Yep. I went to Playlist Live 2014 in Orlando, Fl.
I wish I could tag the people in the photos… but since neither Playlist Live nor Gibson have the exact Gibson Stage lineup posted I can’t. Stay tuned.
I’ve been to 15 years of conventions varying in size from gigantically large Comic Con:San Diego and DragonCon:Atlanta to small local Anime Weekend Orlando. I’ve photographed riots in London and explored sketchy parts of Paris and I have never feared for my personal safety as much I did at Playlist Live. The fact that I felt safer in a Palestinian riot in front of Parliament…
I’m still disturbed by the behavior of the attendees. Feral. Feral teen and pre-teen girls with no regard for themselves or others. I was sitting in a chair at the Gibson Acoustic Stage and I had a girl behind me who stepped onto my chair… while I was still sitting on it. “Ummm. Excuse me?” She had no concept that the chair was occupied. The only thing that registered to her was that she wanted to stand on the chair in front of her.
It’s not the YouTubers fault. With a few exceptions(Read: lohanthony for repeatedly dropping f-bombs in a hall full of 11-15yr olds), they were awesome. These YouTubers were so freaking kind and generous in time, spirit and attention that they deserve some serious kudos. I mean really, there were times where these internet celebrities where literally being chased by a mob of squealing girls down hallways and around corners. “Let’s hurry up. I think it’s someone famous.” Was a phrase I heard often as these gaggles turned into fanatical mobs.
I watched parents cheat, bribe, lie, and shove both convention authorities and other convention attendees. All that to manipulate their way into lines, passes and rooms to give their child a chance to meet their idol. “It’s only one girl.” Isn’t an acceptable reason to cut in line. Tell that to the one girl at the end of the line that isn’t going to meet get her chance to meet YouTube royalty.
Despite there being a great deal wrong and horrifying about Playlist Live 2014, there were spots of genuine kindness. A young girl didn’t get plastic badge holder and so older attendee gave hers up so the young girl could protect the autographs she’d worked so hard acquire. Cellphone charging cables where shared at coveted wall outlets in the hallways. Individuals arrived at charging stations as strangers but left, while still strange, as new social media friends. Young girls daring enough to attend alone, were given aid in the form of seat holding while they went to get food and use the bathroom after a marathon of driving 12+ hours from Louisiana plus an additional 6 hours in line.
While this weekend has tested my faith in youth of today (and I’m a middle school teacher so that must say something) as well as humanity, I’m going to keep reminding myself of all the genuine smiles and attention the YouTubers freely gave to complete strangers in the midst of what must have been stressful situations for them. I’ll keep repeating how amazing these folks are for all the instances they overcame their own insecurities, anxieties and/or fears to present their fans with the best and brightest smiles.