This is a Cat in a Shark Suit Riding a Roomba and Chasing a Duck:
Apparently it’s quite a hit with all the cool kids.
And this week’s addition to the Testimonial Gallery is:
Now that the dust has settled from yet another fan convention, I’d like to get real with ya’ll for a moment.
Let’s talk about celebrity autograph fees.
Imagine, if you will, that you are a fan of a celebrity (any celebrity) and you read an announcement telling you that they are going to be appearing at an event in or near your town and that (gasp) they will be signing autographs. You can bring your own photo or object to sign, but not to worry, photos will be made available at the event; the announcement goes on to say that there will be a $25 autograph fee, but does not say whether or not this fee is going to a charity, or if it’s just to line the celebrity’s pocket. Either way, you think, $25 isn’t really unreasonable and you’ve always wanted to meet said celebrity. You go to the store, use your debit card buy a pack of gum, get $25 cash back, then head over to the event location.
You arrive and wow is there a line. At least 150 people ahead of you, which means a two hour or more wait just to get 30 seconds (or less) face-to-face with this person whom you so admire. But you decide it’s worth the wait, and that $25 is eagerly burning a hole in your pocket. So you diligently inch forward every minute or so until you’re 75 people closer to the signing table and you’ve discovered that if you lean slightly to the left and go up on your toes you can almost see the top of the celebrity’s head through the admiring throng. But then something happens. Something unexpected. A person, presumably in the employ of the celeb, walks over to the herd of waiting devotees and makes the following announcement:
“Your attention please. It’s $25 for an autograph. If you didn’t bring something to sign, it’s $5 for a souvenir photo. If you want it personalized, it’s $20 more. So $50 total. Cash only. Again, $25 for the autograph, $5 for a photo (you pick!) and $20 if you want it personalized. Cash only, everybody, ok?”
Then this person (Assistant? Manager? Agent?) goes back to wherever they came from, leaving everyone shifting nervously in their shoes. Suddenly, the $25 (arguably reasonable) fee has DOUBLED. You only brought the $25 as advertised. There was nothing in the press announcement about having to pay for the photos they were offering but (even though you don’t have the cash) $5 doesn’t sound like crazy request – it probably covers the cost of printing the photos. What gets your mind reeling is the $20 personalization fee!! $20 for the celeb, this person whom you admire and look up to, to add the words “To: [Your Name]” above their signature which you are already paying $25 for?!
You debate getting out of line. You don’t have anything meaningful for the celebrity to sign. You suppose they could sign your arm – but that would just wash off. You’re not fanatical enough to have it tattooed permanently. You could have them sign your shirt, but you really like the shirt you’re wearing and don’t want to retire it from your wardrobe. You have a piece of crumpled receipt paper in your wallet that could work, but the lameness of this option depresses you. Instead of feeling excited to finally meet this person, you feel taken advantage of and also a bit insulted and you don’t know who to blame.
Maybe the celeb has nothing to do with the pricing. Maybe it’s all their manager’s idea. You get on board with this idea for the moment (to mentally preserve the small pedestal you keep the celebrity on) and continue to inch forward in line still uncertain whether or not to bail out. You start fishing through every available pocket of your jeans and jacket to see if, magically, a $5 bill appears so that you can at least have a decent photo for them to sign if you decide to stick it out. You’ve already been in line for almost two hours, and you hate to think that all of this time spent would have been for nothing. You’re less than twenty people away from the table now and starting to sweat nervously that you’re going to make a fool of yourself by offering a dirty receipt paper to have signed. You wanted to come away from this meeting with positive memories and now you’re so distracted by money and not having anything to sign and looking foolish and unprepared that the whole encounter has been ruined before it’s even started. Glumly, defeated, you step out of line. You stand over to the side for a few moments so that you can get a good look at your celebrity – just to see them at least – to be this close.
I saw this scenario happen routinely at ECCC this year. But instead of the prices surprise-jumping from $25 to $50, they were jumping from $50 to $75, and even (in one case) $75 to $100! Last year at ECCC the most expensive autograph fee was for the Weasley Twins (James and Oliver Phelps) for $90. But the thought behind it was $45 for each actor’s autograph, and no surprise souvenir photo fees at the table. The average cost of an autograph last year was $20, with the occasional $5 charge for a souvenir photo (so $25). A few celebs were charging $30-$40 and one or two were signing for free (e.g., Wil Wheaton, because he’s awesome like that).
