Do We Still Really Need Star Trek Conventions?

StarTrekCon

As we at Trek Movie are preparing to deploy to Las Vegas for the largest annual Star Trek convention in the world, I am forced to pause and ask… do we really need conventions just for ourselves any more? Just because we always did it, just because we started fandom and cosplay, do we need to keep doing it?

Indeed I am reminded of when the Federation President said, “Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we must do that thing.”

efrosian
The Federation President in 2293

While no one had gone to fan conventions before Star Trek, boldly or otherwise, everybody does now. The recently concluded San Diego Comic-Con drowns not just geekdom but everyone with a deluge of material, while similar gatherings have sprung up everywhere. There are so many fans gathering to share their costumes and nerdy T-shirts it feels like that scene in First Contact where Data says the Earth has a “population of 9 billion, all Borg.”

allborg

For myself, in the last year I was able to see Leonard Nimoy at the Salt Lake City Comic Con and William Shatner at the Washington, DC, Awesome Con. So do I really need to go to a Star Trek convention when I could go somewhere else and see folks in Starfleet uniforms and Final Fantasy costumes and Deadpool cosplaying as Gandalf?

deadpool gandalf

I wasn’t sure about this question in 2014, when I went to my first STLV, so I asked some friends I made there: Marina Molnar, Justin Molnar, and Crystal House, who all made the trek (sorry) from Southern California to Nevada for the con.

They answered me with an overwhelming “yes.”

molnars 2
Justin and Marina Molnar

“I like the fandom. That’s what I love about coming to these,” said Marina, dressed up like a flapper from A Piece of the Action. “It’s like a big family reunion. Vegas Con is like coming home.”

Her brother Justin (with a matching zoot suit) continued, “Star Trek has always been a tightly knit community. You see people you met previous years. Everyone shares something very intimate. I wouldn’t want to dilute it from the Trekdom to general fandom.”

I agree with that, but only kind of. I mean, if this girl shows up again in Vegas this year, I think we should let her in.

supergirl

While the big stars of the franchise, like Shatner or Patrick Stewart, will be widely accessible to the broader fan community, a dedicated Trek convention is the best place to rub elbows with someone like Vaughn Armstrong or Mark Allen Shepherd.

“A celebrity who’s only know for a supporting role on Star Trek is a huge celebrity here, but may not get as much attention at Comicon,” Crystal said.

With all the money generated by Star Wars and comic book movies, Star Trek cons are also a great way to remind The Powers That Be that Trek fans put their latinum where their mouth is.

“Star Trek Cons brought the franchise back. The studio realized the huge fan interest because of the cons,” said Crystal, whose love of Star Trek inspired her to pursue a career as a film/TV editor. “There’s so much more of a purpose to these conventions.”

And when the popularity of comic cons wanes, I suspect that Trek cons will still be going – if not at warp speed – at least at a strong full impulse.

fans warp speed
Just be careful about respecting the warp 9 threshold, guys.

“It’s still super relevant. Star Trek lasts forever,” Marina said. “I love that people dress up everywhere now, but we started this shit.”

The 2015 Creation Entertainment Star Trek convention runs from August 6 to 9 in the Rio Suites hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Learn more about it here. And look for TrekMovie’s guide to STLV coming up later this week!



 

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The STLV con is like a huge family reunion – a non-stop party for 4 full days. (5 next year.) Of course we need this!

What’s a Star Trek convention?
(never been!)

I am 29 years old and I’ve never been to an actual Star Trek convention. Here in my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, we have never had a ST Con ever. Only recently (this year and last year) we’ve hosted our first two real Comic Cons. It was great to see fandom like it, but I have always wanted to go to a real ST Convention. I know they hold them occasionally in England, but not everybody is able to afford the trip over there, myself included. I have no idea why. It’s a shame because the demand is here for damn sure.

Ciarán, there used to be the Irecon conventions in Ireland. Irecon 4 in Bray in 1991 and Irecon 5 in Galway the following year. Regretfully after Vision in DCU in 1994 I think, they seemed to Peter out. If you can, try and save for the con in 2016 in Vegas. It’ll be the big 50, and you should be able to get a package deal for flight and accommodation. Easy for me to say probably, but it’s sure to be a once in a lifetime experience. Beir Bua!

