Topic: [AX] Anime Expo's FINAL response to JLIST
Message: 1 of 9
Sent: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 07:40:40 GMT
See Also: Miscellaneous - Anime, Fandom - Anime
Sorry for the delay in responding. I wanted to talk to all my staffers to make sure that what I post is, in fact, correct. We worked together to try to piece together a complete and final response to the issues being discussed. This is my final clarification on the issue.
Mike stated several things in his post, namely J-List was "the one" selling adult material to minors, according to Disney Hotel employees I called the police back after they had gone home for the day and was "causing trouble" I grabbed merchandise from a table and showed it to the hotel employees and the police to "finger" other dealers (the big one) I made allegations about AX's video programming, causing them to cut all the anime and ruin the convention for everyone J-List did NOT sell any adult material to minors. We DID NOT do this. We sold items like Pocky, gum and Card Captor items at one end of our booth, and adult items at the other end. As is the law and policy of the convention requires, all items showing nudity were banded or covered in some way (with stickers or construction paper, or hidden inside a tall box), and anyone wanting to browse an adult corner or buy an adult item who appeared to be under 30 should be carded. All throughout Friday, I and the two sellers with me did this. On Friday night, we got a call from the convention staff: there was a problem with our booth. Officers who had walked through the room (apparently after some child had purchased an adult anime video during the con on Friday), had lifted one of our covering sheets and found a book (a copy of G-Taste) on the table out of its bag, "where minors could see it." Nevermind that the book had not been there during the convention, but in its bag and in its box -- we hardly expected minors to be running around the locked dealers' room at night, so we weren't concerned with putting this item away when we left for the day. We were told by the convention and hotel staff that J-List, as well as all other dealers in the room, would be required to remove all adult material of any kind from the convention hall. Shocked that something so drastic would be asked of us without warning, since the exact same material has been sold at every other Anime Expo in history, we asked for clarification, and insisted to talk to the police officer who had ordered this (thinking he was in the hotel somewhere). Talking to one hotel employee about the "face of anime today," I picked up a video at random that showed basically "cute girls with guns," explaining that at Anime Expo and other anime conventions, there has always been an undercurrent of harmless adult anime themes. I did not "finger" anyone, and statements that I did this in any way are completely false. (I ask that any dealer who feels this was not the case contact me immediately.)
You raised a big debate with the hotel about your first ammendment rights. The hotel pointed out that your first amendment rights did not apply on private property. You wanted to have a police officer tell you this, so they were called to the hotel.
The hotel told your repeatedly that he had left to go home. You insisted to speak to him. You conceded to me AND the hotel that because of your contract with us and the fact that you were on private property, anything that the police officer said would not affect the fact that we reserve the right to force you to remove your items or throw you out.
You went into someone else's booth and grabbed their merchandise to show to the police when the dealer wasn't there. I don't consider this right under any circumstance, particularly when you are telling the officer that they should pursue that dealer with equal severity that they wanted to deal with you.
Also see your own quote:
"The insinuation that J-List "fingered" other dealers hurts me incredibly. We did not -- what we did do is try to talk to the hotel people, telling them that "all anime" has an undercurrent of nudity and thrill."
This is not a smart thing to say to the Disneyland Hotel.
About 30 minutes later, the officer arrived, told us that he thought we and all dealers in the room who were selling adult material of any kind were in violation of various statues that amounted to "contributing to the delinquency of minors," and that we had to remove the items. This was was the mechanism that the Disneyland Hotel used to force the AX people to comply. Satisfied with the officer's explanation, we immediately complied, packing up our adult material and taking it off the premises.
The events were switched. Once the officer said that, you started grabbing items and showing it to the police.
You were not satisfied with the police officer's explanation. You debated first ammendment issues with the police and hotel. You did not stop arguing with them even after the police officer told you which laws you had broken. He even wrote them down for you to keep with the statute numbers for your records.
You also told the police officer that you believed that you were being "framed" by Disney security.
The most insulting false statement that Mike has made was #4, above. At no time did we say anything to the hotel or police or anyone imply that AX was showing adult material in the convention rooms or in any way bring about the censorship of the anime schedule. To say that I am a nazi nerf-hearder is no more and no less far from the truth than the statement Mike made. I've received angry emails from several people with unprintable content because of this statement. If I work hard for ten years, at least one person will still be convinced that J-List ruined the anime programming by telling the hotel staff that there was adult material being shown. (All of my statements can be confirmed by the people who were running my booth with me.)
