SacAnime isn’t the first convention to go forward during the pandemic, but shutting down a vaccine site is certainly on another level.
Back in December, Anime Dallas set the tone for how fandom would react when a convention goes against logical public health precautions and goes forward anyway, and it wasn’t pretty. Many fans have now sworn off this convention, and any convention these same people happen to put on. Many have also sworn off the artists and vendors, which is unfortunate for a group of people who often already struggle to make ends meet, but it’s not entirely unexpected. So we can expect the backlash against SacAnime to be similar, but the vaccine-site shutdown issue is making the pushback blow up even beyond our normal fandom spaces. It’s impacting the wider community, and it’s not a good look.
The convention director, Alex Arevalos. defended himself and the decision to go forward with the convention to a local news station:
We’re not actually doing a full convention, this is just a swap meet, so we’re going to be having mainly vendors, exhibitors, there’s going to be no in-person panels, there is going to be no in-person meetings,” said Alex Arevalos, SacAnime communication director. “We’re also going to be at 25% capacity, we just want people to be able to go out and enjoy themselves a little bit.”
Arevalos says they recognize the imperfect timing and place of this convention but are going to make the most of it in the safest way possible.
“We actually suggested that we could not use the area used for vaccinations. We spoke about the possibility of keeping it open all the way until Friday because they are only open Monday through Friday, but this is out of our hands.”
In the same local news piece, many of the locals expressed their opposition to the event rather firmly.
“I think probably this facility could be better used for the vaccinations. I think that is more important right now than an anime convention,” Pashmineh Azar said.
“I understand we all want to get out and do things again and feel like we’re back to normal but think we need to take steps to push everybody through,” Tina said.
Like Anime Dallas, the SacAnime brand is going to have the dark cloud of this decision hanging over them for a while. It’s hard to say just how long it’ll be a toxic brand, but I’m certainly making mental note of the cons that are choosing to go forward. For the locals, I suspect it’ll cause sour feelings for many years to come. Worse yet, it’ll probably spill over onto all anime cons, regardless of name, so, you know, thanks for that SacAnime. The toxicity by association is not appreciated.
Still, for some, this may be their only local con of note, or their favorite con given the local options, so they’ll push past whatever bad feelings this decision gave them. It’s a hard choice to make, honestly, so I don’t fault people who have mixed feelings about it. The Spring convention season got hit twice by the pandemic, so perhaps having more sympathy for them isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I just can’t do that yet. But you do you.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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