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.