San Diego's annual Geek Mardi Gras, the San Diego Comic-Con, ended this Sunday. Superhero banners are coming down, and so are all those giant Conan skins wrapped around one of the bay front hotels. For five days though, Comic-Con took over a huge chunk of downtown San Diego. I can't think of another pop culture event that spills out into a city the way that Comic-Con does in San Diego.
As always, click to embiggen
Comic-Con started in 1970 as a gathering of a few hundred comic book fans in the basement of an old downtown hotel. It's now attended by over 130,000 fans of pop culture of all sorts, who come from all around the world to see exclusive premieres of films and TV shows, collect autographs, attend panels and buy things. Lots of things.
The real fun for me is outside of the convention center. The streets are literally packed with people in costumes. Buildings are transformed into theme parks. A baseball stadium hosts a zombie chase and a nerd carnival.
Oh no! Not SHARKNADO 3!!!
These guys were so awesome, and so very tired
A bold prediction as to who will win the Iron Throne…
Friendly Petco Park looked pretty scary!
But the Nerdist Conival was very friendly
Thankfully, there were plenty of refreshment options
The couch was VERY tempting
"Summer is coming, Jon Snow!"
Place your bets in the comments as to what this is, and why
These guys come every year and picket and yell through their bullhorns and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Comic-Con attendees are getting increasingly creative in their responses…
I worked in the film/TV industry for years, and I guess it's fair to say that I'm pretty cynical about a lot of things connected with pop culture and mass entertainment. I have wondered at times about the commitment some people have to their fandom, how fandom and what used to be counterculture has become more commercial grist for the consumer mill, how there is more than a slight element of exploitation of fans, with so many ways to separate people from their money.
But on this occasion especially, I had a different response. The cosplayers, for example, those guys and gals spending so much time creating costumes based on their favorite heroes and villains, the way they would happily stop and pose for photos, taking their moment in an ephemeral spotlight, another drop in a sea of selflies and Instagrams and Facebook posts and tweets…you could see the love they put into it. The energy they got back. And it suddenly occurred to me that far from being passive consumers of mass-produced pop culture, they are participants in it as well. It's a way of taking back some power from what can feel like a huge, anonymous machine. They are the ones who are powering it.
Rock on, superheroes, Starfleet cadets and Jedi Knights. The Force truly is with you.
Lisa…every other Wednesday…