The fall FanX 2019 is underway at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The first big ballroom appearance was at 2 p.m. featuring John Rhys-Davies of "Indiana Jones" and "Lord of the Rings" fame.
Before he appears in the Grand Ballroom, Rhys-Davies joined others in walking the red carpet in the foyer in front of the ballroom.
The red carpet was new to me and appeared to take the place of the press conferences that FanX had put on in the past.
Things I liked about the red carpet:
- It was a fun change of pace from the press conferences. Sitting under a stage can be stodgy at times. The red carpet injected some energy into the proceedings as celebrities were each able to get their turn strolling before fans.
- The celebrities got their own 1-on-1 experience with the fans and the media. In past years, the celebrities would usually be introduced on stage and then placed at a table where they may or may not be interviewed by reporters. With the red carpet, every actor spent a couple minutes answering questions.
- All the reporters got the same responses from the celebrities, but at least there wasn't a table separating the groups.
- The prominence of the actors seemed higher than usual. This is not a slight on previous celebrities, but it was great to have a moment with performers of the caliber of Davies or Pearl Mackie of "Doctor Who." It seems a step up from the past, although it was fun to see familiar faces like voice actors Jess Harnell and Billy West.
- FanX continued its celebration of artistic creations. In years past, the press conference introduces an artist or a piece of work that celebrates pop culture (such as Lego art). This year was no different as there was a giant custom Hulk statue on the red carpet.
- There was some separation between the reporters and the fans. At some past press conferences, reporters usually sat with the fans. The fans would often cheer or laugh when appropriate for a general audience — but that's something that most reporters don't do. Reporters generally try to stay professional and cheering along seems inappropriate in many cases. With the red carpet, the reporters were off to the side and able to ask questions while the fans were in front of the red carpet to give the celebrities their due.
Things about the red carpet that make you go hmmm:
- It was loud at times to the point where it was hard to hear some of the celebrities' responses. The room wasn't overly loud — it was just a big room with a decent-sized crowd with occasional music.
- The pacing of the celebrities' appearances. Apparently, the process was fairly brisk at first, but then there were some moderate delays as it took some celebrities a little longer to arrive.
- There may have been too many objects scattered on the carpet. In addition to the Hulk statue, there were also commercially made statues of superheroes like Batman, Han Solo frozen in carbonite, etc. It seemed a little too cluttered to me, although the celebrities appeared to enjoy interacting with the Hulk statue.
- Red carpets are an artifice deployed to invoke the myth of Hollywood. However, most red carpets have a legitimate purpose — to provide a path for the stars to take from the street to the entrance of the venue. In this case, that purpose was missing from the FanX red carpet, unless celebrities were really interested in walking between the women's room and the men's room in front of the ballroom.
Ultimately, I think the red carpet experience was a nice change to FanX. I didn't see the FanX creators, which was a bit of a bummer, but I also didn't feel compelled to try to find some greater meaning to what was going on. Most people are at FanX to celebrate pop culture and to meet some of their heroes.
On with the show.