Media West, Fan Q's and slash fans

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Title: Media West, Fan Q's and slash fans
Creator: Flamingo
Date(s): reposted to a second mailing list on January 10, 1998
Medium: online
Fandom: slash, Starsky & Hutch
External Links:
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Media West, Fan Q's and slash fans is a 1998 essay by Flamingo.

It was originally posted to an unknown mailing list and forwarded with permission to Virgule-L. It is posted here with Flamingo's permission.

Some Topics Discussed

The Essay

I've been meaning to post something about Media West, the Fan Q's and Media West Con ever since I got Progress Report 4 some time last week but other members on the list were quick on the issues. So, I finally got my act together.

Let me say right up front before anyone misinterprets me: I dearly love MediaWest. It is a four day party for me from the moment I leave the house to the moment I arrive. I admire the job of the people who run the con, and appreciate what an incredible hassle and huge job putting on this con must be for them. I applaud them.

However (you knew that was coming, right?), over the last few years I have been very concerned about something that may become a trend. I could be wrong. I hope I am. But the time has come for slash fans to show their community strength and step forward to say something -- something reasonable, something polite, something sensible -- but something firm.

In the Progress Report, under the heading, Programming, was a paragraph listing the extensive fandoms represented in MediaWest*Con 17 panels, and a gracious thank you from the people organizing the panels to everyone who participated. Then, came the following:

"They would also like to thank the people who took the time to fill out and return the programming evaluation forms. They will be using the input from those for future programming.

**"One complaint they would like to address was from someone who felt that slash and sex panels made up half the programming. In reviewing the schedule, they found that out of 181 events on the list, only 11 were slash and 5 adult, which combined only comprised 9% of the overall schedule. They would like to remind everyone that MediaWest*Con programming is made up entirely from member input. If you would like to see different events on the schedule, send them in!** [** emphasis mine **]

(The people organizing the programming) are taking programming suggestions for MediaWest*Con 18 now through February 28, 1998."

It then goes on to say that there will be a form in Progress Report 1 for MWC 18 or you can send email to a certain person. You must be a member of MW*C 18 to participate in programming.

Okay, here's my concern.

Last year slash vids were not permitted to be part of the vidder's competition *because of the complaints of other "fans" who were repulsed by slash vids. Slash vids were only allowed to be shown separately if enough slash vidders showed up with vids to show. But even if that happened, they couldn't compete, because they wouldn't be shown with the rest of the competition. (According to a slash vidder I spoke to at the time, I was told not many slash vidders go to Media West in the first place, even before this policy.) I was really angry about this at the time (even though I don't vid, and have never watched the competition!) just because slash vidders were turned away because "someone complained." If 1, 10, or 100 slashers complained about the straight vids, would the straight vids been forbidden to participate? No, of course not.

Now "someone" has complained about the amount of slash and straight adult programming. I am grateful that MW*C did not outright forbid slash and adult paneling because of this complaint! However, I am not happy that they felt they had to justify how much slash/adult paneling they had! Suppose it had been 40 or 50 or 60%? Then what? If 1 or 10 or 100 slashers complained about the huge amount of gen programming would they have bothered to figure out the percentages? I don't know.

I will confess right now that I did not fill out the programming evaluation form, even though I went to programming. I'll bet "you" didn't either.

Regarding the Fan Q's and the STIFfies, they are 2 different animals. There was a time when the Fan Q's were very open to slash material. I know because I've won them. Over the years (I've been going to Media since 91) it seems like less and less slash material has been nominated, and many slash fans have complained that they found it hard to believe that hugely popular slash stories/artists/zines never got nominated. I don't want to spread rumors or make wild speculations, but the Fan Q's will now be run by someone new, and seem to be getting a new start after some problems last year.

The STIFfies came into being because the Fan Q's didn't seem very responsive to slash fans, for whatever reason. However, because the STIFfies weren't an official MWC function, the con committee will not discuss them in their progress reports, or include them in any official capacity, such as including a ballot in the progress report or even announcing the winners. It's independent of the con.

Understand this -- I am not complaining about the hardworking volunteers that organize the programming at Media West or who handle the Fan Q's, they've got their hands full. But, if WE do not get organized, friends, we run the risk of being pushed out of this con, a con we support with our numbers, our dollars, and a great deal of our creativity. I love this con. And I don't like being pushed -- especially to the back of the bus.

I have said this before: silence is death. We are a minority, but not a tiny one. We cannot afford the apathy we have been showing as a group. Less than 20% of the membership of Zcon voted for any of the Huggy awards! That meant that only 60 people voted for Huggies!!! Our writers, our artists, our vidders, our editors, our WebMistresses, our creative people, the very people responsible for feeding our fandoms with stories and poems and artwork and vids and archives and web sites need us to support them, and we need to support ourselves before we find ourselves "discouraged" from participating at Media because of "complaints" from fans who never heard of IDIC or even that more prosaic saying, Live And Let Live -- which is what I thought fandom was all about.

Understand -- this is not a call to war, but a call to persuasion. It is definitely a call to action. Polite, reasonable, responsible action. We support this con financially, it is time we supported it with participation, more than ever before. MediaWest only has 9% slash/adult programming? That's not nearly enough!!!! What's wrong with 40 - 50 - 60% programming? Slash vidders, any chance we can get enough of you together for a slash vid program, and our own competition?

