July 10, 2017
Go, Read: PW's Article On Comic-Con Safety
. It's a sober piece from Heidi MacDonald that focuses on three shows: the forthcoming Comic-Con International, the Phoenix show where in their last iteration a man carrying weapons was arrested, and NYCC. NYCC seems to have the most aggressive policies in place, including trackable badges and bag searches. All three shows work with their cosplay communities on what is appropriate. SDCC has unique challenges due to the spread-out nature of the overall experience including blocks of downtown where non-official events take place under the wider convention-weekend umbrella.
It's amazing to me that we haven't had a more severe and open expression of violence at one of these shows. I'm grateful for that, and maybe that means we can avoid this kind of thing altogether. There are certainly unpleasant incidents involving aggression both widely reported that don't quite fit the bill of someone pulling out a gun and shooting up the floor and/or that occur in a backstage sense that don't break into wider consciousness, incidents that take place at a number of shows. It's not necessarily a benign environment, even when nothing breaks out and into public perception. That context is something worth always keeping on the mind. There are so many elements of risk. For instance, I was discussing with a comics pro the other day how the diaspora of comics events at one convention we both attend put some tired and perhaps even naive tourists in a lot of different neighborhoods, some of which might not be friendly, some which might not. No show should feel responsible for events over which they have no control, but if harm is done it definitely becomes a thing with which the wider community will have to reckon. It's not something we thought about stepping over homeless people to attend warehouse parties in 1994, or heading to Tijuana, or taking the El downtown for dinner.
All of the shows I know are serious about their security, even if they might have different conceptions as to what this means -- particularly the role of community policing. Many general convention factors play into this, too. Conventions that are aligned with places that aren't convention centers may have the display of fake weapons displayed from the get go. San Diego has done a lot of work with its line and event management in a way it'd be much more surprising if they had a face-stabbing incident now over seats than it was when this happened. At the same time, I know many people feel that gunplay has become weirdly normalized in society at large as a choice for people without hope. One determined person could wreak havoc. It's hard to believe we'll ever reach a moment of zero percent risk.
What I hope is that we'll all be sympathetic to every convention's concerns and conform as best as we can to their ways of handling potential explosive violence, just as we continue to work to come up to speed on all the other negative outcomes of these sorts of gatherings. We should encourage every serious bit of attention being paid, and try to avoid it weighing against a maximal experience we're feel entitled to have. No one should be harmed because they want to be near the thing they love for 72 hours or so. The only damage that should come out of any of these weekends is to our wallets.
posted 7:55 am PST
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