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24 August 2010 @ 08:54 am
Highly subjective impressions of Vividcon I  
Earlier this month I headed to the USA for the first time (three days in Disneyland at age 12 doesn't count). When I first started planning/saving to go, some years ago, it was largely Vividcon that was the impetus for the trip. However by the time life and particularly money allowed me to go, I was--quite frankly--so over fandom that it had become nothing more than a faint excuse to get myself to the States and then go see some other cool stuff (San Francisco and New York were on my 'must see during my lifetime' list and I was very excited about both). But I signed up anyway and kind of figured it might give me some kind of closure about fandom/vidding before sinking into silent lurkerdom and reclusiveness (I would have happily deleted my journal and vanished earlier this year were it not embarrassingly flounce-a-rama).

Closure is not what I got. *rotfl*

Vividcon turned out to be the highlight of my trip. I don't honestly know how I'll find words to describe it fully, but I do know I'm going to have to write several different posts about it. I've always been baffled that people post-VVC either post next to nothing ('Vividcon rocked! moving on...') and can't really describe it when pressed for details, or post these long blow-by-blow accounts of what they did when with whom (which always read as self-aggrandising and namedroppy to me: yay for you, you hung out with a lot of cool people, great, HI I WAS NOT THERE :p). I'm now going to be one of those people and I GET IT NOW. By the end of the con my brain was so mushed I could barely form a sentence correctly--I was massively saturated/overloaded with not just vids (attempting to process so many so swiftly really WAS as hard as I'd always imagined), but also with all the creative inspiration and thinky thoughts arising from panels and conversation, plus more personal and interpersonal breakthroughs in one weekend than I've had all year. Not to mention the fact that I'd gone from being able to count on one hand the number of people I've met from fandom ever to meeting 50 of them from my friendslist all at once. My poor brain. *pats it*

Those long I-had-breakfast-with-X-and-then-walked-to-the-lift-with-Y posts? They have (I believe) nothing to do with communicating the con to people that weren't there. They're a way of hanging on tight to the memories and experiences that were so special but which feel so fleeting when it's Monday morning and you're trying to hold back the tears as you say goodbye to everyone. They're probably also a way to make visual the shared experience and validate it, but again that's largely for the people that were there. (I'm reading other people's con reports obsessively this year and memory-ing them, because I WAS THERE.) Selfish, yes, but I will flag mine clearly so anyone not interested or annoyed by that can avert their eyes.

I'm also going to write some other posts about the intellectual and creative insights I gained at the con, which should (hopefully) be more accessible and interesting to people who didn't attend but are interested in the con. I'll also write thoughts on what it was like to be a first-time attendee with very ambivalent feelings going into the con. I started the weekend literally shaking and hiding behind a potplant (as one of the leaves whacked me in the head I got the giggles badly, thinking 'Vividcon cliche! I am living it!'). I was pretty much like a deer in headlights for the first four hours and could barely hear what people were even saying to me. I'm not kidding. Yet, by the end of the con I was so relaxed and zen that when asked for feedback about the con by members of the concom (They ROCK! I heart them so much!) I seriously wanted to reply 'con good, me sleep now'. Seriously THE WHOLE WORLD (which had become the SpringHill Suites Marriott) WAS A BLISSFUL PLACE and the only bad thing about it was having to leave.

I was INCREDIBLY LUCKY in the people I met and the whole trajectory of the con experience that that created for me. I could have had (and thought I was going to have) a completely different con experience. Do I get how people could have a sucky Vividcon experience? Yes, absolutely. The people I met made the con for me but had I not stumbled on the right people at the right time and had they not been so UNBELIEVABLY welcoming and protective of me, things could have flipped in another direction. I will never take that luck for granted and if/when I go back, I would want to pay that generosity forward because the chick shaking behind the potplant really needed that. Also, to be fair, I pushed myself really really hard to make the most of the experience and push through my fears and talk to people despite them. There were times when I got maxed out on the degree to which I could do that so that even though I was sitting beside someone really interesting I had no energy left to actually talk to them as I would have wanted to (c'est la vie, I have no regrets--the whole con became an experience lived second by second for me and so I did what I could at that point in time), but overall I think pushing myself (while it probably made me seem manic or nuts at the con) made the whole thing way more rewarding.

In between, Vividcon was a trippy euphoric dream, punctuated by occasional lows that's true (the whole thing kind of crashed in on me emotionally at some point during Club Vivid) but I think even the lows were kind of brilliant to experience because a lot of them for me were about letting go of emotional hang-ups online.

