As we have come to the end of Story Month here at Animology, I thought I’d end it as I began it, with a list of musings. Aside from all the advice I was given this year at conventions, I was also privy to quite a bit of musings and bits of “philosophy” related to being a congoer. And most of it makes a good deal of sense, once you’ve spent the time looking into it. Anyone who has attended conventions has these little tidbits of knowledge and observation, and many of them like to share. As I keep stating, community is the most important part of being a congoer, of being an otaku, of being a fan in general, because without other to share in our love and devotion, what do we have?
So I would like to present to you today some of the musings that have struck my fancy over the course of the “Con Year.”
“It’s all about sex and anime. If something leaks at the con, you’re s*** out of luck.”
This is actually two separate musings that I recorded together. They came from a friend of mine at Katsucon, back when I was still relatively “green” about a good deal of the con experience. While I had been attending cons for a long time, I was fortunate to be going with my longtime friends, who shared my views and moral philosophy. The idea of the con hookup, while familiar to me, was something I had no experience with. But based on what I have seen this year, they seem to be something of a big deal. When my friend told me this, he laughed, mentioned a few he had taken part in, and then went off to have another one that night.
The point of the comment, I suppose, is to be aware of con hookups, but also to be wary of them. While having a con hookup might not be so bad per se, if you have one with the wrong person, it can be disastrous. Many congoers can share tales of encounters gone wrong, and it only takes a short time for them to sly through networks of friends at conventions. While I have heard a few myself, I will refrain from sharing them, only offer a warning: be careful, tread lightly and if anything, err on the side of caution.
“Whenever you have large gatherings of people with common interests, you have hooking up.”
Hand in hand with the other comment, this musing received at Anime Next, is rather expected. It happens all the time in many other contexts, not just at conventions. Common interests, and the community they foster, are, ahem...breeding grounds for friendly and intimate encounters. Indeed, it speaks to the strength of the community, or to the bonds that form between fans. But, as i stated above, tread carefully.
“The fans used to be my people, but now you look at them and it’s not the same.”
This comment is heard quite frequently around many of the “Old timers” of conventions. While there is a general perception that cons are a recent thing, they are not. And one need only scan a crowd to find those older fans who have been a part of it for a long time. And as with anything that has a long time following, it is inevitable that some older fans will look upon the newer ones with a sense of disdain. This is a truth found in internet communities, roleplaying games, fandoms with multiple entries (like Star Trek), fantasy communities and the like. While this is not to say that all veterans are against newcomers (indeed many love opening the world up to new fans, it expands the community and passes it on), there are definitely instances of friction. New generations mean new traditions, new values and new interpretations of what has come before, and there is always the chance that it will rub the longtime fans the wrong way. (A modern example involves the influx of “Narutards” into the con scene. These obsessive fans of the show Naruto sometimes have the tendency to go overboard with their dedication, but I will expand upon that in later entries.) There is no quick fix way of handling instances like this, the best any congoer can hope for is to coexist with the new fans and, above all, not act disrespectful towards them. It’s their fandom as much as it is anyone’s, regardless of whether or not their view of it meshes with the veterans.
“Con life is better because, depending on who you meet, there’s more chance for drama than in real life.”
This is another one of those “dark side of congoing” aspects. And yes, drama is prevalent. But not everybody appreciates it. Personally, I try not to get mixed up in drama. My argument is the same as many others who avoid it: the con is an escape from the drama of real life, so I don’t need or want a soap opera flourishing right under my nose. That said, I have seen plenty of times where a con hookup goes wrong and it blows up into something huge, usually a screaming match on the con floor between two people that escalates until security needs to remove the parties. I also know plenty of people who actively seek out drama, but for whatever reason I cannot say. As with real life, there will always be those who choose to immerse themselves in conflict, and indeed revel in it. I am not one of them.
“It’s not whether or not you get it, it’s about not creating the rift. Support what your kids are into. Not supporting it could push them away towards what might not be desirable.”
Truer words have never been spoken. I have encountered so many parents in my travels this past year, and I was initially surprised by how many took the time to attedn the cons with their children, help them out with costumes, take them through the Artist Alley, and share in their experiences. And hands down, the children appreciated it. I know what I’m about to say is both cliche and very “After School Special” -ish, but in a world as chaotic, random and unpredictable as ours, sometimes a little bit of love and sharing of things that make your children happy will go further than anything else. I know for a fact that the parents and children I met share a bond that will be hard to break, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.