There’s no question that this year’s Comic-Con will be flooded with fans. What most of us inside that beautiful comic universe forget is that there will also be a large number of fish hopping out of their water to cover the event for the rest of the normal world. Those feature blips that flash at the end of your local news cast about what some wacky, costumed people are doing in San Diego, the inevitable Slate article asking how culturally relevant it all is, the White House Press Release claiming we’ll need to step up terrorism protection with the world’s superheroes all in one city. This season, the curious gawking has already started in the form of a New York Times article that rolled off the presses last weekend.
From the bastion of liberal integrity and idiotic Bill Kristol editorials comes an article aptly titled “Hollywood Still Leery of Comic Convention.” For the most part, it simply discusses the logistical problems of fitting so many people onto highways and into hotel rooms. But it takes the kind of jabs you’d expect to see – the Con is weird, the people are potentially smelly, and it’s “decidedly low-rent.”
Whether or not NYT figures out how to use the word ‘decidedly’ correctly remains to be seen, but the article goes on to make another, larger point regarding the business end of things. Using quotes and anecdotes, writer Michael Cieply paints a picture of a movie-making culture that sees the Con as a necessary evil, a begrudging work day, a week where future box office dollars are held hostage by -gasp- discerning fans.
Instead of refuting that fairly inaccurate point, I’d like to offer this advice to the outside world wringing its hands because it has to stoop to our level to get some above-the-fold photos or late night news footage: You’re missing the boat. Instead of watching it set sail and giving your report from the dock, I’d advise you to hop on board and get your hands dirty. You’ll sweat a little bit, but you’ll have a smile on your face.
To those planning on going to Comic-Con or desperately wishing they could be there, please take pity on the outsiders that are just there for the feature story. They, deep down, are aching to feel as passionately about something as we do. Behind their pant-suits and regular bathing habits is the smell of fear – a fear that they can’t let themselves go enough to become part of something much larger than themselves. With every disdainful story angle they look for – whether it’s to wonder how the costumed masses could hold Hollywood hostage or to point out how quirky it all is – they’ll really be crying for help, wishing they could throw down their microphone and pick up just a fraction of the excitement that we feel.
In an open note to those shaking their heads, forced to head down to San Diego on assignment, I offer this open statement: Hollywood isn’t leery of Comic-Con. The travel may be hard, but beyond being bumper-to-bumper for five hours to secure $300 million in domestic box office, the real thrill for many in Hollywood is being with fans and fellow geeks. No, Hollywood isn’t leery, but if you write for the New York Times, and you’re still feeling trepidation, take a deep breath and jump into the crowd. I promise we don’t bite – except for the Twilight fans.