I enjoy the “everything” conventions (comics, games, movies, TV, books, etc.) but there is still a place, desire and audience for the focused conventions like Star Trek, Star Wars Celebration, Gallifrey One, etc. They can coexist.

I loved going to San Diego Comic Con for the first time this year. It was great to be at a huge geek gathering with so many different genres coming together.

But as a Trekkie first and foremost I will always love and prefer going to Trek convention. Everyone is a fellow Trekkie, a big gathering of like-minded people, a common ground. No genre feeling superior to another genre. A big fandom family reunion.

Of course we still need Star Trek conventions.

I’ve been to many Trek conventions. Yes… many fans can be obsessive in numerous ways but overall its cool. Everybody for the most part are friendly and just wanna have fun.

Answer: Yes.

While Comic cons and other events are enjoyable, it just feels good to go to a convention where you know that anyone there could be a possible friend and future member of your Star Trek family. The biggest difference between Trek fans are minor (DS9 or TOS, etc.). Avery Brooks came to Las Vegas. That was the first time I had a chance to meet him (and get the last autograph I needed for my DS9 photo). Trek specific items are brought to a Trek con just to show or sale. You may not find these items at your local comic con or general convention.

Just like we need Star Trek back on TV, we need more Star Trek conventions. I miss the days when we had traveling conventions that would go from city to city bringing us guests and introducing us to just local Star Trek fans.

“While no one had gone to fan conventions before Star Trek”

WTF? The first Worldcon was held in 1939. Gene Roddenberry promoted Star Trek at science fiction conventions before it even went on the air. Fan conventions existed for decades before Star Trek came along.

That is true, but I think the difference is that those were gen genre conventions as to a convention centered around a single franchise. I believe it was at one of those scifi conferences that Gene met Isaac Asimov and screened the Trek pilot.

Until the ’70s, there was nothing BUT fan conventions! “Star Trek” conventions didn’t start until more than thirty years after the start of the fan conventions (and yes, they dressed up in costumes back then as well, but no one had ever heard of ‘cosplay’, which is only a recent term for something that fans have always done). There’s nothing wrong with thousands of people who love the same thing getting together for a weekend and having fun making new friends, seeing old friends and meeting their heroes. It’s by no means as cheap as it used to be, but what is these days? :)

The first Star Trek conventions were fun, and sort of a Trek fans secret party. It’s nice to gather with others who enjoyed the show and especially to meet the stars, who also enjoyed them. At that time, it was all Trek and fun.

Today, it’s no longer Trek but various genres, which may include Trek. They’re fun too, but it was more fun when the Trek con was just for Trek. Sadly, the newer carnations of Trek doesn’t seem to garner the (same) enthusiasm as TOS did; but that’s mostly Paramount’s fault with their “franchise” mentality. That and that Trek’s best medium is still the small screen. It needs to go back there.

Yet a new con may develop. One built around the fan films. With “Axanar” and the excitement it has created, “Star Trek Continues” and the other notch above fan films that are out there. The fan films have something that Paramount will never get with their “franchise” mentality: heart. Yeah, the acting is amateurish, but they do receive assistance from professional actors and technical people, which even more makes them more desired and anticipated. The CG alone rivals what you would see on the big screen, let alone tv!

Cons in general will always be here, but the Trek con? I think it still has it’s place…especially the fan-run cons! Maryland’s “Shore Leave” and Georgia’s “DragonCon” quickly come to mind.

There will be conventions….
As long as someone is making a buck off of it.

I am 35, from Canada, and started going to the Las Vegas convention 6 years ago where I meet friends I met there in my first year from around the world. If you’ve been to this convention you would know why it is great and important to Star Trek fans. I would rather go to the Trek convention in Vegas than to Comic Con or other conventions because above all else, I am a Trekkie and I love being surround by Trek, the actors, the fans, the merchandise. Experience it first and then form an opinion on it.

Yes. We do.

The question isn’t do we still need ST Cons .
The question is , do people still want to go to them?
I think the answer is clearly, YES!

Absolutely needed. I’ve been going to Trek (and other cons) since the 70’s New York Trek cons. There’s nothing like getting together with other fans who share your same interests.

I desperately want to go to a Star Trek Convention. I have been to two comic-cons and absolutely loved them. I met Brent Spiner and Johnathon Frakes (awesome guy to talk to by the way) And spent hundreds of dollars on great comics. I can’t wait to go to a convention that is nothing but trek. I would love to meet and talk to fans about trek.

