Pretty much all of Comicon was awesome. However, there was one thing that was decidedly not awesome, and though I had initially decided not to talk about it in public, it's bothered me since it happened, so I wrote about it on G+ earlier today.
I'm cross posting it here, though, because it's important to me:
On the way out of the Syfy party on Saturday night, a pretty horrible thing happened. I wasn't going to talk about it in public, but I can't stop thinking about it, and I think this needs to be said.
When I was a Teen Idol*, and I traveled to New York for publicity all the time, it was fairly common for a handful of super weird people to hang out all day in front of my hotel, or in the lobby of my hotel, so they could pounce on me whenever I tried to enter or leave, and demand as many autographs as they could. It was really creepy and awful, and I always hated it. It was more than a little scary. I mean, who in the world spends an entire day sitting in one place waiting for someone? Oh, I know: crazy people.
So, crazy people, pay attention: If you camp out in front of my hotel while I am on location or visiting a city, if you camp out in front of a party I'm attending … basically, if you camp out anywhere so you can shove a stack of 8x10s into my face when I'm trying to enter or leave a location, I'm not going to sign them, and I'm not going to be nice about it.
I refuse to reward or validate that kind of behavior, and I'm done being polite about it.
When we walked out of the SyFy party on Saturday night, a pack of people — probably 12 or 15, I'd guess — appeared out of nowhere, and surrounded me. They shoved pictures into my face, thrust pens at me, and made it so that I couldn't even move. They separated me from my friends and my son, and, quite frankly, terrified me.
Let's stop for a second and think about this: in what kind of world is it acceptable to surround a person you do not know, separate them from the people they are with, and essentially trap them? Maybe in crazy entitled psycho world, but not the world I live in.
I tried to scrawl my signature on a couple of things, just so some of those people would move and let me keep on walking, but whenever someone took something away, something new immediately took its place. Somehow, +Felicia Day saved me. She reached through the mob, grabbed my hand, and said, "Sorry, we have to go meet some of our friends," before the literally pulled me away, to safety.
This is when the mob lost its shit. They yelled at me like I had done something wrong. They called me names, and they booed at me. (Seriously). A woman stormed up next to me and said, "If you don't sign these things for me, I'm going to tell Twitter what an asshole you really are."
I don't respond well to threats like that. Though my instinct was to explode at her, I took a deep breath, looked her square in the eye, turned on my dad voice, and said, "Really? Are you serious? We're done here." I quickened my pace, and for the next two blocks she followed us, screaming and ranting and raving about how she'd waited there for hours, driven all the way from someplace far, and that I basically owed her as a result of her choice. I eventually tuned her out, and I guess she went back to the Syfy party to harass whoever else came out next.
The whole thing was really scary, made me feel like a sideshow freak, and made me really, really angry. I was just trying to walk out of a hotel and go meet up with my friends. I didn't do anything wrong, and I'm not going to apologize forgetting upset about it.
This is important: I realize that just about anyone reading this on my blog isn't one of Those Guys. Please don't think the "you" here refers to, you know, you.
This is also important: When your motto is "don't be a dick," a certain kind of person is vigilantly looking for moments like this when you can be accused of violating your own motto, thereby proving to the entire world that you are, in fact, a giant lying pile of shit. I'm fairly certain that reasonable people can see who the dick was in this situation, and hopefully agree that it was not me. For everyone else: go fuck yourself.**
In Dancing Barefoot, I wrote about signing autographs at conventions:
Over the years, I've learned something from this experience: it's never about the signature. It's about that brief moment, that brief encounter with a Star Trek cast member, that is so important to the fans. That 30 seconds or so of hopefully undivided attention is what they're really paying for, and I always do my best to make sure they get their money's worth. Contrary to popular belief, sitting at a table signing hundreds of autographs for several hours without a break is hard. It's not just mindlessly scrawling my name; It's stopping and listening to the always excited, sometimes shaking, always sweating, sometimes scary dude who wants to know exactly why I did “X” on episode “Y” and would I please sign his picture in silver, because Marina signed it in gold and now he wants the men in silver and the women in gold, and I hated your character and here are 25 reasons why and I expect an answer for each one of them and I'm not leaving until I'm satisfied.
The crazy people who camp out don't care about that brief moment, that brief encounter. The crazy people only care about taking a piece of $Celebrity.person and possibly selling it, or hording it, or … you know, I don't even want to think about where that path leads.But that's why they behave the way they do. It isn't about our work, or about saying "thank you" or "high-five!" or anything about that. It's about entitlement and being crazy, and I will not validate or condone that kind of behavior ever again.
