|Slave Leia cosplayers: There can only be more than one.|
As many of you may have noticed, Comic-Con is currently underway in San Diego, which, as film critic Scott Renshaw noted, is “a stupid place for an event where you're indoors the whole time.” (This documentary I reviewed over at Tor is an okay-ish primer.) It's the nerd Super Bowl, a massive event, a place where somebody detonated a claymore full of comic books, video games, science fiction, TV, board games, toys, fucked-up carpeting, and laminated badges. My only in-person Comic-Con experience is with the decidedly smaller and less crazy one in New York, and let me tell you, even that blew my fuckin mind. I got lost for half an hour trying to find the room where my roundtable interview with Joe Cornish was, then I got lost for another forty-five minutes trying to find someone to covertly hand my borrowed press credentials off to, eventually randomly stumbling across a colleague who was cosplaying with her girlfriend as the Eleventh Doctor and companion. Then I tried finding another friend's booth for another bewildering few minutes and eventually just had to check the fuck out from sensory overload and get in a goddamn cab.
The thing is, as fascinating as the whole thing is, and as much a nerd as I am, I still don't quite fit in at Comic-Con. While there isn't really a Con monoculture (much as it all may blur into one for outsiders), I don't really fit in with any of the tribes, either. I'm not a comic book guy (I like them, I just sometimes brainfart and think Steve Ditko coached the '85 Bears), I'm not really a hardcore gamer, for the same reason I don't really get down with swords and orcs and gelflings and questing and saying “thou” and shit, because it feels like all the big video games are The Quest of the Eldritch Dragon Lord, unless they're Tom Clancy's Call of Modern Warfare, and if I want to play that game I can watch Fox News while voguing with my PS3 controller. Movies, I do like (as you may have noticed), but I don't get automatic geek boners for superhero trailers (the squee-est I ever got over a trailer was for Bande a Part at Film Forum, because my superpower is being tweedy enough to fucking crush planets). Toys, hey, look. I don't want to be all “I'm in my fucking 30s” and stuff, but I'm in my fucking 30s. If you told me they were putting out an Alain Delon action figure from Le Samourai I'd be all up on that shit, but otherwise y'all can have 'em with no competition.
While Comic-Con is fine and dandy for the people who it's for—and I won't lie, even though I feel like I'm in a foreign country there, it's a reasonably hospitable foreign country—it's not for everyone. With that in mind, here are some alternate Cons (feel free to break with longstanding Movies By Bowes ™ tradition and actually use the comment section to propose Cons I might have overlooked):
The idea: This is something the Self-Styled Siren and I came up with a while back (I don't remember whose idea it was, and she doesn't even remember the conversation; such is the danger with goofy passing fancies): a whole Con based on Fritz Lang. Which would fucking rule. You got a solid forty years of awesome movies to choose from, even if you'd have to stick to the classics to appeal to civilians. Though, on second thought, the idea of any civilians voluntarily showing up to Fritz-Con is the funniest thing ever.
Cosplay opportunities: Many, and awesome. Dudes can cosplay as Dan Duryea in Scarlet Street and have everyone in a hundred-mile radius be like “Whattafuckindouchebag . . .”
Or fuck it, show up as Fritz himself if you want rule fucking balls:
For the ladies, you could cosplay as Thea von Harbou and get in a fight with one of the Fritz cosplayers, or if you're feeling less dramatic, you could be Sylvia Sidney in Fury—
—or Brigitte Helm—
—or Joan Bennett—
—I mean, you got tons of options here.
Must-see booths: You got your UFA booth, with a dude on stilts dressed as F.W. Murnau, that booth's got great lighting and is shaped so weird you wonder how it doesn't tip over. Then you got your noir booth, which is lit similarly but stuff looks more normal, though the booth babes have an unfortunate tendency to make men leave behind the lives they've known and unravel along Freudian psycho-sexual spirals, but hey, man, shit happens at Con, what can I say.
Potential for commercialism to swallow it whole: Nil, unless the Skrillex “In the Hall of the Mountain King” remix blows up.
The idea: A Con for the kind of people whose jokes are too complicated and “ironic.” The entire Con is spent explaining to people with increasing exasperation that the Con has nothing to do with Donkey Kong. No one really knows why it's called Donkey-Con, because the explanation is so long no one has ever managed to sit through the whole thing.
Cosplay opportunities: I was at a Halloween party a few years ago talking to a friend of mine and her roommate. My friend was wearing a big old ratty-looking beehive and smudged make-up, and her roommate was wearing nothing but a plastic bag, a white tube top and shorts, and a big straw sticking up out of her cleavage. They explained they were Amy Winehouse and her bag of cocaine. Which was awesome, because this is when Amy Winehouse was still alive. At Donkey-Con, the people would explain that they were cosplaying as my friend and her roommate . . . get it? (Ed. Note: Donkey-Con is fucking insufferable)
Must-see booths: There are a lot of them, but after the first one explains what it is to you, you leave and go to the bar.
Potential for commercialism to swallow it whole: Virtually guaranteed, because some evil white guy in a suit would be like “Hey, wouldn't it be ironic if we made a billion dollars off this bullshit?” And he'd proceed to do so, even while everyone at Donkey-Con would explain that that wasn't really ironic, but if a trip to Donkey-Con teaches you anything, it is that you do not listen to anything anyone at Donkey-Con says.
The idea: The world's finest con men and women “con”vene (ahh, being me fucking rules sometimes) to present the latest in flim-flam, misrepresentation for financial gain, and plain old bullshit. Paypal me a hundred bucks and I'll tell you what city it's in this year.
Cosplay opportunities: This one can be a little tough to pull off—
—which is why this one's the most popular among men:
For the ladies, there's always the classic Brigid O'Shaughnessy—
—or if you're feeling new school, Annette Bening in The Grifters (secretly one of the sexiest performances in cinema)—
—or you could go subtle and just try a variation on “eye-catching but relatively unassuming.” You know, because you want to build trust in your mark.
Must-see booths: Hard to say, but one thing's for sure, at least one of them's going to prey on your deepest unspoken desire.
Potential for commercialism to swallow it whole: Awesomely, all the corporate sponsors lose all their money, too, just like you. Though, I mean, it sucks that you got fleeced, but hey, the evil white guys in suits did too, fuck them, woo hooo!!!
The idea: Fuck yeah, that's right. A racially insensitive, commercialized-to-the-gills Indian cinema Con aimed squarely at NRI/American fans. Boosh.
Cosplay opportunities: Dude. Fucking unlimited. You can be bland and go the Shahrukh Khan NRI melodrama route—
—or more traditional, which in this case is less boring (here's Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai in a still from Devdas)—
—or straight-up 70s WTF—
—I could go on all day. We're talking the greatest cosplay like, ever.
Must-see booths: All of them. Good luck getting into the SRK panel, though, it's fuckin gonna be jammed. He'll be the only one of the Three Khans there (otherwise they'd just call it Three-Con): Aamir will not be there because it's not serious enough, and Salman won't be there because the Con isn't being held in his backyard.
Potential for commercialism to swallow it whole: Considering that this entire thing is a rancidly cynical marketing thing that would piss hardcore North American Bolly fans off to the point of murder (which is why the list of stars attending is always going to be weirdly selective), having it be consumed by commercialism would be a bit like dividing by zero. But seriously, it'll still be worth it for the mind-bending cosplay.
That, of course, is just the tip of the Con iceberg. To each your own subculture. May it never outgrow you.