Have you ever been to the South by Southwest Film Festival?
Imagine for a moment any of those times you spent a crazy night partying to the point of excess. You drank more than you ever should have, potentially tried a selection of drugs you probably never heard of, and passed out somewhere near an open toilet on a cold, virus-infested tile floor near a slew of other partiers whose sanitary cleanliness would clearly have been labeled “pandemic” by any CDC employee who had the opportunity to gaze upon them, second-hand, via an Instagram photo that had been posted from the night before.
In a nutshell, SXSW is a festering growth of infection and dirt.
It doesn’t help that the festival combines the worst of the peanut butter (Film) with the worst of the chocolate (Music) in a two week conference that spends more time drinking and doing drugs than listening to panelists or watching indie films. And while in the past few years, the festival has sought to elevate its position in the realm of film, music and technology festivals worldwide, a Get Out or a Knives Out viral marketing premiere can only do so much to elevate it out of the puddle of disease that hangs like a low cloud over the entire thang.
If you’ve ever asked anyone a month or two out from SXSW if they’re planning on going to SXSW, their responses usually communicate one of the following sentiments:
Eh, I’m thinking about it.
My company is, so I guess that means that I am.
Maybe just for the weekend.
I do like barbecue…but-
If I have to…
The decline in attendance hasn’t been a surprise. The level of product has also gone down in the last five to ten years. Some of it has to do with the overall level of available content being snatched up before Sundance, so that when you land in March of any given year, that level of content is even less interesting than it had been in previous years.
Much like Comic-Con, which turned from a real kick-ass event for people, and then turned into an event for studio marketing teams…so too has SXSW turned into the same. There are the high-priced, slick pop-ups that benefit certain studio product, and then everything else. Aside from catering to the Austin-based fanboys and bloggers, the reason to go to SXSW has been tougher to enunciate as the years have passed.
So, then… Enter the coronavirus.
What a perfect excuse for not having to go to SXSW. The announcements of companies no longer attending happened so fast (after the first major company bowed out) that it made everyone’s heads spin. But it wasn’t a surprise. It was simply an excuse for having to not go to the one place that people were dreading having to go this year anyway.
People like Cannes. Business happens there. The films are interesting.
But at SXSW?
We’re just telling you what nobody would ever say outright. But the reality of the situation is that no one wanted to go this year, or last year, or any year in the last ten. It’s just…well…no one had a good excuse to not go.
Sometimes a virus can be a good thing.