I realize that a crazy person who thinks it's entirely normal and not psycho to camp out in front of a hotel for hours and hours so they can trap a person isn't going to understand why I will not validate that behavior, but I need to make this clear for the future: I'm a person. I am a human being and if you cut me I will bleed. I'm happy to sign things and take pictures with people in appropriate situations, but if some dude violates my personal space or freaks me out, and then gets mad at me when I try to get away from him, I'm not going to do anything beyond telling that person to go fuck himself, and I'm not going to feel bad about it. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, I am not your bitch.
Finally: In before the inevitable "you're an actor and you chose this so you deserve what you get so suck it up because my life harder than yours because blah blah blah" comment (probably not here, but definitely at G+.)
**See? I don't even feel bad. (Well, maybe a little bit. I need to work harder on it, I suppose.)
326 thoughts on “if you cut me, i will bleed”
Okay, so, I generally lurk and never comment, but I wanted to pipe in and add to the general chorus of “this is why we can’t have nice things, and sorry you had to deal with that.”
My wife and I are both very uncomfortable around celebrities (in whatever capacity that word might apply), and that crap is exactly why. Whether we’re meeting authors at a convention or randomly running into people at Disneyland (I’m looking at you, Helena Bonham Carter), our first instinct is to not approach them at all, and let them go about their business, since I wouldn’t want anybody bothering me. Which admittedly sucks sometimes, because if I were to bump into you, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, or a host of other people that I admire, I would really want to take a quick moment to say hello, mention that I think you’re pretty cool, and thank you for working on stuff that I enjoy.
The times that I do work up the courage to do that, people are usually gracious, and I feel totally awesome about it for the rest of the day. But we figure that anybody who has even the slightest amount of name recognition has had to deal with enough nutbar ambushes and overentitled fans that it would be better if we just let them have lunch in peace, or go whereever they’re going, or whatever.
Anyway, *high-five!* to you, and down with spawn-campers.
Oh wait, someone addressed this above. Cool. Maybe I should like…. read things more closely.
P.S. This year was my second w00tstock and it was EVEN MORE AMAZING than last year. Kudos.
Nice post. I am surprised (but not at humanity) that you have not posted this sooner. Maybe you have? I appreciate the work you have done, and the fact that you are still happy (mostly) to interact with fans. public. Keep blogging, and I hope you are able to still meet with “fans” in public. Meeting people IRL is still the best way. Sadly there will always be “those” who ruin it for the most of us.
See, acting like that is my first instinct, because it’s like “me” clocks out and “fangirl” takes over. I try to contain my excitement to a bunch of jumping up and down and incoherent babbling, though.
As for camping out… Geez.
I would, however, be that person that asks for the chance to shake your hand rather than an autograph.
I have refrained from posting on this blog because I just couldn’t find the words to express myself. My level of anger and sadness about this type of behavior (in any setting) is hard to put on paper, so to speak.
If I’m ever around and something like this happens to you, I will help you. That’s a promise. It’s all I can do. I can’t change the world, but I can change a moment, and I will.
That makes me sad. I am such a firm believer in the importance of setting personal boundaries, and those who would continue to push after being told, “No,” are highly aggressive and inappropriate. Regardless of your social or professional status, you are an individual with the right to express when you are uncomfortable and expect those boundaries to be respected. Being assertive shows self-awareness, confidence and self-respect. Well done.
Thank you Wil!
Having spent many years at conventions (going back to Equicon .. hey I’m an old guy) and having been in close proximity to a lot of professional actors,writers and musicians in my career, I am always disappointed in the behavior of certain “fans”.
I’m glad you were honest enough to express your feelings about the incident with your readers and warn the unwary.
Not that they’ll listen, but …
You, sir, are not a dick by any means. You are a class act.
You did exactly the right thing. If you give in to people who do not respect you when you say “no,” they’ll run right over you. No one has the right to do that. I don’t care if you’re a celebrity or not. ” Appeasement didn’t work with Hitler and it doesn’t work with narcissistic wackos whose behavior constitutes a sick combination of jealousy, intimidation and misplaced feelings of entitlement. As someone who has a hard time saying “no” because I often want to appease people by being nice, I can only say, “Good on ya, mate!
Brilliant! Love it. Thank you.
