3) No One Knows Who This Show Is For
So, what demographic, exactly, is Fangasm targeting? It's purpose is to entice viewers to see Comikaze as a viable and fun-filled alternative to San Diego Comic-Con. SDCC cuts a wide swath between male and female, young and old. My best guess is that Regina Carpinelli and the bigwigs at SyFy were hoping for their own niche-market Jersey Shore for the awkward-teen set, wherein likeminded nerds - and the adults they morph into - would tune in in record numbers to watch themselves fumble through the cruel realities of life. And while it approaches the lurid qualities of a Jersey Shore, as Khouri points out, Jersey Shore is at least rather bluntly honest about the lives of its specimens, while the Fangasm cast is forced to jump through Regina's carefully, PR-approved hoops to keep Comikaze awareness trending on Twitter and Facebook and the like.
Fangasm is too blatantly a commercial to work as a legit reality show, its contestants too reserved and bland to break out into reality show infamy, and the production is too labored and sanitized to work as any sort of competition show. The Fangasm kids aren't competing for anything. I mean, they're clearly incapable of actually doing their jobs in the first place. If there's no point to anything, what's the point of watching this?
And that's a question I've been wondering since the premiere. While Heroes of Cosplay infuriated me from the get-go because of its massive misconceptions about its core concept, I've spent the past several weeks in a confused state of disarm just wondering what the hell Fangasm exists for, besides a Comikaze commercial. The cast themselves reminds me of nerds I knew or would hang out with when I was 24, which isn't really a good thing. The older you get, the more you realize that having friends who can do more than simply re-enact The Trouble With Tribbles has its own benefits. And just by gauging the interest online, Fangasm hasn't really been connecting with anyone.
Might explain why SyFy bumped the show back an hour, in favor of Ghost Hunters. And speaking of ghosts, there's a haunted specter at the core of Fangasm, and Comikaze as well.
2) Regina Carpinelli, Comikaze Overlord
From the first episode, I got a chilly vibe from Regina, the Comikaze co-founder.
In my experience, only two people want to start their own conventions: idiots, and insane people. Running a successful convention requires a gargantuan commitment to your time, and is a 100-percent guaranteed way to lose money. Starting your own convention, especially back in 2011, was basically asking your bank account to deplete itself with no hope of ever breaking even, except in the rare circumstance where the convention takes off and eventually, maybe 10 years down the line, it starts to break even and stops losing money. It's expensive to rent out an entire convention center for a weekend, it's expensive to lure guests and vendors, and the entire effort requires so much money that only a rich and exceptionally stupid person would ever want to do it.
Unless, of course, you're insane. Insane people often want to start conventions because THEY want to be the ones to coalesce all their nerd celebrity heroes and gain "respect in the industry" and lots of other crazy things I've heard at crowded hotel room parties at conventions past.
I wasn't sure which side of the spectrum Regina Carpinelli landed on, so I asked around. To my alarm, no one that has had the pleasure of making her professional acquaintance wanted to speak publicly and on the record about her. Suffice to say that the word "unprofessional" was uttered more than once, and another confided in me an incident where they were invited to a VIP lounge - because of their Press Badges, of course - only to be uninvited because it was "talent only." Whatever that means.
I mean, kudos to anyone who can transform a convention from a parking garage affair to a massive 40,000+ event. Even though several hundred people had to stand in the heat for two hours last year. But it goes with the territory. Growing pains and all that. Nonetheless, it all seems fishy. Things don't add up. And unleashing a "docu-drama" that is nothing more than a three-pronged PR assault for a big convention with a big name attached (that is coincidentally, as Khouri points it, far below Anime Expo in attendance) smells like a rotten pitch meeting given life. Like Regina somehow bought her way into the NBC Universal offices and smuggled in bottles of Pappy Van Winkle and gave everyone a signed copy of Avengers #1.
Granted, off-the-record remarks should always be taken with a grain of salt, because that's what they are - unsourced remarks from anonymous figures. But trust me that when I say there's smoke, there's usually fire.
But that's not even the most important reason to avoid Comikaze on behalf of Fangasm.
1) Fangasm Is a Bad Show
It is. Fangasm isn't terribly entertaining, it doesn't have much of a hook, it has no real compelling characters, and parades around well-worn nerd stereotypes like they're foreign currency.
Fangasm isn't the train wreck that Heroes of Cosplay was, but that doesn't mean SyFy gets a pass. They still allowed an hours' worth of air time to a sucky commercial for a mid-level Los Angeles convention, but at least they didn't create something that inspired within me a feeling of wrath and fury.
But at the end of the day, since when does "DOES NOT INSPIRE FEELINGS OF PANIC, ANGUISH, AND ANGER" count as a pass? Comikaze was supposed to earn my business, and Fangasm was supposed to be the linchpin. Too bad it didn't work.