Returning to ConCarolinas & My Fandom
This coming June will mark my second return to That Con – ConCarolinas. It took a lot for me to return last year. I did not display a complete air of forgiveness and kindness that I should have the last time. The sore left by my experience now 5 years ago is still raw. Is that holding a grudge? Maybe. I am trying, but it is difficult. Things remain raw. The experience has made me more and more cynical and critical of fandom and sci-fi in general, turning me into an old and crotchety curmudgeon. I am not sure I want to be that anymore. I need to turn this around at some point and be more positive. If I don’t, I won’t be that pleasant to be around.
At one time, my fandom was an all consuming thing, or at least to some degree it was. I was a fan of many things – Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Stargate, Farscape, and more. I never latched on to much of the later stuff – Harry Potter and such – but I stayed relevant with other things. Anything inspiring I found in these shows and movies I brought into my games. Everything was new to me, so I found a lot of things inspiring. Now age has settled in, I guess, and everything seems redundant and reused. I guess this is how some feel in every generation as they age.
I went to fandom conventions with wonderment and passion. I enjoyed the sites, the costumes, the panels, the events, and did not game at all. However, I never developed a group of friends or “con posse,” like some folks did. I guess it was never in my nature to do it. I tried fan groups but they turned out to be very lame in my mind. If I get together with friends, I want to game, I decided. What happened to that passion and sense of wonder, then? What happened to the enjoyment I got out of going to Dragon*Con and running That Con.
First , I suppose fandom has shifted or evolved considerably away from the things I was interested in. Not only are some of those things old and forgotten to some degree but also some have changed or morphed into something else that I can not latch onto. Disney, at the center of most things fandom now, has evolved (or devolved) Star Wars into something less than what I wanted it to be. Of course the bar was already set pretty low because of the prequels but they are desperately trying to appease to the adult fans while trying to make the prequels relevant because of the younger fans who grew up on those (and actually loved them). Star Wars is not dead to me, as it was after the prequels, but I cannot be the passionate fan I once was. The best I can do is enjoy the “popcorn” value of the movies they put out but ignore the shallow stories and poor writing.
Disney has the MCU. I already start disadvantaged as I was never a comic book fan. I never got deep into them, especially Marvel. If anything, I was a DC fan because I loved Batman, Superfriends, and that one Green Lantern comic I got. So when I see the comic book plots put to film, I am less than satisfied. It doesn’t help that Disney waters down already watered down stories. I like good story above everything else. The flashy CGI is nice but like every other special effect tool, if overused, it can water down the story. This is why I am struggling with this aspect of fandom right now.
Also, it doesn’t help that I was more a DC fan to begin with. The DCCU has done terrible in the theaters. I liked it OK but if everyone else hates them, it’s hard to share your fandom. I can only hope things will get better for DC soon. The TV shows have done OK,a nd I have enjoyed them to a degree but again, not enough people in fandom like them to to feel a part of it.
Star Trek has evolved also to something else entirely. Things I have come to expect in Star Trek are not completely ignored. This is what happens when a Star Wars fan takes control of Star Trek. The new Kelvin timeline is simply terrible. If they had kept true to core axioms of Star Trek, I would have been fine with it but they completely ignored everything that is Star Trek, in favor of terrible story and boring character development. Star Trek is just not what it was.
Cosplay is huge now, and the most people things to cosplay – Marvel and Anime – two things I am not into AT ALL. So again, I feel left out of fandom as a whole and even more in a minority. The next generation of fandom has arisen and pushed out those of us who built it to what it is today. Perhaps that is why I am crotchety.
Finally, I am killing my own fandom of certain things because of what I have in those that share it with me. I no longer watch Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead because it has gotten so popular and mainstream. Is that elitist? Is that snobbish? I watched as the fandom grew and then got so emotionally attached to the show, it was embarrassing. I have no desire to be associated to that kind of fandom. Also, the stories seemed to play on those emotional attachments as much as they could to get viewership and not for another other reason. I want story for story-sake, not because it gets ratings.
I have been reading a lot more but of course, it takes me over a year to read some books. I have been listening to others off and on, so perhaps I should do more of that, to get my story fix. Lower my expectations of TV and movies, at the same time. I am sure this is common as one gets older. You disconnect to what is relevant, the stuff you liked gets old and the new stuff is hard to connect with. Nothing is more constant in life than change. You either learn to adjust or become a curmudgeon, like I am right now.
My fandom is not dead, that is for sure. It’s just burned out and bruised. The experience of that con showed me a lot of things that I am not proud of about myself and about fandom. Combine that with the changes in fandom away from things I am interested in makes for a bleak outlook for my enjoyment of fandom. But it is my responsibility to enjoy what I can and ignore what I don’t. Ignore does not mean grump about it though. Be as pleasant as you can. This is going to be very hard for me.
So how does this relate back to ConCarolinas and my second year. My fandom needs to be set aside and not effect my work at ConCarolinas, that is for sure. I may not enjoy the parts that are not gaming but I shouldn’t let it affect my mood and my attitude towards people. Also, it has been 5 years since my falling out. I need to move on. Heal up the raw spots and treat people the way they deserve to be treated. Better than they deserve! Because that is the grace my faith is trying to lead me to. Like I said, this is going to be hard.