Jesus Christ people, I've written meaner things about big-name drag queens and had fewer flames aimed in my direction, so let me clarify a couple things that are getting buried in my responses to comments.
Further Confusion is a huge event, with some 3000 people attending this year. By the measure of scale alone it's a big deal to pull off, and you have to give people serious credit for that. Many people, including my friend Neonbunny, worked very hard over several months to make this thing happen, and I can definitely say that he in particular did as professional a job as you can given the circumstances - the sound in the main room, for example, was the best it's ever been, and at least this year they didn't keep blowing the electrical circuits.
But when it comes down to the behavior of many individuals at that event, that's where the amateurish aspect of things come into play - or, to use a term I had avoided because it seems far more perjorative, the immaturity. For me, the prime example of this is the incident on Friday night when a kid smashed a DJ's laptop because the DJ wouldn't (or couldn't) play a request he made. I also saw a lot of this immaturity on display in the ways in which people were interacting with each other, and the way they were dealing with themselves. Finally, on Saturday night I saw a lot of kids doing stuff they just couldn't handle, and it bothered me to think about what the consequences of that might be.
I didn't like the way the organizers reacted to the Friday night incident because I thought it was rewarding bad behavior - it said if you act out, we'll substantially change what we're doing to accomodate the possibility of others acting out, which means the whole event becomes held hostage to its anti-social elements. I thought that the kid who perpertrated this act should have gotten tossed out in the rain, and let the show go on (for me the point of comparison is how the Burning Man organization reacted to the Paul Addis incident this year). Of course I also was upset that this meant my DJ slot got cancelled, and I was quite vocal about that at the time; a lot of what I was looking forward to in the event itself revolved around getting to play some music. But it also seemed to me that the FC organizers need to do a better job of figuring out how to deal with these sorts of problems, especially as the event grows - when you're bringing together a group of people where you know some of them have these tendencies you need to figure out how you're going to deal with it before it happens. As the event grows, in other words, it also needs to grow up and start thinking about itself more.
I think FC could be a great event if it had a stronger sense of what it was trying to accomplish, and if part of that was bringing people together as members of a community, and getting them to act like members of a community, rather than, as I see it right now, just being a vehicle for certain egos to put themselves on display, followed by a hedonistic throw-down; if it could find some way to bring these things about, then I think it could actually be a positive force in people's lives. I would like to go to FC and feel that I've had a chance to meet and interact with some interesting people, since I'm sure that describes many of the people there; at the moment, though, I feel like there is too much distraction, brought about by much of the behavior that I find problematic, that interferes with my ability to do that. This doesn't mean that I don't think that there shouldn't be dances, or room parties, or even hedonistic throw-downs; I do think, though, that a greater degree of consciousness needs to be brought to the event and its attendees.
And a final word; these are my opinions, and mine alone. My boyfriend is more involved with this world than I am, and has more friends in it than I do. Just because he's my boyfriend doesn't mean we have identical thoughts and ideas. If you have an issue with anything I've written here, take it up with me, not him.
Okay people, I know you're linking in to the previous article (in fact, I can see everyone who's linked to me through my referrals), but I'm hoping at least a few of you will read this and perpetuate it out into the furrysphere. I'm perfectly willing to talk about any of this stuff with anyone in a public forum, but I will not respond to anyone who thinks an adequate response involves an ad hominem attack (which I've seen plenty of so far, thank you). Let's have some reasoned discussions about the event, what's good about it and what's bad, what can be improved and what's okay, rather than judgements about me because I have an opinion that you disagree with.
Addendum: Five Things That Could Be Done to Make FC a Better Experience
1. Cap the Number of Participants
The bigger this thing gets, the more difficult it will be to try and control the way it goes down, as well as provide a positive experience for people. This year was, in my opinion, too big; figure out what the financial requirements of the event are and work from there. Keep it inexpensive enough that people won't be priced out of attending, but also keep in mind that the point is to provide an experience for people, not get bigger and more elaborate.
2. Come Up with and Publish a Set of Actionable Values
This is where FC could take a lesson from Burning Man and their 10 Principles; these help guide people in their interactions with each other, and make it clear what the event is about. They don't have to be the same as the 10 Principles (though I rather like decommodification and Gifting), but they should be something that helps people come together in a community.
3. Create More Social Events that Will Foster Interaction
The dances are great, because they give people an opportunity to interact with one another in a non-structured way; however, they are also a source of controversy, and, honestly, aren't everyone's cup of tea. My suggestion for one night would be a cocktail social (with non-alcoholic drinks too, of course), and another would be a banquet. Have hosts and hostesses at these events who are there to work the crowd and foster interaction among people.
4. Make Con Ops Less Con Cops and More Con Pops
Again, Burning Man provides a great example with the Black Rock Rangers; they aren't there to bust people or get them in trouble, but to serve the community, help out with problems, and deal with negative situations. Part of the problem I've seen at past FCs is that the Con Ops come through a room with their headsets and walk out as long as they don't see anything obviously heinous going on. This makes them seem aloof, and I think people are less likely to go to them when issues come up because there's a perception that it's narcing. Instead, Con Ops should be more like the public safety patrol, and if they see something like a kid getting really fucked up drunk, they should be able to intervene and take them some place to sober up for a while. People should feel that they can go to them for help, or to deal with a situation, without it being like going to the cops.
5. Have Everyone Who is Involved with Organization at the Lead Level Read Hakim Bey's "The Temporary Autonomous Zone"
Here, I'll even give you a link. This was a central text for the Cacaphony Society, who were part of the original Burning Man. I put this out there simply because it provides some philosophical basis for thinking about what an event like this could be; it's provided the basis for my own approach to doing events, and I think it could provide some further fodder for thinking about those values.