As summer winds down into the cool months of autumn, convention season is also slowing down. There are still some big events left to be sure, but the winter months are often considered a rest period. People will use this time to save some money, focus on school or work, and prepare for the next season of conventions; early year events typically have an outpouring of well-made and creative costumes. However, in this storm of preparing, we must remember that we’re attending these events with other human beings and their desire to have a good time is equally as valid as ours. In the meantime, here are some general tips that will help make sure that you, your friends, and strangers will have the best time possible.
Many of you have probably heard old jokes about how some fandom is someone’s religion, or that it’s “bigger than Jesus”. But then I got to thinking: what are the big differences between participating in a fandom and being a member of a religion? Personally, I grew up during the rise of the Harry Potter fandom and hold a couple of degrees in theology. The biggest and most obvious difference between fandom and religion is that (most) religions demand that one believe in the divine. Fandoms, on the other hand, don’t even need to bother with such metaphysical questions of the universe (if they don’t want to). But other than God, just how much is being in a fandom like being a member of a religion?
On a rare break from work this past weekend, my excellent beard and I made the trip down to Baltimore, MD for Otakon: the second-largest anime convention in the US with over 32,000 attendees. While I was there having fun and sweating it out in my Oberyn Martell cosplay (gratuitously pictured), I intended to pop in on some feminist and/or diversity panels and happily report on the status of social progress in the geek community, but after reviewing the schedule for the weekend, I found virtually no programming that could fit into either of those categories. This would not have surprised me five or six years ago, but with other conventions and fan events putting marked effort into accepting and celebrating marginalized fans, it was surprising and slightly disheartening to realize that Otakon offered virtually nothing that I could consider relevant to this blog. Anime has many praiseworthy tropes, especially magical girls, as well as more than its fair share of problems with representation, but for whatever reason, neither positive nor negative commentary was brought to bear at Otakon.
Trigger warning for moe weirdness after the jump. Continue reading
I am at my happiest at a convention—anime cons, comic cons; just give me a venue where I can be in costume and fraternize with nerds all weekend and I will be happy. However, I have it pretty good. I have enough of a disposable income to afford the costs of travel, hotel, registration, and cosplay. Plus, I’ve got the privilege bonus that no one questions my involvement in fandom based on my skin color.
Fans of color tend to be less well-represented at conventions, and that’s where the wonderful organization Con or Bust comes in.
Con or Bust is:
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited by geography, type of con-goer, or con; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.
So New York Comic Con happened you guys! Yay! Saika and I had a good time, but there were some things that definitely could have been improved upon. Some deal with the actual con and others deal with the people present. Here we go!
How many of you here are in the Supernatural fandom? Yes, all of you? Then you probably know about NJWank2013: one of Supernatural‘s many chances to gank us all with angry feelings before the season finale. Let’s recap the events: At a Supernatural convention in New Jersey (“Salute to Supernatural 2013”), there was a panel with Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, otherwise known as Sam and Dean. The first questioner at this panel was a young lady who started her question with “I’ve loved seeing Dean’s character become more comfortable with himself this season. I’m bisexual and I’ve noticed some possible subtext…” She was immediately drowned out by a chorus of booo’s. While a bodyguard confronted her, Jensen said that he couldn’t hear the question, and that he planned to move on. “I meant no disrespect,” said the girl, and that was the end of that story.
There have been eleven seasons of Project Runway and two full seasons of Project Runway: All Stars. Usually the show turns out lots of pretty dresses and other things you might imagine on a high-end-ish (this is reality TV after all) runway. Sometimes they go a little funky or costumey or tacky, but rarely do they ever pick something truly outside of these norms for the win.
This time, however, they did.
Michelle Lesniak Franklin from Portland, Oregon did her take on a steampunk collection. I personally liked her since the first episode of the season, where she described her ideal client as “a hip girl who can recite the entire periodic table of elements”. So sort of like me and a lot of the women who probably read this blog. I rooted for her all season (even when she was getting screwed over by the judges) and she finally came out on top a couple weeks ago! Yay!
In geekdom, there are a lot of different points of view when it comes to fashion and you see it at cons; our version of a catwalk so to speak. In general, you have your cosplayers, your more goth kids (who Saika calls “the people who fell into Hot Topic”), and your steampunk. If you follow more mainstream fashion, you know costumes, Hot Topic/goth gear, and steampunk are not exactly trending right now (or ever). So to have a popular reality TV show acknowledge someone who has more of a steampunk aesthetic is a big deal. It says that geekier fashions have a place outside conventions—that your leather jacket with 5,000 buckles is cool and not bizarre.
So congratulations, Michelle, and thank you for making the fashion world acknowledge that steampunk has its place there!