Posted By Kathleen David on January 21, 2007
I have been reading different people’s thoughts, stories, and recollections about Arisia which happened last weekend in Boston. I haven’t been to Arisia in a while. The hotel was a new one and with a new hotel and this sort of convention problems will be found. The biggest one this year seems to be the ability of people to get to various parts of the convention due to the lack of elevators. I know a couple of people that this affected greatly. I think this is something that needs to be sorted out before next year because I know from other conventions that this sort of thing can kill a convention over time.
Behind the cut are two tales of drama at the convention and not the good kind either.
I am grateful for my fellow fans even those who take things to extremes.
Now another tale that has come out from the convention is that of the Hygiene Ninja and the smelly volunteer. This is one of those stories that has more versions of what happened than the number of times George has tinkered with the Star Wars films. What I have figured out from what I have read is that there is an individual who dresses up in Ninja garb and hands out bath products to the attendees of the convention. For a number of years this has been met with good natured giggles and encouragement for more Hygiene at Conventions (which I have not found as big a problem as it was back in the 1980s kids). Now apparently there is a volunteer who has been helping out at the convention for a number of years. He has in the past been homeless and had been trading his volunteering for his ability to attend the convention. He is, according to those who have to work with him, sometimes difficult to deal with. But over all he has a blast at the convention. Now apparently some one on staff sicced the Hygiene Ninja on this guy because of a wafting odor which apparently was caused by his hoodie sweatshirt. This caused someone who knew the volunteer to go ape-sh*t on the con committee about the affront. After storing through all the posts on the subject I have come to a couple of conclusions. The writer of the letter says in the letter that seeing this was a trigger that brought up lots of bad memories of how they have been treated in the past and this brings out a stream of people out of the woodwork who say that the Ninja’s high jinks hurt them too. The person in question to sent the Ninja out has come in saying that they didn’t mean harm. The Ninja after trying to figure out a way to continue a way to continue has now come to the conclusion that he has to just stop. And the guy who this drama is about was not too upset about the whole thing.
Then there is a tale of the party that was private (sort of, kinda). There was a party being held with the theme “Skanks in Space” which was the sequel to parties that they had held previously. Some people got their knickers in a knot when they saw the party flyers (which even the party throwers agree was a bad idea in hindsight) and then when they went to the party they were informed they were not dressed properly so they could not enter. The way that some people were getting in was allowing to be led in on a leash which set off a whole other set of people about the fact that to some people leashes are serious business and you belittle those people if you use them in jest. Some people objected to the use of the work “skank” and all the negative connotations that come with that word. Others had flashbacks to be excluded and thought that these sorts of parties should be banned because they set a bad example.
Now my brother throws parties at conventions. I have written about them before. You needed an invite to get into the party but the doorman had the discretion to let others in as they say fit. My brother is really good at picking his doormen and he trusts their judgment. To get into one of his parties you need an invite. For some getting one of these is the best part of the convention. He spends money on these parties between the invitations, the party theme stuff, and the food and drink so I think he has the right to say who comes in and who doesn’t. Considering what the Skanks spent for the evening, I think they too have the right to say the same.
In both these cases people were outraged on the behalf of other people. This is not a bad thing but when it goes so over the top such that people were threatening the health and safety of the Hygiene Ninja if they saw them again. And people wanted a ban on private parties that people know about but can’t get in because they don’t meet the criteria of the party especially those people who throw a party with a word they don’t like in the title of the party. Now the Skankers have stated that the fliers were a bad idea and they won’t make that mistake again but to ban a group just because of a misunderstanding seems a little extreme. I can remember once a group of older drunken idiots who were known as trouble at parties when and tried to complain to security that they were being excluded from one of Doc Whoopee’s parties. They were informed they would have to take their complaint to the head of security or the con committee chairman who happen to be at the party because they were not acting like drunken idiots. Also some underage kids were upset because they were not allowed in the party and complained to security to then came and complimented Doc on being strict about under-age drinking.
Exclusion happens. It happens all the time on so many levels. I, personally, am getting tired of hearing the chant that all science fiction fans should get along with all other science fiction fans and there should be this great harmony among us all since we are all social misfits in the bigger world. May be a long time ago that might have been true (but I don’t think it was) but not all of us are total social misfits. Some take pride in the uniqueness that is the stereotypical fan. Where as that sort of fan still exists, most of us are just fine in social situations outside of fandom. We have families, cars, and pets like everyone else on the block. Sure our decorating might be a little more unique than some but I know that I have people admire the artwork we have in the house who are totally not fans. They appreciate the art for the art’s sake. We are normal people with a hobby that we can spend time with our fellow hobbyists.
That one can’t get into a party or is handed soap is being bullied by those who should know better is just absurd. If this is a hot button issue then I think the person has bigger problems than what happened at the convention. Self-esteem comes from within not from the opinions of others. Those who crusade on the behalf of those who they feel have been wronged just rubs me the wrong way especially when the person who has been “wronged” does feel as if any harm had been done to them. High horses are easy to fall from and the ground of reality can be pretty hard to land on. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t help our fellow fan fight battles but I think we need to check in first and see if it is a battle they want to fight and if it is a misunderstanding rather than a battle that needs to be fought.