I’m sure CBS would say YES!

Do we still need Star Trek conventions?

A resounding YES!

Here’s why……watching the shows on your own, or even with friends for that matter, is not the same as getting with a crowd and immersing yourself in all things Trek!

Think of it this way, Star Trek is a “contact sport”!

Yes we need Star Trek conventions … in more than just one city each year than just that one in Nevada! However, the Las Vegas show is the only one where fans can ever get a chance to meet and talk with performers who may be memorable to us for having made merely one guest appearance on a “Trek” series (or, for that matter, Eddie Paskey, who was in the original series more times than Koenig or Takei). I miss the days when 15-20 years ago there would be at least — emphasis on “at least” — one Creation event each of the two major cities in my state. Heck, for that matter, I also miss the days when it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to get something autographed … AND it came with the price of the admission ticket! (And you could get a snapshot with the actor/actress while in the signing line!)

Star Trek conventions are still popular so yes I’d say.

If anything I’d say Star Trek would do well with a Star Wars Celebration style convention every year which would travel around the world similar to destination Star Trek but just bigger with more going on.

For example they could have had a huge convention this year competing with Star Wars celebration with Justin Lin and the cast of Star Trek Beyond in attendance revealing a trailer for the new movie and CBS revealing a new creative team to return Star Trek to the small screen. The emphasis on Star Trek Celebration would have been all things new and forthcoming with next years Crlebration based around the 50 years with everyone ever involved with Star Trek from TOS to Star Trek Beyond in attendance for one huge almighty con that would make this years Star Wars celebration look like some insignificant speck on the view screen.

Why is that even a question? Of COURSE Trek conventions are still needed! Granted, I’d like to see them get as big as the Comic Cons (thanks CBS for only allowing licensed stuff, or it WOULD be that big by now), but even as small as the Trek conventions are in size, they are most definitely still needed. I go to the one in NJ every time it’s held, and I always have a great time.

“While no one had gone to fan conventions before Star Trek, boldly or otherwise, everybody does now. ”

Where did the Great Bird show the two pilots at? A friendly card game in Cleveland?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24th_World_Science_Fiction_Convention

yes, and bring one to west virginia.

Yes. Of course. Absolutely. They are a central aspect of Star Trek fandom – celebrating the show we all love. If anything we probably need to ramp up Star Trek conventions to demonstrate to the powers that be that there is a lot of interest in having Star Trek back on weekly television where it belongs.

“While no one had gone to fan conventions before Star Trek”

WHAT? That phrase above isn’t even REMOTELY true. So much for writers conducting research when writing articles.

#22. BatlethInTheGroin – July 29, 2015

“WHAT? That phrase above isn’t even REMOTELY true. So much for writers conducting research when writing articles.” — BatlethInTheGroin

You sure called that one.

The first hugely successful cons from which the first Trek cons learned everything about putting them together was for THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

But that’s hardly to say no one was going to other cons celebrating other shows. What a claim to make.

I don’t know. Clearly, there are people here who enjoy conventions, and that’s each individual’s prerogative. But that aspect of fandom doesn’t appeal to me.

I think I’m just perfectly content letting Star Trek be a form of entertainment rather than trying to make it a way of life.

The earliest ones for me (1970-75) were the best, IMHO. They didn’t cost an arm and a leg, the celebs didn’t charge at all for autographs or photo ops, in fact they often gave away photos and misc. swag, 16mm films were run, and the only real cost was a few bucks a day admission. I’d rather meet a friend in an all-night restaurant to discuss our interests and obsessions, today.

The best con I attended was probably the one at a little college in Ohio, a general sf and fantasy thing around 1975, which quickly turned from ST into a discussion-and-debate fest on the original Outer Limits series. Nobody came in costume as a Zanti, so we remained relatively safe and calm. ;)

Star Trek Conventions are one of those things which distinguishes Star Trek from other fandoms, and which dates it as a product of the 1960s (and surging popularity in the 1970s).

Back in the 1970s, as a New Yorker, we had Comic Cons (real ones, for comics), and Star Trek Cons,, and Trek managed to assume a greater and greater at the comic-related cons after awhile, as their cons were usually just a bit cooler (Cosplay, original actors, toys, models, etc.). In a Marvel and DC world, Trek was always a 3rd alternative.

