Why I Wish I Was at Comic-Con

I am a walking bundle of contradictions.

I love drinking a beer and watching football as much as I love dressing up and going to the ballet.  I enjoy country music but don’t identify Republican.  I love looking at beautiful things, but go years with nothing hanging on my walls.  I am an introvert who loves being surrounded by teenagers.  I own probably 20 different romantic comedies, but I will go see action movies without needing the excuse of a guy to go with me.  I love hipster style but wear essentially the same outfit every single day, just in different colors.

Now most of these are not that big of a deal and I have friends who can relate to the different parts of my personality.  I have relationships with people who love football, musicals, theater, ballet, romantic comedies, action movies, art, various types of music, etc., etc., etc.  But there is one part of me that very few people understand.

I am a nerd.

I read really long books by choice.  I love movies about superheroes.  My favorite TV shows right now are a sci-fi show about a 900-year-old alien time-traveller, a space-Western with occasional Chinese dialogue, and a comedy/drama/horror about a girl who slays vampires.

And most people don’t get it.  They don’t understand why I get excited when someone says “curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”  They give me strange looks when I get a text message because they don’t know that the alert is the sound of the TARDIS.  They get that condescending “seriously?” look on their face as soon as the word “Buffy” comes out of my mouth.

I am a nerd who’s only nerd friends live far far away.

This weekend I spent quite a bit of time watching panels that were being live-streamed from Nerd HQ  and reading live-blogs of panels that were actually going on at Comic-Con.  I was following people on Twitter who were there and wishing that I could have been in the room during the ten-year Firefly reunion.  I did this because even though I was on my couch in Memphis, there were thousands and thousands of people in San Diego gathering together to celebrate the things that I love and it made me feel a little bit less alone.

Because as crazy as some people think I am for liking the things I like, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one.  You think it’s weird that I like Firefly?  That’s great.  People were camped out all night to get into a panel featuring people who worked on a show that was only 14 episodes and was cancelled 10 years ago.  10 years.  Do you even remember what you were watching 10 years ago?  I jumped on the Joss Whedon boat later than a lot of people, but it amazes me when people look down their noses at something that can inspire that much love and loyalty.

The people who love nerdy things understand something that other people just don’t get.  It’s not just a bunch of socially awkward people who can’t get anyone else to talk to them.  It’s not about looking cool (although I guess it probably is for some).  Comic-Con, and nerd culture in general, is about enjoying a common experience with other people.  It’s about being willing to love something, even when other people think it’s lame.

Todd VanDerWerff, a writer for the A.V. Club explained the feeling this way in a review of an episode of Community, another show beloved by nerds:

“There’s nothing wrong with being happy. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying something so much that it strips away all that irony and cynicism. And there’s nothing wrong with loving anything so much that it feels like it could pull your heart out of your chest and toss it on the floor. We build ourselves up to not do that, and then we build up the armor so thickly that we have trouble finding what’s underneath. We use that as an excuse to lash out at people who do feel stuff, who do like things (and I am, of course, mostly saying this about myself). It’s hard sometimes to remember that the world isn’t a place to glide through, so nothing can touch you. It’s a place to be experienced.”

So I wish I had been at Comic-Con this weekend.  I want to know what it’s like to be surrounded by people who would delight in my TARDIS text message alert, rather than look at me like I’m crazy.  Someday, I want to have someone who will not just indulge me, but will love watching Firefly and Buffy and Doctor Who with me.  And the existence of things like Comic-Con gives me hope that I will not always be alone in my nerdiness.

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  1. Why I Think What We Consume Is Important « Peaceful Single Girl

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