Now that the dust has settled, it’s time for all of us geeks to reflect on the events of Civil War premiere day. If you were there like me, it’s likely that you ran into a lot of problems. I’ve been doing this fan thing for a long time now, and this event was easily one of the most disorganised ones I’ve ever attended.
What exactly went wrong? Let me count the ways.
Commando Geek Wong Jun Heng and I were at the press con earlier in the morning and weren’t on the ground. But there was already some chatter on social media about people who had been queueing up since 7am at the skating rink. Unfortunately, it looked like they were waiting at the section that was designated for media, and were quickly moved by the security. A sizeable crowd had gathered around the rink by lunchtime, and yet no one could even say for sure which areas were for the public.
Security first roped off the areas with normal crowd poles, and then slowly replaced them with metal barricades. They also kept moving people around, which made for some really frustrated fans. At one point, I was standing near Guardian pharmacy (past the escalators) and was told to move back because they needed to remove the covering for the blue carpet. However, the organisers changed the route for the blue carpet at the last minute, so the area near Guardian wasn’t even part of the route in the end.
Then at some point in the afternoon, I realised that there were two different sections for people who were allowed into the skating rink: VIP and the fan zone. The VIP section was for invited guests, while the rest of us had to put up with being further away from the stage in the fan zone.
— Geek Crusade (@geekcrusade) April 21, 2016
I must’ve talked to at least 20 security guys and event staff throughout the day, asking about access to the skating rink and where people could stand. They were actually quite patient and polite, but it soon became clear that no one actually knew what was going on at all. At one point, I was going back and forth between two different areas because none of the event staff at either point knew where I could stand to wait to be let into the fanzone.
Having been a minion at some big events before, I know that it is very difficult for organisers to work while having to handle members of the public. However, it is essential that everyone involved is briefed properly and given clear instructions, including a breakdown of what is happening when, and where. And it was obvious that most of the event staff didn’t have a clue or were too busy running around. A security guy even apologised to me – he said the situation was very messy, which is why he couldn’t give me any concrete information.
3Security/fire safety concerns
As the time neared for fans to be let into the skating rink, the crowd swelled to a ridiculous size and effectively blocked off any sort of access to the food court or the surrounding shops itself. And when VIPs and fan zone winners asked where they could queue up for entry into the rink, no one had any answers for them.
So about 20 minutes before we were let in, I was queueing in the corner of the rink (marked “Access point for inner sanctum” in the picture at the top of this post), right smack in the middle of a big crowd. That one access point was where everything went in and out, so at one point I had trays of hot food for VIP guests brushing past my left, while random people kept pushing me from behind or squeezing in front of me to get to the escalators. I was quite literally trapped on all sides.
To make things worse, when members of the media started going in with bulky equipment, I got pushed around a lot because there was literally no more space to move or to let people through. And people were STILL trying to push their way through the crowd to try and get closer to the rink. That bottleneck was a serious fire hazard, and at one point I seriously thought that I’d never get out of this bloody event unharmed.
UPDATE: While scrolling through the comments on MBS’s Instagram posts, we spotted some fan accounts that claim at least one female fan was molested by someone, and another that said security was so lax in the upper floors that when Anthony Mackie ran up the escalator to greet fans, she almost fell onto him from the weight of people pushing behindher.
With security constantly asking fans to move, misinformation and a complete lack of organisation, it’s no wonder that emotions were running high amongst fans. Everywhere I went, I heard nothing but complaints about how the event was being handled.
A look at the MBS Instagram account will tell you how frustrated people were.
The problem here is that MBS kept stressing that the event was free to the public, which, while technically true, wasn’t the whole story. The fact that no one knew about the VIP area (which consisted of invited guests and some MBS VIPs) was very telling of the attitude that MBS had. They were clearly trying to market this as some special, VVVIP experience, but from what I saw, most VIP guests didn’t even seem that interested in the proceedings.
The fans clearly lost out when it came to the blue carpet (c.f. those crazy expensive packages they sold), and I can’t remember any other event in recent memory where the public backlash has been this vocal and this unanimous about how badly it was handled.
5Did we have fun at all?
— Geek Crusade (@geekcrusade) April 21, 2016
Actually, I did. But a lot of it has to do with managing your own expectations. Having gone to red carpet events before, I knew that it was unrealistic to expect to get selfies and autographs with all the stars, or even to tell them how much their work meant to me. Events like this can get messy and have a lot of restrictions. Unfortunately, the Civil War blue carpet was badly organised and mishandled.
And while I didn’t manage to get any autographs or selfies with Evans, Stan or Mackie, I did get a selfie with Joe Russo and managed to tell him how much I loved his work on Community. The look on his face and the thanks he shot back were worth it.
But if I hadn’t had the chance to attend the press con in the morning, the entire day would’ve been a waste of time. I can’t imagine how all the fans who waited for hours felt like. It must’ve been immensely frustrating.
My advice for future geek events?
- Don’t be afraid to ask security or event staff if it’s okay for you to stand there.
- When talking to anyone, be firm but polite, because no one will give you any information if you’re combative or demanding.
- Be nice to your fellow fans! You’re all probably going to be there for a couple of hours, so you might as well be nice to each other.
What was YOUR Civil War blue carpet experience like? Tell us!