Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fandom: The Next Generation

Generation X, this may be hard for some of you to accept, but it's time to step aside and make room for Generation Text.

I know, I know...As a comics and science-fiction fan of forty-two, I'm not overly fond of my increasing obsolescence but I like to think I'm secure enough to understand my reduced place in the rapidly-shifting landscape of fandom.  While attending the 2011 Mid-Ohio Comic Con as a guest this past weekend, I had several opportunities to engage in a writer's favorite pastime -- people watching(And no, not in a creepy, stalky way...)  Here's a little of what I observed:
  • Those Damn Kids are just as passionate about stuff they like as you are, probably more so -- See those four guys in the photo above?  They spent a good ten minutes hanging out at my table, talking all kinds of fun, good-natured smack to me and to one another about who was better, Generator Rex or that nowhere-near-as-cool-as-Generator Rex Ben 10 guy.  They threw out each character's advantages, flaws, you name it, all with energy and true geek passion that used to fuel many a Kirk vs. Picard argument back in the day.  They love what they love, just as you geezers do, even if you have absolutely no clue why that is.
  • Those Damn Kids aren't just fat white kids with bad skin anymore -- Ever since the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter films debuted, the traditional white, straight male geek demographic has been seemingly halved by a much more diversified and more importantly, female presence.  As a result, you can find things like Twilight memorabilia (shudder) and all kinds of custom jewelry mixed in with all those Japanese katanas and Klingon Bat'leths.  Some comics creators are wisely making specific efforts to reach out to those new types of fanbases, which only helps to grow them further.  If you're looking for real social progress, take a good look at a modern comics convention floor.
  • Those Damn Kids love to cosplay -- Once upon a time, nerds with Spock ears and Batman masks roamed the convention floor in often cheesy homemade garb, but now you can find all kinds of elaborate costumes made by people talented enough to be working in film and television instead.  Oh, cheesy still has its place, as it always will, but you can find fans wearing quality costumes from just about every TV, movie, novel series and animation project you can think up.  With numerous comics and science-fiction sites posting cosplay photos these days, these younger fans know they need to come up with something attention-grabbing and they often do.  Young women have the advantage here, obviously, and are more than willing to wear the skimpiest of costumes whether they have a decent physique to pull them off or not.  Halloween costume shops seem to be big for those female fans who want to show off as Sexy Captain America, Sexy Robin or yes, even Sexy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
  • Those Damn Kids are The Future -- Just as our geezer generation replaced the Silver Age-obsessed Baby Boomers, this new generation is gradually replacing us.  Digital comics and e-books are rapidly becoming the norm, whether you like it or not, and we've just seen how accommodating these newer formats and technologies has helped companies such as DC Comics earn their best sales in years.  Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley have given way to Pine, Quinto and Urban, creating a new generation of Star Trek fans for decades to come.  One group's Star Wars is now another group's Clone Wars.  Tom Baker Doctor Who scarves have been replaced by Matt Smith bowties and fezzes.  The names and details may change, but the core of What We Love continues on in What They Love.  As it should be.

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