Transcript of armageddon story
By Michael Atkins
A Real Time Saver.
“Science fiction” is probably one of the most accurate genre descriptors there ever was. It’s fiction that operates with scientific accuracy. That, in itself, is not strange: plot mechanics is important in all genres of fiction. But, it’s in science fiction that those mechanics are at a premium, and the fans are less consumers than peer-reviewers.
Since plot mechanics are important in all genres, it’s hard to pinpoint how the different expectations manifest themselves in the stories. But you don’t have to consume very much sci-fi to see that those differences are there. There’s something a bit off, a bit mechanical about even the best of it.
Or so goes the stereotype. But, the truth about stereotypes is you’ll see them any time you expect to see them. When they’re conspicuous, it’s not by their absence.
And why would an otherwise open-minded person expect to see stereotypes? Because, as the T-shirt says, they’re a “real time-saver”. Stereotypes are what you know about another culture if you know nothing else. Without stereotypes, a mere outsider is a complete alien.
The Armageddon expo is at a cross-purposes where stereotypes are concerned though. As a commercial entity, it has a duty to a more mainstream audience too. Which is why my expectation to see an arena filled entirely with socially
maladjusted geeks was not entirely fulfilled. However, such is the nature of stereotypes, that expectation was not frustrated either.
I hear there’s a joke going around the American convention scene, where people claim that it’s getting too commercial, only to be reminded that selling comic books was always a commercial enterprise (I guess it’s a you-have-to-be-there type thing). The joke is suggestive of the way insiders tend to feel when their little clubs are infiltrated by outsiders (as well as the lazy shorthand that people use to describe such occurrences).
Maybe we have more perspective than the Americans, but all the complaints that I heard to that effect were kept to under-the-breath muttering, that there “wasn’t as much to see”. As the outsider, there was a lot for me to see.
Geek culture fascinates me with its obsessiveness with totality, and completism. Any non-geek can understand wanting a model of the Starship Enterprise (or something), but a complete die-cast set that includes every single ship from a given series? (...?) Armageddon felt a little to me
like a museum for people like myself to look at the artifacts of people who would want such a thing.
The idea of a geek museum, where geeks are, if not absent, then a little disappointed prevailed with the daily programmes. Monday’s was illustrated with an unfortunate looking androgen in an ill-fitting Anime wig, stuffing an entire trumpet into its face, next to a disconcertingly skinny shirtless man in full body Darth Maul body paint. Surely these ‘typical patrons’ could’ve been photographed at more flattering moments. And they probably would’ve been, if it weren’t for other patrons being sold on the come-look-at-freaks ticket.
Hell, that’s why I was there.
And truth be told, if it works, it works. Geeks lack the social niceties for lying, and are therefore known for their self-deprecation. That’s why the strongest negative feeling I felt from the insider contingent was mild disappointment that there was not more that was strictly for them. They knew exactly what was going on.
As you can tell from the above, opportunities for really unique images were less than they may have been (unless you’re interested in pictures of model spaceships), so it was suggested that I come back for the cosplay competition (it’s basically dressing up. Please don’t make me elaborate further). That’s where most of these images come from.
It was hard to think of these people as geeks, in the traditional completely-alien-to-normalcy kind of way. Sure they were dressed as characters from things that I have no way of having ever heard of, but their devotion to it was sympathetically banal. It could’ve been a rap-battle, or an archery competition in that there was nothing separating this from anything else that people might do competitively. Although, I can’t imagine either of those things being as fun to photograph.