Monday, February 14, 2011

The True Price of Fandom...

This year I was unfortunately denied an official press pass to Creation Entertainment's annual "Salute to Supernatural" convention. Hey, it happens. And quite frankly, after the crazy busy few weeks I have had, I should have welcomed the time off, right? Well, no, not exactly. Since I first covered the convention three years ago and subsequently became a fan of the show from that experience, I decided to head down to the Marriott by LAX anyway and attend to show my support the boys (and the show in general).

The thing is, I didn't really know what that entailed. I had never attended as "just" a fan before. But as I very quickly came to realize, there is No. Such. Thing as "just" a fan.

To attend as a fan, buying a weekend pass for the Q&As and trivia events, plus an autograph ticket and a photo op for every person appearing, I would have had to shell out a whopping $1335. ...And that's not even including the special sandwich/group photo ops!

Um, yikers!

Creation Entertainment realizes what kind of crazy numbers those are for many working folk, though, so they offer more "economical" packages. For the best seats in the house, plus a bonus of "include" autographs, you can pay $399 and also get into special parties and a special breakfast that the other patrons miss out on. But all photo ops and a handful of the autographs are still above and beyond that, so to get one of everything from everybody, I'd end up paying $1257. Hmm, not quite so economical now, huh?

I realize you don't have to purchase anything above and beyond a ticket to get into the convention, and those prices are very, very reasonable, with a day pass as low as $30, but let's face it: if you don't have photographic proof (for Facebook!) of meeting your favorite actor, even for only five seconds, it's just not the same, is it?

Since I co-run a non-profit out here in Los Angeles, and I did what I could to help Support Supernatural's fundraising campaign and Misha Collins' Random Acts last year, a part of me couldn't help but grimace not only at the numbers but at the emptiness of the website. Nowhere on there is a mention of proceeds, even a percentage of them, going to a good cause. Because at the end of the day, the tickets pay for the venue, a few appearance fees, and the convention workers so they can keep throwing great events-- maybe even ones that get bigger and better each and every year. But Saturday night Random Acts came to the convention to throw a very fun screening experience. Horror films that both Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles starred in were shown on a big screen, along with a really hard to find independent golf movie from Collins himself, and admission was free to convention go-ers (though donations were welcome). It was a way for them to spread the word about what they do, and the perfect late Saturday night date, if you ask me!

But really, no one is looking to come to these conventions for a new and more creative tax write-off; no one "needs" the charity angle to entice them to come. It's just that coming from someone who spends a great deal of time researching under publicized and under funded causes who could severely benefit from attracting the audience of a particular fandom, I couldn't help but see an overall missed opportunity...

After getting to meet so many wonderful fans this weekend-- and to see groups of friends who live in all parts of the world get to come together and hang out for a few very full, very fun days-- though, it became immediately apparent that no matter the monetary value, you really can't put a price on the experience. These conventions are about so much more than just a show, or even the actors on that show; they are about bringing people, who might not have ever met otherwise but who have a very common interest, together.

So these events become so much bigger and better every year because of the relationships the fans create with each other, above and beyond any "inside jokes" they learn from the various Q&As.
And for many, this is the one big vacation they will take each year, and when you look at it that way, they actually seem to be getting off cheap.

To be one hundred percent honest with all of you, I had infinitely more fun attending the convention this weekend as "just" a fan than I did in any of the years I worked it as press. Not only did I get to leave my laptop at home and not keep the gears of my mind spinning on "the angle" I would take in my articles, but I got to sit back and mix and mingle without an agenda-- without trying to get a quote or by feeling like I should stop relaxing and actually get back to writing. I got to enjoy everyone, including and especially Mr. Jensen Ackles, in a way I hadn't been able to...well, since the first time I met Mr. Jensen Ackles (In 1998. When I was 13.).

I had such a blast, I may just have to do it again next year! So, uh, let's start the "Get DanielleTBD to Jensen and Jason's 2nd Jam Session" Fund now! And let's start the petition to have them even do another jam session while we're at it ;)


eka9230 said...

It was interesting to read. Thanks for Jensen's and Jared's pic. You're all 3 very beautiful.

Nikkimay said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing your experience.

I work at a non-profit too and was just thinking today that it goes against so much of what I believe in to dump so much money into going to a Con... but you're right. It's for the experience and meeting people... so I guess I'll get over it :)

I hope they do the Random Acts movie night at the Nashville Con. That sounds like a blast!

Celtic Goddess said...

I think I'd prefer going in as press. I've never done a convention like this but usually you have better access to people and you get to be closer to everything that happens. Plus FREE. I guess you wouldn't have as much relaxing time but I always enjoy myself anyway. And you get to interview the fans. That's always fun.

Tina Charles said...

Hey there -- love your pic with Jensen and Jared. So hilarious. It's perfect!