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Convention Myopia
Posted May 5, 2010 - 11:14:52

Old Con PhotoI have no idea when I'm going to get my full convention report for No Brand Con 2010 done, but I'll try and get it done this week. While thinking about it though, something's been running through my mind: How culturally myopic so many people in the convention scene seem to be.

While it's true that conventions are supposed to be an escape from our everyday lives, that doesn't meant they are divorced from the real world. We interact with other people, and people walk in the door as actual complete people as well. But many congoers and other people in the con scene forget this... and that's when we collide with reality head on.

For example, a couple of cosplayers at No Brand Con this year decided to do a "Metal Gear Solid: Geriatrics" cosplay. The entire joke was that as the Metal Gear Solid franchise keeps having their characters age, it's the inevitable direction the franchise is going. The idea was clever, and one of the two was using a walker for humorous effect... the problem is the other decided to use a wheel chair.

Allow me to paint a picture for you: A person pretending to be someone in a wheel chair wearing a military uniform.

One con goer, who used to be in the military commented to me "Did you see the [censored] dressed as a wounded vet? Can you get more tasteless. What a [censored]!" At no point did it ever occur to the cosplayer that this is what someone would see looking at his costume. But it's what a lot of people see, and it's what anyone on the street would see.

Likewise, congoers running around with realistic weapon props don't seem to realize they are in public when they exit the convention space. On the Friday night of the convention this year, some convention goers decided to run around the hotel parking ramp with their airsoft rifles. This parking ramp is also used by a lot of the downtown businesses too, and a passerby (seeing people carrying what looked like rifles) called the cops.

And the cops showed up with weapons drawn, and I'm mostly just happy no one got shot.

What makes it worse is that a congoer who was staying at a hotel other than the official one also had a similar incident occur to him Sunday morning as well. It's because of these two incidents (and our strong desire not to have our attendees shot and/or arrested) that we now have to ban realistic gun props, orange tip or not.

In every day life, these people wouldn't have thought that running around with this stuff in public places was a good idea, but the instant they came to a convention they released their common sense and instead acted with blinders on.

I swear things weren't this bad before, but maybe I'm just actually starting to notice it more. People need to remember that when they put on a costume or pick up a prop gun that they're not abandoning the real world. They're still surrounded by it. It's fun to escape from everything, but you cannot abandon common sense. We exist in a culture and there is context to everything we do, whether we like it or not.

...and don't even get me started on the "Dead Snow" Zombie I saw at a con last year...
- Traegorn

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wow.  that is such an old picture of me, v and kaylene trae. holy heck.
I picked it because I wanted a blurry con photo, and my old camera from back then was terrible.  :P
It really annoyed me when the cops were there and my friend started joking about the whole situation. I know he had a little to drink but even then I was freaked because I had a fear the cops could have easily opened fired on everyone there. I'm just glad they didn't.
hahah, too true.  we'll just live on in blurry infamy. Or something like that.
haha, that picture.

You make a good point, though, Trae. I've been noticing the loss of common sense at cons more, too. (It seemed/seems especially present at Detour, from what I noticed and still hear. I think it's because they have a young demographic...)
inversely I saw very few people walking up the parking ramp so they were using common sense in that aspect.

Trae Dorn
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