It’s con season again which means people going out and spending plenty of time and money in the pursuit of a good time. That’s everyone’s end goal! Although when you jam-pack so many people into one large convention center sometimes certain types of people just get on your nerves. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and completely forget that you are around insane amounts of people who are all trying to get stuff done.
I’ve done my time attending and working at conventions. I think the below list are a universal to anyone who has ever set foot into one of these events. I don’t mean to spoil anyone’s fun, but I think these are some common sense to make sure your good time doesn’t interfere with someone else.
Throughways Are not a photography session
I am going to start with what gets on my nerves right away. Tell me if this has ever happened to you before: You have fifteen minutes to get to the convention center and up three flights of stairs to get to a panel that you really want to see. You’re going down a major through-way and suddenly you slam headlong into a guy with a massive backpack that has come to a dead stop. After getting the wind knocked out of you by said backpack, you then notice that this guy stopped so he could take a picture of someone in a Spider-Man costume.
There is nothing more irritating than having your pathway blocked by someone who decides to take an impromptu picture. What’s worse is that when one amateur shutterbug whips out his cell phone at the gal in the Poison Ivy costume you can bet he’s followed by seven more people. Then as your try to detour around them you get broadsided by the telephoto lens of that creepy “professional” photographer. You know, the one who only takes pictures of women under the age of 20?
They stop for anyone who is wearing anything! From the laziest off the rack Halloween costume to a painstakingly assembled functional suit of battle armor. One time I was working a con I had to help carry equipment across the convention floor. There were people pulling out their cell phones to snap photos of me because I was carrying an extension chord.
Not only are you slowing me down, you’re slowing everyone down who needs to get somewhere. If you really have to stop and take a picture of anyone in spandex, do it somewhere appropriate.
Let’s be honest here, the whole point you’re taking pictures of these cosplayers is so you can either pat yourself on the back for being the best at real life Pokémon Snap or bore your friends for hours with photos. You can waste less of everyone else’s time by…
Ask Meaningful Questions
After elbow checking some amateur photographers, you make the Q&A session in the nick of time. Only now you’re stuck in the nosebleeds and there are massive line ups at microphones from fans who have burning questions to ask. You think to yourself “Well this might not take long .” Suddenly your heart sinks when the first person opens his mouth: “Um… I.. uh… Well…. I just wanted to say that I am happy you came to [insert name of city] are you having a good time?”
Then the next person comes up and asks something like: “What was it like when you were in [insert name of widely popular series]”
That’s right! You’re stuck behind every person whose question could have been answered by Google. Pro-tip, if you Google your question you can save hundreds of dollars. Next thing you know it, all allotted time has been used up because it got sucked up by mundane questions. Here’s a fun fact: Q & A Session is much more rewarding if you actually spend time thinking about asking something that engages the celebrity in question. There is nothing that is so empty than a “what was it like…” question being asked during a Q&A. You are asking them to say something awe inspiring without any forethought when that gig could have been strictly to collect a paycheck.
Star Trek actors are the best example of this: They’ve all said everything there needs to be said about being on Star Trek. If you ever go to a convention and get some face time with John de Lancie and ask him something like “What was your favourite episode of TNG” he’ll turn it around and ask about you. Because knowing about his fans is more interesting than the stock answer he could give to your mundane question. It’s the same reason why William Shatner’s “Life After Trek” on the TOS DVD’s is entirely about his horse ranch.
Since we’re on the subject of guests…
Practice the Three P’s
What if you took the most irritating components of the last two items and combined them together? You’d get waiting in an autograph line. Everyone wants face time with their favourite celebrity and they want a good experience. However, let’s not forget that conventions are a business and as much as a guest enjoys meeting fans, they’re trying to earn a living. Hate to burst your bubble, no amount of ethics you may have on the matter changes the reality. If you go there expecting anything you’re in that line for the wrong reason. No, you can’t just take a picture. Yes, the autographs cost money. If that’s not motivation enough, then consider the people directly behind you…
Autograph sessions are a limited time thing and the more time you suck up with your “how did you feel” questions and autograph haggling is giving everyone behind you less time to meet that person also. Long winded questions are what panels are for. So next time you’re in line for an autograph follow the three Ps:
3) Pound Feet
Your lingering around is about as welcome as being at the convenience store with the stack of lottery tickets that need to be checked.
Taking Pictures of Celebrities is Creepy
There’s a number of reasons why most conventions have “no photos” in the autograph lines. Yes, one of the reasons is because photographs are part of the business model. Conversely: It’s also because taking a picture of someone scribbling on an 8×10 photo that you didn’t buy from 8 meters away is creepy.
These aren’t zoo exhibits, these are human beings. Just because they’re celebrities doesn’t make it any less weird to take photos of them from far away. You’re basically the most pathetic voyeur ever.
The next time a friend of yours shows you candid photos they took in the back of a line at a comic book convention, not only should you break their camera, but inspect the walls of your home for suspicious holes.
Don’t Demand Free Autographs
Getting back to that whole “Cons exist to make money” thing I mentioned above, if you’ve paid the cover charge and are expecting free autographs, wow are you going to be disappointed. Trust me, if they were just handing them out they’d be advertising that to get people into the building. Yet time and time again I’ve seen people try to scam a free autograph because they think they are entitled to one.
I’ve seen some pretty low moments. One particular low: This guy comes up to a convention guest while holding a baby in his hand. Out of his back pocket, he pulls out a mangled convention pamphlet and gives it to the actor and asks him to sign it for his son.
As soon as the autograph was signed, the guy with the baby takes off without paying anything. The actor didn’t speak up likely because yelling at a guy with a baby is frowned upon, but I don’t have to be so polite. So let’s be real: anyone who is not willing to shell out money for an autograph — let alone one that isn’t personalised — is looking to scam something for free to make some fast cash down the road.
Even if the guy with the baby was really intending to show it to his son years later, it’s even more pathetic. The only take away that kid will have is that his dad was willing to exploit a baby to get a scribble from a guy his kid never had any connection with. What a great role model!
If you want an autograph on the cheap, don’t go straight to the celebrity and try and weasel him to sell at a lower price. Snipe someone on eBay, you sycophant. Remember, the next time you’re at a convention, don’t be an entitled idiot who gets in the way and wastes everyone’s time. We’re all trying to have fun here and the convention isn’t your personal playground. As in everyday life, be respectful and mindful of others.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt if you shower beforehand.