Awesome Con DC Musings: Celebrities and Media Guests

While I was at Awesome Con DC, I didn’t have the chance/inclination to do a lot of walking around. My back is feeling a bit better now that my parents are here waiting for Baby Brightley to arrive and helping with all the day to day stuff. But at the con, I was hurting, I was tired, and I felt like I needed to be at the table at every moment. It probably was unnecessary, but I tend to feel extra-responsible about things like that. So I didn’t get a chance to see any of the media guests or celebrities.

I did, however, wonder what they think of cons and geek culture.

I’m very much a nerd in the academic sense… I got excited thinking about all the cool classes I could take in college, I went on a big classics kick in middle and high school (A Tale of Two Cities, Les Miserables, The Man in the Iron Mask… all unabridged, of course), and, well, I write fantasy novels. That’s pretty nerdy right there. I like Doctor Who, Serenity and Firefly, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But until Intervention, I’d never been to a convention/con and didn’t really even think about it. Awesome Con was only my second con. I don’t really identify as a member of “geek culture,” even though I’ve always been a nerd. I enjoyed both conventions I’ve been to, but I’m not sure if I would attend them if I weren’t an author. Not because they weren’t fun, but because they’re really not focused on my main interests… writing, publishing, fantasy, etc. Looking at the con and attendees from a newcomer’s standpoint, I wondered what the media guests think.

I met a lot of people that were incredibly fun to talk to… encouraging, enjoyable, and “my people.” I loved seeing people in cosplay, even though I’m not into it myself. Some cosplay was kind of meh. But some pieces were works of art. It’s kind of amazing to see what people can do with fabric, paint, cardboard, wire, and foam. As a jewelry artist in addition to a writer, I really admired the meticulous work that went into the best cosplay outfits.

I also saw some incredibly awkward social interactions. In some ways, I can appreciate that cons provide a safe place for people to interact with a clearly defined set of rules. Creepy guys who want to overstep the rules can be identified, or at least there is plenty of public scrutiny to prevent too much badness from happening. Socially awkward guys who don’t WANT to be the creepy guy but are still learning appropriate social interactions have some guidelines in place to help moderate their behavior.

From my non-actress, nerdy point of view, I see actors and actresses as the “cool kids.” The ones who got invited to the cool parties. The ones with well-developed social skills from middle school onward. Not the gamers or the anime fans or the fantasy readers eating lunch by themselves with their nose in a book. Yet the media guests at cons are those who have played in geeky/nerdy shows like Doctor Who and Buffy and Firefly.

Actors and actresses are not their characters. We all know it’s an act. But we want to meet them because their face means that character to us. Do they like that? I assume most of them enjoyed the shows they worked on (especially if they were on for multiple seasons), so to some degree they must understand why others enjoy them too. But at the same time, that role was only one in a longer list of roles, mostly for non-nerdy shows and movies.

Is it weird if some of your fans are socially awkward and strange? Is it weird to see people dressed up as a character you played? When they go to a con and meet the geeks and the nerds, do they feel “YES! These are my people!” or is it just a thing they do in order to pay the bills?

I’m sure it varies by person, of course. And neither answer is wrong. Some people aren’t geeky or nerdy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people are, and that’s fine too. Different stories and methods of storytelling affect people differently. I can’t blame anyone for not being “into” the things that I’m into.