On September 5, 2012 WPLG Miami Local 10 News posted on their website incendiary comments of costumed players, called cosplayers, at the Orlando, Florida event called, Star Wars Celebration VI.
Those comments incensed the Star Wars fan community, because it berated several major Star Wars costuming groups that attend charity events as like, "Darth Vader". It makes the kids happy!
Of the key groups targeted were:
The Dark Empire
Mandalorian Mercs Costuming Club
And countless other persons who have a hobby as dressing up like Darth Vader, pretending you are like him and posing for pictures with the kids.
Some people spend a lot of money on their costumes and while that money can go toward community service programs, doing cosplay is some people's hobby. In fact, it is some people's way of life.
At the convention, there are seminars or panels on a variety of topics related to Star Wars fandom. The popular ones involve the major actor appearances and premiere showings of movies or television shows. The lines are long for those and one must stand hours on end to attend said events, unless there are advanced ticket sales, which usually can sell out.
But there are other panels that include: Writing, Filming, Collecting and Prop making. Sometimes, there is insider access to the nuts and bolts of the movie industry itself. There may be one on one interaction and dialogue with the presenter.
I had a fan table and with the help of my wonderful husband, I was able to attend a few of these "other panels". I attended the "hot events" - one event I came to late and could not get in. But better luck next time.
As fan table, I handed out SWAG77 Maul Squares that has our information on the back in a QR Code.
I had a television connected to my computer and I used a wireless hotspot (kinna recommend not doing that again). We showed our activities on Facebook and Twitter. I even had a "MIC" that could record my voice for later podcasts. But there was more I needed done.
I had a "costume" if you call it that, but for mobility reasons, I chose to wear it one day. As my costume, I had a helmet! It was a lovely helmet. I paid a lot of money to get and have it painted. Even the director of the television show liked my helmet. Even Seth Green, the actor and producer of Robot Chicken, took a picture of my helmet.
My geekitude levels were high ever since.
Then, roughly a week after the event, I see fellow cosplayers photographed and propped up on a website with condescending messages, such as, "Dateless men", "hairy women" and "Luke Skyywalker" in reference to Luther Campbell the rap artist. This came from a Miami
The backlash by the Star Wars community was immediate. Then it got me wondering, what WPLG Local 10 did is a part of cultural disequilibrium. Unfortunately, the reporters they sent up to Star Wars Celebration 6 failed to understand the cultural impact of what going to a convention or "Cons" means to attendees.
While my first time attending a Star Wars Con, I had attended a few cons before, I actually attended San Diego ComicCon like BACK IN THE DAY in like 1984 at Scottish Rite. But that just shows my nerdiness as a kid when my parents had no clue I really liked that stuff. I am a recent convert who has embraced my inner geek and relished in it. Sad part is, I get from both sides, again.
GEEZ! That means I need to write this, Channeling Princess Leia thing.
But this does not give the reporters a pass on their actions. However, it does help me understand their issues with Star Wars Celebration. Even my own family was like, "WHOA" with all the amazing costumes! But in a larger society, many different communities do not really understand the "nerdy-geeky". Sadly, to them, there are only REAL WORLD issues that can never be solved in a fantasy, fictional society. That the amount of money spent on a costume could have helped someone debilitated.
I say to that, the creative mind is our strongest weapon against society's ills. To dream a big dream is what drives up to go to the stars and change lives. Sometimes all a sick child has are his or her superheros cheering them on...
Who are we to judge what hobbies people have when it does not hurt anyone? There are fans who go to football and basketball games. Fans that attend concerts to see their favorite artists. And there are fans who like movies, such as Star Wars in particular, that want to delve deep into the Force and find another way to their life some happiness.
Whatever the reason for people's geekdom, it is still tapping into the creative mind, and when others judge that, it devalues us individually and our humanity.
There are times for most things and sometimes, being creative is not always the answer. Sometimes we do have to "grow up" and be analytical. And as a scientist with a Ph.D. in molecular genetics with published papers in cardiology, diabetes, aging, and cancer, I know the precision required to move in a thought process.
And then, there sometimes, I want to dance and express myself, gleefully on what brought me joy as a child.