Get Those Old People Off My (Artificial) Grass

Fans on The Lawn in Loncon 3's Fan Village. (You know, some of them don’t look that old to me.)

Fans on The Lawn in Loncon 3’s Fan Village. (You know, some of them don’t look that old to me.)

The Daily Dot thought all the geezers were a drag on Loncon 3.

“Worldcon is like a family reunion,” said longtime convention-goer and fanzine writer Curt Phillips, at a panel about the history of Worldcon. After a few days, I could only agree. It was indeed like being at a family reunion, in that it felt like you were spending your time with elderly relatives. You might want to talk to them and listen to their stories, but you’ll have to tolerate some offensive and outdated opinions along the way.

Daily Dot greatly preferred the Nine Worlds con held the weekend before Worldcon but did not play fair, inserting a complaint about the San Diego Comic Con that was totally inapplicable to Loncon 3 —

Nine Worlds also made sure their code of conduct was displayed clearly on their website, which is more than you can say for SDCC.

Seriously, that’s the last thing in the world you could fault about Loncon 3.

I also think it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the Daily Dot modeled the greater acceptance of diversity they claim to want.

For many, the Worldcon experience was just not worth it if your comments were constantly at risk of being shouted down old men. Either some drastic changes will have to be made, or those younger fans won’t come back at all.

When writing about the generation gap at Worldcon 2013, author Madeline Ashby phrased this rather more brutally: “It’s okay, because someday they’ll all be dead.”

I see Ashby’s curse repeated all the time but I don’t take it to heart. Anyone who lives long enough will be getting the same treatment from the generation that follows. I don’t actually wish it on the Daily Dot’s writers, however, nobody has ever been able to stop it from happening, either.

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14 thoughts on “Get Those Old People Off My (Artificial) Grass

  1. Big Box Cons have been with us for 40 years Let them have their cons and leave us to tend our sand-box in peace.

  2. It would be a shame if the article stirred up any bad feelng between Loncon and Nine Worlds. Both were excellent conventions and I enjoyed both immensely.

    Having said that, Worldcon does skew to an older demographic but Loncon seemed to represent the start of a process to fix that. Likewise it is fair and necessary for younger generation fans to want changes, and point out things that are not working well, but accusing people of being racist or homophobic, which the Daily Dot article does not do but others have, just because they are older should not be acceptable.

    In the UK we’ve had Chip Delaney and Octavia Butler as a guests of Honour, two female Eastercon committees, a disabled Hindu Woman ( who hates being a symbol in all of this, so apologies to her ) as an Eastercon chair, a transgendered GoH, at least one member of ‘old time fanzine fandom’ is transgendered, and we have run LGBQT streams when they were technically illegal under clause 28.

    It is still not enough, and a there is still a long two way conversation to be had, but often, as the Pythons would say, this is not an argument this is abuse.

  3. It sees to me that the whole screed from the Daily Dot can be summed up as “I can’t have fun when ‘old people’ are in the same building as me and enjoying themselves”

    This seems like a rather sad way of going through life. Since coming into fandom about two and a half years ago, there’s been little that I’ve enjoyed more than learning about the long and varied history of fandom from the people who actually lived it and also of becoming acquainted with the works of many great authors who I missed out on reading the first time around, due to my younger age. Obviously that makes me an outlier, but I’m honestly happier that way.

  4. When I was young, I was always fascinated by the history of fandom and SF. And today, I do strive to look for examples of real SF by younger writers, and it’s out there, and very good too, although mixed in with way too much fantasy and media garbage, but hey, Sturgeon’s Law.
    What I suspect is really the problem in this article is not so much a generation gap as a “media gap”. Journalism has been consistently been getting more shallow, vulgar, sensationalistic, and celebrity driven. It’s clear from reading output from any but the more elite forms of the media that increasingly “journalists” are not well read and sadly, from a less distinguished pool of people who are not all that bright and not very well educated. The same people who are making the decisions to get rid of book reviews in newspapers and are incapable of understanding any kind of historical reference from before their teen years are the same kind of bozos who would not appreciate a focus on conventions with a literary focus.
    And aren’t the writers and editors of the Daily Dot lucky that they will never grow old?!!!

  5. I don’t think journalism has gotten worse, at least in dealing with sf cons. I remember expecting any account of one to be entirely about pointy-eared weirdos who believe in flying saucers.

  6. The Diversity Age / Golden Age conversation is going to include a few bumps and jostles, which people then complain about. The Daily Dot article is the Diversity Age side of that complaining. The Golden Age fans are doing their share of complaining, and it’s not like they’re being more polite about it, or less prone to exaggerate. See “Sad Puppies.”

  7. Cat: the progenitor of “Sad Puppies” was despised by most of the people I know — who are typically older fans. Is the author of this article considered similarly extreme by the younger fans they present themselves as representing?

  8. The author is not considered *similarly* extreme, for the obvious reason that her complaints were considerably milder. (If you don’t recall how inflammatory the Sad Puppies were, I can paste in a paragraph or two, but if you don’t actually request it, I’ll spare you.)

    However there certainly are Diversity Age fans saying that she’s overstating the case and not presenting a balanced picture, and that LonCon 3, if imperfect, has gone to a lot of effort to be a welcoming place for fans of all stripes, and deserves recognition for it.

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