Vancouver Fan Expo 2014: Wtf, man?

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Ah, Vancouver Fan Expo. Where do I even begin?

First off, I love the fact that we get to have something like this so close to home. The nearest convention that’s of any significance is on the other side of the border, a three-hour bus ride away. Maybe even Calgary Fan Expo, but that’s a whopping 11 hour drive. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So no amount of disorganization and vaguely-famous celebrities can mute the fact that what they’re trying to do in our wonderful city of Vancouver is admirable indeed. Allowing us fans of all media types – whether it be comics, books, TV shows or films – to gather together for a couple of days to geek out and bask in our sweaty enthusiasm for all things nerd. There is nothing more life-assuring than to see some lanky otaku donning a crudely made costume from your favourite obscure anime. Nothing.

With all that said, 2014’s VFE was a bit of a letdown.

I know that feel, Spidey.

While I’m not exactly a seasoned con-goer, I’ve been to every single VFE since its debut in 2012. The last two years blew my mind away, while this year has been underwhelming at best.

The Venue.

What’s up with being in the dingy basement of the Vancouver Convention Center? Last year we got the sprawling hallways of Canada Place. Bright lights, great layout. Separate area for the exhibits, separate area for the celebs, a whole area for just for selling comic books.

This year, the photo ops were right next to the food vendors. I’m guessing Bruce Campbell was reeking of stale hot dog buns by the end of the weekend. Not impressed.

The Exhibits.

Just… disappointing. Last year, we got the DeLorean, Lego superheroes AND Lego Star Wars. The year before that, we got the Batmobile, 800 Series Terminators, AND R2-D2s.

This year… Lego hobbits. Rue Morgue? Wtf? Step that shit up, man.

The “Celebrity” Guests.

2012 – Adam West, Burt Ward, Lou Ferrigno. 2013 – Stan Lee, Sean Astin, Michael Rooker, oh and did I mention STAN FUCKING LEE. This year, even though we admittedly had Billy Boyd (whom I treasure), Tom Felton and Bruce Campbell, you’d think we’d get a bigger roster this year, since we’re gaining a bit of notoriety.

I’m just saying, if Calgary can get a rap sheet as long as my torso, then we can too.

And a minor note: You guys seriously need to start bringing in projector screens for your guests. Anyone past the 15th row is looking at a human-shaped blur.

Last, but not least. The blatant disorganization. Whether it was intentional or not, it pissed me off to no ends.

Directionless. Confused. Without hope.

First off, ladies and gentlemen staff of the convention, do not expect your crowd to exit through the left because it is a societal norm (at least in North America) to keep to the friggin’ right when you’re walking. And if you insist on your backwards, Anglican ways, then the least you could do is put mats on the floor with giant arrows on them to show people which way they should be going. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t see one goddamn sign in the entire building. Not even a crappy one written in highlighter on a piece of A4 paper.  So do not bark at people and look at them like they’re stupid. They’re not stupid, you are for thinking they are.

Do not get pissed off when people start opening doors to start entering the exhibit hall when you only have one pair of doors open to accommodate the massive flow of people. I don’t give a shit that you have a little clicker counting how many people are attending. You shove that thing up your ass and actually help us out.

Do not snap at us when we take candid shots of celebrities as they’re signing autographs or standing there doing nothing. We are not bothering anyone. We paid good money to be here. There is no difference between taking a photo of Lauren Cohen picking her nose behind that dinky white table and taking a photo of her walking on the street towards her car. We are using our own cameras, we aren’t asking the celebrities to pose for us, we’re not even in the freakin’ shot. We’re simply taking candids for our own personal reasons (creepy or not) and not for monetary gain. Surprisingly, this wasn’t a problem until this year.

And here we arrive at the biggest, most ridiculous problem we encountered all weekend.

The wristlets.

Only a head asplode is appropriate at this moment.

What. The. Hell.

I don’t even know where to begin with how impractical and idiotic the whole concept of wearing a wristlet at a fan convention like this is. You’re making some wild assumptions that none of these con-goers were going to wear costumes at any point during the convention. Or were you guys just expecting people to stay in their skintight spandex suits for three whole days?

Or are you going to suggest people wear them under their costumes, and at the 3-4 checkpoints throughout the building, you’re expecting them to undress/unsheathe/un-peel their costume away just so one of your super annoyed staff members can barely glance at it for a millisecond?

The ticket staff are the least helpful bunch I have met in my entire life.

To overcome this idiotic request of yours to wear a goddamn wristlet for the entire three days we were attending (two in casual clothes, one in costume), me and my boyfriend wore ours loosely after asking for advice from several staff members. How were we supposed to wear our wristlets if we were to wear spandex superhero costumes tomorrow? Two of them said “You just gotta have them on” – which totally did not address our issue. The last one (and the most impatient of them all) said “Just wear it loosely.

So we did.

And guess what? My boyfriend lost his.

Yes, it was his fault. But it was partly yours too.

Just mere minutes after losing it in the hustle and bustle, we ran back to the tickets stand. We explained our situation very carefully. We told them we had spoken to several staff members and that we were only doing what that lady had suggested. And guess what your incredibly rude manager with a permanent scowl said.

“Nobody would’ve told you to do that.”

Even when we inquired whether or not we were able to acquire another wristlet, we were shut down. I’m sure it’s occurred to you convention-planning folk that losing wristlets would’ve been inevitable, considering a large portion of your attendees are below the age of 12 and an even larger portion are wearing costumes. But no. Even with an receipt and a ID, we were told that all wristlets had ‘assigned numbers’ and it’d mess up the ‘numbers’ if you guys replaced lost wristlets.

No apologies. No sympathy. We were turned away like beggars at a fine dining restaurant.

Really? Having just enough wristlets to cover your projected number of attendees with no room for error? Now, that just seems irresponsible and psychotic.

I understand you guys are trying to enforce a no-tolerance policy towards scammers and liars, but are you really willing to risk alienating your core fanbase just to make an extra couple of bucks?

Do us all a favour. It’s time to ditch the wristlets and use badges. Just like all the other respected  nerd conventions out there. Yes, they cost more. But of the 70+ dollars you milked out of each of our weekend passes, the least you could’ve done was spend 2 dollars and give us a shitty lanyard with a ‘Hello! My name is _____’ sticker pasted to it.

Please keep in mind I’m not as angry about you guys refusing to replace our lost wristlet, as I am about the general attitude of the staff this weekend. None of them seemed very psyched to be there. I don’t expect much from volunteers, but Jesus Christ. Are any of them actually interested in helping out or are 90% of them just waiting for their shift to be over so they can attend the con for free?

Whatever BS we encountered, it was countered by the better experiences we had elsewhere. Whether it was listening to a pea-sized Billy Boyd sing “Edge of the Night”, chatting with the artists, or fangirling with my girlfriends. All of that has nursed the wounds the Fan Expo has inflicted upon us this year.

But we do not forget.

We shall never forget.

We patiently await for next year.

And you better not disappoint.

Yours in Disappointment,

Rachel C.

One day she hopes to reach a new state of being which requires no sustenance other than alcohol and pure, unadulterated rage. Imagine the shit she’ll write then, huh?

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