Physically, the con was definitely psychedelic for me. There were demonic koalas at one point! (No, there really were--they were swimming over Brad's and Milly's heads in Outback Steakhouse: that place is SKERRY!) I couldn't eat properly for the first day and half I was so nervous, then I was fighting all the adrenelin that came from confronting my social anxiety issues (talitha78, gently, later pointed out that I was an idiot for thinking that I wouldn't have social anxiety about meeting my friendslist when I'd been unable to open said friendslist online for much of the year without hyperventilating. LOL THAT SEEMS SO OBVIOUS NOW!), and then there was alcohol, consuite snacks, hugs and lots of in person squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee giving me highs all over the place, plus this amazing kind of buzz around the whole thing that felt to me like crackly electricity coming off everyone. There was also insane sleep deprivation (3.5 weeks of getting by on a couple of hours a night, plus the night without sleep getting to the States, then similarly little sleep at the con itself). It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before but the closest thing would be a rave, in the sense that a lot of boundaries broke down and there was a heady, floaty euphoric feeling of TOGETHERNESS. I still feel a warm inner glow of happiness about the whole thing.

That sounds crazycakes, I know. I remember reading things like 'your first time at Vividcon is a life-changing experience' before and thinking 'pfft! whatEVER! *eyeroll*'. Well, it was for me, so I guess that is karma for eyerolling. ;)


The overall impression I took away from the con (bearing in mind that I hung out with vidders most of the time) is of a small community of people engaged in an evolving dialogue that is carried out in part through the medium of vids themselves. It is in part non-verbal and non-written and I think that was the most fascinating thing for me. Through vids, we share our selves, our insights and emotions with others and we also connect with others through the medium. I'd always had a sense of that online but wondered to what degree I was projecting that wishfully. I now think I underestimated rather than overestimated the degree to which this is true of the Livejournal-centric vidding community.

It does feel very (collectively) introspective and self-involved, but in person it was balanced by the openness of specific people I met, who metaphorically and literally reached out a hand to me and invited me in. I know what it's like online to feel like no one's ever done that to you, and it's fucking lonely, so I know right now that there are other people thinking 'wow, I wish I could have that, but I bet no one would ever be so generous to me'. All I can say is I thought that too and then I took a huge risk and it paid off.

I also think it IS a community in a process of evolution. That was clear at the con, and it now helps me understand a little better some of the fraught discussions that surround it online. Growing pains seem inevitable but not necessarily (long-term) destructive. They also sound WAAAAAAAY worse online than they do in person. Unfortunately online sometimes the conflict is all you see/hear... whereas at the con there was far greater acceptance of, curiosity about or even enthusiasm about the changes. Likewise at the con, calling people on the white-US-centricity, LJ-centricity, etc felt less challenging and less like attacking a specific person and more like saying collectively 'hey, maybe we should all collectively shift our thinking a bit'. I liked that. :)

I'd also like to say if anyone, especially non-attendees, has any questions they'd like to ask about what it was like, feel free to fling them my way and I will answer with complete honesty. Just bear what I've said above in mind. I was tripped out and sleep deprived most of the time I was there and my experience was no doubt different to anyone else's.

More soon... :)
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(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Buffy Willow friends hugbop_radar on August 23rd, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
YES. THAT!! The warm glowy feeling is THE BEST. I want to keep it for ever and ever. I seriously start smiling to myself randomly when I think about the con.
blowjobs for jesuskristiinthedark on August 23rd, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC)
YAY! I am so glad your experience was so wonderful! I know that both times I have been to the MJ cons have been amazing, amazing experiences that I wouldn't exchange for anything at all.

Just so you know, I have missed you OH SO MUCH.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Buffy Willow friends hugbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC)
I've missed you too!!! But I was blanking so badly about online stuff... I can't believe I got like that looking back but I was all trembly and shaky about it. I feel completely FINE now and it's such a relief to be able to chat to my friends online again because I MISSED YOU OMG! How's things? How's life? How's fandom? We should CHAT!
Clari Clyde: Icon: Buttercups (Coyote Eyes)clari_clyde on August 23rd, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
Yay for cons! I haven’t been to VVC but, I think, cons are great at just humanizing fandom.

And Outback Steakhouse, hahaha, you were warned! ;-)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee smilebop_radar on August 24th, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
Fandom has never seemed human to be beFORE this trip, so, yes, absolutely! :p

It was also delightful (and far more relaxing) to hang out with you and norwich36 in San Francisco. I am so glad I met you in person and feel silly for being shy online now!