However, this year, the average fee jumped from $20 to $30 dollars and there were LOTS of “surprise” fees (souvenir photo, “personalization” fees) at the table. It really, really, felt like fans were being taken horrible advantage of.
I’m completely certain that there were a number of fans who found themselves using money they had otherwise allotted to food and other necessities (perhaps even bill money) to pay these exceptional “surprise” costs rather than step out of line and miss the chance to meet their idol.
I disagree with the idea of autograph fees in general, but I’m willing to bend a bit if the fee is being contributed to charity, or (at the very least) is not wholly unreasonable (like $20-$30 or less). I like to break it down as if the celeb is earning an hourly wage. Assuming (generously) that the average time the celeb spends with each person is 30 seconds, you can then can extrapolate that you’re paying $20 for 30 seconds of time. So a minute is worth $40. Multiply $40 by 60 minutes and you get $2400/hr. I think we can all agree that this is a more than generous wage for ANYONE.
Using this same thought process means that if a celeb is charging $75, they are earning $9000/hr. NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS AN HOUR. Now, I understand that this probably seems like a pittance to someone who may earn $1 Million dollars a day on a movie set, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at. Besides, if they’re earning this kind of money regularly one can assume that they are financially stable enough that they don’t need to be charging fans for the luxury of breathing the same air as them for 30 seconds or less. (And don’t even get me started on celebs who charge this much or more and then have the nerve to act aloof and bored with the fans…).
As you know, I am a regular convention attendee, so it’s easy for me to see the not-so-slow inflation of autograph fees over time. Adding “personalization fees” to the mix is simply abhorrent. It’s price gauging. It’s taking blatant advantage of people and their wallets, and it’s certainly not ingratiating the celebs with their fans. You know, the fans? The people who helped them to attain their status as a celebrity?
Somehow, this has to stop. Something needs to be done. Reality needs to be checked.
Who’s with me?
I’m at the Emerald City Comic Con this weekend! Full Wrap-Up post next Friday
Until then, here’s a little video to tide you over…
I am bouncing out of my seat, you guys, because tonight we see WAR HORSE!!!!
I know that the story behind War Horse is a tough one; Gut-wrenching, tear-inducing, drama; but I am so ready for it! Why put myself through an emotional grab-bag of ups and downs? Because: PUPPETS.
The first time I saw two of the War Horse puppets was on a YouTube video from a UK Talk Show. It was a chat show and they were talking about the new experimental piece being put up by the National Theatre. It was considered “experimental” because the protagonist was a puppet and this puppet had to do all sorts of things, including being a wholly believable, sympathetic, character WITHOUT SPEAKING A SINGLE LINE OF DIALOGUE. Why? Well, in case you’re unfamiliar, or the title didn’t give it a way, the puppet is a horse.
Anyway, so I’m watching this clip because someone had tipped me off to the idea that there was some pretty nifty puppetry involved – and being a puppet nerd AND a theatre nerd AND an anglophile – the combination of British accents, puppets and live theatre had me sold at “ ‘Allo! “.
Where was I?
Oh, right, I’m watching a clip on Youtube.
It shows the foal puppet being demonstrated first. It was cute, and there is no denying that the puppeteers are exceedingly good (just watch it “breathe”!) and that the puppet itself is an incredible piece of workmanship, but I wasn’t mind-boggled or anything.
But then, oh then, with only a minute left in the video, in trots the full-size Joey and, sitting there in front of computer screen, I burst into tears. It was the single-most beautiful puppet I had ever seen In. My. Life. I was completely unprepared for it. My tears were a spontaneous physical reaction to beauty. I had no control over it.
Here’s the clip.
I am prepared for most of you to not “get it”. But that’s ok. As I said, Puppet Nerd.
From that moment over three years ago, until now, I have been on a quest to see this show. It was playing when I was in NYC year before last but the tickets were way too expensive for me to afford at the time.
I became obsessed with this show. I devoured every bit of media on it I could find. Every little news clip, interview, anything with video; I HAD to see these puppets in action. Simple photos were not good enough.
To give you an idea about how much this is about the puppets and not the story – I’ve never read War Horse and I completely avoided the movie. I knew the story was rough and (being an animal lover) I didn’t want ANYTHING to pull my attention away from the artistry of the puppets prior to seeing them live on stage.
My favorite video about the puppets was the TED Talk given by the founders of the Handspring Puppet Company, the South African company who designed and built the horse puppets for War Horse. You can see it below.
Now, finally, tonight, I get to see these woven bits of steel, cane, leather and cloth come to life in front of my eyes.