You stated that there was material such as what you sell being shown in the video rooms. You also stated that the girls were quite young and that adult content of this nature is predominant in anime. The wording is fuzzier to me 3 weeks later, but what I do remember was that the second it came out of your mouth, I thought, "Oh shit!" I then called Programming Ops to warn them that something was coming down and that they should check on the Midnight Madness programming. Right after that, Disney said that they had no choice but to do a complete sweep of all the video rooms for pornographic content.
Even if we once again fall back to your version of what you believe you said:
"The insinuation that J-List "fingered" other dealers hurts me incredibly. We did not -- what we did do is try to talk to the hotel people, telling them that "all anime" has an undercurrent of nudity and thrill."
So who sold adult material to minors? J-List did not sell adult material to minors, and beyond asking for clarification from the police as to the situation (something which I consider quite reasonable), we did nothing to undermine the convention or other dealers in any way. When we heard from the police officer that he thought the items being sold at the con represented a violation of Anaheim's statutes, we packed up our adult material that night (one box of catalogs was forgotten, and removed Saturday morning), and sold the non-adult items (T-shirts, Pocky, gum, puzzles, etc.) which we had with us. Who sold adult material to minors? Since I was quite busy selling non-adult material to minors and adult material to non-minors all through the day on Friday, I have no idea at all. I heard from other dealers that two dealers, one in the back of the room (who I have no knowledge of, although I heard this person was asked to leave during Friday night), and the other JHC Development Enterprise, who was forced to leave by convention personal on Saturday morning. J-List was not made to leave -- rather, we removed our adult material and made the best of the situation, selling our Pocky and Black Black and T-shirts, and actually enjoying the convention just a little. Surely, if J-List had really sold adult material to minors, we would have been either made to leave by the police, or charged with a crime. The reason we were not is simple: we did not sell to minors.
You were asked by Stanley Lew, our Exhibits Registrar to leave the convention. You debated it strongly. JHC was asked to leave and they left without a problem. I actually made the exception and told the Exhibits staff that you could stay. I felt that it was safer to keep you with us and selling your merchandise under our supervision than outside of the con feeling angry and vindictive.
The police offered to charge you with a crime should you not comply. Disney also wanted to lodge a complaint with US Customs for allowing you to import adult material for sale to children. I discussed this with them and convinced them that we could take care of this internally. To make this into a bigger problem and possibly headlines was in nobody's interest. If you do not believe this, I am happy to allow Disney to go forward with their complaint.
Also note that in 1997, at the LAX Hilton, you were accused of selling adult material to the son of the Controller of Hilton Corp. We once again intervened on your behalf to keep US Immigration out of this. The General Manager and I discussed this and allowed me to handle this internally as a personal favor to a good customer. I personally called you to discuss this problem. You said you would remain clean after that. As a result of this incident, AX rewrote all the Exhibits contracts to add provisions to keep a repeat of this from happening again. This is why we have so many adult clauses in our contracts now. Also, the next year, the parents of the child came to AX to see if we were complying. In 1998, you did not return.
In fact, J-List had a good reputation when it comes to the sale of adult products among the members of the SPJA, at least who I talked with. One female staff member (sorry, I forgot her name) who came around my booth several times on Friday, to make sure we were carding customers, said to me, "Well, I know that J-List has always been good about carding customers in the past. I wish I could say that about all the other dealers." She then told me that JHC had been either caught or suspected (I cannot remember which it was) of selling adult material to minors last year, too. In fact, several people in the SPJA appear to know with a certainty that it was JHC Development, and not J-List, who were "the ones" selling adult material to minors, and yet Mike, for whatever reason (see below for my conjecture) has put the blame squarely on me and me alone, with his word usage ("the one"), at least in the minds of whoever read his post.