And indeed YES I was warned! We did ask the waiter directly if there was anything Australian on the menu. He replied 'Only this New Zealand lamb'. *blank stare* ;)
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on August 24th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
I'm late for a meeting so I can't comment properly, but that waiter's comment made me ROFL!
pixieladykuwdora on August 24th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
Boppy's blank stare at the waiter was truly epic!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Adam overwhelmedbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
:D

Still the freakiest thing was THE ONION. I thought I was going to space out on that thing and be lost in its strange geometry forever... but on the other hand? Surprisingly yummy!
amnisiasamnisias on August 24th, 2010 07:35 am (UTC)
OMG, THAT onion. First night, sleep deprived from flight, some people dragged me for dinner so that I wouldn't fall asleep too early. 'Shall we have an onion for starters?' - Whatever *snore* - next time I open my eyes, a space ship has landed in the middle of the table - and people were eating it....FREAKY FOOD IS FREAKY.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg kara eeek!bop_radar on August 24th, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
*CLINGS TO YOU SO TIGHT OMG* SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS!!!
squirrelhavensquirrelhaven on August 24th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
Not VVC-related, but: reading your description of quaking behind the plant before you started getting to know people, I can now admit that in the 5 minutes before you appeared at GCS I had this mini-panic-attack. Seriously, I was fine before then, but suddenly it was: "What if we don't hit it off? What if we have nothing to say to each other? What if we don't like each other? Oh god, maybe this was a terrible idea." And then you got there and it was like meeting an old friend for the first time, and I felt very silly for having worried. *hugs*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clois hugbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
*hugs you hard* I know exactly what you mean! I had those panics over and over throughout the con (and indeed my trip round the states in general) as I kept running into people I've known online for years but never met in person. I felt COMPLETELY at home with you (as I think was obvious) and I'm so glad we got to hang out. Plus I have some of my fondest memories of NYC thanks to you! Bryant Park and the Public Library and the Strand and that amaaaaaaazing restaurant! (I have been craving their guacamole ever since!)
Laura Shapirolaurashapiro on August 24th, 2010 12:05 am (UTC)
I am so happy to read this. ♥ Thank you for writing it up! It does make me sad that we spent so little time together in person, but perhaps we've made up for that with all our emails. (:

I'm so glad you had such a positive experience.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on August 24th, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
Oh, this is like the tip of the iceberg of write-ups! :p I am also sad we didn't get more time together (I would have really liked that) but I'm trying hard not to have any regrets about any of it because that makes it hit home that I'm thousands of miles away and don't know when I'll see anyone again and that's not an emotional space I'm ready to go to yet.

Meeting you was a highlight of the con for me and I wish we'd had more time to squee about Doctor Who and I have heaps to say to you re vids so expect more emails! I remember babbling incoherently twice at you about 'Stay Awake' but I shall be more articulate in writing. *nods*

I hope the con was positive for you too (I was worried about you), and I'm sorry to hear you were in so much pain for much of it.
Laura Shapirolaurashapiro on August 24th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is like the tip of the iceberg of write-ups!

So I have seen. (:

No point in having regrets, say I. It just means we'll have to find other ways to be close to each other. I am always happy to squee about Doctor Who, believe me, and any vid talk is of course also welcome.

I think in the end it was positive for me, but it was painful in a number of ways. Thank you for giving a damn about that. I do appreciate it. ::hugs::
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Sally Sparrow coffeebop_radar on August 25th, 2010 06:39 am (UTC)
It just means we'll have to find other ways to be close to each other.
YES PLEASE!

::hugs::

(I saw a lot of Van Gogh paintings on my trip around the States and must confess that I thought of that amazing Doctor Who episode every single time!)
Laura Shapiro: amy and elevenlaurashapiro on August 25th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
::hugs::

