Comic Con 2014 was my first Comic-Con. I was there networking for a film I’m producing Wraith of Love. Not that I haven’t followed it in previous years or never been to another convention, but San Diego Comic-Con is something special. And in the last 6 or 8 years it has become a pop culture phenomenon, causing so much fan frenzy that convention goers stand in line for hours, many even sleeping outside of the convention hall the night before to get into Hall H the following morning. Keep in mind that Hall H holds about 6,500 people, but at some point in the Comic Con rise to fame, fans were so worried about not getting up early enough to stand in line that they started sleeping outside.
You heard me right, people sleep outside of a convention hall of their own free will to sit with 6,500 other fans to see a sneak peek of a movie. This is one part of the fan experience that I have never understood. And while sleeping outside for a movie isn’t exclusive to Comic Con, I feel like it’s the ultimate showing of this “commitment” and there was a particular incident on Friday night that just rubbed me the wrong way.
It was a little after 8pm on Friday night and my friend Susan and I were walking past the convention center to attend an art show and network event. As we walked by the grassy knoll where the line for Hall H is during the day we saw it filled with fans spreading out their sleeping bags and staking their claim of a small piece of land to sleep on. I asked my friend if this was indeed the infamous Hall H sleeping line and she said YUP! I proceeded to have a small rant about how I couldn’t understand any movie being so important that people feel the need to sleep outside to be the first to see the trailer. My friend was very nice and let me rant. But this wasn’t the worst part.
After the art show we came back towards the convention center to meet friends for drinks at one of the hotels. The line for Hall H had grown and my rant came back. As we continued to walk there was also a line of fans setting up outside the exhibit hall doors on the concrete sidewalk. We asked if they were also waiting for Hall H and this young woman said quite indignantly, “No, we just want to get into the convention tomorrow for panels in Ballroom 20 and autograph signings. There’s more than just Hall H you know.” We couldn’t believe it. But seeing this display of “fandom” got me really upset. Every single person who had chosen to sleep outside that night had made the choice willingly, while there were just as many people (if not more) in the downtown San Diego area that were sleeping outside that night out of necessity. They didn’t have a home or a hotel room with a bed lying empty. And they were lucky if they even had a sleeping bag, let alone a pillow and an extra blanket. And for the fans who had paid for a hotel room that night all I could think was that money could have gone to a charity to help the homeless.
Many times we take for granted the simple comforts we have, like pillows and blankets. We’ve all been guilty of it. Hell I sleep with 3 pillows myself! But I would like to see something change in regards to the thousands of fans who sleep outside during Comic Con. I propose two ideas:
1) If fans want to sleep outside they should have to donate to a local charity that works with the homeless.
2) The convention company, or production company(s) that are “causing” the fans to sleep outside, set up hotel rooms or a shelter for the homeless so they can have a hot shower, a warm bed to sleep in and a hot breakfast in the morning.
I firmly believe these are both viable options and not too much to ask for. If 6500 fans each gave $10 to sleep outside that would be $65,000 raised in one night alone. We as a society must help take care of those who don’t have the same advantages we have. If we let part of our society fall into ruin, the rest of us aren’t far behind. Fans and makers of these comic book movies shouldn’t have a problem with this considering that superheroes are created to defend the weak. Let’s use our own superpower of “fandom” to make change in the world. Heck, JJ Abrams and Disney are doing it with the new Star Wars: Force For Change, why can’t Marvel and DC Comics come together and create Hall For The Homeless? Just a thought ladies and gentlemen, but every big change starts somewhere with one person. Who’s with me? I hope you’ll share and maybe at next year’s Comic Con a real difference can be made.