“Seb, do you know what schadenfreude is?”
“(sigh) No, I do not know what shaden-frawde is. Please tell me, because I’m dying to know.”
“It’s a German term for ‘shameful joy’, taking pleasure in the suffering of others.”
“Oh, come on. I’m just glad to see them fall flat on their butts!”

So, yes. The unofficial convention Better Than Life 2 (Manchester United 0) is no more. But I have to give them this – why go out with dignity, when you can bitch and moan and whinge instead?

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are having to cancel the Better Than Life event that was to be held on 9th to 11th July 2010.

We don’t know the ins-and-outs of these “legal issues” with GNP – I imagine they stretch slightly beyond the simple issue of “using copyrighted promo images” (something we can’t really claim the moral high ground on anyway), since the simple answer to that would have been “change the website”. However, blaming the owners of an intellectual property because they didn’t want you making a wedge of cash out of said intellectual property seems to miss the point a little. Were those circumstances really “beyond [Massive’s] control”? They say it a few times in that post, but I’m not convinced.

It’s not as if GNP are draconian when it comes to unofficial fan endeavours, either. They were perfectly happy to let Red Dwarf Animated exist, for example, so long as it didn’t use the logo or theme tune.

We find it very sad that we are prevented from doing that by legal issues with the production company that did not seem to matter last year.

“This one time, I managed to get away with nicking a stereo from John Lewis. I went back to the same shop a couple of days later to try and get another one, and they arrested me! I tried to claim that since they hadn’t stopped me the last time, they had no right to do so this time, but they wouldn’t listen. The BASTARDS.”

However, all we can assume is that now they feel Red Dwarf is popular again they want to keep control and not allow us to run an event for a show we love and that would give us all a really fun weekend.

Whoooooooooooooahh. Well, if you’re going to go down, do so in flames – because any hope of ever getting any sort of co-operation from GNP is surely out of the window now (but hey, maybe Norman Lovett would be interested in doing an event with them). Hilariously, this statement comes before they go on to say “Please be assured that should we be able to find a way round the issue preventing us from proceeding we will look at running an event in the future”. Yeah, good luck with that one.

Still, while we’re making blithe assumptions, I’ll make one of my own: All I can assume is that while Massive Events didn’t give a toss about running Red Dwarf conventions for almost the entirety of the 2000s (while GNP, who apparently only want to “control” it when it’s “popular”, affiliated themselves with no less than eight), they suddenly want to do them now they feel the show is popular. Funny, that.

We’ve had strong words to say on the matter of this event in the past, of course, and for that reason it’s worth making something clear – despite what you might think, we don’t actually have a problem with the idea of an unofficial convention. It’s true that G&T has closer and friendlier links with the Fan Club than it used to, but even when we used to mercilessly bait and criticise them, we would always be supportive of Dimension Jump – an event that has been, and continues to be, excellent on the whole (and, crucially, noble in its aims). But even now that we tend to fly that flag a little more prominently (with good reason, too – the 2009 event was spectacular), we’d be just as supportive of any sort of fan event, too – so long as it treated the fans right.

Better Than Life, in our view, does/did not. Giving extra perks to people who are willing to pay more than twice the standard ticket cost has always seemed to us to be an appalling way of doing business – it turns the fans into nothing more than consumers, judged and rewarded on how much they’re willing to pay for their ticket. And while we appreciate that measures such as limiting the number of autographs or banning personal photographs are necessary if you’re concerned about effciency, it doesn’t create a sense that it’s an event at which fans and cast can mingle in a relaxed manner – it simply serves to distance the fans (or, rather, “customers”). If there’s one thing these events do do well, it’s the professional photography – but a hotel-based weekend gathering simply isn’t the kind of place where that should be the procedure. The “studio”-esque shots are for big, mass-franchise events held in exhibition centres – not intimate fan-specific conventions.

Anyway, it’s for these reasons among others that we’re really not that upset to see BTL2 fall by the wayside. I notice, as well, that their Being Human one has been cancelled, too; and while it’s good to see people putting on events for things you wouldn’t normally expect to see a convention for, I can’t help but feel that a company that spreads itself as thinly as Massive Events aren’t the folk to do it.

16 comments on “OH NO WHAT A MASSIVE SHAME

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  • Perhaps they could bypass the copyright issues for both events by holding a single event called either Red Human or Being Dwarf…..or Being A Red Human Dwarf

  • Giving extra perks to people who are willing to pay more than twice the standard ticket cost …. turns the fans into nothing more than consumers, judged and rewarded on how much they?re willing to pay for their ticket.

    Hear, hear.

  • I was going to bring this up a few days ago but I knew it was only a matter of time before someone on here clocked up an all-caps headline. Thanks for not failing to disappoint!

    It’s the cancellation of what I’m sure would have been a very entertaining weekend. It leaves a lot of people who were looking forward to going, plenty of those who enjoyed the heck out of last June’s, somewhat miffed. Still, at least the individuals instrumental in making sure this year’s event (admittedly scheduled too closely to DJXVI) couldn’t happen are bound to be relatively pleased with themselves, or maybe just relieved. Standing up for the interests of something you love and/or are invested in is, of course, admirable. And as a plus point you don’t even have to feel responsible in any way because what BTL was doing, details aside, was providing an event for people to have a good time, which, of course, is a bad thing.

