Fan events are a self-fulfilling prophecy of why we can’t have nice things.
A few weeks ago, it was announced that FOX was hosting an even in NYC for the world premiere of X-Men Days of Future Past at the Javits Center. My friend RSVPed to the event and invited me to come along with her (as we are both fans of X-Men, as well as a lot of the cast). Since the RSVP was in her name, she was sent repeated emails from FOX/the event reminding her of said event and stressing the importance of having tickets that bared a unique barcode. (This will be an important detail in a bit…)
Having been to several fan events of varying natures before, my friend and I knew we would have to get there much earlier than the 4:00 start time the invite gave. We knew people were sleeping outside in line the night before, but we decided to get there around 9:00am on the day-of. The event said that the first 500 people in line would get free promotional items, be able to interact with the cast and see the film (among other incentives). When I got to the line around 8:45am, I was told I was around the 350th person in line. (This will also be an important detail in a bit…)
My friend joined me in line soon thereafter and we set about killing time and chatting up the people we were near in line. Javits Center employees were seen walking the line every now and again, some had handheld clickers and were counting how many people were in line. The little group I was in was worried about getting into the event, but we were told by an employee that we would.
As hours ticked by, we noticed that the line ahead looked much denser than it had when we got there. It was obvious that people were cutting into the line and no one (Javits Center employees or other people in line alike) was doing anything about it. When some people cut in front of us, our group spoke up. It wasn’t fair that we had been waiting over 5 hours at that point and new people just sauntered up and joined the middle of the line when the end of the line was wrapped around the block.
(I would never cut someone in line. Like, my person is not programmed to be that inconsiderate to someone else. Even if I was upset about the length of a line, I would get my ass to the back of it because that’s the only logical spot where I belonged when I first arrived to a line.)
We were obviously wondering what was going on, and would ask Javits Center employees about more information. We weren’t told much, if anything. At one point, someone said they were going to hand out wristbands (something that should always be done IMMEDIATELY in this kind of mass-attendance event). But, instead of wristbands, we were given Twinkies.
Not only was that a super unhealthy food item to give people, but it only made people more upset about not having some sort of idea of what the actual agenda of events was.
What else made people mad was word that people no longer needed to have a ticket to get in line/attend the event. This meant that people could easily insert themselves into the line at any point and not need any sort of documentation to prove that they were on the original event list to be there. So, all of those emails my friend were sent were null and void. Her inbox was spammed for weeks with reminders to have her tickets with her, only for the event to completely disregard that on the day of. (Please note, she was sent a reminder email at 7am on the day of the event to have her tickets with her.)
An hour or two after we were told, “things will get moving in 15 minutes,” the line was condensed like cattle. We heard word that the first 500 people were already given wristbands. My friend and I were wristbandless. We went from being the 350th people in line to well over 600 because that many people had cut the line while we were waiting. Myself and some other nearby people in line tried to ask a passing Javits Center employee about how we were misinformed about being guaranteed to get in. He snidely told us that that was show business and that the Javits Center was only hired to host the event and that we needed to complain to FOX representatives. I asked him if there was some way they could send out someone to answer our questions and he repeated that the Javits Center had nothing to do with it. (I’m being much more eloquent and polite about this than what he actually said to us. This man was so rude.)
While we were super pissed about no longer being among the first 500 people (after having waited for over 6 hours at this point) and the rude Javits Center guys, but eventually we were told we would still be getting passes to see X-Men Days of Future Past that night either at the Javits Center or a nearby movie theater. We made peace with that news, as we mostly wanted to see the movie.
So, we stayed in line. And got rained on a bit as the line slowly shuffled forward while the wristband people were let into the building.
Those of us who did not have wristbands were still let into the building. We were immediately wanded and had our bags checked, then ushered through to a barricaded area where we were given free t-shirts and posters.
My friend and I ended up at the front of the barricade that lined a black carpet. There was a little stage set up and stacks of shirts, posters and Blu-rays. The host, a morning DJ from Z100 (Garrett something?), explained over the pop music that was piped through the speakers that he was going to do trivia with us and give away all the shirts, posters and Blu-rays (all of which were signed by Hugh Jackman – you know, Wolverine).
For the next hour and a half, two hours, Garrett gave away stuff to people and we stood against the barricade (legs tired, energy draining). Finally around 7:00, it got interesting. One of the writers was there and he talked a little about then film.
Hugh Jackman then showed up and signed stuff/took pictures with people along the length of the barricades before he was ushered toward the little stage to answer some questions.
Then everyone else started to trickle in.
And I mean EVERYONE.
