franzeska: (Default)
franzeska ([personal profile] franzeska) wrote2014-06-18 06:11 pm

CON.TXT con report

So... I have now been to my second con since Escapade. Have I written my Escapade report? Have I written my Bitchin' Party report? Ahahaha. *sigh* Both were great, and I'll be writing both up at some point, but I'm starting with CON.TXT before I fall even farther behind. I'm running out to dinner, so I guess I'll just post this in its relatively unexpurgated form.

The short version: Two years ago, CON.TXT was a con I would fly across the country for. This year's CON.TXT wasn't.

It was a mellow con for me. A number of little things add up to make me feel like this year was enjoyable but not the big event I would have preferred. Maybe I've changed too and what I want out of a con now is a bit different, but it felt like there was an energy at the con two years ago that there wasn't this time.

The con continues to have an awesome location: accessible via metro from the airport, within walking distance of many different delicious food options that are not shitty fast food chains, within walking distance of places like Radioshack/convenience stores/grocery stores/etc. It continues to have an excellent and informative website and helpful news distribution (LJ, mailing list, etc.). The Dead Dog is a time for honest feedback including the negative stuff. The con com is friendly, does a good job, and is not full of themselves. I would still highly recommend the con to people in the area and probably to fans who want to travel for it. I would not recommend it for vidders.

The best part of the con was, as always, seeing friends. It was great to have some time to sit down with Flamingo and beat her over the head with Tumblr... err... I mean, to help her out with Tumblr. That's so much easier to do in person, one on one. I hadn't seen Judy Chien since the previous CON.TXT and was all sad she wasn't on the list for this time. Turns out the con "lost" her registration. (Is this the kind of "lost" that resulted in me booking my CON.TXT flight two weeks before the con because I'm a complete disorganized wreck lately? ;D It was totally someone else's fault, I swear!) I shrieked when I saw her and went charging across the con suite. We talked about the idea of putting her old VHS transfer copies of her vids and the remastered versions up on AO3. That would be so awesome! (Also awesome: some contact info for Judy that has a prayer of being current. Hahaha.) Others like Greenygal and Kerithwyn I've seen at other cons, but it's always great to have more opportunities to reconnect in person. Oh, and I ran into some of the other demented souls responsible for last CON.TXT's room party vid. (That would be the Steve/Hulk to Bryan Adams. Alcohol is a beautiful thing, my friends.) I sat next to Starlady at the vidshow, where we laughed our asses off. But more on the vidshow later. I ran into some people who were excited about Parallels. Hell, I ran into some people who had heard of Parallels. Totally made my day! I returned sheyheyred's books I borrowed like 5 years ago and taunted bethbethbeth about the Bones DVDs I lent her even longer ago than that. I met some great folks who took me out to the most divine Ethiopian restaurant. All in all, socially, it was good. I didn't get that ALL OF MY FRIENDS IN ONE PLACE ferret on Pixy Stix feeling Escapade gave me, but I don't think it was a function of who attended or how friendly they were.

Before I forget, Zvi plied me with bookmarks for Connexions while I was distracting her from her volunteering shift. East Coast slash con attendees take note: this venerable con is restarting in August 2015. I reserve August for VividCon, but you non-vidders should check it out.

The panels were similar to last con. I love that CON.TXT has a lot of meta panels and a lot of panels on things besides just slash. The OT3 panel was a lot of fun. There were others on things like asexuality, genderqueer characters, and bisexual representation. I was sorry to miss the last of those. I couldn't decide between that and a panel on fading fandoms and how they might be sustained or revived. Sadly, the panel was mostly bitching about the minutia of specific fandoms, and it never actually settled into the meta discussion topic it was supposed to be about. I chose poorly. (Drat.) The fandom dating game was just as awesome as last time. I, tragically, only got to pimp one of the things I submitted, and the one I was least interested in pimping at that. However, someone else signed up for Penny Dreadful and did a great job pimping it, and I extensively pimped Longmire elsewhere at the con. (Is that why I suddenly have a bunch of kudos on Longmire stuff on AO3? Thanks, guys! Or maybe it's the new season starting.)