Having been to one con in New Jersey a few years back, it’s safe to say that they are in no danger of being phased out do to lack of interest. Whole families dressed up and having fun, with stars, both major and minor, walking through the crowds, make them a truly special event. If I had to compare them to anything else in pop culture, it would be a Grateful Dead concert without the substance abuse.

Yes, they are money-grabs for sure, but it IS a business at the end of the day. But I never forget the cons, and they are part of what Star Trek is in the “cultural zeitgeist” (remember SNL!).

I really wish Paramount and CBS would send some execs down to see what all the fuss is about. They really have no idea.

Yes of course there is absolutely still a need for Star Trek conventions! Star Trek will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year and if anything the fandom is bigger and bolder than ever. It’s okay to say that you like Star Trek because being a geek nowadays is amazing!!

We do still need ‘Trek conventions! Over here in the UK we have NO specialized convections for ST…that’s with the exception of ‘Destination Star Trek London’ and that was years ago.

I went to one Star Trek convention – in 1975. I think it was in February, in NYC. Gene Roddenberry announced that Paramount had agreed to do a movie (and yes it took nearly 5 more years till it came out) and they showed the Cage in black and white on a big screen with the parts used for the Menagerie being in color. Roddenberry said that’s all that was left from the original. I don’t recall many people being dressed up. 40 years later and I’m still waiting for the next movie to come out.

# 19. Tallguy – July 29, 2015

” Where did the Great Bird show the two pilots at? A friendly card game in Cleveland?” — Tallguy

Not to mention Harlan Ellison showing eps in San Diego before that:

http://laurajsweeney.com/WhatWeDidonOurVisittoDesilubyJohnandBjoTrimble.pdf

where Shatner also took his first bow for his portrayal of Kirk.

‘’ Harlan Ellison started the whole thing, really, by enthusiastically introducing a brand new TV show at Westercon 19 [July 1-4, 1966], in San Diego. He went on at great length about how great it was; a new concept in TV SF, since it didn’t insult the viewers’ (and most particularly, the SF fans!) intelligence. Harlan then had the room darkened, and showed the color pilot film of Gene Roddenberry’s STAR TREK. The reaction was mixed; many fans immediately deciding that here, at last, was a show worth their time and attention, while others laughed at the various mistakes in the film, and nitpicked the ideas presented. Basically, however, most of us were simply interested to see something more mature than LOST IN SPACE, and had hopes that it would develop into something worthwhile as more and more stf writers submitted scripts for the show.” — John & Bjo Trimble, WHAT WE DID ON OUR VISIT TO DESILU

And as you can see same as it ever was with Trek getting nitpicked even before the first episode aired on NBC.

Being European, I used to go to Fed Con in Germany quite often in the past. FedCon once was the biggest Trek convention in Europe but it has slowly been turned into a general SciFi and Fantasy convention. While I’m a HUGE fan of a lot of franchises, including our “arch enemy” Star Wars, I’m not too hapy about that development. So yes, I am in favour of true Trek conventions, that MAINLY focus of Trek. Of course, I’d never oppose fans dressed as a Na’Vi, Gandalf or Stormtrooper at a Trek con, but as far as guest stars and attarctions are concerned, Trek cons should be focusing on Star Trek. The problem is: there isn’t much going on in the world of Star Trek these days. One movie every 3-5 years certainly isn’t enough to fuel enough interest in the franchise, especially against the background of annual Star Wars movies, 10+ BMS and 10+ CB-based TV shows, fairy tale movies and series etc… I’d say that TPTB have to act first and revive Trek on TV before those conventions make any sense. Listening to the same old stories from Nicole DeBoer or Manu Initramay (spelling?) doesn’t make much sense. It’s living in the past, just for the sake of it. We need NEW series, NEW guest stars, NEW stuff to talk about ASAP. Otherwise there is simply no way around turning to other franchises as our main focus. I’m certainly no monogamist when it comes to scifi franchises and… Read more »

Vokar, you’re such a ‘misfit!’

But I agree that early cons, before it became so corporate, were best. I think I only went to one after the 70s, in early 1991, and I was creeped out by the level of fanaticism (40 minutes of a guy in front of us practically welling up in tears trying to reconcile TNG plot points) just waiting in line to get in, and then just stunned by how business-as-usual everything was when I got inside.

