Con.Txt 2021, a virtual convention held over the weekend of June 25-27, provided great discussions in its celebration of fandom.
With some uncertainty regarding the return to the convention scene during the continued pandemic, Con.Txt 2021, held over the weekend of June 25-27, provided a virtual experience that was both a celebration of fandom and a discussion about the future of it. Con.Txt is a fan-run convention that was founded in 2006 and is typically held biennially in the Washington, DC area. In 2020, the convention was hosted virtually due to the pandemic and the organizers made the decision to organize another virtual convention in 2021.
The convention attracted fans both local to the Washington, DC area and from elsewhere, most of whom spend their time in multiple fandoms. A wide range of fandoms were mentioned throughout the weekend, both well-known and obscure. It wasn’t hard to find someone to discuss a particular fandom with and recommendations of smaller fandoms were posted in a dedicated channel on the convention’s Discord server.
Con.Txt hosted its convention using a combination of Discord, Zoom, and a fan-created convention hosting platform called Conline. The virtual experience was relatively seamless throughout the weekend. The Discord server was a valuable tool that added the most to the experience, allowing attendees to chat throughout the weekend, post about their favorite fandoms, and deepen discussions happening in the Zoom-hosted panels. Conline also worked well as a hosting platform and will be used to host other virtual fan conventions in the near future.
Friday’s programming was lighter than the rest of the weekend, focused more on introductions than discussions. An AO3 scavenger hunt grouped participants into teams and had them scour AO3 for answers to clues. A fan bingo allowed participants to get to know each other as they searched for other attendees with certain experiences in order to fill out their respective cards. Small Fandom Speed Dating, a game show set up like the Dating Game allowed attendees to pitch their smaller fandoms to other attendees looking for a new fandom, was both entertaining and informative.
Saturday and Sunday featured a combination of meta and single-fandom panels. Star Wars, Star Trek, Leverage, the women of The Expanse, Chinese Web Novels, and Shan He Ling (Word of Honor) received individual panels, where fans could discuss the respective aspects of the media and the exciting potential of the continuing expansion of larger franchises such as Star Wars and Star Trek.
Some of the meta panels were devoted to popular fan fiction tropes such as forced intimacy and enemies to lovers. Other panels were devoted to discussing the challenges of worldbuilding in fan fiction, tips on writing alternate universe fan fiction featuring canonically cisgender characters as transgender, and analyzing magic systems in various canons and fan fictions. In addition to questions and comments that helped deepen the discussion of each panel, attendees could also post fan fiction recommendations in each panel’s Discord channel as well as other resources to expand discussions.
Saturday night ended with a three-hour long vid show with two intermissions in between. The show featured nearly twenty premieres and featured a wide variety of fandoms throughout the course of the show. In addition, three curated vid shows were hosted throughout the weekend, highlighting Trans and Non-binary characters, upbeat vids, and vids that combined the music of one fandom with the visuals of another in a comedic fashion. The vid shows were well put together and were highlights of the weekend.
Throughout the weekend, it was great to see an effort to highlight inclusivity and discuss representation in fandoms. The convention strongly encouraged all attendees to put their pronouns on all of their convention handles in addition to the Trans AU panel and the Trans and Non-binary vid show. While there wasn’t as much discussion about racial diversity, there were some necessary discussions about the depictions of police and the military in media and how those discussions have shifted in the past few years. A particular panel discussing the rebooting of ’90s fandoms for a modern audience called for more diversity and textual queer representation in the inevitable reboots.
To my knowledge, the convention seemed to run smoothly with little issues. The organizers created a fun experience over the weekend that had something for everyone. While many of the panels didn’t break new ground, it was still exciting to be able to fangirl and discuss familiar topics with like-minded fans. In addition, discussions about representation in the past, present, and future demonstrated the continued evolving nature of media and fandom.
Con.Txt has announced that they hope to host another in-person convention in 2022. They are currently looking for a new hotel in the Washington, DC area after their previous one was closed and demolished. Many attendees also used the Discord to promote other upcoming virtual conventions that will likely provide similarly fun experiences for fans of multiple fandoms. As conventions begin to return to in-person events, it’s comforting to know that there is also a space for virtual events that celebrate fandom and connect fans regardless of geographical location.
Author: Jessica Wolff
Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.
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