To my surprise, I heard plenty of Losers mentions at the con. It sounds like a number of people had just discovered the fandom as they looked up the back catalogues of the fannish darlings du jour. All of the fannish darlings du jour. They're all in it. Seriously. It was the fandom I ended up pimping at the fannish dating game where the most amusing question was: "Is your fandom all white people." My answer: "Heeelll no." People were surprised and happy to learn it has both a holiday secret santa and a big bang. (Man, I wish I hadn't had an attack of RL and finked out on that the last 2 times.) For those of you who haven't seen it, it's about a black ops unit who get accused of a crime they didn't commit. Said team: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Chris Evans, Columbus Short, and a super hot Spanish actor who's barely been in anything else in English, Óscar Jaenada. The dude does more acting with his eyebrows in thirty seconds of this movie than most actors do in a decade. Said black ops team joins forces with a shady character with a lot of cash and even more homicidal mania, a character played by Zoe Saldana. That's right: Uhura, Papa Winchester, Captain America, Stringer Bell, and some other hotties made a bad action movie together. And it is amaaaazing.

One thing there wasn't was any vid-related programming at all. I can't exactly complain since I didn't bother to suggest panels and was too tired to attend this con as anything but a passive consumer. I don't remember much vidding-related programming last time either, so I get the feeling this just isn't a crowd with a lot of interest. Two years ago, I would have attended vidding panels. Now, I'm a lot less interested in a con if it doesn't have them. It's not a dealbreaker, though, especially if I don't have the energy to run them myself.

The big difference that I disliked was the Friday evening party. Last time, this was amazing. It was in a room that felt really festive, I got smashed on something I enjoyed, and the canapés were to die for. This year, the food consisted of nasty cheese cubes and some cookies that were mostly gone by the time I arrived. The hotel moved the party at the last minute, so the dance floor was between dealers' tables walled off with chairs and caution tape. It felt like a lame junior high dance. The signature drink the bar was serving was disgusting, and I didn't have much cash, so I was too sober to enjoy the party that much. Somehow, the energy just wasn't there. I don't think it was just me either: a number of other people remarked on it. On the bright side, I did have fun slathering on about three pounds of red eyeshadow for the Evil Twin theme. I kept trying to dance, but I just wasn't feeling it. I think the music jumped around too much instead of having little sections that built on themselves, and the transitions between songs weren't smooth. I ended up hanging out talking to R for most of the party.

After I got bored, I decided to wander upstairs to the Les Mis room party on the theory that drinking other people's wine was better than going to the lobby in my weird makeup to look for the ATM. I haven't read or seen Les Mis, but I have never let that stop me from raiding someone's room party before. I was glad I did too: Melanin was hanging out by herself waiting for people to show, so we had a great conversation during which she reminded me that she'd written for me in the very first Yuletide ever. That certainly brings back memories. Mostly of wank. The rest of the Les Mis fans eventually made it upstairs, so it was a lively room party after all. I ate up all of the brie, baguette, and smoked oysters and drank most of the truly dreadful red wine. On the one hand, it was awful. On the other hand, do you really see Les Amis drinking anything decent? A fun party, but a little low-key from my perspective since it's not a fandom I'm excited about. (OTOH, excited people squeeing about their fandom leave the food undefended.)

Saturday, there was supposed to be a Musketeers room party, but I skipped it in favor of That Other Room Party, which ended up absorbing the Musketeers party anyway. It was very chill. There was a lot of booze, and I always approve of drinking on other people's dime. The food consisted of an onion and an apple (not red delicious)... I kid! I kid! There were nutmeg cookies (delicious; I stole the leftovers for my own room Sunday night) and a lot of things I don't remember but happily ate, also on someone else's dime. I got people to watch a vid of mine, we discussed the amazingness of doing a Eurovision vidding challenge where people are assigned a country and have to pick one of their Eurovision horrors entries to vid, and we put on that episode of Musketeers with Baltar being a douche. A++ party.