That was Rannie Yoo, our Director of Exhibits. She said that so you would not feel you were singled out. Actually, what was the case, was that as a precaution, she put a hired Disney security person near to your booth. That was the one who was documenting all the sales to minors. Rannie later came to your booth after she personally witnessed that your people were not carding minors. The minor in question ran away when asked his age. There was a "discussion" with one of your people, and a warning was issued, but it ended at that. Quite honestly, it was JHC's inability to blind their material to children and the fact that they displayed their adult DVD's on the front of their tables that brought Disney management in. Once in, the Disney security guard reported your carding violations. They were already quite wary of you when you started to argue 1st Ammendment issues.
So what is up with Mike? Having him damage my reputation publicly as he has done, it would require true saintliness to give Mike any benefit of the doubt. However, if I were to do so, I'd say that he probably has many of the facts wrong because he's hearing everything from hearsay. The fact is, Mike Tatsugawa was nowhere to be seen in the dealers' room on Friday evening, when we arrived at around 9:30 pm, so everything he says I said or did is being filtered through other persons. So my first theory is that he's simply wrong.
I was hosting the Meet the Guests Reception when the call came in that there was a problem. I was there before 9:00PM. It was Stanley Lew who didn't come in until much later. I was standing there with Disney Security and Anaheim PD through the whole incident for the next 3 hrs. These events are not hearsay. Ask any staffer. I was there the whole time.
Or maybe he's confused. We did actually sell a lot of products to minors -- gum, candy, Gundam toys, some cool Pokemon and Digimon Friends stuffed animals, and even some things like Sentimental Graffiti PVC figures. Kids could freely buy these things, but they couldn't buy or browse from the two tall boxes containing 18+ magazines and dojinshi. Maybe when he heard (through others, since I don't believe he walked near my booth once on Friday) that J-List was selling to minors, maybe he wasn't bothering to ask what J-List was selling to minors?
If I single your name out, I apologise. For the carding issues, I can't tell if it was you or one of your employees. However, ultimately, you will have to take responsibility for their actions.
The Disney security person observing the table from 4-6PM saw violations as did our Exhibit Hall Director. Like I said, I can't be sure if it was you or one of your people that the Disney people observed. Rannie said it was one of your people and not you who was letting the minors get to the adult material without carding.
It's also quite possible that the problem lies with the hotel employees who were supposedly watching me for a two-hour period sell adult material to minors. Given that the Disney Corporation had no idea whatsoever that there was an undercurrent of "adult themes" at any given anime convention, is it altogether unlikely that their employees could see me sell, say, a copy of Comp AG (a non-hentai anime mag that focuses on anime characters) and know the difference between another, adult product? Perhaps there's some unwritten rule that "if you sell one adult item at a table, you can't sell non-adult items to minors," but I have never been informed of this. At no time were hotel employees observing J-List's booth from a distance close enough that would allow them to tell the difference between adult and non- adult products, so if any of these anonymous people say that I sold adult products to minors, it begs the question -- how the hell could they see what I was selling, and then know with any degree of surety what it was?
If it was just Disney, perhaps that might be true, but the hall coordinator also witnessed it. The kid ran away when asked his age, so there was little follow up that could be done. She could only confirm that he had not been carded.
If you recall, one of the complaints Disney had was that when you were giving adult material to people to read, they would stand in front of your booth to open it and anyone walking in back in the main aisles could see the pictures that they were looking at. This is also a violation of displaying adult material to minors. The security guard could also see nudity from her vantage point while people were reading the magazines.
However, our Exhibit Hall Director is an anime fan, so if she said it is adult material, I think she would be experienced enough to know. She also managed the hall at Fanime and has been doing ours for 2-3 years now.
The fourth possibility is that Mike is all too happy to lay the blame for the convention problems on me, since he can do it -- he's the SPJA. Aside from some heated words exchanged between Mike and myself on Saturday, which I attempted to take back later in the convention, as I saw that most of what had happened at the con was indeed beyond his control, and he was just making the best of the situation. We have also had words in the past about Mike Tatsugawa's outright refusal to do anything to keep bootlegged and pirated anime products out of the most important anime convention in the US, which no doubt helped his decision to throw J-List to the dogs and blame everything on us, despite the fact that we have supported his convention for most of the past decade -- indeed, back when it was called Anime Con, before a petty scism between Mike and the other founders of the convention forced the name change.
