07 August 2012

Geekdom and me, part 2

So, yesterday I talked about my history of geekiness. Today, I'm going to talk a little about fandom and my experience with it.

I attended my first convention in March 2000. It was ... actually, that's not true. My first convention was in 1999, a gaming con at RPI. I'm not much of a gamer, but a lot of my friends went, and it was fun.

March 2000 was my first Animazement. I can't remember if I wore a costume, but I don't think I did. I had fun, I volunteered, I saw a lot of great costumes, and I took a lot of pictures, back when cameras still needed film.

I fell deeply into anime fandom. I wrote fanfic. I made cosplay. I flew across the country to go to cons. I joined Yahoo!groups for my favorite 'ships. I joined livejournal communities for fanfic. (I've since left both; the former because the particular fandoms didn't interest me anymore and the latter because it got too big and there was too much drama.)

As I said, though, I still read print science fiction and fantasy. I don't see a good reason why liking anime and manga should exclude me from liking a good science fiction novel, or vice versa. (Let me tell you about some really good SF anime sometime.)

I went to my first Dragon*Con in 2006. I'd wanted to go for years--the friend who hooked me on Bujold goes every year--but I was in pharmacy school until 2005, then on residency, and I couldn't skip classes. It was chaos, but it was awesome. I spent a few hours down in the basement of the Hyatt at the lit track, wandered around gawking at amazing costumes, and being awed by TV/movie stars, even if I'm not a big media fan.

Apparently, there's some controversy about whether being a fan of Firefly is "real" fandom, or whether a costumer is a "real" fan.

Let me tell you, as someone who has done costuming, spending in excess of 50 hours sewing or otherwise crafting a replica of a piece of clothing someone wears in a TV show, comic book, movie, or whatever, and spending large sums of money on materials and patterns, is a pretty damned geeky thing to do.

I favor inclusive fandom. I share Scalzi's opinion that the core of being a geek is saying, "You love this thing I love? Let's love it together!"

I don't agree at all with Taral Wayne in his essay in File 770 [p 40] (which I only read because it's in my Hugo packet). I don't believe the purpose of being a fan is to be a big fish in a small pond, or, to use his metaphor, Andy Griffith in Mayberry, as opposed to some faceless person in a big city.

If you wonder at the greying of fandom, at the greying of the long-running cons like Boskone, or BayCon's (San Francisco) likely impending demise, wonder no further. Gatekeepers who want to keep fandom tiny and exclusive are driving away the new fans. They're driving away people who love science fiction/fantasy TV shows or movies and read books on the side. They're driving away anime fans.

Look at Dragon*Con. It's huge. The first year I went, they were in three hotels. Last year, they were in FIVE (and need to go to more; it's so crowded). The WorldCon Orlando 2015 bid chair said that there's no reason to compete with D*C, and he's bidding for the same Labor Day Weekend because he doesn't see it as a zero sum game (see File 770, op cit) and "there's enough fandom to go around." He'd prefer to work with them, not against.

I want to be excited about the things I love, whether that's the newest Macross series or the latest CJ Cherryh novel, with other people who love them. That's what fandom is about. Not self-aggrandizement.

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