SLASH MEMBERS OF MW*C 18 **MUST** NOMINATE SLASH MATERIAL FOR FAN Q'S. If we send in enough nominations, it would only be reasonable if they then would have slash categories. I don't know why slash material should compete with gen material, they're two different animals. We could polite suggest this, but they would only consider it if they got enough nominations to make it practical!!! That means more than 60 people have to participate!! There should be separate categories for every slash fandom and would be if slash fans filled out nominations and sent them in.

WE MUST ALSO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE STIFFIES -- (Slash Talent In Fandom Awards)!!! If there isn't a SH category this year, this Flamingo is going to turn into a Condor, a very cranky bird indeed (a Condor's attitude is definitely, "Patience, shit, I'm gonna *kill* something!" And when all else fails, they'll puke on you!). If SH is only one of your fandoms, then support them all!

Come on, surely we can rally around something we *love*!! I bitterly resent being turned into the pariah of fandom because I celebrate the joy of love! Our fandom is just as legitimate, just as interesting, just as creative, and just as beautiful as anyone else's.

Many of you are on multiple slash lists -- please, copy the text of this post [DO NOT CROSS LIST] and send it to your slash lists. In this, we must all be together if we're going to make a difference. But I reiterate -- please don't write diatribes to the people at MediaWest who are only responding to people WHO SPEAK UP! If you don't suggest slash programming, if you don't nominate slash material, if you don't evaluate last year's programming, then you have nothing to complain about! Suggest programming! Nominate! Ask for slash vid programming, or a separate competition. Suggest new Fan Q's nominations for fan web sites, and archives! SPEAK UP!!!

I am looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at Media West at our extensive slash programming sessions, and at the Fan Q's and the STIFfies where our talented creative people will be winning many awards.

And remember. An army of lovers cannot be defeated.



A 1999 Follow-up On the Same Topic

In June 1999, a fan complained on a mailing list about the treatment and presentation their slash vid received at the 1999 MediaWest*Con, and Flamingo responded:

[fan not identified here on Fanlore]:

> I'd also like to see slash cut some slack. I got to feeling like my lone slash vid was the evil stepchild of the competition. Not only was it shown at 1:30 at night, but the person running the room one night was rather... abrupt regarding the showing of it at all. (A bunch of people - including me - missed it because they ran it before the posted time and then rudely told us they could NOT run it again, the rules say so. Now, I understand that rules are rules, but they could have a.) posted that times were approximate BEFORE this happened and b.) handled the half dozen of us who wanted to see it with a little more diplomacy.) If they're going to hang slash art (which is WAY more graphic than anything I can do with clips from a prime time program), then they should allow slash vids a day time showing when the vast majority of the convention attendance is CONSCIOUS! I know at least one other production company is planning on having slash vids for the completion next year and that many other people MAKE them but don't submit them. Does anyone know who we can write to about proposing a change in the rules?

[Flamingo's response]: Two years ago several slash vid makers including Rosemary C. wrote to the people who run the con about the situation with the slash vids. They told her that because gen congoers *complained*, that slash vids were being shown at different times from gen vids particularly at times when "children" would not be likely to see the vids. They claimed that since some slash vids incorporate x-rated video material (and while I have seen vids like this, they are rare) they felt slash vids could not be shown at earlier times. Rosemary had a very difficult and heated conversation with them and they felt (remember this was 2 years ago and I'm working off my memory, an admittedly faulty commodity) that assigning slash its on competition and it's own showing time was extremely reasonable. During that year several of us on different lists, including this one, tried to get slash vid makers to submit many more vids in an attempt to get Media West to makes its policy more reasonable, but we couldn't get anyone to submit. And the con committees attitude is, no one submits slash vids so why should we do more than we're doing when we're reasonably accommodating the vids. This has been a vicious circle for many years now.

I would strongly recommend that if you are interested in submitting slash vids at this con, that you personally approach the con committee again and see if your complaints get a response. You are right to complain about the rude attendent. Let me warn you ahead of time that the con committee folks can be extremely terse and abrupt in their communication and if you complain about their tone they insist they were just simply answering you, that no negative tone was intended. The communication between Rosemary and these folks was difficult. However NOT talking to them about it solves nothing. If you were the person affected you will have to raise the issue. However, it would help if you knew that other vidders would submit vids. As long as only 1 or 2 vids get submitted nothing will change. However, as long as the con committee is this difficult about this issue I'm not sure anything will happen anyway, but if no one tries, we can be sure nothing will happen.

There is a small but aggressive and vocal group of anti-slash fans who will continue to complain about slash at Media wherever they see it. They complained about programing that same year when they never submitted any gen programming and the con committee actually did a mathematical breakdown of what percentage of programming was slash or gen to shut them up (of course, it was in the minority).

However, amazingly this never affects the art show, where slash and non-slash art is shown side-by-side all day long and children wander the area continually. Hmmmm? If you wonder why this is, the answer is plain and simple. Slash art is some of the highest-dollar items sold at the con, and the con gets a piece of that. [1]


  1. ^ comments at Virgule-L, subject heading: "Re: VID: MediaWest*Con 19 Vid Competition Playlist" (June 14, 1999)