Hey fellow WonderCon peeps!
Hey fellow WonderCon peeps!
I regret to inform you that the Fan Fic Theatre panel which was to take place at WonderCon Anaheim on Friday, April 3rd at 6:30PM has been canceled. (And just to be clear, this was a joint decision made by myself and WonderCon. I thought it was for the best.) In its place, I’ll be doing a different panel at the same time
and you are all invited to attend.
Apparently, the @WonderCon Twitter account was barraged with tweets from young fan fic authors who were angry. They thought that based on the description on the WonderCon schedule, that the panel sought to mock fan fiction. This tweet barrage was actually comprised of about 15-20 twitter accounts from people who were not actually attending WonderCon. Apparently they had only read the program guide description of the panel and seemed to have misinterpreted it. (*See description in the P.S. below.)
They began a campaign to get the panel canceled by
bombarding the official WonderCon twitter account along with my own and
unfortunately, it worked.
While I respect the feelings of those complaining, they were simply uninterested in listening when I addressed their concerns on Twitter. I pointed out that on the panel we celebrate fan fiction and that we do not make fun of it. I also assured them that we always get the fan fic author’s permission. (In fact, some of the authors are on the panel.) We also invite someone to write a piece of fan fiction live based on audience suggestions. It’s a very fun event that includes audience participation. After having done this show live more than 20 times, not once has anyone complained, been upset or felt compelled to go on a tirade on the internet. Quite the contrary, they look forward to seeing the next Fan Fic Theatre wherever it is being performed.
It’s important to note that at every Fan Fic Theatre panel I tell the audience that if you think about it, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens IS actually a piece of fan fiction! It’s written by a fan, J.J. Abrams, who did not create the original work – so by definition, the new Star Wars movie is fan fiction. I point this out as a way to INSPIRE future fan fic writers so they realize that it’s possible for their own work to be taken seriously.
While I tried to calmly explain myself on Twitter, I was attacked non-stop along with WonderCon. I was even accused of bullying. Me?! Of all people, ME bullying nerds?! I find it strange as a lifelong nerd who grew up when being a geek was not cool that I was accused of any kind of bullying. But the more I tried to address concerns, the stranger and more exaggerated the Twitter conversation spiraled. Such is the internet. (I’ve since blocked any account making false accusations or harassing me on Twitter. Good riddance to the ignorant.)
This is especially upsetting as a father to a daughter (who is, no surprise, a nerd). I’m proud to see her express her nerdy passions. And I’ve always encouraged my daughter’s creative pursuits, some of which includes writing fan fic. *sigh*
In all my years of going to cons, (I’ve been attending San Diego Comic Con since 1990) I’ve never heard of a panel being canceled over pressure from those within fandom. I think it sets a bad precedent that fans are willing to exert pressure in a negative and toxic way. (In fact, I really love the people at WonderCon/SDCC and cannot say enough good things about them. The staff have always been good to me and I’m embarrassed that I may have caused them any trouble.)
I’m truly saddened that we cannot move forward with what has become a very popular panel at cons all over, in fact, it often fills the room. I’ve done the Fan Fic Theatre event live since 2012 multiple times at cons like Dragon Con, Phoenix Comic Con, Stan Lee’s Comikaze, San Diego Comic Fest and many others as well as at comedy clubs like IO West in Hollywood. At SacAnime this past January, I had young fan fic authors begging to have their stories read aloud and they loved hearing the performers act out their fiction on stage. It’s also very rewarding to introduce fan fiction to an audience that might not be aware of it. However, I never realized that there were factions of fan fic authors that are toxic to the community and feel compelled to dictate rules about how all of us may enjoy our fan fic.
I want to extend my apologies to the fan fic authors who will not hear their hard work read live by our performers. I’m very sorry.
This whole thing makes me sad for fandom. I hope these Twitter attackers are proud of themselves. They bullied a major convention into canceling a panel thereby disappointing the audience who planned to attend. This is a major step backward for all of fandom which has become increasingly hyper-sensitive and intolerant of late.
Hopefully we’ll have fun sitting in a room by ourselves and we can find a way to entertain each other without offending anyone.
Thanks for listening.
* P.S. Perhaps we need to more carefully emphasize reading comprehension in our schools? Here is the copy as it appeared on the WonderCon web site:
Fan Fic Theatre with Chris Gore
It’s comedians reading Fan Fiction! Join Chris Gore (PodCRASH, G4TV’s Attack of the Show), along with other comedians and TV personalities, who will read aloud the weirdest and wildest fan fiction found on the internet. You’ll hear stories read by performers Giselle B. (Defective Geeks Podcast), Adrianne Curry (Cosplay Queen, America’s Next Top Model) Mary Forrest (The Biloon-Forrest Project Podcast), Ivy Doomkitty (SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay, Int'l Costumer), Tommy Bechtold (ABC’s The Middle), Matt Keil (G4TV’s X-Play), Yoshi Obayashi (comedian) and more. In addition, a celebrity guest will write a piece of fan fiction based on audience suggestions that will be read aloud for the finale.