Most of what happened was beyond anyone's control, that is correct. Once the police are involved and allegations of pornography are involved, the delicate balance that we had struck with Disney was thrown out of whack. I don't blame Disney for what they did. Given that police were there, they had no choice but to toe the corporate line. I also think that aside from some overreaction in a few places, that we did what we had to do. When we are accused of showing porn in our video rooms and the police state that pornography is being sold to minors on our premises, we need to take action. The police made it very clear that if the dealers continued to sell pornography to minors, that the entire convention would be shut down.
Mike told me that "some dealers" just won't be invited back in the future. "We don't need you," he said. "We'll probably lose three or four dealers. That's nothing." (All quotations are taken from my memory to the best of my recall and are not the result of recording or notes.)
Actually, that wasn't me. Stanley Lew was talking to you. The conversation was also in regards to what would happen if we decided as a result of this situation to ban dealers who deal exclusively in pornography. However, given that dealers like Himeya were responsible citizens at the convention, I personally don't feel this is necessary, but will discuss with the Exhibits people how they would like to handle this.
Anime Expo is a Bootlegger's Paradise In case you didn't know, much of the "anime" you buy in the U.S. is bootlegged, illegal merchandise from Taiwan and China that is nevertheless allowed to run rampant throughout the U.S. anime market. CDs by SM (a Taiwanese CD maker that steals anime soundtracks and JPOP albums wholesale, flooding the US and Asia with cheap, unlicensed CDs), bootlegged videos and video CDs of all shape and sort, wall scrolls from popular anime -- all or nearly all are pirated goods, with no royalties paid to any of the original creators in Japan. More reputable conventions, such as Project A-Kon and Anime Central, enforce strict "no bootlegging" polities, which state that "if it didn't come from Japan and wasn't licensed, you can't sell it here." On two occasions in the past, I'd talked seriously with Mike Tatsugawa about the lack of a "no bootleg" policy at Anime Expo. Pirating of products is terrible at this convention, with Taiwanese pirate CDs everywhere and disreputable retailers hocking "DVDs" that were mysteriously copied onto VHS tapes. As the leader in the anime market, I told him, Anime Expo's adoption of a strict (or even a not-so-strict) no-bootleg policy would be great for the anime market in the U.S. He was not the slightest bit interested, however. If a certain anime maker wants to make a fuss when they see their property being pirated, he told me, they are free to, but there would be no change in Anime Expo's policy.
How does deflecting blame onto bootleggers absolve you of selling to minors?
So What Went Wrong at the Convention? From Plastic Little to the shower scene in Macross: Do You Remember Love? to nearly all dojinshi, anime contains a certain "thrill" that Disney can never give us. Of course these elements would be alive and well at Anime Expo 2000, as they have been at all past Anime Expo's, and the fact that not a single person from Disney involved with the convention knew that such themes are ubiquitous in anime today speaks volumes about that company and its distance from fans. Mike could have saved us all a lot of trouble by taking the time to explain to whoever his contact at the hotel was that, in anime, there are some themes that might make some at Disney slightly uncomfortable, and they should be aware of these beforehand so they didn't choke when Kisaragi Honey-chan transformed, nude, into Cutey Honey. It is clear to me that none of the AX staff ever tried to "break" to Disney the fact that this convention wasn't just another convention -- they were probably too worried about Disney canceling their event. Therefore the overall blame for the problems at AX2K lies with the SPJA for not foreseeing this situation and making contingency plans, or for changing their stated policies beforehand (other than a special "we are not responsible, whatever happens" waiver we were made to sign) so that problems like could have been avoided.
Actually, we went to unusual measures to make sure that Disney participated in AX99. They went to showings, saw the costumes, etc. etc. A few even bought Pokemon stuff in the exhibit hall for their kids. What we couldn't have even imagined was that Anaheim PD would be brought to the convention because pornography was being sold to minors and that the accusation would be raised that we are showing "adult" videos in our theaters and that most videos, are, in fact, of this nature.
Why were we even bothering to sell adult material in the Disneyland hotel? In retrospect, you'd think we would have known better. However we've sold the exact same items to adults at all other Anime Expos since it was called Anime Con, and we had no reason to believe that this convention would be "special." Further, J-List showed good faith in our dealing with the SPJA, asking in an email some months ago if there were any changes to the policy about the sale of anime merchandise this year, since it was at the Disneyland Hotel and that was, well, Disney. I was told by an AX staff member that, there is no change in policy. The policy on adult material remains the same: do not allow any nudity or titillating images be show, and card before you allow people to buy or browse adult material. This was a great opportunity for them to tell us that Disney might frown on such stuff, so we should "take it easy" this year, but they did no such thing. (Presumably the SPJA has a policy to never warn or give advice in any way, lest they be sued for giving "legal advice.")
