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About alabaster

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  • Birthday 07/10/1970

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    Columbia, MD
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    anime, duh.

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  1. By "being personal", I meant in terms of attacking other people in this thread. That violates the rules of this forum. Relating your personal experience, when it's directly relevant to the thread, is fine. Relating how this sort of news affects people you care about is also fine. Just try to be civil with others here. Part of that involves NOT flinging around trigger words, and part of that involves not taking the bait when people do so. As I said earlier, people don't want to believe the worst of people they admire, and that's just human nature. Most people aren't just one thing; they're complicated and full of contradictions. Awful people can do some truly good things, and good people can do bad things. People who are talented are no less immune from bad behavior than others are. Harvey Weinstein was an amazing producer who brought a lot of talented people to the public spotlight. Unfortunately, he was also a creep who abused his power over women. It's fine to be skeptical of claims that appear to have little evidence, but that goes hand in hand with the possibility that evidence exists that you haven't been shown -- but has been shown to others in a position to do something about it. Any rational observer should reach the conclusion that threatening women with death for daring to question the integrity of a person you do not personally know is a bit of a stretch. That has actually, irrefutably, happened to people I know personally. The people doing it likely don't actually know Vic or any of the other people personally -- just the versions they show in public at conventions. Their only horse in the race is that their illusions about someone have been shattered, and they're angry about it.
  2. Okay guys, popping back in here. Again, need you to ratchet back the personal attacks — moderation actions will happen soon if you don’t. And let’s also put a kibosh on dropping terms like “SJW” and quoting gamer gate folks. It doesn’t help. so as Matt said above, keep it civil, so we don’t have to haul out ban hammers. i have known most of the people involved for years, at least casually. Not just Vic and Todd, but Jamie, Sami, Jessie and Monica. I don’t believe that they, or the others who have contacted me privately since this story broke, are making it up. They’d have everything to lose and nothing to gain from faking anything, so just quit with that BS. There are literally hundreds of examples of similar narratives playing out through the entertainment industry this past year; it is naive to think anime would be immune. I wish I had heard directly from any of them prior to this. But once things went public, dominoes began to fall, and it’s the folks who have not been public and have contacted me that I find troubling. I suspect others in the industry will fall as well. There are some creeps and pervs out there, and a reason why some folks never came to Otakon, or never came back. Yes, it sucks to watch your heroes fall, or to have to re-evaluate what you thought of people you thought you knew. But the wild conspiracy nonsense? You’ve got to be pretty desperate and delusional to buy into this, and the person above who laid it out above does so quite well. Funimation and Rooster Teeth are not about to drop a popular actor without a pretty solid case. Sami didn’t fake the swatting — but whoever did committed a crime. As for the rest, unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the past few years, you must have some sense that a very large percentage of women have dealt with inappropriate behavior like harassment or assault, and we know that it is significantly underreported on top of that. For popular working actresses to come forward about a popular working actor? It’s not done lightly and carries massive risk. Retaliation, disbelief, fear of being seen as a troublemaker...or simply not wanting to dredge up unpleasant memories. Either way, if there is a silver lining here, it’s that cons and industry are forced to take this more seriously.
  3. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Let's leave the speculation out, and leave the thread for people suggesting guests, okay?
  4. While I appreciate the sympathy, in no way do I intend this to ever become about me -- my intent was to say, in a nutshell, that I personally would not have brought any guest I considered a risk, based on the available information -- and I hope I haven't inadvertently enabled someone to creep on others. I'm not just talking about this situation, but all sorts of risk -- failure to show, difficult to manage on site, prone to lateness, etc. are all factors. But any credible complaint of that nature -- against ANY guest -- would put the guest off the table until things became clear. "Keep your distance until things play out" is a pretty safe strategy for an event or organization. Convictions, indictments, etc. are easy to deal with. But there's a grey area filled with rumor that is much, much harder to navigate. And I've defended people (Vic included) where I believed the attack to be unwarranted, or that it went against my direct experience with the person. We have rarely had to put up with diva crap from ANY guest, and when it has happened that guest hasn't been back, or only came back when we'd reached an understanding about what was acceptable. And until quite recently, rumors about Vic were just that, fueled additionally by some fans who had issue with his public stand on his faith, or his take on certain characters. He's not the only one with a hate-following. And that's before you get trolls and anon and other players in this space. But it's kind of important to note that absolutely everything changes when people go public, or otherwise get things on the record. Saying "I'm not comfortable around XXX" isn't enough, without a reason. Saying "I heard he got handsy" is just rumor and rumors are not helpful. Cons can't and shouldn't act on hearsay and rumor. Aside from adding to the risks involved, it's not really fair to anyone, and people do actively try to draw events into their personal dramas *all the time*. I think you'll see many cons rolling out variations on two things, in the near future. First, a clear statement that con rules apply to guests as well -- plus a greater willingness to enforce it -- and second, contracts with a "bad behavior" clause that limits the risk events shoulder if they need to cancel because the guest has become a toxic figure. Guests aren't cheap to have, and it's not a great situation if you un-invite someone for being, say, indicted for buying kiddy porn, but you have a legal obligation to pay him anyway.
  5. Still, it's an uncomfortable position to be in. Watching people I know go public about someone else I know doing bad things has been sobering. Questionable judgment calls are one thing, but documented and verifiable patterns and public accusations are another. Once you know, or have reason to doubt, things change. For the reporting of such complaints, it doesn't have to be ANN, though it's not unusual for news organizations to provide a secure forum for whistleblowers. The point is it needs to be a trusted, known, third party. But I'm not volunteering. Hell, I'm still mentally drained from the #metoo panel at Gallifrey last year and the conversations afterwards.
  6. The two are competitors and both have similar history. Frankly, most of the actual staff is unlikely to change, just the upper management and who pays them.
  7. Please note that this response is IN NO WAY OFFICIAL, and that I do not speak for Otakon on this matter at all. This is just me, and I've said some of this publicly but would prefer it not be shared. (Though I know the leadership of Otakon is working behind the scenes to address these concerns.) This whole thing is incredibly disappointing. Both personally and professionally. These are people I know, or at least I thought I did. (I have even been Vic's handler at our Vegas show, and never had reason to believe the rumors about misconduct.) My personal take, as I've expressed elsewhere, is that this is just one huge mess with no wins for anyone. Like many in similar roles, I find myself forced to re-evaluate people I've known for 10-15 years (because I have known Vic, Todd, and Jessie that long). The broad community is reacting in various ways, but the big fear everyone has is: did i miss something? did I unknowingly allow something bad to happen? Is this a case of perception or lies? Did someone avoid saying something because they assumed I'd take the guest's side? I will say that I would never bring ANY guest for whom credible accusations of improper conduct had reached my ears. Nor would I have staff working under me for whom such claims had been made. As far as I know, nothing happened under my watch, at my event, which is all I can control. Our handlers have been pretty good at subtly preventing awkward/inappropriate moments, but of course we can't monitor folks nonstop, and we aren't responsible for their actions when we're not with them. The biggest complaint I'd heard with any legitimacy was one of diva behavior, but that simply didn't happen at Otakon -- or if it did, it was addressed and stopped. I hope we, and I, made the right call most of the time. You can't really make judgement calls based on rumor alone. There are always rumors, and there are always petty rivalries, and I've long felt that the best way to prevent that from being a factor is to not jump to react to such things, but instead evaluate situations based on credible reports. But it's also true that the face *I* see, as a man and a convention runner for a large event, is not necessarily the face that others might see. At this point, though, public accusations have been made, and that means they must (especially in the wake of #metoo) be taken seriously. Celebrity (at any level) shouldn't be a pass to ignore this sort of thing. There have been other guests (not naming any names) whom I chose to avoid, or not invite back, after credible complaints. There have been staff we've dismissed for inappropriate comments, much less anything worse. There have also been numerous attempts to involve the con in other drama -- bad breakups, jealous rivalries, etc. -- which have been mostly avoided. That all said, I do have an issue with the spreadsheet itself, because it's not clear who's hosting it, or what controls are in place to prevent abuse. I object to the idea of an unrestricted, anonymous spreadsheet, because it's so easy to abuse. But if AnimeNewsNetwork or some other reputable group administered such a clearinghouse, I might be more inclined to support a similar tool for reporting.