But the evening overall also felt subdued, and that was partly the preceding vidshow. Oh boy... where do I start? Maybe if the Friday party had felt more awesome to me... Maybe if there had been a critical mass of some other set of my friends... Maybe if I'd loved the panels... I know I happily submitted a premiere to the show two years ago, so whatever the guidelines were then didn't bother me. Probably I was too excited to actually read them. My experience of the con that time was of a very, very OT3-friendly con. It made me feel at home and like this was an offline version of contemporary Livejournal fandom (of 2 years ago, not the even greater tumbleweeds of 2014). I think it was that happy memory of feeling like I fit in that made it seem worth getting up in the middle of the night to fly across the country.

The vid show submission guidelines made me feel anything but.

The guidelines:
From the CON.TXT website: "For the 2014 vid show, we're following the same template we've used in previous cons after the very first (you can see the playlists for earlier vid shows by clicking on Playlist, above, and then clicking the year), which is to say that we'll be taking vid submissions and our goal is to put together a Saturday night vid show that consists of roughly half submissions and half selections."

"Important Points About the CON.TXT 2014 Vid Show:
• CON.TXT is a slash con and the vid show will be devoted exclusively to slash (m/m or f/f) vids. We're not going to attempt to strictly define "slash" here - just use your best judgment (and feel free to contact us if you're uncertain). The vid com will make the final determination if there's an issue.


"In an effort to make the vid show as enjoyable and appealing to as wide a range of fans as possible, we are going to take into consideration, and will actively attempt to balance, fandoms, vidders, song and musical styles, vid lengths, and other similar factors in selecting vids for the show. Also, the vid show lasts only a limited time (approximately two hours, including a break), and only a portion of that time will be devoted to submitted vids. So we cannot guarantee that a submitted vid will actually be in the show."

I tried to be excited about making a m/m or f/f vid. I really did. But you know how when you sign up for an exchange and you get details that are like "I hate your OTP!", your mind just goes blank and you can't think of anything else to write even though you normally love all of the other pairings in that fandom and gen casefic too? It was like that. All of my joy at making anything went away. It was like pulling teeth to get a vid done at all. I eventually sat down right before the deadline and vidded something in a sitting. It's a slightly peculiar Haven vid. It's half a gen canon overview with m/m awkwardly pasted on and half an OT3 vid with Audrey painfully excised. I was honestly worried it would be rejected, but it wasn't.

The main CON.TXT vidshow room is supposed to be the loud one. I didn't realize that, partly because people were so quiet. Were they not having a good time? I am not sure. Someone complained at the Dead Dog that they'd been shushed when they wanted to talk. To my great surprise and pleasure, everyone sang along loudly to my vid. I wasn't sure how the cover of It's the End of the World As We Know It would go over, but people either didn't notice or, in one case, were apparently ecstatic that I had used the "One True Cover Version". I'm especially happy because understanding the lyrics does help with some of the faster, more context-reliant bits of editing. (And I know you guys understood them because you were bellowing the verses too.)

People certainly applauded loudly enough after the vids, but it felt like maybe the energy was a little down from what I'd hope for overall. Despite the show supposedly balancing different styles and including different fandoms and all of that, I wasn't getting a strong feeling of "OMG, MY SHIP!" from most of the room except on the White Collar OT3 vid and, okay, talitha78's Steve/Bucky and Thor/Loki vids. The show also reached its climax with the most WTF choice imaginable. Ending on lulzy Thor/Loki would have worked. Ending on an angsty three-fandom vid nobody gets because nobody's seen Merlin and Kings and that Alexander movie followed by a bittersweet Shelter vid is terrible. If those needed to be in at all (and I would never in a million years have put in the 3-fandom one), they should have been in the middle of one of the halves.

