Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lost in Spaced

Reading Keith's wrap-up of Day 0/Preview Night at this year's San Diego Comic-Con reminded me of my reluctance to go to cons in general. The USA Today article he references states that con attendance has exploded over the years. Cons are now to the point where they're not just for socially-awkward nerds anymore. Since many aspects of geek culture (video games and comics for starters) are mainstream these days, it makes sense why the San Diego Comic-Con is expecting an audience size in the six figures.

But for me, as a socially-awkward person when I'm alone in a big crowd, it's very safe to say I would not pay good money to go to a con or a special Q&A screening. Why? There's simply way too many people going out to these. Just trying to get into one is very hard. I'm not saying things suck once they become popular. It's just for me, the lack of personal involvement is a huge turn-off. I'll still see the shows and movies I'm interested in that premiered at cons. I'll still read the blogs and listen to the commentary tracks by the filmmakers. But I don't want to feel like I'm going to a pro football game when I'm sharing my inner-geekdom with others.

For example, the Spaced Invasion tour recently came to Austin. As awesome as it would have been to see Spaced with Edgar, Simon, and Jessica in person, the advance word about the expected crowd was highly discouraging. I couldn't risk taking off work, driving down to Austin, and hoping that I could get into the event, along with thousands of other people. No thanks, I'll just stick with watching the series on DVD and reading Edgar's and Simon's respective blogs.

Before going any further, I will say that if I got a press pass or had some sort of VIP privileges, I'd go. I think these events would be fun, no doubt. But me, Joe Schmoe, a small digit in a big-digit audience, doesn't want to bother with the crap that regular Joe and Jane Schmoes have to go through. Once again, the equation of the monetary cost versus the possible emotional fulfillment comes into play.

On top of this, I still have a hard time being around incredibly vocal, my-opinion-is-fact people. As Keith experienced a prime example of what I'm talking about:

The line still hasn't moved and I find myself being forced to listen to a man a few yards behind me loudly, confidently, and carefully explain why J.J. Abrams' forthcoming Star Trek revamp will suck. (Something about Uhura and McCoy not actually being on the Enterprise when Kirk took command.) He then shifts into a detailed explanation as to why Jack Nicholson made a better Joker than Heath Ledger. (Something about Ledger not taking enough joy in the performance.)

Reading this, I'm suddenly back in college re-living the following situations: 1) sitting in my dorm's living room listening to a highly-opinionated friend of one of my roommates who constantly talks about anime and cult films, doesn't care about my opinions (or really listens to anything I say), and tells me how lame I am because I don't have the Criterion version of The Killer on DVD. 2) rolling my eyes while listening to a heated debate on Fanboy Radio between a diehard anime fan and an anime nonfan. 3) trying to make eye contact with the clerk at the comic book store I hit every single week. No dice. He just hands me my change and can't look up from the register.

Now, maybe my difficulty dealing with these types of people comes from my own difficulties in life. No, I don't make a eye contact with everyone I see and make a friendly face. But it's not the same. I think it's more of a difficulty being around people I share interests with but don't click personality-wise with.

Remembering the negative experiences is much easier than all the good experiences I had with this crowd. I tend to overlook the following experiences: 1) talking Brian Michael Bendis comics with Scott Hinze before he got Fanboy Radio off the ground and being really excited. A guy who works at the campus radio station that likes Bendis? Hell yes! 2) encouraging Scott to go forward with his comics-oriented show despite our program director at the time thought that people didn't "care" about comic books. I'm still proud of Scott to this day for sticking to his guns. 3) The few very friendly conversations I've had with people who work at the various comic book stores I've been to over the years. These people weren't like the type that just wanted you to buy stuff. They actually wanted to engage people in conversation and recommend titles.

I think it's very safe to say these are many of the reasons why I don't unleash and embrace my inner-geekdom. Such a difficult war to fight.

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