    Was the BTL event set up to make money? Obviously yes, in part. Did the project fall flat on its face due to people not wanting to pay the programme charges? No, and you obviously can’t force people to pay and come to the event in the first place. You can’t force cast/crew to attend the event.

    It’s all just a big rock and roll maze, got me in a daze. Gotta rock and roll, gotta rock and roll.

  • I don’t think anyone would want to deny the fans a good time.

    But I’m sure that you would object if there were someone making money out of your intellectual property without so much as asking you – which, as I understand it, is what happened last year, and no doubt would have happened again this year had not GNP intervened.

    From a purely personal POV, I find it objectionable that individuals are allowed more or less priviledge based on how much money they have to spend.
    There’s far too much of that goes on in the world as it is.

  • Not having ever been to an convention (or had the inclination to), my viewpoint on this isn’t particularly swayed in either direction.

    I don’t see why there should be a problem with paying more for better “service”. That’s life. If I want to sit in the nice seats at a gig, I’ll pay more.

    On the other hand, charging people for autographs is fucked up and hideous. Full stop. Any event that promotes this is WRONG.

    I’d be interested to hear the legal justification for this being cancelled and how this differs to a “less-professional” gathering. Obviously including Starbug and other imagery for promotional purposes is off-limits, but they could have got around that.

    I’m trying to think of a witty “Bedford fails” type pun but I can’t be arsed.

  • > Obviously including Starbug and other imagery for promotional purposes is off-limits, but they could have got around that.

    Correct. This isn’t the issue.

  • As I said in the post, a number of us aren’t exactly disappointed to see Massive not be able to make their money off Dwarf (although yes, it is a shame that people won’t get to go along to the event – if only there was another one the same month that they could go to instead, eh?), but I wouldn’t have been as sneery about it if they hadn’t posted that ludicrous statement. Saying that GNP are only interested in Dwarf now that it’s “popular again” is staggeringly insulting, shows absolutely no understanding of what’s gone on in Red Dwarf‘s world over the last decade (thus betraying the fact that they’re not the “fans” they claim to be) and leaves me with no sympathy for them whatsoever.

  • Red Dwarf Animated received a nicely worded email from GNP asking for us not to use any branding or music on our productions, for all sorts of legal reasons.
    I emailed back to ask what we could use. They replied by saying we could use everything except the branding (logo) and music.

    All contact with GNP has been polite, good natured and helpful they seemed happy that fans were getting together to produce some new Red Dwarf content.

    RDA however doesn?t hope to profit by any of its works, and I feel that Massive were probably over stepping the mark

  • I think that is what it all boils down to. Doing something for the love of it and doing something to make a tidy return.

  • Let’s be fair, last years Dimension Jump was pretty fucking shambolic. The timing, delays and feeling of complete amateur organisation behind the scenes left me feeling rather cheated.

  • > Let?s be fair, last years Dimension Jump was pretty fucking shambolic. The timing, delays and feeling of complete amateur organisation behind the scenes left me feeling rather cheated.

    Did you feel cheated out of the important stuff i.e. signatures/time with the cast, Q&A sessions etc? I feel they are the core part of conventions, with everything else really being secondary. Remember, it is a convention run by fans (and it doesn’t pretend to be anything flashier) who charge the bare minimum – just enough to cover costs involved to ensure as many people as possible can attend. I attended 2002 and 2003 and really enjoyed myself on both occassions.

    Do make sure you make use of the feedback form in order to put in your suggestions for what you feel could make things better – perhaps from your experience of other conventions? It can do nothing but help.

    And no – I’m not part of the TORDFC team or organise DJ.

  • “And no – I?m not part of the TORDFC team or organise DJ.”

    No, but I am and I think that this comment is a little harsh: “pretty fucking shambolic”

    Really? So the timings were a mess, I’ll grant you that and we admit that we made mistakes which we have learned from, scheduling is one of the major things we hope to vastly improve on for this year’s event. As you rightly point out we’re not a professional event company, but we don’t claim to be. The TORDFC team members are all volunteers who run the club in their spare time, we’re not in this for the money, purely for the love of the show.

    But despite the delays we made sure that everyone got that autograph, photo and time with the cast that they were there for, the Q&As went down really well and the bulk of the feedback forms that we had back were from people saying that they had a great time in spite of the scheduling. I am genuinely sorry that you feel “cheated” and I apologise on behalf of the fan club team, but it does seem that you are in the minority.

  • Considering it only costs you ?40 to attend DJ if you’re a fanclub member (yes, you pay for the hotel room too if you don’t live nearby, but that’s not part of what the fan club makes) I think we got a pretty good deal. A quiz, karaoke, Q+A sessions with all of the cast, autographs and photographs, a fancy dress competition and a disco… everybody who put the weekend together (without being paid!) did the best that they could, considering they were dealing with about 4 times the number of attendees that normally turn up at DJ. And yes, it WAS amateur organisation, hence the “not being paid” part – if it was organised by professionals you would have paid a lot more for your ticket.

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