I hear tell that the issue with CON.TXT's vidshow may be in part that they do ask permission to show things. That's an admirable effort. (Though, dude, VidUKon sends a courtesy notification and then assumes you agree if you don't respond. This is pretty normal for cons. It's not like making a zine of somebody's fic without asking.) On the other hand, I've watched all of the festivids except the ones from the first year and been to most of the cons where the rest of this playlist debuted and seen most of the vids of the people who debuted theirs online. I can say with perfect assurance that there are a zillion other good vids from those sources, plenty of them more appropriate for this vidshow.

If I had to guess, I would say that the stumbling block is treating vids like fic. Yes, there are people who don't want "an icky peanut butter girl in their delicious m&m" or who never read gen. When it comes to vidders, though, it's just not like that, at least not for the VVC "vidding is my fandom" types. Even those of us who vid plenty of m/m vid an awful lot of canon recap, character studies, and random other shit. If con vidshows must insist on doing their research by looking through Festivids, many of the best vids aren't m/m. If cons want all shipping all the time, they need to branch out and look for vidders on Youtube who aren't part of these same circles. And, yes, a lot of those people are hard to contact or don't give a shit about this kind of con.

A vidshow should take the audience into account because they're kind of trapped once they attend at all, but I also feel it should be like a con art show: about the artists as fellow fans who attend the convention and are a part of the community, not about entertaining a passive audience with perfect, 100% professional and to-their-liking entertainment. Neither should have a minimum allowed talent level. Neither should turn away pieces by attending members because being able to get your stuff in is the entire point of going to an in-person gathering these days. Having some more beginner pieces in encourages people to get better and other people to try the artform out for themselves. The way CON.TXT is right now, I don't feel like it's actually interested in vidders at all. And this from a young-ish, livejournal-y con! Escapade, which has every excuse to be a bunch of old fogeys who like "Slash only!!!", yet it has a general vidshow with no specific slash requirements. The contrast makes CON.TXT look out of touch and anti-vidder. I don't think I will bother attending or submitting vids again.

I'm late for my train, so I'm going to post this and bolt out the door. I have more thoughts on vidding-as-fandom and how it differs from slash-as-fandom even for vidders who identify as slashers, but they'll have to wait. Or you can have that conversation in the comments for me and save me the trouble. Hahaha.
thirdblindmouse: The captain, wearing an upturned pitcher on his head, gazes critically into the mirror. (Default)

[personal profile] thirdblindmouse 2014-06-19 01:29 am (UTC)(link)
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on how vidding-as-fandom differs from slash-as-fandom even for vidders who identify as slashers, because these days I have less and less perspective on fandom outside of vidding.
grey_bard: (Default)

[personal profile] grey_bard 2014-06-19 03:10 am (UTC)(link)
I was acting as vidding agent for a friend who was attending and they rejected all three of her well-made slash vids for totally vague reasons. When I asked for clearer guidelines, they put me off.
morgandawn: (Apple Mac)

[personal profile] morgandawn 2014-06-19 05:29 am (UTC)(link)
when I curated the bascon vid show, I always tried to find a way to include at least one vid if the Vidder was attending. The bascon audience was very slash focused and unless there were naked bodies or romantic themes, some videos - like character studies or humour videos - did not go over well. But with careful organization you can find a home for these entries.

I do empathise with the 'end of show' misstep. Did the same thing one year when I ended the show with Lum's Vogue video set to the movie 300. People liked a multi-random vid better. VJ-ing is hard.
amalthia: (Default)

[personal profile] amalthia 2014-06-19 06:31 am (UTC)(link)
I would have thought Vogue would be an awesome send off for a vid show.
morgandawn: (Cat Basket Going To Hell?)

