The DashCon Debacle
I really like Tumblr. Yeah, I realize that may be an unpopular opinion on some parts of the internet, but I don't care. I've been a member of the site for around three or four years now, and it's been the only online community in which I've been a consistent member of. Something about the balance of social justice concerns, nerdy interests, and funny junk strikes a chord with me, and while I'd never dream of doing any "serious" blogging on it (hence this blog,) it's a pretty great place. But, like any online community, there are shitty, obnoxious parts. There are the "anti-SJW" blogs, the "feminists" who don't actually practice any semblance of feminism, and a few specific fandoms that happen to be very loud, very annoying, and consist primarily of teenagers who "aren't like other teenagers."
Now, this last group happens to be very important, because they remind me of a post that went around Tumblr for a while. It was imagining a theoretical "Tumblr convention," and each subsequent reblogging added caps-locked squealing and GIFs from popular fan followings, like "Supernatural," "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock." To sound like a bitter jerk here for a moment, it was downright obnoxious. This fantasy convention sounded like a giant, disorganized heap with no common theme held together by a bunch of lame internet "humor" and the most rabid sides of already rabid fandoms. Like something that nobody would ever put money towards. Like something that could not, would not, and should not exist under any circumstances.
But then somebody made it into a reality. They actually brought it to life. And I've got some shit to say about it.
It's A Mismatching Mix of Unrelated Fandoms
|DashCon Ball Pit: The Official Soundtrack - Track One|
These are either squealing young teenagers or people who act like them. There's barely any middle ground. And somebody decided to "organize" (there's a reason that's in quotations, as you'll see soon) a convention catering directly to these people. All at once. Without any semblance of an actual theme. I'm sorry, but gathering people under the pretense of "it's popular on this internet site, so let's make a convention for it!" is bullshit logic. Taking a look at the borderline schizophrenic schedule is mind-boggling, because there is no pattern. It's a bunch of shit thrown at a board, often slapped with a moronic name referencing a popular internet maymay, and put forth into the wild. There's a "BDSM 101" panel side-by-side with "Feminism in Modern Times," a "Let Me Ask You About Homestuck" thingy near a "Welcome to Night Vale Listening Party," and something that sounds horrible called "British Men With... Cheekbones" next to something that sounds equally as horrible entitled "Such Karaoke. Very Sing. Wow."
I'm not against these panels in theory (to some extent, anyway,) but the fact they have largely nothing to do with each other is what I'm against. I'm sorry, but it's not really cool to have multiple panels dissecting Doctor Who while largely ignoring other contemporary sci-fi television shows, or host a BDSM panel in the same event where feminism is being discussed. Again, these are things that are popular to talk about on Tumblr thrown into a hotel and called a "convention" without any real theme. It's like if there was a fucking 4Chan convention. Can you even imagine how horrible that would be? Fat-shaming panels, opinion-bashing meetups, and image-sourcing workshops? It would be a disorganized mess of different interests with only a website as the pretense of the meeting. In short? It would be the worst. And so is this. The literal worst. Well, outside of a NAMBLA conference. They still have those, right?
The Organizers Are Amateurs and Probably Scam Artists
|Speaks for itself.|
You read that right. Seventeen thousand smackaroos. As my lovely ladyfriend pointed out, that would be enough to pay off the rest of our respective stints in college. It would be a significant donation to any charity, or research effort, or... well, virtually anything else. Fuck, I could buy every video game I've ever wanted with that much money. Yet these people, these swindling jokers, managed to get that much cash for a poorly organized scam in the time of an average TV show. Now, there are excuses that the so-called organizers posted on their official blog, but they've been subsequently torn apart in the links I shared above. All that's left is a series of half-truths and outright lies that led to a large sum of cash being in the hands of some wacky meme-loving kiddies. Where did it go? Why did the hotel suddenly need it? How in the hell could they not pay their main guest? These are questions which will probably go unanswered as the con artists ride into the sunset, laughing all the way to the bank.
It Makes A Mockery of Tumblr
|DashCon Ball Pit: The Official Soundtrack - Track Two|
And that's why I'm disappointed. Tumblr works because it's a celebration of diverse interests and beliefs. DashCon is the polar opposite. It's a bunch of popular things cherry-picked by the "organizers," shutting out everybody else who doesn't like said things. To me, it sends the world a message. That message is that Tumblr consists of pasty white teens who like bouncy castles and being "SO RANDOM XD!" The same kind that feel like Hot Topic understands them and spout allegedly clever catchphrases when somebody questions their behavior or interests. And I, for one, think that it's much more than weird romantic pairings of fictional characters and crying about webcomics by creators who hate their fans.
Ultimately, DashCon 2014 is a bad gag stretched out over an entire weekend. It's run by self-serving pricks that exploited their followers for money, and a sad reminder of the worst parts of a great website. I can only hope that future iterations are geared towards a wider audience... or that they abandon this enterprise altogether and realize that, perhaps, websites don't work as conventions. Just a thought.
i09 did a great DashCon article that's much more well-written and less rant-y than mine, by the way.