Yes, Fan Expo is going to be taking both the North and South halls at the convention center, but it was so over crowded last year that I was hopeful the extra space would be used wisely to make the overall vistor experience better.
Today, they announced seven sports celebrities to add to the roster of one science fiction celebrity currently scheduled to attend.
If they dedicate a large percentage of the extra hall space to sports celebrities, sports memorabilia and sports sessions, then things will be even more crowded than before, and it will add an air of both confusion and distraction from what was already a widely stretched event.
Previously, Fan Expo tried to attract fans of comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming. These groups, even individually are vast and varied. A percentage of them do share one thing in common though, and that is the stereotype of people that are interested in such things. Stereotypes exist for a reason. They might not be the majority, but the people that make up such types exist, and I doubt they’ll feel comfortable at this new convention.
So many geeks and nerds had issues growing up dealing with jocks, and to put them together in one event, even if both sides are super accepting of each other, it will change the tone of Fan Expo.
Cosplay, dressing up in costumes, is a large part of the excitement of Fan Expo. Many of the photos I took last year are directed at people that took the time to dress up for the event. Will they feel as comfortable dressing up knowing that there could be even one person there that is the stereotype alpha male jock laughing at them? The convention organizers can’t protect them from that, and even if that person doesn’t exist, you can bet that many of the more insecure geeks and nerds won’t take the risk, and instead will come in plain clothes. They’ll miss out on that opportunity to express themselves in a way that they can’t do anywhere else.
Also, sports fans have numerous events, museums, and conventions already where they can satisfy their interests. While events like Fan Expo are growing and their numbers increasing, it is still rare by comparison.
I understand that the convention organizers want to make more money. I understand that there are many sports fans that also love horror or video games or science fiction, but the fact is that they’ve ruined what felt like a safe environment of self expression for geeks and nerds.
My cousin had said that he felt at home at Fan Expo, and being around people that are even more extreme in their passion about anime helped him come out of his shell and enjoy his experience. I doubt he would have gotten so much out of the expo had there been sports fans there to make the upper fringe of fandom feel like what they were doing is wrong.
My girlfriend and I quickly discussed it via text message and her first reaction was to be enraged by the change. Stating, “a lot of nerds/geeks were tormented and bullied by jokes. Do we really need to be reminded of that?”
Even if this was super rare. Even if all of the fans that attended were accepting, this preconception alone will change how Fan Expo feels. People will be more guarded, people will be hypersensitive, or people will avoid the event. How is this change good for the majority?