COMIC-CON 2010: The not-ready-for-prime-time convention?

July 25, 2010 | 11:40 p.m.

Given that his “Family Guy” has made zillions of dollars by gleefully ignoring decorum, Seth MacFarlane shouldn’t be expected to behave like a choir boy in public appearances. So during a packed session at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday morning, the TV writer-producer impishly noted placards warning panelists to watch their language because minors were in the audience.

“Kids,” he intoned, leaning into the microphone, “let me tell you what sodomy means.”

Laughter erupted throughout the crowd.

This year, Comic-Con has struggled to stay clean – or at least clean enough for the family audience that organizers say they want to attract. But profanity and onscreen violence kept creeping into the annual comics, games and toys gathering.

Chevy Chase, the former “Saturday Night Live” star who now plays a moist-towelette tycoon on NBC’s “Community,” dropped an F-bomb during a Saturday panel. So did Rainn Wilson of NBC’s “The Office,” quickly noting that his 5-year-old son was in the room. Both apologized, but not Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, who let loose with a tour de force of cheerful profanity during his appearance in the convention’s biggest arena, Hall H.

A Comic-Con spokesman did not respond to repeated phone messages and e-mails requesting comment. But there’s no question that organizers’ PG-rated imperatives have run smack into the often R-rated sensibilities of studios and celebrities.


Nowhere was that more evident than with the thriller “Piranha 3D,” which the filmmakers hoped to promote with a special preview reel for Comic-Con. Organizers decided that one sequence – when a wet T-shirt contest leads to a gory conclusion – was too explicit and refused to allow it to be shown.

The producers screened the preview nearby and promptly put out ads promising footage that was too much for Comic-Con, leading some cynics to suspect a PR stunt (the filmmakers deny this).

Director Alexandre Aja said he believes Comic-Con is being too restrictive. “It’s ironic that our movie can be labeled ‘too graphic’ … especially when our fans are mostly in their 20s and 30s,” he wrote in an e-mail. “As I walked through the convention floor, I saw much more violent imagery displayed than what we have in the movie.”

He added that Comic-Con officials could try carding underage viewers or divide the convention center into adult and family-friendly sections.

— Scott Collins

Times staff writers Geoff Boucher, John Horn and Steven Zeitchik contributed to this report.

Top photo: Chevy Chase at Comic-Con. Credit: Getty Images. Middle photo: Guillermo del Toro at Comic-Con. Credit: Getty Images

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

More in: Comic-Con, Comics, Movies, TV


10 Responses to COMIC-CON 2010: The not-ready-for-prime-time convention?

  1. Us old timers (I have been to every Con since 1980) know there was a time when the convention did try seperating family and mature content, which turned into a less than ideal expereince. The compaint of the filmmaker pales to the old days when porn stars used to sell their 'comic related' products in the open. When a mature section was set up, it was hilarious seeing the porn stars walk from the main area to the mature section, with a conga line of men following behind them.

  2. zak says:

    Really not ready for prime time convention like the title said ;) .
    From los angeles window replacement (

  3. jimmmy says:

    Why can't people simply follow the rules to be polite and not use profanity? I hope none of the offenders are ever invited back.

  4. James says:

    Too explicit? Umm, I just spent 4 days at Comic-Con and know for a fact that there was a booth with japanese hantai porn and male sex toys…yeah. Also more than half the small time printers and publishers of comics have comics involving some sort of sex and violence.

  5. Matt says:

    watch video from the Community panel and other comedy highlights from Comic-Con 2010 here:

  6. Boss Jock Spydee says:

    "With great power, comes great responsibility." Maybe these F-Bomb dropping knuckleheads oughtta remember where they're at!

  7. jmofil says:

    I appreciate that Comic Con is attempting to keep things family-friendly, so why allow scantily (read: near-naked) women and men to stroll around the convention floor? There's nothing more disturbing than seeing a too-young-to-understand child staring at these people, usually while their clueless parents snap photos. (To me, this aspect of the con is much stranger than any comic-loving fan boy.)

  8. Tmiller says:

    Comic-con is aimed at men aged 18-35 years. If you are in the panel for "Piranha 3D" with your 5-year-old, you've already failed as a parent. Leave your kids at home, or go to the appropriate panel, like the ones about Saturday morning cartoons.

  9. CDog says:

    There are plenty of kid-friendly panels and presentations at Comic-Con, including (but not limited to) the Kids Day programming on Sunday. Panelists shouldn't have to censor themselves or their material. It's the responsibility of the parents/guardians to read the panel descriptions and choose what's appropriate, or find a sitter for their kids if they're not willing to miss anything.
    Btw? If your 6 year-old is with you at the Community panel, they probably have no idea what's going on, are bored to tears, and would be happier at home anyway.

  10. Jack says:

    Tmiller…AMEN. Why is it the responsibility of the entire world to ensure that everything is sanitized and child-friendly? There has to be SOMEWHERE left where adults can relax and have fun without having to worry about offending the sensitivity of the kindergarten set.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis