Monday, March 9, 2009

Top 5 Convention-worthy Franchises

Dylan's Note: Why should I have all the fun? This weekend, my dear sister Jenny called me with an idea (and the first few paragraphs) of a Top 5 list of her very own and asked if I was interested in publishing it. Jenny, who has some actual publishing cred, is a comparatively level-headed pop culture addict, as opposed to myself and my rabies, and brings a refreshing, less-hopeless new voice to the table. I look forward to seeing more work from her in the future, however rare it may be, as she has a fuh-real actual job. Please enjoy this first of (I hope) many lists contributed by Ms. Jennifer Leigh Roth, Esq. (Or what ever the female equivalent of Esq. would be.) Ta!

Today I was thinking (perhaps spurred by conversations with my brother and this very blog) about how the conception of geek-dom has changed over the past decade. Not only have niches like science fiction and comic books become more mainstream, but with the spread of cyberculture and the invention of blogs, everyone is now encouraged to research, obsess over, and form relationships based on their love of – well, whatever it is they love. Whether it’s economics or knitting, thanks to the internet, you can find someone as freakishly obsessed with something as you are.

So, then, I thought, if geekdom has expanded, why not convention culture? If you’re into sci-fi or animation, then you’ve already got a well-formed network of conventions, either dedicated to one subject (Star Trek, anime) or featured at comic conventions, which have grown about 1000%, both in scope and audience size, over the past 10 years. The sheer number of franchises that could support a Trek-like convention culture is amazing. Here are (in my opinion) the top 5 best candidates for conventions. I tried to get some diversity on the list, choosing various genres and types of franchises.

5. The Disney Channel. Alright, you’ll probably all hate me for suggesting that the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and their ilk hit the road and come to a town near you… but they’re already doing so, filling concert halls left and right. Why shouldn’t the Mouse capitalize on these household names even further? Rather than just a concert, why not have hotels host signings, merch tables, panels, and small-scale performances of their up-and-coming artists in conjuction with full-blown concerts? My only hesitation in putting this on the list is that, if it’s a real way to make money, why hasn’t the conglomerate already done this?

4. The Godfather. How many people in the world list The Godfather as their favorite movie of all time? More than for any other movie that I can think of. So why not tap into this market? Unlike newer franchises like Harry Potter, many of the people who worked on Coppola’s masterpiece are now out of work and available to work the convention circuit. But that window is closing—Paramount better get on this before too many more cast members pass away.

3. The Simpsons. You may be saying that this show, once the unchallenged leader of television comedy, is past its prime—and I’d agree with you. But clearly, The Simpsons, just renewed through its 22nd season, is a pop culture phenomenon that’s not going anywhere. Maybe people aren’t as fiendishly obsessed with watching the series anymore, but its characters and catch phrases have permeated our culture to such a degree that you or someone you know has probably made a Simpsons reference in the past week. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen an episode of the show in the past year. If you had the opportunity to dress up as Professor Frink, share inside jokes over a case of Duff Beer, and stage your own production of “A Streetcar Named Marge,” you’d be there.

2. Harry Potter. A convention culture has already developed for Potterheads—but no actual conventions. Hundreds of people have gathered at Wizard Rock concerts, put together by a bunch of fan bands, to commune with other Muggles. Similar events have been organized at bookstores worldwide. But none, with the exception of a few readings by Ms. Rowling (mostly to young children) have been officially sanctioned by the franchise Powers That Be. Get together a bunch of people involved with the books and movies—even just bit players like Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood in the movies) or Arthur Levine (who, as an editor for Scholastic, brought the books to the U.S.) and BAM, you’ve got an incredibly profitable convention!

1. Joss Whedon’s creations. The power of his fans has already been demonstrated threefold: his show Firefly, after airing only 11 episodes, became such a cult favorite that it launched a movie—and it even made money! Then, during the writer’s strike, Whedon and Neil Patrick Harris captured the hungry eyes of the American public with a little online production called “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” Once again, what started off as something small became a huge, money-making franchise. Who knows if it ever will continue, but there’s certainly plenty of potential. And his new series, Dollhouse, is guaranteed to be on the air for at least a few seasons simply because Fox fears the wrath of Whedon’s blogger army, who started ardently defending the show before they saw a single scene. With those three projects under his belt, plus the inarguably successful series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Whedon has more than enough material and fans to bust out of his tent at Comic Con and into his very own convention tour.

Be gentle with the comments--I'm new at this whole nerd thing! Er, at least the nerd blogger thing.


David L said...

Hey Dylan, get your sister to do some more lists. She's pretty damn good at them. I can't argue with a single thing on this list, and that says something.

Ever since the Big Apple Con closed, I've felt empty. Maybe one of these could fill the void.

Let us just hope they remember to send the invitation to Abe Vigoda for the Godfather convention.

rrrrrreooow! said...

You are so right about the Simpsons. I know many people... MANY PEOPLE... who would probably attend those conventions.

Most of the other ones make a lot of sense as well. I would be very amused to hear that my twelve year old cousins were attending a convention, even if it is for Hannah Montanta.

kevinphiggins said...

Esquilax - a mythical animal with th body of a rabbit, and the head of...a rabbit.