I am going to be a hot mess.
EMERALD CITY COMIC CON!! Anticipate a “place-holder” post, with a full wrap-up the week after with tons of pics!
Hi, ya’ll! I’m sorry I’ve been largely absent and , to be frank, I don’t have a good reason for it. Call it writer’s block, poor time-management or just plain laziness, I’ve got nothing to blame but myself for not keeping to my previously tidy schedule.
Therefore, I made a decision this week. Beginning right….NOW… I’m re-committing to my blog-a-week Friday deadline. I may post more frequently than once a week, but I will definitely not post less.
2013 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for yours truly – starting tomorrow night with my tickets to see Chris Hardwick perform live here in Tacoma, WA. I am super excited about this event and cannot wait to fill you in on the details next week.
In February I hope to attend a performance of Warhorse, the award-winning stage play utilizing AMAZING full-size puppets of horses. Those of you familiar with me and this site know that I’m a bit obsessed with puppetry in all its forms and I have been chomping at the bit (pun intended) to see this show since I first heard about its workshop beginnings at the Nat’l Theatre in London, UK. Fingers-crossed I can score tix!
March will bring the return of me returning to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle and let me tell ya, the media list this year is bonkers it’s so good – more on that as the date approaches….
April showers will bring both Mayflowers and Weird Al Yankovic to my neck of the woods. Plans so far are to attend this concert for his Al-pocalypse album. I will also be taking hi-decibel ear plugs because I know from experience that his concerts are the LOUDEST ever. Having been a rock show lighting tech for Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, I know from loud and Weird Al is ludicrous-loud and proud of it.
May doesn’t have anything on the schedule so far, but it’s still early yet.
June takes me back to the Oregon Shakespeare festival to see my best friend return to the boards, this time as Hermia in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Stoked. So stoked.
Speaking of Shakespeare – in July I will be working with quiet Productions out of Seattle as Assistant Director on their production of The Merchant ofVenice. quiet is the company that produced the production of Pippin I appeared in at the end of 2012. Merchant… will open in Seattle in August.
Also happening in August – PAX Prime!!! Hell, yeah, I’m going and, hell, yeah, it’s going to ROCK.
September will be spent in preparation for Halloween. I’m planning on building a new effect for my display this year and I will do my best to document the process from design to completion here on the blog.
October brings Halloween (of course), but prior to the holiday is GeekGirlCon in Seattle. Plans are to attend, we’ll see how things line up as the date approaches.
November takes me to Las Vegas (my old hometown) for LDI, the annual entertainment technology show.
December doesn’t have any “special events” planned beyond the standard holiday stuff – but we’ll see what the season brings.
So as you can I see I have quite the busy year a head of me – which means plenty of fodder for the ol’ blog. I hope you have fun following me on my many adventures.
Also, don’t forget, I’m still collecting proof that I DO EXIST! Send me your testimonial photo and I’ll add it to the GALLERY!
OK, 2013, let’s do this!!
Just in time for the end of the world – I’m BACK!!
Instead of a wrap-up of the year’s events in the life of Jen, I’ve decided to list a few of my favorite geeky things so that if you’re still struggling to holiday shop for your favorite geek – or just looking to procrastinate with some fun online distractions – this could serve as your one stop shop (until you move on to the next geeky blog).
First of all – THINGS!!
I LOVE to play games. Tabletop games to be precise. Here are some of my favorites:
Cards Against Humanity. (this is a very adult game that is very wrong and very awesome… and – if you want to print it out yourself – it’s free!!)
Dixit (I LOOOOOOVE this game!! Just sayin’)
Moving on… other things I really enjoy – Books!:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (technically YA, but it starts with the gruesome murder of a boy’s family from the POV of the murderer… so that’s pretty intense for a teen book…).
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Dropped Names by Frank Langella (Contains some sexual reminiscences bordering on TMI from a guy almost old enough to be my grandfather…but still a FASCINATING read).
Next up are excellent time-wasters:
And finally some of my favorite things that cannot be found on the internet…
My amazingly patient and loving wife, Jen (yes, we have the same first name… we’ve been over this).
My hugely talented and adorable godson, Jesse.
My parents. (My Dad can be found on the web HERE)
This piece of fudge (om nom….)
My cats – Brighid, Freya, Chloe and Gillian.
My dog – Erin.
I’ve got plenty more, but I’d better save them for future posts, otherwise I’ll run out of things to write about.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!! Hope yours is awesome and full of wonderful geeky things!