Attention, Comic-Con Fans: TV Cameras are Not Your Friend!

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News media can't resist the optics, but fans are viewed as an end-of-the-newscast oddity

As Comic-Con has grown and movies like “The Avengers” and “Avatar” mushroomed into huge boxoffice attractions, the media have understandably become increasingly enamored with the convention.

But to those attending — especially adults planning to enhance their experience by wearing colorful costumes — here’s a reminder: The media, especially those toting TV cameras, are not your friends. Or to put it in “Poltergeist” terms, “Don’t go toward the light!”

Comic-Con might be demographically attractive to TV news outlets — they see pop culture as a way to broaden their appeal beyond news junkies — but those aforementioned fans fit under the heading of end-of-the-news oddities, like the Golden Retriever who can knock a basketball through a hoop.

As a consequence, the reporters who show up are looking to both tap into the audience curious about the next Captain America or Thor movie while simultaneously lampooning those who would invest so much time and energy in such trifles — characterizing them as divorced from reality, or at the very least, hungry for an escape from it.

The pictures that can be culled from Comic-Con are, of course, tailor-made to a local newscast or a spot on cable news. But juxtaposed with the events happening outside San Diego — from the Zimmerman verdict to turmoil in the Middle East — the convention can’t help but be reduced to the wacky human-interest story used to send people off to sleep with a bemused chuckle.

While many fans have a sense of humor about themselves, we’ve all encountered those who don’t. And there’s a fine line, in this context, between playfulness and being subjected to ridicule.

Moreover, while Hollywood has become more conversant in geek-speak out of necessity — it’s simply good business to learn how to address your best customers — its colleagues on the other half of the media equation, in news, have less incentive to do so. If anything, something like Comic-Con offers them license to inject a lightness into newscasts that’s often lacking.

Actually, the best bit ever about sci-fi/fantasy/comic-book fans likely remains Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s visit with “Star Wars” zealots camping out for “Attack of the Clones” in 2002. At least it was completely overt about ribbing the faithful, while doing so in a way that exhibited a knowledge of and underlying warmth toward their passion.

TV reporters won’t be so respectful.

In the movie “The Magnificent Seven,” the leader of the bandits says of the farmers, “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.” And one could presumably draw a similar conclusion about geeks and a little harmless mockery.

Still, just because someone’s going to throw a jab doesn’t mean you’re obligated to walk into it. So if you’re 42 years old and wearing that prized Mr. Spock or Batman costume, and you see someone with a TV camera coming your way, here’s some sage advice: Take a pass. As Triumph might say, you’re only being sought out for them to poop on.

Oh, temper that with one disclaimer: If you’re a young woman who can legitimately rock a Princess Leia slave-girl outfit (and there are always a few dozen of them roaming the halls), you probably have a fighting chance of coming out OK.

Sex sells, after all, and even in TV news, boys will be boys.

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  1. John Rozum says:

    I still don’t understand why someone dressed up in an elaborate, handmade,superhero, or Star Wars costume is subject to ridicule. The notion being that these people are somehow divorced from reality when what they’re really doing is using their own skills and creativity to celebrate a piece of entertainment that has brought the lots of joy.

    Yet,socially it’s acceptable for people to deck themselves out in clothing specific to a sports team, including relics jerseys belonging to a specific player. Sports fans seem more divorced from reality. I’ve heard lots of them refer to a sporting event with terms like “we won,” as if they actually were playing in the game as a legitimate part of the team. I’ve never heard someone dressed as a Jedi procla that they helped defeat the empire. Likewise I’ve never seen hordes of Lord of the Rings characters whooping it up drunk on the sidewalk. I can’t say the same for people with the letters of their favorite college teams painted onto their faces. This is such a bewildering double standard we have for areas of fandom.

  2. Adam Staffaroni says:

    I understand your POV, Brian, but you’ve got it wrong…

    Comic Con fans, don’t be ashamed of your passion!

    You shouldn’t care if the average nightly-news-watching American is giggling at you or not — because their children will also see you, and some of them will say “Wow, that looks cool.” Your example will help them muster the courage to ignore the giggles in the school hallways, to be proud of their passion, and proud of who they are.

    So, Comic Con attendee — no matter your size, gender, or costume — show off in front of those cameras, and let America know who you are!

    – Adam Staffaroni
    Comic book editor, Ivy League grad, and unashamed fan

    • You missed the point. Completely.

      • Maeve says:

        His point is that as long as geeks keep being ashamed about their passions, the more enjoyment the “straights” will get from mocking us. Their mockery should be exposed as the pathetic teenage bullying it is by our unwillingness to put up with it, or hide from them. We should DARE them to mock us.

      • Adam Staffaroni says:

        @Pietro… add something to the debate. You have a thesis, support it.

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