The FENX and Encounters at Farpoint: To CON or not to CON, that is the question…

Posted: February 21, 2012 in FENX 4.0, Star Wars
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Often, the hardest thing about blogging is beginning; finding a way to allow that kernel of an idea (or in this case a recent experience) to flow onto the screen coherently though the keys.  Sometimes, the difficulty comes because you’re still processing your experience as you are trying to write about it; this is where I am.  This past weekend, I travelled to Baltimore with some friends to attend Farpoint, a DC/Baltimore area Sci-Fi convention (often referred to as a “con”) named after “Encounter at Farpoint”, the pilot episode of Star Trek:  The Next Generation that aired in 1987.  I’d never been to an event like this (an admission that I am sure surprises some).  Growing up, my Star Wars/sci-fi fandom was really contained between certain members of my family and a few close friends, very much of the Fanboys variety.  Yes, we collectively spent a small fortune (to us) on the Star Wars Customizeable Card Game in our teenage years and read all sorts of novels and comic books, debating this or that, and saw the Star Wars Special Edition in theatres in 1997 and the prequels after that, but yesterday was the “first step into a much larger world”, to quote a wizard who’s “just a crazy old man.”

Upon registration and meeting up with a new friend named Rob, whose idea this was from the start, we met Michael Hogan (a.k.a. Colonel Tigh from the Battlestar Galactica (BSG) and Slade Wilson/Deathstroke from the final season of Smallville).  It’s a slightly jarring but welcome experience to realize these folks are just normal people playing a role, but fans often idolize them nevertheless.  (For Rob, who is a ardent BSG fan, this was the highlight and it happened right out of the gate.)  Mr. Hogan was rather gracious as we all discussed BSG and I asked a question or two about Smallville.  Before I knew it, we were listening to a panel about creating a “webisode series” and what that takes (think Felicia Day and “The Guild” – as it happens I kept thinking of the latest season of this web show when trying to imagine what yesterday’s experience might be like).  The down side sometimes being that at these panels some individuals in the audience won’t stop talking and you can’t learn anything useful (what a grand initial experience).  During the BSG panel I began to realize how these local events tend to work, with the local folks who put the event on moderating panels, and while some of them seemed to be with it, I certainly felt like my friends and I could have done a better job.

The fulcrum of the entire experience came unhinged during the panel discussion on The Big Bang Theory: the realization that there really are those that truly live for these events and honestly have little else in their lives…and that compared to them I am, thankfully, a rank amateur (that, and everyone in the room danced around the issue that there are those that watch The Big Bang Theory just to laugh at folks like us because they cannot believe such people exist in this world – or they want to see what the kids they picked on in high school grow up to become).  That was a somewhat comforting moment of crisis, in stark contrast to being told I “out-geek” myself on a regular basis.     Not to say I can’t hold my own in such a place (or a later panel on the Thundercats).  A question inevitably bubbles up as this moment passes and further reflection transpires:  how deep into such a culture are you willing to go, and do you even want to, is the pay-off worth it?  Conversely, are you presently within the happy medium and would rather stay there?

Diving into the costuming facet of that sub-culture though, some of the ladies that show up should know better than to degrade themselves via the scantaly/tightly clad persona they choose to inhabit for the day (or weekend); I understand it is an individuals cognisant choice too do this but this is liberation? I digress…

The jury is still out on continued experiences to knowingly further embrace this culture , but one thing can truthfully be said : I learned something about myself, and never felt more normal in recent memory then when I arrived home that night, but wondered what might happen next year if I were to returned ensconced in the FENX.

(This blog post brought to you by the 20th Anniversary edition of the Transformers:  The Movie soundtrack and the new Ghost Rider movie)

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

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