OH NO WHAT A MASSIVE SHAME News “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.