September 10, 2011

For Love of the 'Con

Let me begin by saying that I suck at blogging.  I never really know what to say, I'm awful at making time to do these posts, and I'm not sure what kinds of things make good Blog-posts.  But, since this is my blog, I feel there's nothing wrong with a little indulgence, so on to the topic at hand: DragonCon.

I love DragonCon.  It's my favorite cultural event of the year and the only weekend I always look forward to. I love pretty much everything about it from the costumes, to the artists and panelists, to the merchant booths, but what I especially love about DragonCon is just how huge it has become.  I don't mean physically (although I admit that it's pretty cool to see it consuming more and more hotel real-estate each year), I mean how inclusive it has managed to be.  Being part of the "core audience" for DragonCon (sci-fi/fantasist with a soft spot for "geek culture") I fully expected to feel right at home at Con each year that I went.  With so many like-minded people around, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who feels outcast or isolated.  However, I'm always pleasantly surprised to see that there's actually an enormous diversity of mindsets at Con.  Not only that, but they all seem to get along anyway.

As an example of what I'm talking about, I'll share with you an example from this year's convention. I was sitting at a table in the food court, waiting for some panel or other, when I heard a conversation at the next table that fascinated me.  It took place between two Con-goers, one was a conservative, and very religious Southern Baptist in his mid-late 50's, and the other was an atheistic phsyics grad-student somwhere in his late 20's.  Ordinarily, you'd probably expect these two to be arguing to the death about something-or-other, and indeed they were; they were arguing about the best way to make Con more inclusive.
The baptist gentleman was making his case for why God wants everyone to love one another and how in particular there should be a sort of "mutual understanding" among geek culture that we're all the same regardless of specific interests.  The atheistic physicist was making a similar case, but was saying that rather than using same-ness, we simply acknowledge those differences as something to unify us; basically that we should use the "we're all different" obesrvation as the unifying principle.  Regardless of who's argument you personally find more appealing (and the joke of it is that their arguments were the same anyway), the fact that these two very different and often antagonistic kinds of people could sit together without any animosity having a discussion of how to make everyone feel loved is a truly remarkable thing. 

This then, is the essence of why I love DragonCon.  It is my firm belief that events like this have the capacity to do real good.  I've lately been having discussions of why sports-fans and "nerd" fans are really the same things applied to different source material, and places like DragonCon seem to further that point.  In the same weekend I saw people from Star Trek conversing with Link from the Legend of Zelda and the Sailor Scouts about Doctor Who.  This kind of diversity of fandoms is all built on the very universal human desire to have a good time doing things you like.  And before anyone brings it up, I also saw people in Braves jersies walking the convention halls with people in Jedi robes sharing their fondness for having a good time with nothing coming between them.

The people that say that their fandom is somehow better or that they like something for the "right reasons" are doing nothing but creating biggotry of an even more ridiculous type.  I love the things I love.  I love sharing my love of those things with anyone willing to listen.  I'm also willing to listen to someone explain their love of something to me.  I may never like or understand it, but that's no reason for condemnation.  In a world where a guy weilding a lightsaber can have a duel with a guy holding the Elder Wand, there's no room for those who would exclude others from something meant to be enjoyed. 

There is no wrong way to love something.  There's nothing that it is wrong to love.  Just enjoy and let enjoy.

As always, your comments are welcome. 

Take care, all.


  1. While acknowledging that I stand in the very center of the choir on this one, I still feel all warm and fuzzy inside reading it. Yeah, there may still be petty fandom wars, even at con, but the big-picture perspective you've got going on is spot-on as far as what makes the experience truly great. (I may also permanently archive your third-to-last paragraph among my very favorite pieces of guidance for life in general.) Is it Labor Day weekend yet?

    P.S. It's hard to be off-topic when you don't have a stated topic. Personal blogs tend to work rather like yours has been doing, in my experience. So enough of these disclaimers and on with the ranting and raving we love! ;)
    Also, just to check your blogging vocab knowledge/for convenience's sake--
    tl;dr It's your blog; post what you want!

  2. A couple of thoughts.

    First, whether you "suck at blogging" is really for your readers to decide. And I, for one, decidedly think you don't. Your posts so far have been witty, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. You've also shown you have an ability to find le bon mot.

    I don't go to any cons, so I can learn from your experiences there but not really directly comment on them. But what you talk about really extends to a wider sphere. I'm currently in rehearsals for a community theater production. The cast and crew include, among others, some Jesus freaks, and a few really far-right conservatives, and other people with whom I might, in other contexts, have difficulty sustaining a civil conversation. Yet we are all there because we love musical theater and performing, and we work together joyously and get to know each other as people.