Several months ago, I took my boyfriend to his first comicon. It’s a small one where we live, and I couldn’t believe he had never been before. This is a guy who spends every Saturday playing D&D or Magic. The same guy who wants a new graphics card for Christmas (and what a bargain at only $500!). Needless to say, I knew he’d enjoy it. So, after several loops of people watching (and him identifying every anime cosplay for me), we finally got to buying some shirts. I chose a classic Star Wars tee, while he was psyched to find an Evangelion t-shirt. After convincing him the only size left would fit him, he made the purchase. We met up with some friend of mine to show off our purchases. Then my “friend” comes up with the snide comment:
“You like anime? I find that hard to believe.”
Cue record scratch sound effect.
What just happened? You find it hard to believe my boyfriend likes a random anime cartoon? How is that possible? Is it because of his crew cut hair, clean shaven face, and athletic body? Does he not fit the “right” profile of an anime fan? What has happened to our culture?
We all know the stereotype. Overweight. Pale. Bad skin. Greasy hair. Name any unattractive feature and you can be sure people will associate it with con-goers. And yes, there’s always going to be those that fit the stereotype. But what about everyone else? If you were to look at my hunky boyfriend now, you’d find it hard to believe he once donned fishnet shirts and a long mane of hair. Trust me… I’ve seen the photos. Then again, I used to have short hair that changed colors every week. Not to mention the handmade hemp wallet chain and plaid pants. Ahhh to be young.
Things change. My boyfriend has a well-paying job that has strict appearance guidelines. I decided against piercing my face to the extent of swiss cheese in hopes of also getting a well-paying job. Now we’re boring slums who go to the gym and binge watch Netflix. Growing up sucks. Nevertheless, there’s always comicon right? That one day a year you can be whoever you want to be? False.
Comicons are meant to be a safe haven. They’re a place where strangers come together and share in an overzealous appreciation for their favorite fandoms. I mean, you can dress up! When is that ever allowed besides Halloween? Comicons are nerd Christmas. However, there seems to be a few too many Scrooges ruining it for everyone else.
These days there’s always a critic. No one can ever just be a fan. They’re trying too hard. They just like it because it was in that one movie. They probably didn’t even read the book. They’re just here because it’s cool and mainstream now to be nerds. They can’t be a bigger fan that ME.
Who the hell cares?
No one should ever have to prove their worthiness at a comicon.
Yes, there are people who love the same fandom you love. Yes, attractive people like nerdy things. Deal with it. A year ago, I cosplayed as Kaylee from Firefly. The amount of people asking for pictures with me was insane. Did I scoff? Look down upon them? Roll my eyes and tell them I’m out of their league? Absolutely not. I over-joyously agreed to each and every photo. Why? Because they’re fellow fans like me! They’re shouting my character’s name as I walk by! They’re telling me lines from the show and making inside jokes! What could be better?
Unfortunately, at this most recent con, I was not able to cosplay. Due to my work schedule, I couldn’t be there very long. So the boyfriend and I showed up in regular boring clothes. This seemed to warrant glares and stares from some of our fellow con-goers. Why? Good question. Are we too attractive to be at a con? Too in shape? Not weird enough? Should we have worn our glasses? Should we both move back into someone’s basement, gain weight, stop showering, and live off Doritos and Mountain Dew? Why do these things matter?
I have 2 Harry Potter tattoos. I cried at Universal. I pine for an HP themed engagement ring. I guess I consider myself a fan. Does that mean I get to snub my nose at someone who’s just now decided to pick up the Sorcerer’s Stone? (Oh wait, I forgot my snobbery, Philosopher’s Stone) Hell no! Anyone deciding to pick up a book, any book, gets a pat on the back from me. I still suggest to people to give Firefly a try. My boyfriend has even tried to teach me how to play Magic (I’m still not a fan). Encouragement is what gets your new cosplay partner. We all need a Chewy to our Han. Acceptance is what makes cons grow larger and larger until they finally can get someone from the Walking Dead to show up. Openness is what gets another signature added to the “Bring Back Firefly” petition.
And I support that.