I have to thank Dave and Amer for posting about their experiences at the Burbank Weekend of Horrors. Before I continue, make SURE to check out their work! Dave's work can be seen at http://slumcircus.blogspot.com/, and Amer's can be seen at http://www.myspace.com/DeadArms1.
So, this blog is partially a blog for the world, and partially an open letter to Dave and Amer, since the blog they posted about the con hit a nerve and inspired me. It also acknowledges the existence of a totally awesome person: LYNDA BARRY!
(I also had to include this fangirl picture, because I am so happy I met her! So lovely, kind, and talented. Yay! But the writing about her is the cheery part of this blog entry, so that is last ;-) heh. )
I unfortunately did not end up making it out to Weekend of Horrors, but I certainly feel as if I was there after reading such a descriptive account of events --!! The pictures of Dave and Amer's table and works looked great, and I hope the good people overshadowed those who were behaving ridiculously, and without any gratitude or grace to their fellow vendors/fans.
I was originally going to write a long comment responding to the blog about the event, but it turned into quite the rant. Or, string of rants. So here’s a link to their original blog, with pictures and the full text: http://slumcircus.blogspot.com/2010/10/weekend-of-horribles.html
The rest of the blog here is my response to it.
Long story short, this began by my responding to the fact that Amer met one of his idols (a well known horror genre actor), who still couldn’t manage to be polite to a fan (who was a fellow vendor, at that --!!), even after said fan had bought an autograph.
However, as this blog entry of mine is verrrrrry long, I am only mentioning that bare bones detail. The full story is at their blog, although I quoted my favorite lines to respond to below.
Wonderful blog, and I'm sorry you guys had to go through that. These in particular stuck out to me, for the A+ Sentiment and great writing:
"You have NO IDEA who we are, how dare you belittle us like that. You will soon find out who we are, You act like some big shot - You are simply a big fish in a small pond and your time will come when you will be sat next to us, in the... bargain bin where you actually belong."
As a side note, the phrase "bargain bin" sounds very British to me, which makes this paragraph even more awesome! Amer, I know you are from the U.K. so it's just par for the course to use phrases like that, but as a lover of words and language I do really like U.K. phraseology far more than American phraseology. I myself, sadly, would have probably initially thought to write something simple like "trash" if writing about the same situation. However, I feel that "bargain bin" is a far funnier, and more cutting phrase. It makes me think of when in 2009 I visited one of my best friends in London, and I went on a rant where I called something "lame." He went on a rant about the "poverty of the word 'lame' ," and proceeded to come up with far more descriptive, funny, and harsh ways to describe the silly situation I was kvetching about. Anyway, I should return to discussing the task at hand. But I had to express my appreciation.
"Respect goes a long way... and you have lost all of my respect, and I am speaking out against you."
Amer, you have my utmost respect, because it takes courage to speak out against someone who A) has power/notoriety, or B) has a small to relative amount of power/notoriety, but (aware of that fact) still holds onto it with a white-knuckled grip, throwing it in others' faces whenever possible, and having Rumpelstiltskin-esque tantrums and fits of arrogance in a continued attempt to exercise power over said "lesser" people. Speaking out against people who carry themselves like that can, at least initially, be a little terrifying. But, guess what? Like you said, respect goes a long way. And you have to give it to get it.
I'm going to go on another quick tangent (is there such a thing? I lied, it won't be quick at all), which I hope is entertaining, despite bringing up a pop-culture phenomena that I am about 99.9% positive you guys haven't latched onto. Unfortunately, in terms of some telly that I like, I can't keep myself away from the proverbial bargain bin ;-)
Onward. There are plenty of old sayings about love and fear. I'm sure of that. But, since I am unable to find any quotes that are more historical, poignant, etc., I'm going to quote a popular television show (anyone who, A, knows me, B, knows the show, or C, suspects why I like headbands, will know which one I am referring to). When speaking to her mentee, at one point, the protagonist (who is an odd yet fascinating combination of control-freak-mean-girl, while also being an out-of-control-troubled-lost-little-girl-at-heart) gives her the following advice:
"You need to be cool to be Queen. You can't make people love you... but you can make them fear you."
(I've been caught! This picture gives away which show in the bargain-bin of mass media I meant)
I've spent a great deal of time thinking about this phrase, and this concept. I'm not an aspiring world leader. Nor am I the aspiring Queen Bee of some prep school. However, this is pretty much the choice all of us have when we are given any kind of control. Power. Status. Etcetera. It boils down to using it for good, or using it for ill.