I’m so sorry you had to go through that. You were seriously WAY too nice. I will never understand what a crowd of rabid fans could possibly get out of scaring the shit out of someone they supposedly admire. I watched a really disturbing youtube video of Zachary Quinto being accosted while trying to walk home at night. There were numerous folks in the crowd with cell phones taking pictures of this mob that at one point had him pinned against a car. WTH!! I kept waiting for someone to call the police on his behalf because if that was happening to anyone else it would be considered assault. It makes me sick. I am a huge fan and would relish the chance to meet you, however if you are “off the clock” (not at a convention or other public forum) I couldn’t bring myself to pester you. I think most reasonable people would agree. I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t be giggling to whomever I was with if I did recognize you though! 😉
I am a bit late here, but thank you for telling us about this experience. I am glad that it confirms what I have always thought about the ‘celebrity experience’. I hope you don’t mind me telling you now what these things look like from my (the fan) side?
I have only attended one con so far (FedCon this year), but I am a frequent concert attendee, and I love the thrill of having a quick chat with the band afterwards, if I can. However, I always respect bandmember’s space and possible lack of interest in me, which means I sometimes lose out on my chance because other people are much, much pushier. This saddens me, but is unavoidable.
Sometimes, however, my politeness is rewarded. Last year I saw a musician who came out after the gig and was immediately overwhelmed by 50+ fans, almost all girls, who wanted photos and signatures. He’s very nice, so he gave it to them, which took at least 45 minutes. I watched from some distance. As I had met him twice before, I could tell he was extremely uncomfortable, literally being backed into a corner.
Then, when the girls were all satisfied and most had left, I was still there, at a couple yards distance. As he looked at me, I smiled and waved, feeling he might need some space to breathe after all that. However, he walked up to me and gave me a quick hug. Booyah!
And that’s how the shy, awkward girl finally, after 20 years, triumphed over the long-haired, popular girls!
I can only imagine how hard that has to suck. I admire your restraint. My writing might get me a fair amount of attention some day, but I WILL have a taser warning on my nametag if it gets to that point.
I’d say you’re obligated to reasonable requests **if you choose to attend conventions** like saying hello or stopping for a second or two, and that you’re a dick if you charge fans for autographs…not because you’re famous, but because you knew what a convention was for when you agreed to go.
Camping outside waiting to mob your ass, though…cutting you off from your kid and climbing you for an damned autograph..? Hell, it’s not like they’re even doing it to see YOU, because they damned sure aren’t going to get any sort of personal interaction from that sort of encounter. Fuck all of them.
Finally, am I the only one that wants to see a “Wheaton’s Vicious Cockpunch of Furious Anger” comic or shirt?
I feel for you. I have a friend who is a successful author in a genre that seems to generate creepy stalker types (she was at SDCC as well, actually!) so I try, when we are hanging out, to be mindful of those type of folks, especially as my friend doesn’t have a very good stalker radar, she just thinks everyone is very nice!
So, if you ever need someone to watch your six, in a non-stalker/non-creepy way, let me know. We can even have a beer, although you can have the dark beer and I will have a hefe. Sorry, it’s just the way I roll.
(Did you see that at Worldcon this year, they are having “Literary Beers” in addition to the “Kaffeklatches”? Yes!
Geez, people can be so stupid sometimes.
Sorry you went through this, Wil.=/
A bit of a late response, but I’m sorry that there are folks like this hanging out at SDCC. I know that SDCC weekend is an entertainment overload where fans get to interact with people they admire, but people do need reminders of how to act with decency. Glad you were able to stand up for yourself, that Felicia was around to help you out, and that you got out of that situation without physical injury.
On a positive note, Diana and I are happy we got to see you at w00tstock. We’re always glad when you remember us. 🙂
Coming in at the end of a bunch of good, really insightful comments from readers who “get it.” I’m another fan who would give you your space and simply wave hi. Although, I DID wait in an insanely long line in Boston just for the chance to meet you and thank you for your writing. You were so worried about not having many people show up for your showing there, I couldn’t NOT go, right? I knew we’d come through for you, and we did.
And, I have to admit, I wasn’t so much interested in the autograph as I was to take that chance to connect with a fellow writer, whose work I enjoy and say “Thanks — you do good work!”
I’ve seen this dickish behavior you describe at Cons (I often give science talks at StarFest in Denver), and it really makes me cringe when I see a celebrity treated as a mental fuck toy by some of the more entitled-feeling and clueless fans. I mean, come on — standing there and playing pocket pool with yourself practically in front of a female celebrity? Creepy as all get-out.
Last month I was at the Kennedy Space Center filming the last shuttle launch evar. As it happens, Seth Green and Clare Grant were there and in the press area (I was accredited as a newsie). We’d met at the Endeavour launch (which scrubbed) the previous month, and I had a great, long conversation with Claire while we waited for a pre-launch event to happen.
