WonderCon Anaheim has canceled "Fan Fic Theatre" following backlash on social media from some who thought the panel was intended to ridicule fan fiction.
The planned April 3 presentation was to feature host Chris Gore and other comedians reading "aloud the weirdest and wildest fan fiction found on the Internet," a description that was met with a barrage of angry tweets and blog posts over the past several days.
"Hey WonderCon, mocking fanfiction isn't mocking words on a page," one person tweeted. "It's mocking the people who wrote it. You know ... BULLYING?" Another wrote, "If you wish to have a panel on fanfiction, it should be to celebrate not mock it. Fanfic is a vital part of fan culture."
However, both WonderCon organizers and Gore stressed that the purpose of "Fan Fic Theatre" was never to mock the authors or their work.
"This panel presentation was to have been a lighthearted look at fan fiction that places beloved characters in unique situations," David Glanzer, Comic-Con's director of marketing and public relations, told ROBOT 6 in a statement. "Each piece that was to have been read had the approval of the writers and it was never the intent to mock or belittle anyone's work. The panel description, however, wasn't clear in that regard and worse still, seemed to imply it was okay to belittle fan fiction. We are deeply sorry for this misunderstanding and it is for this reason that we have cancelled the program. We have a long history of inclusion and celebrating diversity and that includes various forms of art. And Fan Fiction is art!"
Gore, who will host another panel in place of "Fan Fic Theatre," expressed his frustration with the situation on his blog and Facebook page, writing, "While I respect the feelings of those complaining, they were simply uninterested in listening when I addressed their concerns on Twitter. [...] While I tried to calmly explain myself on Twitter, I was attacked non-stop along with WonderCon. I was even accused of bullying. Me?! Of all people, ME bullying nerds?!"
"In all my years of going to cons (I’ve been attending San Diego Comic Con since 1990)," he continued, "I’ve never heard of a panel being canceled over pressure from those within fandom. I think it sets a bad precedent that fans are willing to exert pressure in a negative and toxic way. (In fact, I really love the people at WonderCon/SDCC and cannot say enough good things about them. The staff have always been good to me and I’m embarrassed that I may have caused them any trouble.) [...] This whole thing makes me sad for fandom. I hope these Twitter attackers are proud of themselves. They bullied a major convention into canceling a panel thereby disappointing the audience who planned to attend. This is a major step backward for all of fandom which has become increasingly hyper-sensitive and intolerant of late. "
WonderCon Anaheim will be held April 3-5 at the Anaheim Convention Center.