Honestly, as a woman, I've personally sometimes thought that the easier choice (at least on the surface) would be to make people fear you. Because otherwise, you can be looked at as soft, a pushover, too maternal, or whatever the hell people feel like thinking. Plus, men acting like that are just “being guys,” so if you’re a gal, you have every right to be as much of a d-bag if you choose. (Although, sidebar, it’s lame no matter what your gender to be a huge pill).
So, because of all these things? Sometimes, I’ve thought it would be a better choice. To be feared rather than cared about. If someone is afraid of you, then that person will have to respect you if he or she knows what’s good for them, right?
Nope. Wrong. At least, in my personal assessment.
After having seen the other side of this equation and watched how people with any power can feel the need to STILL assert that dominance through making others afraid of them (that some ambiguous task will be performed incorrectly, sensibilities will be upset, and that said others will be inadequate or never perfect, and any myriad of things that can be nitpicked about) I’ve realized a few things. A, when people use their "power" to enable their being ridiculous human beings, it's a crock of bull, and B, it creates situations that are just too inane for words. Even if you are a woman, I still think it is better and possible to be a powerful person and not have to walk on the fear side of the fear vs. love question.
First of all, when people who aren’t Anna Wintour, Bill Gates, or Jack Kirby (had to throw in a comics person) still manage to ooze condescension and abuse what power they have, it quickly becomes clear that they don’t have very much power at all. That the constant need for perfect and control is because, on some level, of an awareness of their own inadequacies. In some cases, it is almost sad, if that kind of behavior is coming out of a place of true emptiness in the rest of their lives. If you put down someone else, it’s a way of propping yourself up (which, though personally think, is no excuse, makes an unfortunate kind of sense).
Yet, whatever the case, people will quickly lose respect for you when your demands for respect are entirely based on fear.
And I think the kind of dismissive and mean treatment you received is another side of that same coin-- it’s still a desperate attempt to make by that person to make himself feel better. To ease some nagging voice inside his head. And to (by proxy) feel more powerful, by demonstrating that he was “important” enough that he could ignore slash belittle whoever he pleased.
(I honestly don’t think that people who are truly happy with themselves, both as people and as artists, careerists, etc., bother to do this. But more on that later.)
The ultimate futility of forcing people to fear you (instead of risking them loving you) is made very obvious in the show I mentioned earlier. When the controlling Queen Bee character (who, incidentally, is very insecure, unhappy, and grasps her power like her life depends on it because it’s all she has) is feeling particularly awful, it’s when she snaps at people. She has some of her best lines in these moments, but she certainly doesn’t make any new friends. In fact, her friends (many of whom she refers to as “minions”) get sick of her dumbass power games, and some even go behind her back to get revenge, sometimes. Because I like this character, I hope they give her some growth and allow her to get over these sillier parts of her personality. But I digress.
An artist, actor, creator, or any public figure who has the opportunity to touch people has the opportunity-- and responsibility-- to do it kindly. And graciously. If they choose to strike fear into a person, or to hurt them by being dismissive, it’s a crap thing to do. But, ultimately, I think it says much more about them, and certainly nothing about the party who was dismissed.
"What you do not realise is that us artists are working our...butts off... and people like you only inspire us to be better than you."
Amen, and I’m also going to note that it’s generally a very bad idea to piss off artists, slash writers. Not only is it inspiring to be better than a person who is unimpressive. It can actually be inspiring, story-wise, to encounter such douchery. It will not be fun for the inspiration when he or she reads the story someday and sees a vague reflection of themselves. But, ultimately, it’ll give the creator a good laugh. Or at least a wry smile. And some ideas for material.
"I have realised how nasty people in the industry can be, and I have so many more stories... But all in all - You treat one person like dirt, you lose. You can't afford to treat people how you please... You may dress up... but you are there for the same reasons as the rest of the vendors, to make some dosh..."
Again, AMEN. Plus? In all honesty, I still think it's distasteful to give someone attitude if they want a free autograph. It's strange to me to have to pay for someone's signature, and stranger still that people hold themselves in such high esteem that they would be mean to someone, if that person could not afford the twenty to fifty dollar price-tag attached.
Does it mean nothing that someone wants to take the time out of his or her day, and their life, to stand on a huge line because of a love for an essential part of YOU?? (And here I mean the general "you," like the word "ustedes" in Spanish-- English's use of "you" gets damn confusing).