And oh my GOD I love that episode. (: I'm sure I'll think of it whenever I see Van Gogh's work, too.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois searchingbop_radar on August 26th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
I know my reaction to it was very personal because I suffer from depression and am always emotionally affected by resonant portrayals of mental illness (and I thought this one was very powerful), so I have no distance about it really. But I saw his self-portrait? OMG the EYES! And also it's so much more powerful and luminous (but also much smaller) than I expected.
Laura Shapirolaurashapiro on August 27th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
It's been interesting to hear from folks who deal with depression and their reactions to the episode. Most people I've talked to were quite satisfied.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on August 28th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
I'm in favour of diversity of portrayals of depression since it helps break down the stereotypes, and one thing I liked about this was the way they captured the fact that he did, to some degree, live in another reality in his mind, one that other people could not access, but they (Eleven and Amy) loved him anyway. Obviously this was in part because of the art that he created out of it--but that worked well for me as a metaphor for the fact that beauty can be buried beneath the foul horror of depression. Also I thought they did a really good job of showing that Eleven and Amy loved him as a person and making it not just a story about a famous figure but one about a real man. Amy's journey of realising they couldn't save him was very powerful for me as an example of people not understanding the true nature of depression--thinking it can be tackled with logical cause-and-result action. Plus the section in the museum was just gorgeous because it captured that feeling that so many friends of the depressed feel: I wish I could take you outside your own head for a moment in time and show you what a beautiful, amazing person you are.
Laura Shapiro: amy and elevenlaurashapiro on September 1st, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
This is a really resonant comment that I'm still thinking about (hence the late response). I have conflicting feelings about the fact that only Vincent could see the alien, but the way you've framed it here makes me feel a lot better out of it.

I thought they did a really good job of showing that Eleven and Amy loved him as a person and making it not just a story about a famous figure but one about a real man.

This was the part I loved best, actually. I think the show's been not very successful endowing personhood to famous figures, but they really did it here. And it's not just the Doctor and Amy who love him -- we love him, too.

I had not thought of the deeper resonances behind what Amy and the Doctor do for Vincent at the end, how it might relate to the way friends and loved ones want to help those with depression (I was taking it pretty literally as an attempt to prevent Vincent's suicide). Now that you've said this I understand even better why that scene makes me cry.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Flowersbop_radar on September 4th, 2010 08:55 am (UTC)
conflicting feelings about the fact that only Vincent could see the alien
Hmm. I was ok with that, and you've prompted me to think more about why that was. I think because I was ok with the portrayal of someone with mental illness literally seeing the world more vividly (and--relatedly--more terrifyingly) than other people? Especially in a context that did not judge him as weird or abhorrent.

not very successful endowing personhood to famous figures, but they really did it here.
I agree, and I was really surprised by the episode as a consequence.

I think not being able to help through logical action, or not being able to wave a magic wand and make it all better, is the hardest thing facing those that support the mentally ill. It is really hard, in my experience, to explain to people what you do need. And I've been on the other side of the coin--am on it now--where a friend is very much 'at risk' and I have to accept the limitations of my own capacity to rescue her. Not easy for someone with a rescuer complex and an overactive guilt mechanism! However, having been in her place myself helps me understand that some things are beyond my control--which is not an excuse for inaction or lack of compassion on my part. Just an acknowledgment of the true power and danger and sadness of what depression entails--and I thought the end of this episode captured that acknowledgment very poignantly and perfectly.
Kass: Rodney screenkassrachel on August 24th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
They're a way of hanging on tight to the memories and experiences that were so special but which feel so fleeting when it's Monday morning and you're trying to hold back the tears as you say goodbye to everyone.

Yes. Yes, that's it exactly.

*hug*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Blair yelloqbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
Saying goodbye was HAAAARD. I'm just glad people were so forgiving about it and it was clearly so normal an experience for more longterm congoers, otherwise I'd have had a hard time explaining to people why I felt how I did. I actually just had to clamp down a big blanket of denial that I don't know when I'll be back and cling to the 'I WILL COME BACK SOMETIME' thoughts.
Killakillabeez on August 24th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you had an awesome experience -- thank you for sharing it with us! I wish I had been there, and had a chance to meet you.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Bop_radar TWbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
OMG, it would have been so amazing to meet you! I hope I get a chance to some day. I was very lucky, and I really appreciate it and all the wonderful people that made the con come to life so well for me.
Sophie: happy dragonalias_sqbr on August 24th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
I love cons, and VVC sounds amazing *enjoys vicariously*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Abed/Troybop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)
It really was more amazing than I expected. And considering I wanted to go for years AND spent (literally) thousands of dollars getting there... that is saying a LOT.
RevolutionaryJo: Hugs Tiem Naorevolutionaryjo on August 24th, 2010 03:26 am (UTC)
Yes, this! This is what VVC is all about. Every year I go, and I start Friday out thinking "I AM NOT WORTHY. NO ONE WILL LIKE ME." but by Club Vivid I realize that there's really nowhere else I'd rather be in the world because of how welcoming everyone is. And there is a sense of pay it forward.

