Douglas Milewski (dacuteturtle) wrote,
Douglas Milewski

Anime Con Theorizing

Why Anime Con staff get dinky.

(I was going to respond to CSue-n-moo, but their journal is friends only. So, I'll comment here instead. I hate to lose the writing.)

Anime Con staff can get dinky. In my most humble opinion, the root of this problem resolves around status. How do you gain status in the anime community?
- You can be an animator. That's hard.
- You can translate Japanese to Engrish. That's hard.
- You can draw. Great if you are good, but most people aren't good. Anyway, this would take work.
- You can constume. That takes work.
- You can make videos. That takes work.
- You can get anime. That used to be hard. You had to have connections. That's why JASFA's were so popular with the "stop and drop" copiers. They stopped over, dropped their VCR's, then disappeared. Once JASFA stopped doing that, those folks disappeared. Their payoff ended. Now that Bittorrents exist and commercial anime gets a wide agudience, getting anime is far easier, so this method of obtaining anime now produces some, but ultimately little status.
- You can work on a Con. Really work. That's a bit easier than everything else, but requires work. Work is hard.
- You can get on staff at a Con, pay reduced rate, get the staff prestige, hang out, and have no real responsibility or obligations. Not only that, but staff positions are limited, and limited items are valuable. The more limited in terms of population that they are, the more valuable they becomes. This is EASY.

Once you are on-staff, the way that you rise in status is to have people working for you or get promoted. That means that you need more people in your areas, as that's the only way that you can gain status. If you take over a department, you bring your cronies over to your new department, making it bigger. This leads to staff-bloat.

This leaves us with the following in the anime con administration:
- Those seeking to upgrade their status do so by swelling their departments. Their focus is on status.
- Those who go-along, get-along. Their focus is on their job.
- Those who rock the boat, and who focus on the customer. They threaten the status of those with status, and who have people under them who tell them that they are right, because any other position could lose them status.
- Those who are on-staff see the attendees as lowest stats hoi palloi.

There's a recipe for problems.

How does it match real life? Not too shabby. It explains why the con is naval-gazing, treating its patrons badly, and hates criticism.

This brings up the question: why aren't SF cons like this? Well, they don't have the same limits in social advancement. You get more of an Italian Parliament party system, where no-one is dominant and every government is a coalition. Infighting is endemic and self-perpetuating. There is usually enough opportunity so that the client-patron system is very limtited. It just doesn't have the same payoff.

On the other hand, I could be full of shit.

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