Seriously. If people like you that much-- be it because you wrote something that touched them, drew something, performed in a role that they saw which changed their life, or anything at all you did, said, or created meant the world to them-- if people care about YOU and YOUR ART to that large a degree, that they'd be happy to have a scrap of paper with the (likely illegible) scrawl that passes for a signature, that you write all the time without thinking about it when signing the rent check, paying a bill, etc.-- I really think that should mean something. That should mean the world to you, especially as an artist.
Through your means of expression, you can have changed or even saved a person's life. And if someone wants to take time out of their life to stand on a line, meet you, and get that illegible scrawl, a handshake, and even a picture, I think that should be payment enough.
So, insert adjectives that surpass "the poverty of the word lame" here to describe how terribly unimpressive and mean it is when after a fan's gratitude, kindness, and CASH, someone is still completely unable to act like a decent person. What I also find unfortunate in this instance is that this actor was not only rude to a fan-- that would be plenty terrible, all on its own-- but, in being rude to a fellow vendor, he was also essentially rude to a colleague. And, like you said, Amer-- all the vendors are there for the same reason. Someone with a bigger name and more money than an up and coming vendor is STILL there to hustle. Copping an attitude, in that case, is pretty precious.
"The whole idea of these people presenting themselves as big shots and thinking they are better than all of you defeats the purpose..."
SO MUCH WORD TO THE BLOG YOU WROTE, AGAIN. I can't even begin to voice how much I agree on everything you‘ve expressed.
I’ve pretty much said everything already. It’s just that I've never understood it when people who are well-known and well-liked for their craft, essentially crap all over the people who like what they do. Who buy their product, and keep a roof over their head. And all the rest of it. Being humble is a virtue, but unfortunately, many people do not have anywhere near as much humility and kindness as they ought. There are great and kind people left (which I’ll close this blog with), although there are still many who aren’t.
Amer, as you seemed to indicate, it's also kind of ironic and hilarious (not truly hilarious, but bitter smirk hilarious) that the people with the worst attitudes are the ones in small ponds. The best are the small fishes in small ponds, still dishing out tons of attitude. Like I said, in my experience and observations, people who act like this often have something else going on.
For those who are truly comfortable in themselves, the product and/or work they're putting out, and the future success of what they're doing do not behave like this. They simply don't. They’re happy with what they’re doing, and happy in the happiness of others. The thought to try and rain on another's parade, so to speak, doesn't even cross their minds.
Lynda Barry is a great example of this. She’s a famous female cartoonist, which is a big claim to fame. An even bigger claim to fame is that she is one of the most famous ALTERNATIVE cartoonists, who has made her living through her cartoons. Has this gotten to her head? Nope. She is just a joy of a person, happy to talk to people about her life, their lives, and about writing and art.
I went to a signing of hers at Skylight books (http://www.skylightbooks.com/) last Tuesday night, and she stayed until 11:00 PM that night to sign everyone’s books. And it took as long as it did, because she went out of her way to have a conversation with each and every person at the signing. Lynda spoke for quite a long time to one little girl, in particular, who had met her when she was even younger. She now looked to be in middle school, and Lynda went on and on about how she remembered meeting her when she was little, how she’d kept the picture the girl had drawn her then, and how she wanted her to keep drawing.
(Signing Away --!!)
She also smiled at one man, who mentioned that his fourteen year old daughter wrote and drew her own books, “Well, you did something right --!!” And, while happy to talk about her own work, she was very humble about her abilities, and very gracious at everyone’s compliments.
I guess there are all types in all walks of life. Maybe all of these things that fall under the umbrella of “the industry” do have real darkness in them, and maybe it’s why some people get jaded, become mean, snap, don’t appreciate fans, etc. But, overall? I really think people need to just be nicer to each other. If you’ve hit fame and fortune, then appreciate when someone appreciates what you’ve done, no matter if you're world known or not. If you’re a regular person, be nice to others, and be gracious when they’re nice to you. With so much bullying, cruelty, and total insanity erupting in the world, everyone needs to chill out. It would be nice if one day we can all take a deep breath, and all remember to be kind to one another.
And, now that this is probably the longest blog written in the history of man (or at least my blog-- and yes, I know, it’s total “tl; dr” material, and I apologize)-- I am signing off.
(Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts, David and Amer, and glad the convention was overall a good one!)
Good day! Good week. Good rain. Los Angeles has lovely sun, but I like long raincoats and pretty views of the Downtown skyline while half is golden, and the other half is gray and pouring.
Peace out --!!