I’ve been going to a convention called Penguicon for several years, first as just a visitor and later doing deliveries for ACME. The idea of the ACME Delivery is to give the recipient an item that will be appreciated or amusing, in a way that isn’t a nasty jab at the recipient. The person getting the delivery is the ‘star’ – I am not.
In recent years, it’s gotten harder to figure out what to give to whom. At first it was fairly easy. I could skim the web site’s list of guests of honor and figure something out for at least a few of them. Or someone knew someone and they had an idea I could make work. This year? I haven’t a clue.
It could be that it’s just an “off year” for me or Penguicon and if it hadn’t been for the last few years I’d consider that. But a tale of the George Burns (and Gracie Allen) radio show comes to mind. Some episodes got ratings better than others, and some ratings jitter was expected – but eventually there was a downward trend. Not jitter, but a trend. That was a problem – and they addressed it (they realized the characters of George and Gracie on the show were still acting like newlyweds despite years together and disbelief wasn’t being suspended.. so they ‘wrote older’ and the ratings went back up). This looks more like a trend than jitter to me.
Part is that I now find myself worrying more about how people will take what should obviously be a joke – and I do try to make sure it is one the recipient will find amusing. It might be the rise of the so-called Social Justice Warrior, a person who seems to take offense at anything if it fails to absolutely conform to the world view or cause du jour. It’s possible it’s something else, but after last year when it felt like there was more virtue signalling than solid content, it seems the likely explanation.
Perhaps this really is just an “off year” or things haven’t gone off the rails, but it would also not surprise me if after this year I felt no desire to go again next year. If it’s not fun anymore (and SJW’s are all too effective at sucking fun out of things), why waste my time and effort? It’s a bit surprising I’m going this year. I’d have already bailed except $HOUSEMATE is slightly more hopeful than I am in this case (also, was at every Penguicon ever, so far) and decided to give things one more chance. If Penguicon “embraces diversity” (far I as can tell, it has since it started, without any need to make a big show of it – the best example is a lived example, not a sermon or billboard) except for diversity of ideas – then it has utterly and completely failed. I do not expect to fly the plane – nor do I care to, but if I can see a crash coming that I cannot prevent, I see no reason to remain aboard with a perfectly good unused parachute either.
ACME Delivery… but what to give to who, without tripping on the seeming ever-increasing invisible cultural mines? The fun seems to be sucked right out of it all. Sure, there will be some room parties, and a some folks I know, and perhaps even a couple panels of interest. Yet… I don’t have even a single delivery idea yet and it’s only a few weeks away now.