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CobraShipper [userpic]

A Realization

November 30th, 2011 (10:39 am)

Geeks have a better grip on reality than non-geeks.

Hear me out.

I go to conventions.  I am unashamed of my fannish subculture.  In the best possible way, I live by the motto FIAWOL (Fandom Is A Way Of Life) without the insistent terminology and back-biting some geeks seem to wrap up in the term.

When I'm in costume for a con, a photoshoot, or some other event, and it's not Halloween, I get questioned by the uninitiated.  I take it as part of the territory and politely explain my fannish hobbies and love of whatever I am representing with my costume.  After ten years of these questions, I have come to the realization that geeks understand the line between fantasy and reality better than non-geeks (here defined as those who do not attend fandom cons).  We not only understand the line, but we know how the line works.  Who do you think edits TVTropes.org with in-depth analyses of storytelling techniques in our favorite series?  Those of us who costume are likely to study the original pieces both on and off the screen in an effort to duplicate fine details.  Those of us who write fan fiction use our knowledge of the series' worlds to build new, non-canon stories.  Meanwhile, portrayals of geeks in the media condense the richness of our hobbies into a refusal to live in reality, lumping con-going costumers in the same category as all-day gamers (answer me this: how does an all-day gamer find time to make costumes?).

By contrast, my interactions with non-geeks while at fannish events have revealed a more frightening set of misconceptions.  Take Ghostbusters as an example.  Everyone knows Ghostbusters, and it's one of the costumes I wear the most in public.  Yet I cannot wear my Ghostbusters uniform without getting asked if it's my job to catch ghosts - most often by straight-faced women.  If I try to play it in character and say yes, they want to know how the PKE meter and proton pack work, where we keep the ghosts, whether we have a card... so I don't play along anymore unless it's a kid.  Kids should have little fantasies like that, and I daresay they are better than their parents at distinguishing that line where reality has to start.  To take my conversations with seemingly normal people walking past cons, you'd think the general public is terrified of our subculture... and they may be.  Apparently, we learn real magic, fight with real weapons, and belong to militias.  "Is that your real hair?" they ask, awestruck that we achieved such a neon shade of blue.  "So if it's a military-themed video game, why aren't you playing paintball in the hotel?" a genuinely curious woman asked when she ran into a group of us at a con.

Having role-played and cosplayed and simply played at conventions for so long, we understand feasibility and practicality.  When deciding on costumes to wear and events to run, we take into account the limitations of being in a hotel ballroom on the planet Earth.  Of course we don't have flying brooms when we play Quidditch!  They haven't been invented yet!

Certainly, there are a few of us who believe we live on Tatooine and that Obi-Wan could show up any day now, but the vast majority of geeks understand fantasy better than the general public.  Likely, it's because we willingly cross that line when we role-play, when we go to cons, when we make fan films.  Since we delve so often into fantasy, we know the way back so well we don't even need a GPS.  We play with the line.  The best of us create new works that tie the line in knots, drawing even jaded imaginations once again into fantasy.  Most of us work real jobs.  The luckiest of us work jobs that allow us to share our fantasies with others, but to do that, we again have to know that line and how to manipulate it.  The best writers of fantasy and science fiction aren't writing the history of a history of a world in which they believe they live but knowingly creating the world for readers, doing all the work so that the rest of us can cross into fantasy while we read.

Of course, our mothers might have been right back when they told us that "everyone else is just jealous."


Comments

Posted by: khronos_keeper (khronos_keeper)
Posted at: December 8th, 2011 06:59 am (UTC)

Sorry, but-- are you making the argument that not knowing about another subculture's practices equals not having a grip on reality? Apologies if I missed the brunt of your argument, but that's what I read from it.

Posted by: CobraShipper (slythgeek)
Posted at: December 8th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)

No, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that, for some reason, people outside our subculture seem to believe we can do these really strange, impossible things like capturing ghosts or performing feats of magic. Not everyone, but enough that I've noticed it.

My argument is that, because we do a lot of things that cross us over into fantasy territory, we have a pretty good grip (overall) on what's real and what isn't while people who don't willingly suspend disbelief often seem to have difficulty separating, for example, things they see on TV into the fantasy and reality categories.

But really, I'm not trying to start an argument. Like everything on my personal blog, it's either a momentary whinge or a writing exercise.

Posted by: khronos_keeper (khronos_keeper)
Posted at: December 8th, 2011 02:58 pm (UTC)

Sorry, I wasn't trying to start an argument, either.

But thank you for clarifying! I see your point.

Posted by: darkknight2010 (darkknight2010)
Posted at: December 11th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)

Living in Ground Zero of the Buckeye Nation I have a unique perspective on this. It's funny to watch mundanes wear a ton o' Buckeye shit for a game but I start getting jacked-up for a con and they look at me like I'm crazy. Ooooooooooooooooookay... so screaming 'O-H' with a reply of 'I-O' at random times makes more sense then saying 'My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, no prepare to die'?

Um. Nooooooooooooooooooooo. Honestly some of the mundane folks at work kinda envy my existence. Granted, they don't quite 'get' it BUT they know I have a lot of fun and wish they could do the same.

It's all pretty bizarre. I've given up trying to understand it. I just smile, nod, and come Halloween I try and think of interesting things to wear that don't scare the crap outta everyone... too much... Hehehehehehehehehehehehehe.

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