A majority of the main cast of X-Men Days of Future Past made their way down the barricades signing things and taking pictures, then answered a few questions, then signed and took more pictures.
I knew it was going to be crazy, so I had it set in my head that I would only try to get pictures (if I could) with my two favorite cast members (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender). I then hoped that I could have the other cast members sign my poster.
As soon as the actors got over toward where I was standing, some of the people around me were increasingly losing their shit. The sisters my friend and I were flanked by would scream at the celebrities, rudely demand selfies and then make snarky comments if something did not go their way. There were grabby hands, loud voices, no Pleases and Thank Yous and just really terrible manners all around. I was hit in the face a few times from people around me and behind me trying to get their posters or shirts in front of the actors so that they would sign it.
I was appalled.
I made sure to say Thank You to everyone who signed my poster. When I could, I would offer up a kind sentiment about a movie/performance of the actors’ that I liked. (I managed to tell Nicholas Hoult I loved his performance in A Single Man and he took a second to make eye contact and sincerely say Thank You. While the rude girl next to me was screaming Game of Thrones stuff at Peter Dinklage, I said that I was a fan of his since The Station Agent and he smiled and nodded his thanks in my direction.) I was able to get pictures with McAvoy and Fassbender, but only after I made sure to ask them politely for the opportunity. (“May I please get a picture with you?” Then after a nod/yes, I said “Thank You” and then thanked them again after the picture was taken. MANNERS.) Even in a frenzied environment, I feel it is super important to be polite. These actors worked hard making the movie and they shouldn’t have to deal with fans screaming in their faces and rudely demanding selfies.
Fan culture is such a weird thing. It’s great, but it’s also completely awful.
Being in a fandom is a great way to meant other people who share similar passions and interests. I’m grateful to have made some really amazing friendships with people through fandom events and online interactions (some which have bled through to real-life friendships). These are the people I feel comfortable talking about pop culture with because they get it on the same level of intensity that I do. I don’t have to apologize for my interests because they love what I love just as much. And that is an AWESOME feeling to be able to share that passion with others.
But at the same time, I hate fandom culture. I don’t like going to events and having to deal with the crazy people who shove and are super rude because they think that they are entitled to something just because they are fans. The actors may have been contractually obligated to be at that event yesterday, but that doesn’t mean they should be treated like pieces of meat from hundreds of fans. No one deserves to be shouted at or pulled in for a picture without consent.
Fans are an integral part of the popular culture industry. We are the audience. We are why movies get made and shows stay on television. (Yes, money has a huge factor in that too… but who is buying the movie tickets? We are the butts in seats.) But as fans, we need to keep our wits about us when we have the opportunity to meet and interact with the celebrities we love. There is no need to yell in their faces or grab at their clothes. They are people just like us. How would you like someone screaming in your face and demand you to sign something or take a picture? Now times that by almost a thousand.
As grateful as I was for the chance to briefly interact with the cast of X-Men Days of Future Past last night, I am not rushing to go to any more fan events any time soon. It’s really rough spending all day standing in line and then being surrounded by some of the rudest people you’ll ever encounter. All the shouting. All the shoving. It’s really disheartening.
Tomorrow is the second ever Fox Fanfront. I have to work, so there was no way I could attend. I’m actually really glad about that.
As much as I love some of the shows on Fox (Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mindy Project especially), I cannot handle another fan event right now.
I attended the Fox Fanfront last year. There was also a lot of shoving, shouting and celebrities. It was really cool to see everyone from the FOX network, but the event was really disorganized for the kinds of fans they were dealing with. (I would argue 90+% of the people in attendance were there for Darren Criss/Glee. Since Darren is actually performing at the Fanfront tomorrow, I can only assume the fans are going to be crazier. If you’ve never been to a Darren event, you don’t even know. Trust me.)
So, I’ll watch videos online when I get home from work and gladly scroll through the pictures of the friends of mine who are going. I’ll go to work as per usual and earn my paycheck while being miles away from the potential shit storm.
I wish more people at fan events would just calm down and take a moment to realize what an awesome opportunity it is to get to interact with the people from their favorite shows/sports/movies/etc… We need to treat the celebrities and each other better at these events. No one needs to get shoved. No one needs to get screamed at. No one needs to make it a negative experience. Think about your actions, or at least try to put yourselves in their shoes.
I’ll continue to be a fan. But it’ll increasingly be from afar because I can’t handle seeing people treat celebrities (they claim to admire so much) like shit/property.
(Oh – and we never got screening passes to X-Men Days of Future Past, but they made sure to tell us over and over again to go see the movie in theaters on Memorial Day weekend.)