There was no change in stated policy. However, as you quote in a letter (not in a contract) that was sent to you in June:
The stated policy that is printed in the contract that we signed, by the way, is as follows: "The second item of concern is 'adult material.' Please be sensitive to where you are - The Disneyland Hotel. Clause eighteen (18) of the Exhibitor Space Contract will be strictly enforced. If adult material is something you carry/sell, please check the age of attendees that appear underage wanting to view/purchase said material. If an attendee does not have ID (identification), do not permit the attendee to view or purchase said material. We advise you to completely blind (cover) any 'questionable' artwork on covers or packaging. "Better safe, than sorry" is the rule here." Clause 18 of this same contract says: "ADULT MATERIAL: EXHIBITOR may NOT display material depicting nudity or sexual conduct unless it is blinded (covered) or displayed in such a way that it cannot be viewed by minors. Adult material must not be accessible to minors in any way. No adult material may be sold, given or distributed to any minor. Failure to comply may result in but is not limited to EXHIBITOR's expulsion from Anime Expo with no refund of Exhibit Hall Rental Fee, arrest, and/or criminal prosecution." As I've stated repeatedly, we did hide nudity, and we did card people who wanted to browse or buy adult products from our table. I know because I was there, and the two assistants that were with us and I were all very aware of the "Disney" factor, and that we had to be extra careful with any of the adult products we had. Despite our vast experience at past conventions, and despite our good reputation with AX (Mike not included) for being "good about carding," we supposedly sold adult products unconditionally to minors for two hours? Sorry -- this is a ridiculous accusation that is just not true.
If my people say this, I will stand by them. Disney just offers corroboration. Even the person who said that you were "good about carding" was chewing your people out a few hours later about not doing so.
In Summation What a hassle this has been. I hope that you have read my statements, which are 100% true to the best possible extend of my knowledge. If you believe me, that's good. If not, feel free to boycott J-List or whatever. For ourselves, I await some kind of official response by the convention about the whole situation. Rather than let the rumors fly as they have been (and boy, they have been), doing continued damage to people like me, they should embrace this unfortunate event as a time to communicate with their constituency, and make sure that nothing like this happens in the future. I also formally request a public apology from Mike Tatsugawa, representative of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, about his misstatements that were publically posted, and which have done damage to my personal reputation and the reputation of my business.
In summation: 1) You claim I got everything second hand and my information is incorrect. I was standing there the whole time. Any staffer in the hall could verify that. I was just in a suit like all the Disney people. 2) You admit to calling Anaheim PD to the hall. 3) At minimum, you admit to telling Anaheim PD and Disneyland Hotel, "... that "all anime" has an undercurrent of nudity and thrill." 4) The person who you keep claiming commended you also caught your company violating the carding rules. 5) You admit to touching another exhibitor's merchandise without permission.
We have decided to ban Jlist from all future Anime Expo's. The problems we have had from 1996 and 2000 clearly are not worth any benefit we may derive from having them attend. Anime Expo's position has traditionally been that all aspects of anime, whether adult or whether for children, are part of the genre that we all support. However, we cannot condone behavior that will damage our efforts to promote anime in the United States. This is particularly the case where laws are broken and we have to keep trying to minimize the damage.
There will be no apologies. This is the last E-mail regarding this subject. We are done protecting Jlist from the law and from the venues that we host Anime Expo at. Jlist is not returning and hopefully the problem won't return again either. If you would like to litigate this, please feel happy to. Hilton Corp and Disney Corp would love to get a piece of you. For once, we might not hold them back.
Mike Tatsugawa Founder, SPJA -- Mike Tatsugawa (firstname.lastname@example.org) SPJA dba Anime Expo http://www.apricot.com/~shogun 7336 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 640 ICQ 34717192 (626) 582-8200 Hollywood, CA 90046 AOL P TATSUGMI http://www.anime-expo.org
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