TanaCon Is Tearing YouTube Culture Apart

Everything is content.

YouTube / Tana Mongeau

It’s only been a little over a week since the VidCon alternative, Tanacon (organized by YouTuber Tana Mongeau), descended into full-blown chaos — the likes of which we haven’t seen since Fyre Festival.

Now, the organizational disaster is being recycled, rehashed, and litigated in the most appropriate way possible: through more YouTube content.

The Birth of TanaCon

To recap, TanaCon was seemingly brought into the world after YouTuber Tana Mongeau, who now has over 3.5 million subscribers, became frustrated with the VidCon industrial complex — the popular YouTuber convention has grown to a massive scale, with over 30,000 people attending in 2017 and has become an increasingly important opportunity in the industry for collaboration and networking. On April 2, 2018, Mongeau announced that to escape what she describes as the bureaucratic nightmare of VidCon, she’d be throwing a free, concurrent convention nearby.

The event seemed like it could be a disruptive force for good in the YouTube world, with high profile YouTubers like Miranda Sings, Shane Dawson, Bella Thorne, and Casey Neistat signing on for appearances. On the Thursday before the convention, popular YouTuber Phillip DeFranco blessed TanaCon, saying “The success of others and people being more independent in this community leads to more success for others being more independent in this community.” Prophetically, he added, “there is the possibility that it becomes a complete shit show, and so that’s also another reason I’m interested in it.”

The Death of TanaCon

TanaCon was an unmitigated disaster, and the train wreck was thoroughly recorded and documented by attendees on YouTube. As a video from swell entertainment shows, the venue was overcrowded from the beginning, causing extremely long wait times outside, which for many resulted in serious sunburn. There were no food vendors, despite the fact that there was no re-entry to the event once attendees left. Stirring rumors that the event was a scam, almost no “free badges” were in sight, only VIP badges that cost $65. Despite promises of perks like a fancy gift bag and special events for VIP, it appears that there was no differentiation between the tickets inside the venue. The gift bag provided included a plastic bracelet, a branded condom, a lanyard, stickers, and a “smartphone grip.” Eventually, the event was evacuated and entirely cancelled.

Most of the problems appear to have stemmed from overcrowding. Tana has consistently claimed that the event failed because 15,000 people without tickets showed up and mobbed the convention, but police released a statement saying that only 4,000 to 5,000 people were present, and that the event sold 4,000 tickets despite renting a space that can only hold 1,150 people.

YouTube Reactions

In the wake of the event, the YouTube community has been trying to process what actually happened at TanaCon, and the reactions have been extremely divided.

On Thursday, popular YouTuber and friend of Tana, Shane Dawson, who was slated to headline TanaCon, posted two parts of a three-part “documentary” dissecting what went wrong at TanaCon. The documentary, which has garnered over 9 million YouTube views, has framed Tana and the event organizer, Michael Weist, as “too young” and “too irresponsible” to run a convention-level event.

In the third part, released Monday afternoon, Michael and Tana present their documentary evidence. Tana shows a stunning lack of oversight, while Michael shows a willingness to use somewhat shady tactics and overpromise. Ultimately, both are portrayed almost as victims and Dawson provides Tana what is essentially a 40-minute opportunity to give her side of the story and frame Michael as the bad guy.

User Brow You Doing responded with a post saying that Shane Dawson is being manipulated by Tana.

Cam S, who says she attended the event, noted Shane’s ongoing complicity in the event (he was tweeting throughout TanaCon supporting the event) and that Tana reportedly instructed staff to continue trying to get people in line despite being oversold.

IAMTOASTYY, doesn’t mince words in her video, titled “SHANE DAWSON IS LYING ABOUT TANACON,” where she suggests that Shane Dawson is working with Tana to soften the publicity blow because both were involved in profiting from the event.

On Friday, popular YouTuber PewDiePie (who has been the subject of his own controversies) posted a video called “#TANAFORPRISON,” criticizing Tana’s role in the failure of TanaCon.

Philip DeFranco, on Monday, also followed up, taking some of the blame off Tana, noting that of all people, she seemed to be working to try to make things right.

Whatever you believe about the details of TanaCon, one thing sure: it will be turned into content on YouTube.

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