The Oakland Post

Midwest Media Expo

Cheyanne Kramer

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Midwest Media Expo, a second year convention hosted at the Renaissance Center, is a spin-off of the popular attraction Youmacon, which happens every November.

However, despite the convention being related to an event that attracts 20,000+ people, Midwest Media Expo was considerably smaller. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad event, though there were things that could be fixed.

The highlight of the weekend was definitely the guests. Popular guests such as Doug Walker from Chanel Awesome and The Living Tombstone attracted lines of guests to see them. Natasha Allegri from Cartoon Hangover attended, and so did an actress from the popular TV show Supernatural. Since there was a small amount of people, attendees could really get to know guests and interact with them on a personal level. I got to meet one of the musical guests in an elevator, and talk about how people didn’t recognize him and asked who he was supposed to be dressed up as.

The convention never felt like a normal convention to me, though. After attending conventions for 5 years, all of varying sizes, I felt like it was trying to be a bigger event than what it was. The longest line I was in was for the rave, and even then I was able to get in line right in the front about 45 minutes before the actual event. The venue was very large, so it always felt sort of empty no matter where you were.

I do think with this convention, the low number of attendees was nice. It was a refreshing experience, because there was none of the typical convention behaviors- no Hetalia cosplayers on parade, no huge mob of 300+ Homestucks taking up hallways, it was pretty nice and was a good change of pace.

Though as a panelist, I think the convention was a bit disappointing. There was no printed schedule, which I think was pretty disappointing. The digital schedule was almost impossible to access on mobile devices, and some events, like Promstuck for example, had the wrong locations listed in the schedule itself. They tried an innovative idea, where the directories inside of the Ren Cen had a list of where the events were, but they were hard to use, and the maps didn’t work quite the right way.

But when I hosted a panel that attracted 300+ people at Shutocon here, and only had about 30 people attend, I was a bit disappointed. It felt like people had no clue panels were happening, and the only people who were really at my panels were the people I told personally they were happening. It gave me a new opportunity to run a different kind of panel, but it was sort of a letdown in comparison to other conventions.

The panel rooms were also pretty hard to find, though this might have had to do with the confusing construction of the Ren Cen. It was hard going up and down escalators and trying to remember what floors had elevator access, and at some points I and the people I was with gave up going to events because we couldn’t find them.

Promstuck was an interesting event though. It was sort of confusing that the convention had two formal balls, the Fantasy Ball and Promstuck, but Promstuck was small and intimate. The space they had was the perfect size for the amount of people there, and the event was pretty much full of energy throughout the event. It did end early, though, which was a bit upsetting, and it was hard communicating when and where the actual event was. But for what it was worth, it was nice, and the addition of the Prom Court was something really unique and something I think I could only find at Midwest Media Expo.

Despite some personal problems at the convention (including a very serious incident which resulted in the need for convention security acting as escorts all day on Sunday), the convention was a totally unique experience.

I don’t know for sure if it was totally worth the $50 three-day badge cost, but the $25 dollar single day badges were hard to beat. If costs remained comparable next year, I would for sure recommend this convention to anyone who wants to see what conventions are like. Smaller and more intimate conventions are perfect for first-time con goers, and I found there was a very strong young teenage audience at the convention this year.

Convention staff was really friendly as well, and were more than willing to help with any issue we came across. I got to know our escort super well, and honestly, he made a terrifying situation many times more bearable and pleasant. Kudos to Midwest for having amazing security staff!

Honestly, I think it was one of the safest cons I’ve been to yet. Even with such a severe incident, we were able to feel secure and safe, and had non-stop help from security. One of our security guards even helped me at Shutocon with my panels, and remembered me. One out of almost 10,000 people he met, and he remembered me and had a conversation with me. I felt like more than a guest at a convention, and more like a long-time friend. It was a nice feeling, and not one I get at cons very often.

Though the convention was a lot smaller than the venue would lead itself to being, I feel like the inexpensive cost of a one-day badge made the convention very appealing, and the friendliness given to me by convention staff made an otherwise terrible situation amazing. The top-tier guests made the convention feel like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

Though problems could be fixed in time, I feel like for a second year convention, it was a great experience and one I would recommend highly. To someone who goes to many conventions though, they may only get a lot of the convention if they go with their friends and make their own fun, so to say. 

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