It’s been 10 years since the first edition of the event that’s now called the FanX Salt Lake Pop Culture & Comic Convention, and creator Dan Farr is feeling nostalgic and proud.
“I had high expectations for what could happen with an event like this,” Farr told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Since 2013, FanX has brought celebrities from across fandoms and genres to Utah for panels, meet-and-greets, photo ops, autographs and more — attracting tens of thousands of fans to meet, buy stuff and wear cosplay.
The 10th anniversary edition of FanX, one of the nation’s largest fan conventions, runs Thursday through Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City. (Tickets and passes are available at fanxsaltlake.com.)
Farr and his former business partner, Bryan Brandenburg, started the Utah fan convention in 2013. Brandenburg stepped down from FanX in 2018, and sold his share of the event in 2019. (In July, a federal jury in Honolulu found Brandenburg guilty of seven counts of sending email threats to bomb buildings in Utah and other locations.)
Several factors inspired the event’s creation, Farr said.
The Carano conundrum
Another controversy began when FanX announced that Gina Carano, formerly one of the stars of the “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian,” would be appearing.
Carano was fired from “The Mandalorian” and dropped by her talent agency in 2021, after making comments on social media. In one post that was deleted, she compared the political climate in the United States to that of experiences of Jewish people during the Holocaust. She also mocked the use of preferred pronouns, and shared misinformation in 2020 about voter fraud and COVID-19.
When FanX announced in August that Carano was scheduled to attend, reaction on social media was swift and angry, with accusations that FanX organizers were deleting comments from trans-rights supporters. Event organizers posted a message on the FanX Instagram account: “While we invite you to express your feelings towards any guest announcement, attacking other commenters in the comment section will be hidden and/or deleted, as well as anything vulgar.”
Farr said, “I never ever want anyone to feel diminished or like they’re not valued. … By no means when we book guests, do we look at somebody and say, ‘Ooh, this person is on this side of the spectrum, therefore we’re saying that we agree with what they said or what may be perceived as what that person is like.'”
The convention, Farr said, generally doesn’t get involved with what a guest does, or doesn’t do, on social media.
“I do look, and clearly if there’s a guest that would come and insult our attendees, that would not be right,” he said. “But if there’s somebody that will come and treat them well and respect them … that’s fully what I expect to come out of Gina Carano.”
Farr added, “booking somebody is not saying we support their opinions. We’re saying that we support pop culture and fandom.”
Farr said he believes “pop culture brings people together in such a powerful way,” and urged FanX attendees to “focus on where what we’re common on rather than what we’re different on.”