My Observations: COVID-19’s impact on crowded fun-oriented events should be taken seriously

For the past few weeks, the coronavirus disease COVID-19 halted much of the world’s societies and economies compelling families to stay at home as the authorities struggle to prevent infections from spreading.

Community quarantine and regional lockdown have been implemented which strongly limited people from traveling around and also negatively affected truck deliveries which really hurt manufacturing and other key economic sectors like food production (and the businesses that sell food), retailing and more.

Unsurprisingly, special events that attract a lot of people as attendees have been postponed or cancelled. In the city of Parañaque here in the Philippines, the planned 2020 cityhood anniversary celebration had to be scaled down dramatically because of COVID-19-related fear. The said celebration’s most popular events such as the Bb. Parañaque beauty pageant and the Sunduan Festival could not be organized and as of this writing, no new dates for organizing such events have been announced. Under the current quarantine procedures, mass gatherings have been prohibited.

That being said, it would be best to forget about crowded fun events for the short term and just focus on being safe at home, managing your precious funds and maintaining faith in the Lord (note: study the Holy Bible and pray in tongues to Him).

Speaking of fun events, Comic Book Resources (CBR.com) published a new article that caught my attention titled Coronavirus Could Be the Beginning of the End for Super Conventions. It caught my attention because I myself had attended several pop culture events, including the gigantic Comic-Con International in San Diego, California (AKA San Diego Comic-Con).

Let’s focus on this excerpt from Comic Book Resources:

Comic conventions long have been an integral part of fan communities. Before comic-book movies and TV shows were a multibillion-dollar enterprise, fans looked forward to these annual gatherings as a chance to be surrounded by people who shared their interests. They (were) a sacred place where fans could collectively celebrate something they were really passionate about.

And they were fun. Really fun. Fans from across the country would make the pilgrimage to get up close and personal with the writers and artists they idolized. It was a dream come true for members of what was then a tight-knit community.

Over the years, that’s all changed. The conventions that were so beloved by a small group of people have ballooned into massive undertakings, drawing thousands of people from all over the world. They’re not so much fan-driven conventions anymore as much as they are trade shows for the entertainment industry.

That’s not to say these super conventions aren’t fun in their own right; they absolutely are. They offer fans a chance to witness major announcements, take part in Q&A’s with their favorite stars and celebrate pop culture on an unprecedented level. They’ve become an annual staple for the promotion of the latest film and television franchise projects, and big names continuously turn up.

Now, however, with the justifiable closure of these conventions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s unclear how much we really need these super conventions.

To put things in perspective, any convention that is focused on fun would not be possible without the strong interest of multiple fans or enthusiasts who are not only willing to make time to attend such an event but also bring a good amount of money with them and spend on their respective interests.

The San Diego Comic-Con in California, the New York Comic Con in New York, and the AsiaPop Comicon here in the Philippines all require paying a fee (for the ticket or badge) in order to enter the venue which has most entertainment events and booths that fans can go to.

When it comes to special activities, private screenings of trailers of upcoming blockbuster movies occasionally get organized as well as Q&A panel sessions with entertainers or industry professionals, press conferences and more.

However, we are now living in the age of social media, wide access to the Internet and smartphones which enable users to take pictures or videos in high-definition and upload them for people to see online. Think about it carefully.

What good is a closed-door press conference with celebrities when a fan in attendance can capture everything on video and beat the bloggers and members of the press by releasing content on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

What good is a private screening (which restricts attendees from taking footage) of a trailer or a short scene from a highly anticipated blockbuster movie when such content will only be released by the movie studio on YouTube, Facebook and other sites where Internet users can watch for free at the comfort of their homes?

What good is a fan convention if attendees post pictures/videos of embarrassing moments (example: someone throws a pie on the face of a movie star in front of the fans) online within minutes and become viral?

What good is buying classic comic books at the comic convention when the comic publishers themselves failed to wipe out the widespread online piracy (note: entire issues of comic books in digital form) of their comics which people can find and read for free?

One key point here is that fan conventions and other fun-oriented events that attract a lot of people are slowly losing their relevance. Convention organizers will have to come up with ways not only to stay relevant, not only to ensure exclusive stuff in their event is truly exclusive, but also innovate and raise the convention’s overall quality.

Going back to COVID-19, it is clear that the said virus is highly infectious and this alone defeats the purpose of organizing a huge event for as long as the risk of infection remains. As of this writing, local authorities are struggling to clean and disinfect places. Killing the virus is a costly and time-consuming affair.

Recently, the 2020 edition of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) had to be canceled due to COVID-19 which was a huge blow to many video game and technology companies that had signed up for the event. Microsoft, which was supposed to showcase their upcoming Xbox Series X console at E3, promptly announced it will organize a digital event instead.

Think about those words: digital events. Digital events can be done by companies to make a special presentation of their products or services in the form of a lengthy and detailed pre-recorded video or by organizing privately their showcase event (held in a venue that the company has all to itself) live via livestreaming. With the access of the Internet and the massive reach that social media provides, digital events can make fan conventions even more unnecessary. Digital events are also very useful for companies because they not only have complete privacy but also a lot more control in terms of creativity as well as amount of information to be released. This also spares companies from the hassles of crowd control as well as rampant questioning from members of the news media.

Together, COVID-19, wide Internet access and social media are factors that make organizing crowded fun-oriented showcase events more challenging than ever before. Why bother attending a local beauty pageant live in Parañaque City when viral infection, live-streaming and even crime incidents could happen?

Even after the end of this COVID-19 crisis, the community quarantine and regional lockdown, I foresee that it will take a lot more time before life really goes back to normal.

By then, I don’t think enthusiasm for crowded fun-oriented events would be restored to high levels immediately. Sports events, in my opinion, have a better chance of resuming given the nature of sports competition which remains very important with Filipinos. Other events like food fairs and shopping bazaars are more important to people in the local communities than beauty pageants or fan conventions. What people clearly want once this current crisis is over is worshiping the Lord together at church on Sundays.

Attending church is more essential than a crowded beauty pageant or a fan convention. There is no doubt about that!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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