Seth was running around energetically taking pics and being space fanboy, (Claire is a space fan, too), and I thought that was totally great. Anyway, at the Atlantis launch, we ran into each other again, and no sooner than we had begun to exchange “Hey, how ya doin?” greetings, than a group of squealing fan girls ran up and circled Seth (what they were doing in the press room, which was supposed to be accessible to accredited press only), was beyond me. But, he handled it really well and I admired his grace in giving them a little something, but not giving in completely. They didn’t mob him the way you were mobbed by those cretins with issues, but I could see where experiences like his and yours could cause a celeb to want to travel with big backup. 😉
Anyway, good on ya for standing up to the toD’sah douchebags who mobbed you and your son. Such behavior should not be encouraged, evar!
Stay happy and thanks again for all you do.
I just wanted to let you know, that I honestly appreciate you sitting at a table and taking a picture with me and signing my PAX East pass. You did take care of me for those 30 seconds. I didn’t ask X I just told you how great of an actor and speaker you are. But- working in the radio industry I was able to have lots of time with famous-ish people who aren’t going anywhere and are going to sit in their seat if they sign something or not and they sign, but don’t really listen. I appreciate what you do and I’m sorry there are crazies out there.
Entitlement is never pretty. I’m so sorry this happened to you.
Wil, I am horrified that this happened to *anyone.* If that had been me, I’d have panicked and fought my way free, hurting people in the process.
I admire you for not hurting anyone. Can you ask convention security to keep an eye on you in the future?
You’re an actor, you signed up… to act. Not to be attacked. I’m horrified and embarrassed on behalf of all the real fans. I have been one of those terrified fans in line waiting for just a moment, although mine was for Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. I also passed Michael Rosenbaum on the street at DragonCon and he clearly wanted to be left alone with his coffee, so I just went back to my hotel and posted that I had seen him. Although I’ll be honest and say that I wouldn’t have known what to say even if I’d wanted to bug him. I’m pretty socially awkward.
I have also seen that ugly sense of entitlement even among “real” fans. You clearly understand that not all fans are like that, and I’m just so sorry. It’s inexcusable in any circumstance, but the fact that your son was there too just makes my skin crawl.
Gah! & UGH! The batshitcrazyeyes is never fun, but zerging you then chasing you down the street? That’s restraining order time.
We have a few meatspace friends in common – based on how well I know them, I take it as a given that you’re not a dick. Any batshitcrazyeyes or other are free to disagree, but not to assault you. Geez.
*came across this via google*
I liked reading your Trek reviews, in spite or because of the frequent Frat Boy narratives, which I’ve always found okay from some (for example, SeanBaby), but not some others (for example, John McCain, who was once arrested for verbal sexual harassment when he was younger). I think it’s because I get the vibe that you are like, one of the girls, KINDA at least, in that you have had some experience that are usually reserved to girls.
Like being irl harassed by people who feel they are entitled to returns for their creepy obsessions. Srsly people, you don’t ask strippers to dance outside of the club and you definitely don’t stalk actors outside of their work either! Actors are awesome people who help create the fantasies of /characters/ we can like, I can never understand the irl obsession thing.
That’s like telling a girl after she had been sexually harassed, “that while sexual harassment is bad, at least it means you are starting to look pretty”!
I remember being in fandoms that was just toxic (Torchwood!), and then in one where everyone is just so gosh darn nice, which I won’t be naming. Surely it is also possible to be popular without the crazies! Or at least not this many crazy. Or at least /for the crazy not to be accepted as acceptable norm/.
Hey, I never said that it was good and/or right, just that it was an indicator. 😉
Hey Wil, were they so close when they surrounded you that they could say, “Wil Wheaton, I AM IN YOU!” 😉
“Fanatic” fandom has always baffled me. It seems odd to attach any part of your life or happiness to another person that you a) don’t know and b) is playing a role that isn’t themselves. Camping out to meet that person…. Yes, crazy is the word.
As someone that does enjoy creativity and talent, I do like autograph sessions and photo ops – at the appropriate time and place. Plus, I respect that people are working and need to get paid while working and left alone when not. Personally, the autograph/photo is really my way of expressing that I appreciate the work the person does and want to create a personal biography of some I meet. Not to be rude, but I also am self-centered about it. It’s a photo of the celeb with me, not the other way around. After all, I highly doubt that my photo is going in their collection! 🙂 It would freak me out a little if it did actually.
Your BLOG post makes sense and I can only imagine the frustration of being stalked. Personally, if a crowd separated me from my son – there would be punches to faces. As someone that does respect your acting choices and talents, it’s embarrassing to think that an element, no matter how small, of fellow fans are being @ssholes. They are objectifying you – which sucks.
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