  8. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    With again the caveat that I'm not running things these days and the Ethan may have a different take.... That muddy ground is one reason I actively avoided giving "fan guests" the GOH (guest of honor) nod for many years. There are some fantastic folks out there doing excellent work, but there is definitely a distinction between folks who have "official" status within the industry, and those who don't. The challenge is to honor what they do without causing confusion or trouble with the pros. (And quite a few of them have crossed into pro status, at which point we might change their listed status.) It's just a cleaner distinction to make: did you go pro and legit with this? Once you have, then it's a much simpler call to make, because you're adding something significant to the whole deal. This industry has a LOT of folks in it who started in the grey area and cowboy days, but now are legit, so it's not an unassailable wall. If you're running a smaller con, you want a larger list of guests and drawing Big Name Fans can make a big difference, and just as importantly, non-GOH level guests *tend* to only get badges and similar low-cost considerations. The questions we typically ask about any potential guest are: How does this guest advance our mission? Remember, our mission is about cultural exchange, fundamentally, but certainly with a focus on pop culture. For people already actively involved in professional creation, localization, or distribution, either as production or talent, that's an easy one. For people in academic circles, pro speakers and authors like Roland Kelts and Fred Schodt, it's also an easy call to make. Because we're a nonprofit, we need to be able to justify what we spend on our guests. What's their likely draw/appeal? I've received requests for youtubers with a following in the dozens; that's an easy call. But we've also brought major voice actors and directors from Japan who draw a couple dozen folks at best. Prestige and name value really kick in here. How much content are they bringing? I've never been a fan of "guests" who do nothing but sit in the dealer or artist halls and sell and sign stuff. That's why we typically require 2 panels or the equivalent from all our GOH guests. What's the cost of bringing and supporting them? Japanese guests need bilingual interpreters to handle them, and cost a fair penny to bring. US guests (especially actors) typically have fees these days that range from bargains to tens of thousands of dollars. Each of them needs a room and food, and that all adds up disturbingly fast. OTOH, industry support can help mitigate those costs. About a third to half of all our guests come with some help from industry (not always financial); the rest are existing relationships, personal contacts, or direct offers. What special challenges do they bring? Are they known for being "difficult"? Is their management bad at responding and providing info? Do they miss their at-con obligations? Are there troubling accusations against them? Do they have annoying significant others? Have they pissed off their employer somehow? Cost is a big deal, because all things considered, if you're spending $2k minimum on travel/room/board for a guest, you'd rather spend it on a guest who has a draw, who have mission relevance, and who doesn't have a ton of "baggage" to deal with. Just a little insight.
  9. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    I'm going out on a limb here and say there is still a distinction between "guest" and "panelist", which isn't always clear at some smaller events, but which has been pretty consistent at Otakon for many years. Guests are guests of honor, the names that draw folks to your con, and typically are professionals who have some direct connection to the mission or the industry; panelists typically are fans first, and are not here to support or promote their work or that of their employers. Guests get official status and their travel costs are paid (including fees, where applicable), panelists generally do not get much more than a badge and a place to chill in their downtime. Team Four Star exists in a weird place, because the work they produce is unlicensed parodies of licensed works. I'm not sure how Ethan feels about it, but I shied away from bringing them as guests because it creates unwanted tension with industry. Most of their con appearances tend to be "under the radar" -- they're panelists or have a booth someplace. We have had them at Otakon before as panelists, but spotlighting unlicensed works with full "guest of honor" status can be problematic. IIRC, Funi basically ignores the parody works (because they're clearly parody, even if they use enough content to be legally tricky to deal with), but .... The nearest analogy I can come up with is when you pack more than the allowed occupancy in a hotel room. The hotel really doesn't care too much if you have 6 people in a 4-person room so long as you don't create more work for them with endless towel demands or noise complaints. But if you draw too much attention, they have to act to protect their bread & butter.
  10. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    One challenge there is that our contacts are primarily in the animation, gaming, and music industries, and not so much in the world of modeling. The other is that they’re going to have very little motivation to come. When evaluating guests, it’s fairly routine to break down the non-adjustable costs (flights, hotel, etc.) and the negotiable ones. Appearance fees have become more of s thing in recent years, despite the complexities of taxes, payments to overseas agencies, etc. Given the same baseline costs (it costs thousands of dollars to bring a guest from Japan, regardless of status), and limited budget, the first question is whether you spend that on someone with broad appeal, or someone with narrower appeal, and the other question is how relevant that guest is to our mission. A guest with broad appeal and fantastic relevancy is going to win, but one particularly appealing, or super relevant, would also be a prime selection. There’s really not much particularly unique about scantily dressed girls posing for magazines, honestly, and little to no crossover appeal. The management and business involved isn’t pushing to broaden the audience, as is the case for music, and there isn’t really a compelling cultural argument here. And to switch hats, if I were such a model, I can’t see much sense in flying 13 hours each way to be stared at in person by foreigners who don’t buy the magazines I am paid to appear in. Not when I can make bank in Tokyo for personal appearances, during the relatively short window when I am still young and sexy. (And that’s before you consider the unsavory types that tend to be involved in those businesses. There are musical acts I was advised to avoid because of Yakuza involvement, and I am certain that would be an issue in the world of adult magazines.) If this really interests you, and you think it has broader appeal and something to teach us, start with a panel. It’s rare to see a well presented panel covering such content, though I’m sure someone out there could make a good one. Until then , I don’t see anyone making it a priority, at any broad anime con.
  11. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    You’re quite right, brain fart on Amandas. And while i appreciate the vote of confidence, I am not the one booking guests these days...
  12. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    I know her. One reason her travel was limited for a while was the age of her kid.
  13. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Maile's a friend and she's been fairly often -- I think we were one of her first cons. She's a hoot! Kojima....well, he's challenging.
  14. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    You and me both, buddy. We have come fairly close once or twice -- but that's a VERY tough nut to crack for many reasons. Closest I got personally was a direct conversation with her manager while she was performing twenty feet away.
  15. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Greg's good, and I don't disagree he'd be an asset. I'll pass along to the appropriate folks.