Conventions are a staple in science-fiction fandom, but not all conventions are the same.
One of the offshoots of science-fiction conventions is the media convention that is primarily for writers and readers of fan fiction and television and movies.
For my spring vacation, I attended the largest of this type of convention, MediaWestCon 30.
Normally, I attend Oasis in Orlando, Fla., but my husband and one of our housemates were going to take a road trip for him to visit some other science guys and for her to go to MediaWestCon. They suggested I come along and go to the convention.
My short and sweet report on Twitter was, MediaWestCon: not enough sleep, too much eating, a lot of laughter (the right amount), & too few men. So much estrogen is a little scary.
Ill get back to the last comment later.
I have neither read nor written much fan fiction, but I do watch a heck of a lot of television and see a lot of movies. Getting to meet and converse with other fans about those interests is great fun.
My roomies and upstairs neighbors at MediaWestCon were friends who attend Vidcon, a media fan convention for which I volunteer, each summer in St. Petersburg, Fla.
There is a term that comes from the first Muppet movie, old friends whove just met. That applies quite often to fans meeting for the first time.
Because I wanted to meet some of these old friends Id just met, I signed up for several panels that were not populated only by friends I knew already.
The plan came together and now Ill have some fan connections I didnt have before.
We had a grand time at the first The Big Bang Theory panel. I was properly attired in my Soft Kitty lyrics shirt. The audience noticed and started singing the song. When panel closing time came, we all sang it as a round.
Those of you who are my fellow “The Big Bang Theory” fans will understand the significance of this.
Others just need to trust me when I say that it is an important fannish meme.
The next morning when I stepped into an elevator, a lady whod been at the panel started singing. Then the rest of us in the elevator joined her. It was a Glee moment.
Later the same day, a woman in the dealers room started singing when she saw me approach her table.
Where else but at a fan gathering would things like that happen without others looking at you as if you were crazy?
Other panels that were fun were the “Do You Remember” and the “Shows of the ’60s and ’70s.” These were lively chats about our favorite shows.
It was gratifying to find another woman who feels as I do that Richard Greene is the true Robin Hood.
I started watching his Adventures of Robin Hood on its first run in 1955 and my 5-year-old self was in love.
The Glee panel was like a coffee klatch dishing about the local teenagers and the high school teachers. Sadly, nobody broke into song. There was a parrot present though.
No, really, there was a parrot. A media fan who is also a Parrothead (Jimmy Buffett fan) brought her African Grey with her to the convention.
I think I like that better than the stuffed dragons that were ubiquitous the last time I attended a World Con.
All in all, MediaWestCon was a lot of fun but it does suffer from a lack of young people and men, hence my earlier estrogen comment. Id say that 99.99999 percent of the fans there were female.
This is in direct opposition to the way it was back when science-fiction fans started having conventions. It was a man’s world in the early days. Even in the 1970s when I first attended conventions, they were primarily made up of men.
The fan fiction aspect of MediaWestCon is partly responsible for the large percentage of women. For whatever reason, one I admit that I don’t know, fan fiction is mostly a woman’s plane of existence.
There were very few people under 40 at the convention. Like many other conventions, the MediaWestCon organizers are having problems attracting new, young members.
To attract young people and men, there need to be role-playing games, computer games, anime and an emphasis on costuming.
There need to be activities other than just sitting in panel rooms talking.
Conventions such as MediaWestCon need to come into the 21st century if they want to thrive.
While I had a nice time at MediaWestCon, I would not go again unless the same circumstances presented themselves.
Its too expensive to fly to East Lansing and the convention has a goofy hotel room lottery that prevents you from knowing if youve got a room in the main hotel until a couple of weeks before the convention.
You cant just get online or on the phone and make a reservation. I’m not joking.
Next year, Ill be back at Oasis. Its small and suffering somewhat from the graying of fandom but its close to home and run by friends.
Those are two good reasons for returning to my roots there.
What it comes down to is that choosing a convention is really about meeting with others who are living the fannish life.