It was lovely to meet you briefly Saturday night! Also zomg, you have a Nodame icon. ♥
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Nodame rockbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
So it doesn't ease up in future years?! EEP! It was lovely to meet you too! And eeeeee, another NODAME fan!!! *twirls you* Psst, I have a vid of it if you want.
RevolutionaryJo: Nodame and Chiakirevolutionaryjo on August 24th, 2010 12:39 pm (UTC)
The recurring issue could just be my personal neurosis, of course. :)

*dies* YOU'VE MADE A NODAME VID. I LOVE YOU FOREVER. And I can't watch until after work, but as soon as I get home I am all over that.
jarrow: _viddingjarrow on August 24th, 2010 03:27 am (UTC)
Those long I-had-breakfast-with-X-and-then-walked-to-the-lift-with-Y posts? They have (I believe) nothing to do with communicating the con to people that weren't there. They're a way of hanging on tight to the memories and experiences that were so special but which feel so fleeting when it's Monday morning and you're trying to hold back the tears as you say goodbye to everyone.

Yeah, there's really only so much you can do to describe the con to people who weren't there. You can share only your own personal experience, and it's different from whatever said reader would have experienced, so really all you can do is hold on to what you want to hold on to. That's what my con reports have always been -- what I wanted to take away from the con. You're spot on.

I can't wait to read the rest of your posts! ♥
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya lanternbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
Yup, I'm following ALL your advice! And I definitely see the value in hanging on to your own experiences. I mean really I guess I always guessed that that was what they were about it's just that I wished I'd been there and I was trying hard to peer through the haze and work out what the con was really like which given that con reports are usually full of superlatives (completely appropriately it turns out!) I found hard to do.

I do hope to write some more general reflections that may be useful for people who've never been--I took a few notes on things that struck me as surprising or interesting which no one had ever managed to convey to me before I went. It may be of no use or interest to anyone, I don't know, but I still figure it's worth capturing as I'll never be able to recapture my first time impressions if I don't write them now.
the sundance kid: WATCH ALL THE VIDS! \O/mresundance on August 24th, 2010 03:38 am (UTC)
I have nothing to really add except OMG IT WAS AMAZING TO MEET YOU.

And I wouldn't understand why anyone wouldn't love you and want to dogpile you with hugs. I was SO EXCITED when I found out you could make it and made me go \o/. AND THEN YOU WERE THERE AND I WAS ALL LIKE *FLAAAAIL OF JOOOOY*.

Con was amazing. I'm still trying to cling to it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Buffy Willow friends hugbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC)
AWWW, you are SO LOVELY! *hugs you* I was really excited you were there too and then we got to squee together and it was so exciting!!! I felt like I'd known you ages, and at the same time I feel like we're getting to know each other better all the time and that is Most Yayful and makes the whole con experience continue ...!
Millymilly on August 24th, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
...There were demonic koalas floating over our heads? O_o
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Batgirlbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:03 am (UTC)
There were! I tried to tell you but Brad was all 'SHH! I have a world of SHH for you!' There was a painting in the cubicle behind us, therefore above your heads in my line of sight which appeared to be a collage of red-eyed (I kid you not!) koalas.

Koalas should not have red eyes. :(
pixieladykuwdora on August 24th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
*clings*

boppy I miss you and we didn't get to chat enough about how incredibly awesome and hilarious Community is!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Blair yelloqbop_radar on August 24th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
I KNOW!!! Why didn't we throw a Community party?! We should have force fed it to people so they can make vids! (I did campaign rather unsubtly at talitha78 after the con and I hold out hope that she will work her brilliance with it in time. She would LOVE that show, I'm 100% sure!)

I miss you too! :(
serenographyserenography on August 24th, 2010 05:36 am (UTC)
(Still playing catch-up with my f-list)

Just want to reiterate how happy I am that you had such a positive con experience. Having met my first online fandom friends over 13 years ago, I can honestly say that 95% of the time, it was a really good experience. I love that you've gotten over that initial hump and hope you have many RL fannish experiences in front of you.

I wish we'd had more time to spend together. Next time. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on August 24th, 2010 06:22 am (UTC)
Oh you should see MY attempts at catch-up! it's an impossible avalanche!

Thank you so much--the whole trip definitely shifted my thinking on the whole fandom experience and was really positive in terms of meeting people in person. And I like this 'next time' idea very much! :)