This past Monday, YaoiCon announced that Vice Media would be sending a film crew to create a webisode about American conventions. After a flood of negative feedback, Vice Media has decided not to attend the event in Santa Clara, California.
An Important Announcement from Vice Regarding Filming at Yaoi Con pic.twitter.com/L0elI9a9hW
— Yaoicon (@yaoicon) October 4, 2017
Many fans and attendees were concerned about their privacy rights and the fact the announcement was made four days before the convention. Fans pointed out that YaoiCon has a strict photo and filming policy, which requires prior permission and consent of the person being filmed.
At the time of the announcement, YaoiCon said that concerned attendees could opt-out of Vice’s episode or try to avoid the cameras. This tidbit was met with immense criticism since opting-out of a video can be challenging.
This is way too last minute and incredibly disrespectful; saying "Just avoid the cameras" is not protecting the ppl attending. pic.twitter.com/StzMox61ma
— ginger@merch hell🍒 (@KomunHorangi) October 4, 2017
Also it's Vice. Something tells me they may just exploit how something like yaoi is bizarre and gross…
— Heather Jochens (@heatherjochens) October 4, 2017
I'm reconsidering attending to Yaoicon. It was such a last minute announcement and I can not accept it. @yaoicon
— Gearous (@GEAROUS) October 4, 2017
— scooby cu (@emiyannn) October 4, 2017
Yaoicon has since apologized and fans spread the word that the Vice filming was canceled. The convention started on October 6th and seems to be running as usual with a broad mix of art, cosplay, merch, and excited fans.
An Apology from DMI pic.twitter.com/A6imbqHYXV
— Yaoicon (@yaoicon) October 5, 2017
VICE IS OUT OF YAOICON
I REPEAT: VICE IS OUT OF YAOICON
— big online fandoms (@silencedrowns) October 4, 2017
Haul from Yaoicon. At this rate I might as well just make a Shukita itabag :')))) send help. Also I can't believe I found Saiyuki… pic.twitter.com/wDXKVske0L
— sain 🎃 spookita (@Insanityfallsup) October 7, 2017
— 🥀VamptressMugen💀🥀 (@MugenYoruichi) October 7, 2017
— Fox Estacado (@FoxEstacado) October 6, 2017
— ✨Ria✨@ YAOICON#30 (@riasaur) October 6, 2017
The yaoi fandom is in an odd place culturally. While homosexuality is more accepted in the mainstream than in the past, it’s not uncommon for fans regardless of their sexuality, to receive homophobic threats. Some might view the US (where Yaoicon is held) as a safe haven for same-sex couples and it’s supporters, there are still signals that it’s not fully accepted. On September 29th, within days of Yaoicon’s Vice filming announcement, the US voted at the UN to not stand out against the death penalty for gay people around the globe.
Besides possible blowback for fans sexual preferences and support, YaoiCon is also an 18+ event, meaning that there is hentai allowed. Depending on your workplace policy, an attendee could be put in an uncomfortable situation with their employers if photographed in relation to the convention. Artists who want to maintain a separate presence from their yaoi work can also face some backlash if their pseudonyms and faces are revealed.
Conventions are becoming more popular, and it’s only natural that a media outlet like Vice would want to explore the topic for mainstream viewers. However, this faux pas has sparked a debate about privacy at conventions. Cameras and streaming devices are becoming ubiquitous, which might spark conventions to rethink their photography and video policies.