I avoid the huge cons like SDCC and NYCC. They’ve become unbearable. If you’re lucky to be able to stand in line for six hours to “maybe” get in to see that one panel you came for in the first place… otherwise just go shopping.

Focused conventions allow fans to connect with each other. Everyone there is there for the same reason. Every panel and every guest will appeal to everyone.

Keep Trek, Trek.

LLAP
-TrooperPX

I loved the old conventions, more things to do…not just a cattle-call, herding the attendants through autograph lines and dealer rooms.
Now days, you stand in line forever to pay $50 for the pleasure of going inside so you can pay more money for merchandise and autographs and merchandise.

Back in the olden days, at various local-run cons, there were panels and activities going around the clock…screenings, trivia, prop building, costum-oops, my bad…”cosplay” contests. It wasn’t a chore, it was fun. Cons these days, for me, ultimately, are a pain-in-the-butt money pit with seemingly endless waiting in lines for everything from getting inside, getting autographs, getting tickets to get autographs, getting photos, getting tickets to get photos, getting T-shirts, getting $9 nachos or going to the bathroom. 80% of your time is spent in lines.

I’ll still go, on occasion, especially if there is an actor I want to meet…which is still difficult as I remember back when an actor GAVE an autograph as appreciation for the fan who appreciated and supported that actor. I didn’t pay a dime for Jimmy Doohan’s picture or Nichelle Nichols or Mark Lenoard’s…but that was another time.
So yeah, they can be fun, but for me, the fun factor, disappeared sometime around 1986.

I think the answer to that question can be found in one word.

Attendance.

If there is major attendance, then absolutely keep going. If the attendance is weak, then time to stop.

ComicCon and Armageddon style conventions might appeal to some, but I like the intimacy (even if it is a crowd of 15,000) of sitting in an audience and watching a person on stage and then being able to get an autograph afterwards. Also a chance, as with Creation events, to attend music events and readings with same guest. Not for me fighting thousands of people walking around a large area and joining long queues just to eyeball someone that I would like to see. I know they have panels but the choice is just too vast. I love my dedicated cons – whether small and intimate in Sydney, or huge and intimate in Las Vegas.

I don’t think the hardcore internet fans would get along with the convention fans. They have very different opinions.

Only those who’s minds have old and grown stale do not need Star Trek conventions.

28. smike – July 30, 2015

The problem is: there isn’t much going on in the world of Star Trek these days. One movie every 3-5 years certainly isn’t enough to fuel enough interest in the franchise, especially against the background of annual Star Wars movies, 10+ BMS and 10+ CB-based TV shows, fairy tale movies and series etc…

The indie/fan productions should not be ignored. There is interest and enthusiasm about them in general, and about a few of them in particular. Secondly, if Star Trek is done right, it shouldn’t be competing with Star Wars, comic-book movies, fantasy genre stuff, etc… The only reason that Trek might find itself competing with those things these days is because Paramount and Bad Robot have weakened the Star Trek brand by making what are stylistically and substantively more akin to comic-book movies than to Star Trek of old. If they’d make dramatic science fiction, they’d easily be the king of that genre and face little competition.

What is the “warp 9 threshold”? Did you mean the Warp 10 threshold?

See you all in Vegas!!!!!!

PS If you’re going to the Las Vegas con, come to the AMC theatre to watch the Ep.4 screening of Star Trek Continues. I’ll be there, as well as several other cast and crew mates (including the lovely Dr. Kayla Lacovino).

AMC Town Square
6587 Las Vegas Blvd.

Free admission

Time: 11:30pm

I’ll be the guy sleeping in he back row. ;)

According to RT, Bad Robot has delivered another winner to Paramount. Best not be King of an insignificant hill just yet.

Hey kmart…that I am! But at least they were spared, since I didn’t go as a Chromoite to slobber Kraft marshmallow fluff all over the place. I don’t do “cosplay” but in the case of a Chromoite, I’d make an exception! And yeah, it’s all so corporate now, like everything else including local so-called film festivals (truly “elitist affairs” as one radical filmmaker I know opined).

I’m forced to pause and ask ” Are you kidding? ” Of course we do.

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