These days, it seems like everyone’s a hipster. I’m sorry to say that more and more often the threads, forums and bloggers I follow are spouting the same old mantra: “We liked it first, but now it’s ‘cool’ and we have all these ‘fakers’ running around, so maybe I’ll just come back when they’re gone.”
Here are 5 good reasons you should never indulge in this behavior:
1 – It makes your entire fandom look bad. I am serious about this, folks. Playing the snob makes you look like a snob. Simple, right? It doesn’t make steampunks look classy or anime fans appear hardcore. It just makes you look like a stuck-up jerk. This will drive away not just the fad fans, but many others who just happened to find your fandom at the same time a lot of other people did.
2 – It’s easy to mistake newbies for ‘fakers’. And all it takes is one condescending remark to the wrong person, and you’ve lost a faithful follower forever. Newbies are fragile souls, even established members are fragile, heck, I bet YOU’RE fragile when someone comes up and insults you, points and snickers at a convention, or – worst of all – gives you the ‘cool’ shoulder and pretends you don’t exist. Everyone has to start somewhere. Did you really have that many accessories when you started cosplaying? Did you know the name of every actor to ever play the Doctor when you first started watching the show? Did you never get confused while watching Lost? If you answered ‘no’ to the last question then you are a liar or the transcendental reincarnation of Albert Einstein. In either case, please stop reading before we embarrass ourselves.
3 – Everyone enjoys the same thing in different ways. Believe it or not, it takes two to tango. If there was no one to ‘Ooo’ and ‘Ahhh’ over your costume, would you even wear it? Yeah, you might like showing off your hard work. I like blogging about it. I don’t always go to cons in costume because it can get too distracting. I LOVE hanging out with others who do, though. A lot of people come because they want to be around other fans. They aren’t bashing your work; they actually want to admire it and communicate with you like civilized creatures with brains. I still participate, still listen to panels, still spend entirely too much money in the vendor hall, even if I haven’t dressed in attire entirely inappropriate for this century. If you say I’m less of a fan of something because of my apparel, I reserve the right to call you a sorry excuse for an inbred castoff of the Slitheen. Roughly translated *insert explicative phrase of your choice*.
*A quick note: Some cons are designed to be immersive experiences ( like Teslacon) and that’s AWESOME, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now, so don’t you dare use that as an easy excuse.
4 – Just because you don’t recognize someone’s costume, doesn’t mean it’s not legit. They may be dressed like that because they have a broader/better range of interests than you do. If you snub them because you don’t recognize them, you might as well wear a sign that says “Proud to be an Ignorant Snot’. On the other hand, if you ask what they are, more than likely they’ll tell you, and you’ll have a great conversation opener. Make friends, people, not wallflowers.
5 – You are not God. Get used to it, boyo.
As for the accusation that an influx of poor teenagers and college kids will make it impossible for pricier niche merchants to stay afloat… look around. Yes, there are now plastic steampunk goggles for sale in cheap-o Halloween stores, but everyone I know who has a pair is effectively using them as a kind of nerdy gateway drug. Those cheap goggles let them join the party. Then they see the REAL goodies and start saving up. Lately, I’ve found a lot more vendors turning to sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to find fresh customers. And it seems to be working. I’m not saying this is always the case, but by and large, I haven’t seen the Walmart-ization doom and gloom apocalypse that so many are prophesying. Effectively, my message is this: CALM THE HECK DOWN; the zombies aren’t here yet.
I’ve been around the block. I know what comes next. “But it was our fandom first!” and “They don’t do it like we do!” or “They cheapen our effort” and my personal favorite “The community’s just not the same anymore”. Here are my answers to you all: grow up and share like big kids; are you familiar with the word, ‘diversity’?; the only thing cheapened by new blood is your attitude; change is part of life – it means your fandom is alive, and that’s a good thing!
I’ve always been proud of my nerdiness, because nerds were the inclusive people. We welcomed newcomers, and I for one am always eager to see what new ideas come with all those new minds. We were above bullying. And now? We have more new friends than ever! And what are we doing with them? Treating them like trash and pulling all the same crap that the cool kids pulled on us back in the pimply miasma of high school.
Like what you like. Don’t let others dictate your interests – not through exclusion or inclusion. That goes for both the bullies and the bullied of the nerd world. I’m not asking the Kingdom of Geek or the Empire of Nerd to put up or shut-up. I’m asking them to do both.
(Dedicated to Josh, because he should have his own friggin’ fan following by now.)