[personal profile] morgandawn 2014-06-19 03:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I know (throws hands in the air). But I learned that I needed to program a little bit for everyone. I dislike schmaltzy, romantic or literal vids, but many people love them. Some people love dark and angsty. Some like goofy vids. So I started gathering a few types here and there for each vid show. But submitted vids were rare...vids submitted by attending vidders were even rarer, so I made an effort to find a way to include them. The oddest one was a Teen Titans vid made by the 14 year old (non-attending) daughter of an attending vidder. I tucked it away in the middle of the second half, and while it did raise eyebrows, I told people they just had to use their imagination to see the slash. "We are skilled slashers. It should not be beyond our capabilities."
amalthia: (Default)

[personal profile] amalthia 2014-06-20 06:18 am (UTC)(link)
"We are skilled slashers. It should not be beyond our capabilities."

lol, I would have loved to have been in the room when you said that! :)
plasmoids: (Default)

[personal profile] plasmoids 2014-06-25 07:34 pm (UTC)(link)
The Teen Titans cartoon had fairly decent slashability, as far as I remember! I would have been very happy to see that in a vid show. :)
amalthia: (Default)

[personal profile] amalthia 2014-06-19 06:33 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks for posting these cons reports! I've never been to CON.txt so I'm not sure how the conventions are different from each other.
amalthia: (Default)

[personal profile] amalthia 2014-06-20 06:19 am (UTC)(link)
Con.txt is tempting! :) I may try and go next year. Thanks for explaining how con.txt is similar and yet different from Escapade.
talitha78: (_sail_ purple lips)

[personal profile] talitha78 2014-06-19 02:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Damn, you don't hold back, do you? I love it--makes for very interesting reading. I especially appreciate your thoughts on the vidshow; I'm only just now realizing how non-inclusive the wording in their submissions guidelines is. And it seems like they could be a little more transparent in their decision-making process, too.

I, of course, am a sucker for flattery: when they request vids from me, I hop right to it. :) But I can see how other vidders would be a bit put off by the whole thing.
talitha78: (Default)

[personal profile] talitha78 2014-06-22 01:25 am (UTC)(link)
I loved both of your vids, BTW! They both went over really well with the crowd.

Aww, thanks. I think this is the most response I've ever gotten from having a vid in a con vidshow. Usually I don't get much of an uptick in views or comments, but with "Problem," all sorts of people are showing up to tell me how much they liked it at Con.txt. What it is to open a vidshow and to be vidding the hot pairing du jour...
Edited 2014-06-22 01:26 (UTC)
morgandawn: (Cat Sleepy)

[personal profile] morgandawn 2014-06-19 08:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I feel uncomfortable with defining vid shows as 'for the audience" vs "for the vidders" because many vidders are part of the fandom audience and to exclude them totally from programming feels counter productive and unfriendly.

That being said I was aware when I was curating that there were vids that would primarily appeal to the vidding fan vs the slash fan or the OTP fan and I would try to include something that would appeal to each group. We didn't exclude character study or OT3 or humor or parody vids because we recognize that even among slash fans it is not all about the sexual relationship or one pairing all the time. A vid show that starts off by defining slash so narrowly is bound to eventually lose audience and entrants - unless they start limiting their membership to only fans of explicit slash or OTP XYZ.

I don't even know if I can define a vidding fan vs a slash fan vs a gen fan vs a het fan. If I were to try I'd say the vidding fan is a fan of storytelling no matter the pairing or genre or show and the other fans like stories that focus on their pairing or genre or show. But even there, I suspect a fan of xyz show can be pulled into a vid that focuses on a pairing or genre or show they are not familiar with or like. That's the power and beauty of vidding as a recruiter tool.
Edited (typos) 2014-06-19 20:40 (UTC)
thirdblindmouse: The captain, wearing an upturned pitcher on his head, gazes critically into the mirror. (Default)

[personal profile] thirdblindmouse 2014-06-20 05:32 am (UTC)(link)
I think Franzi meant being for the contributors to the show vs. not taking the contributors to the show into account.
Edited 2014-06-20 05:32 (UTC)