“The Negative Space” (w/ Dave Ward) – issue #8: Convention Hornswaggling (and other atrocities)

Greeting nerds! This Negative Space” will be a bit different this month, as I am going to touch on something that has been in the press, and quite frankly giving us (nerds and cons in general) a bad reputation.. Celebrity fleecing and Convention Hornswaggling.

I have been attending multi-fandom conventions since the tender age of 18 (I’m 35 now). When I first started attending, it was partly because of being able to maybe meet one of the celebs that I had grown up watching on (one of/both) the Silver Screen and TV. I was immediately taken aback as a young, green 18-year-old rookie that these celebs were charging for a signature.. This befuddled me because until then, I had just went to music shows in hole-in-the-wall clubs where I could walk up to the band, share a beer (though of course I wasn’t doing that at 18… I swear!), and get an autograph for free; they did appreciate it if you bought a shirt or CD though, but that wasn’t mandatory to hang with some really cool people. So you can imagine that for a long time, I was turned off by the whole celebrity aspect of cons; because really, why do these people need more money? They’re already making bank on the bodies of work they do, so why you wanna pull more money out of people that just want to meet you?

I think we’ve all felt like Coral here, at least a time or two in our lives.

To an extent, this is correct, they do make a lot of money off of their work, but they are people and have to erk out a living like the rest of us. This starts that big conundrum of how much is too much for an autograph? How much do they really need to make in a weekend of sitting and (at worst) getting a slight bit of writer’s cramp and slight hoarseness from talking a lot? It seems a handful of the more “money-minded” ones have even started charging just to TALK to them..

This is a REAL photo of a REAL price list for a certain lesser-known role in “The Walking Dead” – but don’t worry, it’s not like there aren’t 50 people from that show at every convention. Oh wait…

Yes you read that correctly, charge money to speak words to someone.. I’m sorry, when the hell did YOU become the Grand Nagus?! I get that you need to make a living, and you want to capitalize on your newfound, and probably brief, time in the spotlight, but you are not above being a human and speaking to your fans for free, or even tossing them a free pic. If David Prowse or TONS of other film icons/convention regulars can do it, SO CAN YOU! Kind gestures earn you more fame and more recognizable roles, being a money-hungry jerk quickly lands you on the D-list among fans and often doing ultra-lame and/or one-day events in po’ dunk middle-of-nowhere; which leads me to the second part of my rant…CONVENTIONS.

Let’s be clear: I love cons, I went to my first Dragon*Con at age 18 and have not looked back. I love the atmosphere, the escape of being around people of at least some of the same wavelengths of thought, the wild stories that turn into panel spots years later, making new friends, I could go on and on, but you get the idea… However, there is that other side that (often mercifully) goes unnoticed by the general public that is a cause for concern; bad organization. Conventions do have to meet the base requirements of guests they book to sit and again, maybe get writer’s cramp and a sore throat. Making them comfortable, making sure they have a room, and adhering to contractual obligations are all pretty basic things to treating someone decently and making sure your event continues. Syfy’s show Heroes of Cosplay (see my other Negative Space rant on them HERE) has brought about a hoard of new conventions that are thinking of nothing more than $$$ trying to capitalize on the new pop fad of “being a nerd.” 

This is absolutely appalling to me, basically because people are duped enough in real life, making a terrible event that is supposed to be an escape for a few days has now turned into the new “it” thing is NOT ok.. This gives the well-established and good events a terrible hole to dig out of trying to convince people that you aren’t going to douche-out and ask for money during the convention to keep it going, and end up with an infamous ball pit, or try to crowd-fund their guests after raising their own ticket/vendor prices and get in a bunch of online arguments with fans that call B.S. on you… and that’s just giving a couple RECENT examples of two very-notoriously-bad conventions (one of whom I had the displeasure of formerly working for)

Don’t worry, the extra hour in this legendary ball pit is always free.

My point on cons… avoid these price-gouging shame-fests, save your money and just go be a part of a good convention, because there are more than enough around. Which, is more-or-less the exact same point I was trying to make for celebrities over-charging… My point on celebrities… avoid these price-gouging jerks trying to charge you just to speak to them, save your money, and just go meet some decent, cool celebrities, because there are more than enough around.

This is Dave Ward, and you have just warped through The Negative Space.

-Dave Ward
First Ambassador/Resident Grouch

Federation Starship: Nerd Nation

Please Note: The views and opinions expressed by Mr. Ward in “The Negative Space” are his and his alone. They do not necessarily reflect those of Nerd Nation Magazine, or anyone else… so please, don’t be a d-bag and try to sue anyone over the stuff he writes. It’s called an opinion… don’t like it? The internet is a big place. Just read something else… preferably on here! =)



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