Wednesday, September 7, 2011

DragonCon 2011: A Review and Observations

The ultimate "come get your geek on" weekend has passed. DragonCon 2011 is over. Bags are being unpacked, Laundry is being done, and some are finally sobering up to wonder what exactly they did for 4 days. Pictures and Videos have begun to flood every known social media and photo sharing site and fans from all genres and walks of life begin to plan next years costumes and parties.

On to the review:

I was expecting this year's DragonCon to be much "bigger" than it was. Being the 25th year, you would think that more of an effort to make it huge would be present but outside of a fancy new DragonCon Logo with the 25th year part added the Con was just your typical DragonCon. Don't get me wrong, it was still awesome but there wasn't anything to really set it apart from every other DragonCon to date. You would have thought that with the increased price of Badges they would have at least thrown in a 25th Anniversary Lanyard or something. Those cost less than a buck in bulk and would have been a really cool treat to separate this one from the others. No such luck though.

The Guest list was a bit light on the "big" names front but there were a good many A-list names present. Just not as many as I'd expect. There were many new names on the list this year too. Celebs that have never Con'd before and some full Cast showing up to promote new seasons. It was great meeting them. There was just far too many cancellations this year for various reasons.

The Comics and Pop Art Alley area was nowhere near as full as last year despite a few artist being told they were full and not taking any more applications for artist tables. I also heard rumor of the table cost skyrocketing but have no facts or first hand information to back that up. Some of the Artist that were present seemed to bring their "B" game setup instead of their "A" game backdrops and displays. I found this to be rather weird and it made the room look sparse instead of the towering displays of awesome in years past. Display size aside, there was plenty of incredible art to be had. I'm running out of wall space for all the cool stuff I've acquired.

Security at this years Con was interesting to say the least . APD was all over the place due to a rumored threat that was posted on some message boards a few weeks prior to the Con. Extra security and more APD were in place in the Walk of Fame at the request of Eliza Dushku because it was her first DragonCon and she didn't know what to expect. Plus, she brought Rick Fox with her so they felt like they needed more Security. (WHY bring a sports star to a scifi/fantasy convention is beyond me though. The few times I went through the Walk of Fame he was lineless and just playing on his smartphone or talking to his handler)
The flip side to legitimate security concerns was the new policy of checking for badges and/or room keys to enter the Host Hotels at night. This makes perfect sense if it was just implemented properly. Sadly it was implemented poorly and turned into a royal clusterfuck of epic proportions. The reason for the new policy stems from events of DragonCon 2010 when a bunch of ignorant, drunk frat boy football fans decided that a skimpy costume gave them full license to harass, grope, lick, and corner Con attendees against their will. There were many instances of sexual harassment as well as borderline assault all centering around the drunk idiot football fans as the instigators.
I agree with the new policy but their implementation of it makes ZERO sense. Con "Security" personell were stationed at the Sky bridges between the 3 main Host Hotels and were checking for badges or room cards. This is all well and good but when you're NOT checking the Host Hotel perimeters it's pretty fucking pointless and does nothing but create unnecessary bottlenecks in areas that are already overburdened with crowds. To put "security" on the sky bridges and not at the doors of the Host Hotels is beyond stupid. It's not security at that point, its just the DragonCon staff being assholes because they can. If they had just secured the hotel perimeters then skybridge checks wouldn't be necessary.

All in all it was a great Con with just a few points of abject stupidity and planning but that is to be expected with any major convention. No event run by a power tripping committee can ever be fully successful and painless to the attendees.

Does any of this mean I won't go back? Oh Hell No! The ego, arrogance, and superiority complex of the DragonCon planners is well documented and known. Next year I'll just be a Con attendee instead of helping with an exhibit and I'll have more time to get my geek on. I might even be bringing Logan for his first DragonCon next year. We'll see.

357 days and counting.....

UPDATE: I almost forgot one of the most annoying and stupid examples of DragonCon Staff doing shit just because they could.

Peace Ties

White or Clear zip ties around the handles of plastic guns. Plastic, non-functioning guns. You had to go to "Security" to get your guns "peace tied" for entry into certain areas. When I questioned them about this policy they said it was because APD wanted the guns "peace tied". I stopped and asked 3 separate APD Officers and they all said the same thing. It wasnt their policy. Georgia Law for realistic looking weapons is that the front 1/4" of the barrel must be bright orange. They said they have no policy or requirement for "peace ties" at DragonCon. They all said it was just DragonCon staff blaming them for a policy that they (DragonCon Staff) were choosing to implement.

So you had to have your plastic, non-functioning replica guns "peace tied" but the guy behind you in line with the 8' REAL barb tipped spear could walk around without question (no shit, true story). Also unquestioned was my REAL M9 Bayonet on my belt, yet my plastic non-functioning P90 replica, that IF working could at most give you a really bad bruise, had to be "peace tied".

The kicker though, "peace tying" a weapon does not mean "rendering inoperable". All the dumb shits did was wrap a white zip tie around the handle so what exactly is the fucking point of it?

Just another example of egomaniacal DragonCon staff pushing stupid useless rules onto others simply because they could.

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