The announcement of Grier and his Fam Tour (which consists of himself and a few other Vine celebrities) was made on SLCC's Facebook page, August 13. Since then, the post has tallied up more than 391 comments
, mostly negative. Here's just a handful of the responses:
"Just asking, how are they related to fantasy, comics or video games?"
"So Comic Con IS for promoting homophobic/sexist teenagers?"
"...man I typically stick by slcc decision but wtf?!"
For the most part, this 16 year-old is famous for his quirky Vine videos, his boyish charm and his frequent quoting of bible verses on Twitter. More than 16 million combined Twitter, Vine, and YouTube fans (mostly teenage girls) tune into his thoughts and shenanigans on a daily basis.
Dan Farr, Salt Lake Comic Con's founder, told City Weekly
in a recent phone interview that Grier and his Fam Tour are a solid addition to this year's lineup and will likely bring in a new, younger crowd—you know, people who love watching his videos telling young girls how to look sexier for men
(December 2013), throwing a spoon down a set of stairs and saying that's how Asians name their babies
(April 2013) and explaining to his followers that HIV/AIDS is exclusive to the LGBT community.
The following clip is from April. Click the speaker icon in the bottom right corner for audio:
"Comic Con has really become focused on pop culture," said Farr. "Is [The Fam Tour] a stretch? Sure, it's not mainstream. When we select our guests for our show we look around and see who's popular at other conventions and obviously, we listen to the fans, too. I wasn't really aware of these kids other than what was going on at other conventions and these kids have been extremely popular."
It's true that comic cons are becoming less and less focused on comic books, and Salt Lake Comic Con can book whomever they want. No one seems to care that they're bringing in the former Hercules hunk and known racist Kevin Sorbo
, or weird sextape star Hulk Hogan
. But those guys are yesterday's news! The Millennials want young, hot, social media celebrities ... like sexy teen bigots!
Farr defended his team's decision to book Grier, saying, "When I saw the comments [on Facebook] I went straight back to the management and I said, 'What's going on here? I had heard a little bit about [The Fam Tour] before we booked them and I didn't really look into it much after. But I was assured by the management that this is a young kid saying dumb things, that he's not prejudiced or bigoted; he's really just a kid goofing around and someone who goes into stardom too quickly. Maybe his feet got out in front of him."
Sure, maybe Grier's just a dumb kid with too much fame; he's apologized for all of his "lapses in character." But Grier's hateful comments—er, lapses in character—are perpetual, spanning from 2012 to just a few months ago.
Farr did condemn Grier's past statements, saying, "People are entitled to believe whatever they want. But he's gonna have to watch that, " but stopped short of full disapproval. "Comic Con needs to be inclusive, and I think if I went out there on one side of an issue, it's gonna alienate a good portion of people that want to enjoy the convention. What's nice for us, is it brings in new fans to other areas. You know there's a whole crowd of teenagers that we're not reaching, and I think bringing these boys in will help to bring new customers."
Farr says he's not at all worried about Comic Con fans or celebrities not showing up because of Grier, and that the Fam Tour will be a non-issue because they'll be isolated in one of the convention's many side meeting rooms.
"The people that come to see Stan Lee, Lou Ferrigno or Kevin Sorbo, they get to do that. They're not gonna be hit in the face with it," Farr says. "From my perspective, I really want to make everybody happy. That's my motivation in all this, I love seeing people have a good time."
Salt Lake Comic Con recently added to their 2014 lineup the social media celebrity and complete misogynist, racist and homophobe trifecta, Nash Grier. Unsurprisingly, people aren't pleased.