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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What’s your best tip for being cool at Comic Con?

Newsweek has a piece up today offering “Seven Ways to Be Cool at Comic Con” — and its definition of cool is definitely… bizarre. This is what Newsweek thinks you’ll be competing with:

Today, the cheerleading squad has gatecrashed the cafeteria’s geek corner: Gwyneth Paltrow goes to Comic Con, for Spock’s sake. And Jessica Alba, and Robert Pattinson, and thousands of other blowdried, Chiclet-toothed people from movie studios, television networks, record labels, and the like. How does one come off as an authentic insider, now that the event beckons so many Twitter-happy poseurs? We broke out our slide rule, protractor, and decoder ring to create a foolproof method to fitting in:

Here’s one tip for Newsweek: Comic Con hipsters won’t be carrying slide rules. iPhones, yes. And maybe a slide-rule app on the iPhone (of course they exist!) But Jesus H. Christ on a teleporter pad, a slide-rule joke? Really? I am a bona fide, authentic Gen X geek, and I have never, ever seen an actual slide rule… except in Apollo 13.

So it’s hardly surprising, then, that Newsweek’s “tips” are collection of nonsense (“Know the worthy projects”? we geeks already know them) and the sort of surprised shock that comes only from those who know absolutely nothing about fandom… like Newsweek’s stunned amazement to discover that cons are a hotbed of, well, hot beds:

Penthouse blew the lid off the convention’s supposed seedier side last month with an article called “Geek Love,” which reported that Comic Con is “all about the sex.” Something about open-bar events, en-masse hotel bookings and spandex costumes just encourages people to pair (or triple) off.

Dudes, any con is all about the sex. See, it’s something about getting together and having fun with likeminded people who share your obsessions… and for some fans, sure, it’s the only place where they feel accepted. And those “creative pickup lines” Newsweek suggests the wannabes cultivate? If you’re really a total newbie and relying on Newsweek for sci-fi sex advice, you’re gonna be in trouble. Because if you get your Farscape reference even the slightest bit wrong when trying to pick up that Aeryn Sun, you’re not gettin’ anything but laughed at.

Let’s help Newsweek out, the poor dears. What’s your best tip for being genuinely cool at Comic Con (or any con)?

I’ve got a few:

1) Don’t actually wear at the convention any T-shirts they’re giving away at the convention.

2) In fact, if you wanna be really cool, don’t wear anything that brands you as a fanboy or fangirl except perhaps one small, elegant pin or piece of jewelry.

3) Hang out at a well-positioned bar where you can people-watch. You don’t have to drink (though you could buy a soda and tip the bartender or waitress well!), but sit there long enough, and you’ll see a steady parade of the really cool people, like the writers and artists and other creative types wearing Guest badges. If you didn’t get a chance to ask a question at a panel, you just might have that opportunity at the bar.

(Oh, and speaking of iPhone apps: there’s an official Comic Con iPhone app, naturally.)

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • doa766

    the best way to be cool is to go to Comic Con to check out new comic books and completely ignore anything TV, movie or videogame related

    that is, of course, assuming there’ll be any actual comic books at Comic Con

  • I’d say that paradoxically, if you want to “look cool” at a sci-fi con, you’re missing the point. The awesome thing about sci-fi cons is that you can wear whatever you like and nobody bats an eye (but please have laundered it in the last week, for the love of god). The best outfits I’ve seen have been constructed out of freebie bags given away on preview night. Brilliant!

    But the Newsweek writer does have a point; ComicCon is pretty mainstream now. Mostly people go just to be marketed to. If you stick around Artist’s Alley and only go to panels with comic writers or media guests who aren’t there with studio execs, or shilling for their next project, you might have a good time. Sitting in Hall A waiting for the next marketing push (sure to be an extra on the eventual DVD release) of the latest movie or TV show… well have at it.

    That said, if it weren’t so godawful crowded and filled with the same mundanes who mock me IRL, I’d totally kill to see the Who/Tennant presentation.

  • So much for “preview”!

    I should say, if ComicCon weren’t crowded and filled with mundanes, not the Who panel. I went last year, and the Torchwood/Who audience were just as pleasantly geeky as myself. Also pleasantly geeky – the Torchwood/Who guests.

  • 1) Don’t actually wear at the convention any T-shirts they’re giving away at the convention.

    “You’re wearing a t-shirt for the band you’re gonna see at the concert? Don’t be that guy.” – PCU

    2) In fact, if you wanna be really cool, don’t wear anything that brands you as a fanboy or fangirl except perhaps one small, elegant pin or piece of jewelry.

    At some point, we are allowed to wear clothes of some kind, yes?

    3) Hang out at a well-positioned bar where you can people-watch. You don’t have to drink (though you could buy a soda and tip the bartender or waitress well!), but sit there long enough, and you’ll see a steady parade of the really cool people, like the writers and artists and other creative types wearing Guest badges. If you didn’t get a chance to ask a question at a panel, you just might have that opportunity at the bar.

    4) Find the Devils Panties table (booth 1230) and worship Jennie! Oh, and ask the Something Positive guy about catgirls. >:-)

  • misterb

    The last ComicCon I went to was in 2003 (after all, I’m so old that I got a slide rule for graduating from high school). Seems like things have changed a lot in a few years. I wouldn’t know cool if it bit me in the ass, but if you’re in San Diego, you should wear slipas, shorts and a surf shop t-shirt. And you should eat fish tacos.

  • Mimi

    Where is the website that sells fanboy/girl-themed “small, elegant pin[s] or piece[s] of jewelry”? I gotta get me some of that.

  • Angelica

    I go to conventions for the costumes both to see and to wear them. Some of the coolest people I’ve see and met have totally awesome costumes. Like last year there was a guy dressed as an old school Cyberman and he was flanked by most of the incarnations of the Doctor. I was in heaven.

  • Anne-Kari

    The awesome thing about sci-fi cons is that you can wear whatever you like and nobody bats an eye

    Exactly. nerdycellist, I’m with you.

  • pedro

    Well, although we Europers don’t have comic cons, i suppose they’re kind of like huge rock festivals. i.e., any other day, wearing your Metallica shirt gets you disapproving looks. but on that day, EVERYONE is wearing them! so just chill, be yourself, and you’ll be fine.

    *sigh* if only that applied to the “real” world…

  • My best tip for being cool at ComicCon:

    See if you can arrange to be David Tennant.

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