun of their stories? If someone is that fragile, someone shouldn’t post any stories on the internet because that’s opening one’s story up to however anyone is going to take it. I use troll spray here and on SWPAS and that still doesn’t mean I expect total agreement with or unadulterated love for everything I post. Besides, the fan fic panel was only going to use stories with permission. Luring out a fan fic writer pretending her story’s great and then mocking her onstage WOULD be cruel and dishonest. But that’s not what was happening here. Before anyone says I don’t know what it’s like to be bullied, I was bullied mercilessly as a kid by real people I had to see every day, not random douches on the internet.

The creeping special snowflake-ism and outrage-addicted social justice warriors are killing fandom, not only in this instance but in others. Just last week, a cover artist doing a variation for a Joker comic was cowed into retracting it after people flipped out over the art’s reference to Alan Moore’s 1988 Joker comic “The Killing Joke.” A month or two ago, there was a petition to kick “Firefly” actor Adam Baldwin out of Australia’s Supanova conventions because of Baldwin’s conservative politics and his support for Gamer Gate; the easily-offended claimed his presence would make the con “unsafe,” as though he’s going to strangle con-goers with his Jayne hat. Thankfully, Supanova kept Baldwin on the schedule. Five years ago, a sf lit con dumped its guest of honor for some politically incorrect comments she made. It’s also disturbing how more and more of fandom or geek media seem to back these outrage mobs out to shut people up. There are a lot of mean people out there and sometimes fandom is too negative but do we really want a hobby where everyone’s afraid to say anything out of fear of being trolled, flamed, threatened, or having their offline lives destroyed by easily-offended zealots?

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2 Responses to Welcome To The Con, No Fun Allowed

  1. Keith Palmer says:

    Back in the days of MSTings, we were told to contact fanfic authors and ask for their permission; one author asked me not to make fun of the bad spelling (which had been one of the things that had caught my attention…) I guess I did get to wondering a bit about “beating up on easier targets than even sub-B movies,” and can wonder a bit now about the difference between trying to write “entertaining, offbeat comments” and whatever “Fan Fic Theatre” is, but yeah, that “getting permission” seems to have been lost in the sputtering does leave me a bit melancholy.


  2. Bob Clark says:

    I gotta say, the Batgirl cover wasn’t appropriate for the age range they’re aiming for.


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