Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tara Strong and Canceled Appearances

What’s this about Tara Strong canceling convention appearances?

If you don’t know who Tara Strong is by name, that’s okay because you have probably heard her many many times.  To those of us (myself included) that grew up between the late 80’s and 90’s our childhood and anyone’s afterward has been full of her characters.  She also has one of those adorable personalities that when you see or hear her being interviewed you just stop and listen.  She is very passionate about her career and clearly loves what she does.  Look her up on IMDB, the woman has voiced a character (and well known characters) in almost everything, including my favorite My Little Pony.  She is the voice of Twilight Sparkle.

I was pretty excited to meet Tara Strong at the forthcoming Big Apple Ponycon.  I was a bit enthused about prepaying for an autograph voucher.  Tara was signing for a $30 fee, but only one autograph per voucher.  I can deal with that considering she is someone I would really like to meet.  I was hoping for a picture as well.

Today BAP announced that Tara was no longer attending BAP which was a bit of a shock considering the convention is only a 2.5 weeks away.  The reasoning initially given by BAP on their Facebook Page was “Due to recent events, we regret to inform you that Tara Strong will not be making an in-person appearance at Big Apple Ponycon and will be stepping back from the convention circuit in general. While we do respect her decision, it's a shame to lose someone I think we all looked forward to meeting.”  On the Big Apple Ponycon website the PR release reads differently.

PR Statement 3/4/13
We must unfortunately announce that Tara Strong will not be attending Big Apple Ponycon as planned. The events at Las Pegasus Unicon and her commitments to her family and work have made her choose to back out of the speaking circuit for the time being, and she is scaling back her involvement with many conventions.
Tara does want to do everything she can from home to help make everyone’s convention experience complete, so she has offered to give a Skype interview, and she will be providing signed headshots for those who have purchased autograph vouchers.
We’re still determining our policy on refunds for anyone who no longer wishes to attend, as well as revisiting our planned guests and their scheduling in light of this change. More updates will be available on our website in the next few days. In the meantime, feel free to send any questions to pr@bigappleponycon.com. 
We wish Tara all the best, and we look forward to the ways she’s still able to participate in our convention!
-The Big Apple Ponycon Team

So what’s really happening?  Initially the “recent events” part made me think something dangerous happened, possibly a crazy fan or a stalker.  Then the PR release mentions “Las Pegasus Unicon” events, what events?  I did a search on Tara Strong and Las Pegasus Unicon and came up with a tweet by Tara but nothing more than her being at the show.  I find it very odd that BAP name called LPU.  That’s some interesting PR.  To me it comes across as BAP is blaming LPU for Tara backing out of her appearance at BAP.  They also make sure to mention LPU prior to Tara’s family and work.

You can read about what happened at LPU here, since the convention website has since been removed.  You can also read about the relief efforts on Equestria Daily.  I am still a bit fuzzy on the details but it looks like talent was not paid, con goers were over charged at hotels and an abundance of poor budgeting.

Now here’s where things get blurry, I went to Tara’s twitter account (which she is very active on).  This lady is a sweetheart and she chats and responds to fans via twitter.  Not surprisingly, a lot of fans are disappointed about her canceling her BAP appearance.  She wrote several tweets in response to both BAP and LPU.  It seems that she does not want the funds from the LPU relief effort.  She does not want to be paid by the donations from fans.  She wants to be paid by the convention.  She is planning on donating the money that was raised to pay her fee to fans in need.

Tara is clear that she is looking to spend more of her time focusing on her family and her career but it seems she is canceling all 1st year conventions in light of what happened at LPU.  Many MLP conventions are first year conventions, because it’s a fairly new fandom niche that has become large enough to have MLP conventions be lucrative in different areas of the US.  Previously, the only MLP convention was held in Indiana and that convention is The My Little Pony Fair.  That convention is still going strong, but I have not made it there yet.  So what does LPU have to do with BAP?

BAP is also a first year convention and it is also exactly a month after LPU.  I don’t blame her for not wanting to take that risk after what happened at LPU.  I am still disappointed.  It’s upsetting that a poorly managed convention ruined BAP, but these things happen.

I may back out of attending BAP completely, this year and into the future.  Tara also posted that she is doing TWO skype interviews at BAP, sending both exclusive goodies and autographs for free to make up for canceling.  However, BAP clearly states in their press release that signed head shots will be provided for those that purchase autograph vouchers in advance.  This info turns BAP into a money making scheme.  Tara says they are free, but BAP is charging the $30 each.  I can buy Tara’s autograph on eBay for less than $30.  Paying for an autograph at a convention is about the experience, not the just the signature.

I am feeling very fishy about this convention at this point in time.  I am hoping as the convention nears and more information is released that they both offer refunds for not only the vouchers but also the tickets.  I am also hoping they reevaluate charging for the autographs since the draw to meet Tara in person is gone and she doesn’t appear to be looking to get paid.  It would be one thing if the autograph fee was going towards a donation, but it’s not.  BAP name calling LPU really turns my stomach.  It's the last spin on the teacups if you know what I mean.

I will keep you posted on my page.  Plus, I will be contacting PR in regards to refunds.  I am still really fuzzy on what exactly went down at Las Pegasus Unicon, so if anyone can fill me in please do so!