Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MARCON Day 2: Costumes and "Characters"

Was that a man in a sailor moon costume?

Every year, for the last 44 years, Memorial Day Weekend is a big deal as sci-fi, fantasy, and otherwise "interesting" folks converge in the Central Ohio Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. MARCON, or Multiple Alternative Reality Convention, is a gathering for fans, readers, writers, and anybody who is interested in comics, sci-fi, and fantasy. The three-day event is one of the most enjoyable I go to in a year, but it is also one of the strangest. Let the tale continue:

Today I decided that I really didn't want to deal with the whole bus issue. Even though it is free for me, COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) is an annoying experience and one which I rarely like to deal with; it sucks that I need to ride COTA every day for work. Instead, I choose to drive to the convention center myself. I pull in, pay to have my car parked for me, and head towards the green room. One coffee, two bagels, and some cream cheese later I'm ready to hit the floor of the convention.

I start to wander around, heading towards the Franklin room so I can check out some movies. I step into the darkness, let my eyes adjust, and notice that there is a Harry Potter marathon going on. God, it's Chamber of Secrets, what crap. Sitting in the audience, however, is an entire mob of Potteresque characters. I see a Hagrid, 15 Harrys, 12 Rons, and a random Loona Lovegood – seriously, who wants to dress up as Loony Loona?

I wander away from the movies, and decide that it is time to go sit in on a panel about the Middle Earth movies being produced by Peter Jackson. I sit next to an Obi-Wan Kenobi (I must say, his beard and hair were perfect), and just listen in. Pretty quickly I notice that there are several elves in the audience, along with a few wizards, and some goblins. Cool. Now, the problem with this many people dressed as characters is the fact that they all "know" Tolkien perfectly. That is, they think they know the stories, and then argue amongst each other for hours. Needless to say, we don't talk about the new movies, merely about how the three other movies butchered the books – trust me, I contributed quite a bit to this.

As I flee from this "debate" I start to wander the halls yet again. During this meandering, hundreds of costumes jump out at me. From the stereotypical Steam-Punk costumes, to the Klingons who exist everywhere, I see many of the typical nerdy outfits. However, along with these uniforms, I see several that were not so usual. I see a Dr. Horrible costume, a few Firefly costumes, and one or two Princess Leia bikinis. These, thankfully, are upon attractive females.

Even though I have prepared myself for the types who attend these conventions, I am unprepared for a few of the more interesting costumes that I encountered. For example, I run into two men – yes two, not one – who have decided that it's great for a 50-year-old to wear a Sailor Moon outfit; frankly, I have never seen a hairier anime character in my life. I also see a young black man who has decided to wear a vagina, yes, a vagina, as his costume. I quickly run away from these people.

Though there are some acceptable and cool costumes (mainly the Renaissance ones and the hot chicks in bikinis), most of the costumes are either insane or inappropriate. I am sure that this comes with the convention territory, but this is probably why many people do not attend these events. It is one thing to drive by a bunch of people wearing Klingon or Captain Jack Sparrow outfits, but it is another to drive by people wearing almost nothing, or that giant vagina. Although conventions need this to build the atmosphere, it also scares away the less crazy fans.

The same is true of the personalities of those who attend MARCON and other such conventions. Though the average IQ is exceptionally high (which is why Mensa recruits there), the social aspect tends to be lacking. There is a reason that the convention pamphlets include instructions about showering, eating, and basic personal care. The attendees are not just devoted fans but also, in many cases, people who have no idea of what the proper social norms are. Thus you have interrupters, rude people, and people you would normally flee from if they sat next to you on a bus.

I fled from them.

Overall, though, MARCON is exceptionally fun because of all of the characters and costumes. Sure, there are the crazies and the Sailor Moon men, but the full experience is worth it. You meet some of the most intelligent people in your life, hear some interesting ideas, and look at some stunning, and amazing, costumes. Always remember, at a convention, the odds are 50-50 that you are either talking to a rocket scientist or a crazy fan.

My post about day 1 was about my first panels and a general intro to the convention. Day 3 will be about what Sunday is like at the con, and a few more panels.

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