Back in 1970, the first Golden State Comic-Con was held at the U.S. Grant Hotel. The event, which would later be known as San Diego Comic-Con drew 300 attendees and, as the name would suggest, focused primarily on comic books. Fast forward more than 40 years later, and SDCC hosts over 130,000 attendees all hoping to catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp, the cast of “Sherlock” or some other pop culture touchstone.
The convention changed the face of entertainment; SDCC invented a venue where studios could show off their tentpole projects to thousands of screaming, tweeting fans. But most importantly, the meteoric rise of the convention itself proved to the general public that pop culture geeks were more than mouth-breathing virgins in their parents’ basements; they were your neighbors and best friends.
As much as you or I hate to admit it, online video fanatics occupy the same place in our cultural consciousness as the comic book geek or video game nerd. Sure, everyone has watched “Friday” a handful of times, but what kind of person stands in line for hours to meet the song’s creator Rebecca Black?
This is what digital video has generally been classified as — an amalgamation of genres and subgenres of music, comedy, video blogging and animation. As people in 1970 thought of comic books, digital video is largely misunderstood and generally thought of as a medium for pre-teens and introverts.
In 2010, the first VidCon was held in Los Angeles with 1,400 attendees. Three years later, VidCon officials say they are expecting around 10,000 attendees at the convention’s home since 2012, the Anaheim Convention Center. Through the power of social media and the interconnectivity of the web, VidCon has dwarfed Comic-Con in terms of growth per year. This is a convention that has become the premier destination for web video creators, fans and executives.
As Comic-Con brought a greater understanding of the modern “geek” to the general public, VidCon continues to show the world that online video and its fans are more than a niche community in love with a niche form of entertainment.
In our modern culture, legitimacy — the kind of legitimacy digital video wants and needs — is often received through strength of numbers. You have two journalists to follow on Twitter; one journalist has 200 followers, and the other has 200,000 — which one are you going to pick? It may not be flawless logic, but it is how VidCon continues to push the digital video further and further into the public’s’ consciousness.
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