Conventions are one of the most wonderful events that you can attend as a geek. The mix of fellow geek and pop culture enthusiasts, celebrities, and things to see or buy creates an atmosphere that is like no other; it’s mind-blowing and almost indescribable. I know that each attendee’s experience is different, but I left my first convention last year with the widest smile on my face and an exuberance that took days to wear off. I was hooked and couldn’t wait until I’d be able to go back.
I think that one of the reasons conventions are so special is the fact that the celebrities who attend, the people who bring our favorite characters to life, take time out of their busy schedule and time away from their families to give us a chance to interact with them. Whether it is attending their panel, or if you’re lucky enough, a photo op and/or autograph, the chance to be in the same space as them is truly flabbergasting. As someone who values experience over mementos, it is the zenith of my personal geekdom.
But unfortunately, there are some people who abuse that opportunity. They seem to think that since they spent hundreds of dollars for their ticket it gives them the right to do what they want or to treat the actors like they are pieces of meat.
No. Just no.
In no way does the amount of money you spent excuse crossing certain boundaries without consent, even as innocent as it may seem at the time. In no way does your mere proximity to a celebrity allow you to act without consent. Consent is something we hear thrown around a lot in fandom and especially at conventions, and it is something that has multilevel meanings.
Consent is not taking a picture of someone without asking if it’s okay first. Cosplay is not consent.
Consent is not touching or holding someone without getting permission first. Do not assume it is okay.
Consent is respecting boundaries and personal space. Period.
Thankfully occurrences of fans crossing the line are not common, but it does happen. And each time it does it reprehensible, regardless of the intent behind the act.
Celebrities are people just like us; it can be easy to forget that given their fame and status. But at the end of the day they want to have a good time and be respected, just like every other person who walks this planet. Many of the actors who attend conventions do so because they love the interaction with their fans as much as we love interacting with them. It is a symbiotic relationship that should be, must be, based in mutual appreciation and respect. Just as we can opt to not attend the con, they can just as easily opt to not accept the invitation from the con organizers.
Believe me, I understand firsthand what it is like to be star-struck. To actually be in front of the person who you’ve watched for years and admire for their talent (and good looks, let’s be honest), it’s easy to lose your faculties for a minute. When my sister and I first met Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, we barely had enough sense about us to be able to tell them what we wanted to do for our photo op (and all it was was a side-by-side hug with them in the middle!) and afterwards we both remarked how surreal it was (and we admittedly couldn’t stop giggling about it, we blamed the musk).
Don’t get me wrong. If you have even just a modicum of proper manners or common sense, you’ll get along just fine. Most of the actors who attend cons are very fun and very easy going. A lot of times if you tell them what your idea for a photo op is and you ask if it’s okay, they’ll go along with it (within reason, course). Just remember, fantasizing about celebrities in your head and on your Tumblr is just fine, as long as that it where it stays. They are not there for you to act out your wildest desires.
Conventions are a hallowed tradition in the geek world. We should consider ourselves lucky that we are alive during a time in which the type and number of cons available for attending are numerous. And if you are fortunate enough to be able to attend a con, don’t ruin the experience for yourself or for the person you are there to see. Don’t be that person, m’kay?