After spending the day at Toronto ComiCon today I thought it was time to throw in my two cents regarding the whole Fan Expo Sports debacle that happened earlier this week, with my pre-emptive tl;dr summary being, I don’t mind that there will be a sports expo in any way and Hobbystar should fire their marketing people.
I’ve seen a lot of hate, arguing and anger on the Facebook page for Fan Expo and online in other forums over the last few days regarding the Sports Expo and I wanted to break down why this huge announcement went over so incredibly badly in general and why us long time fans feel (kind of justifiably) slighted. First, a helpful sequence of events:
March 4 – Fan Expo announces their first confirmed guest for 2013, Richard Dean Anderson (awesome)
March 5 – Fan Expo announces via their Facebook page the following: “Be prepared. The biggest announcement in Fan Expo history will be made tomorrow morning.”
March 6 (morning): Fan Expo announces they are having the first annual Fan Expo Sports Show as part of Fan Expo this year. Reveal SEVEN huge sports guests they have lined up to appear. No other guests or events are announced.
The announcement of the Sports Expo was met with a huge backlash in the comments section of the Facebook page, mostly against, some for, and many just plain arguing about it. I’ve seen the nerd community criticized for being so angry and “elitist’ about the whole thing and while I can admit some people didn’t handle the announcement well I can totally understand the urge to immediately backlash against it because the way the announcement was handled by Hobbystar made all of us nerds and long time fans feel incredibly marginalized and neglected. Before I go any further let me put forward this hypothetical to better explain what happened from the perspective of us nerds.
Say you have a child who wants to go Disneyland and is impatiently waiting to hear from his parents whether he can go that year and what attractions there will be if they do go.
One day his parents tell him to prepare himself because they have a big surprise for him that they’ll tell him tomorrow. He stays up all night in anticipation, making the logical assumption that the surprise is about Disneyland and probably that they’re going and there is going to be bigger and better stuff than they have ever had before and he is so excited! He runs downstairs in the morning with wide eyes to hear what his parents’ surprise is.
They tell him there is a Sea World opening up next to Disneyland.
Great, he says, but what about Disneyland?
Oh, we don’t have any updates on Disneyland, his parents says, but we can tell you all about these seven great animals on display at Sea World.
He would tell his parents to go fuck themselves.
Not because he’s got anything against Sea World, but because that’s a dick way of telling him about it.
Fan Expo told their 20,000 Facebook fans of “Anime, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comics and Gaming” that they had the biggest announcement for us, ever! We spent a day having nerd fantasies of the entire cast of Avengers 2 showing up, or Joss Whedon, or any of the Doctors, or the core cast of Star Wars or SOMETHING big and nerdy and not a single, solitary person was thinking, “oh man, I hope they bring in sports.”
Yes, the announcement was big, but it was a big deal for Fan Expo, not for the fans they were currently hyping the announcement to, the fans whose expectations they built up and then completely failed to deliver on. What rubs the most salt in the wound is that they announced 7 huge confirmed guests for the Sports Expo on that same day and almost a week later still haven’t announced another single update for the nerdier portion of the show. It’s impossible not to feel immediately threatened and marginalized by this. This is a Con us nerds look forward to every year to get our geek on and technically the Sports Expo is currently seven times bigger in terms of guest appearances than the core show.
It’s not that we don’t want the Sports Expo there at all; I’m not a gamer but I would never say cut the gaming section out of Fan Expo because it doesn’t interest me. It matters to other people so of course it should be there. I would however feel a little worried if Fan Expo came out with a string of announcements about the Gaming portion of the show and had nothing to say about the rest of the Con. I would think “well, is it just a gaming expo now? Are the things I like and want to see still going to be there?” And I would keep feeling that way if they did nothing to reassure me that what I wanted to see would in fact still be there, and if I wasn’t reassured I would probably start to resent the Gamers for taking over the expo, even though I have absolutely no problem with games or gamers. It’s the same idea with the announcement of a Sports Expo.
Fan Expo has both buildings this year and more than enough space for both, and I honestly don’t believe anyone thinks any “jocks” who show up are going to cause any problems, but I do know that people get scared when they think they’re being neglected and marginalized.
If you’re going to announce a Sports Expo, fine, go ahead, that’s honestly great for people who like sports, but don’t pretend you’re doing it for the fans you already have, the ones who have been attending for years for the Sci-Fi and Gaming aspects of the Con. And don’t ignore the stuff you know we want to hear. If you’re going to announce a Sports Expo reassure us that the regular Fan Ex won’t be overshadowed, give us some sci-fi guests you’ve lined up, tell us some events you have planned. Hold us and tell us we’re pretty and you’ll never forget us. That’s all we want Fan Expo, a little acknowledgement of your long time fans and reassurance the stuff we love will still be there. And maybe fire your marketing people for having absolutely no understanding of your target audience, because they’re making it hard not to resent Sea World at this point