I’ve braved some gruesome events in the line of making-fun-of-stuff duty: anime conventions, comic conventions, and even a furry convention (they’re the guys who dress up as big fuzzy mascots, not seldom in the pursuit of Weird Sex Stuff). Some conventions were funny, some were strange, and some had a fascinating smell. Only one of them approached genuine hell on Earth.
Imagine an event with all the intellectual merit of the Gathering of Juggalos; now imagine that all the Juggalos think they’re on the very cutting edge of culture and want to talk quasi-academically about how important they are.
ROFLCon 2008 was the most idiotic spectacle I’ve ever witnessed: a clueless, tedious, kinda pretentious celebration of all the worst dregs of “Internet culture.” It was packed solid with doofus online quasi-celebrities, some with outrageously inappropriate ego levels. Around every corner, some dipshit teenager in an Anonymous mask was waiting with a boom box, thinking he’d be the first guy ever to pull off a hilarious IRL Rickroll. Dead memes, Chuck Norris facts, and lolcats collided aimlessly in the dense gas.
I sat through an hour-long keynote about lolcats. One guy was on the panel because he was converting the bible into lolcat speak; that’s precisely the sort of dumbass endeavor the credulous rubes running this conference were super hyped about. It was misery.
Looking at the 2012 schedule of ROFLCon events, there may be some hope of improvement. They’ve ditched the lolcats, thank God, though the program notes still drop tons of embarrassing, years-old 4chan slang (“lulz,” “Internets” — ugh). The conference has some potentially interesting stuff this year, peppered liberally with the worst garbage imaginable. As a survivor of this god-awful thing and a veteran infobahn cybernaut, maybe I can spare you some pain by examining a selection of events and sorting out which ones are horseshit.
2 PM | Global Lulzes
An exploration of memes from around the globe. I wouldn’t bet on Chinese memes being any less unfunny and irritating than our own, but at least you probably haven’t seen them a million times already. [Semi-horseshit]
3:30 PM | From Micro-Fame to Nano-Fame
If you find yourself wondering what the Double Rainbow guy has to say about being famous on YouTube for three days, congrats: you’re ROFLCon’s core audience, and I hate you. [Horseshit]
3:30 PM | Life After The Meme
A game of Internet where-are-they-now: ex-celebs (like that Leeroy Jenkins guy) tell you what happens five years after your three days of viral fame have run out. Answer: nobody cares, I sincerely hope. [Horseshit]
5 PM | The Distant Future, the Year 2000
The earliest stars of the Web, including the incomparable Emotion Eric and animator Jonti Picking of Weebl's Stuff, reminisce about the days of yore. Could be of interest to the whippersnappers, primarily because these people got Internet-famous through the lost art of being creative and doing stuff. [RIYL: watching a guy convey emotions]
5 PM | Webcomics: The Long View
Learn about Webcomics from two 10-year veterans of the form: Sam Brown of the pleasantly surreal, occasionally maudlin explodingdog, and R. Stevens of the execrable Diesel Sweeties, one of the first Webcomics dull enough to be picked up for newspaper syndication. These aren’t exactly the superstars of the game, but hell, at least it’s not the xkcd guy again. [Maybe not horseshit]