A Public Service Reminder

It's NerdProm weekend, folks. This weekend is the Somethingth Annual San Diego Comic-Con. This means that the weekend and the early part of next week, you're going to see the stories on teevee and in the paper about the NerdProm.

Yes, Comic-Con is an increasingly huge event, and increasingly important to Hollywood's marketing strategies in the era of super-hero blockbuster films and TV shows like Lost and Heroes. Yes, the word-of-mouth that helped turn Star Wars into a global phenomenon started at Comic-Con way back in the day. And yes, there will be costumes, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous (I'll let you determine for yourself into which category the Blue Beetle here falls, but I will note that there's a reason the people behind the X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman films have avoided spandex like the plague).

But here's the annual reminder for my not-as-geeky readers: Don't believe the hype. Yeah, the newspaper editors and the segment producers at CNN love to fill the space with freaks-on-parade photos. But it's just not representative of your average nerd, or your average comics fan. Look at all those people behind the Blue Beetle in the photo - a sea of jeans, t-shirts and ballcaps.

Don't get me wrong - Comic-Con never fails to bring out the best in nerds who are into costumey kind of stuff. There's always some really amazing, fun, cool and impressive stuff interspersed amongst the old fat guys in cardboard Optimus Prime costumes. I love the spirit of it all, that there's a place where, for one weekend a year, a nerd can feel perfectly secure walking around in public all day long in a fucking Blue Beetle costume. I love that there are people out there so full to the brim with fan-love that they want to dress up as Blue Beetle or Hello Kitty Darth Vader or the crew of the Enterprise-D (I, uh, don't think the cargo shorts are Starfleet regulation there, Albino Worf) or Burger King Jedi vs. Jack in the Box Sith. Hell, I even feel a certain affection for the old fat guys in cardboard Optimus Prime costumes.

The point isn't that the costumes aren't cool or funny or interesting. The point is that the media can't find much else to talk about, so they make it look like everybody at Comic-Con has spent the last year and every dime they had on elaborate costumes, that every single person at Comic-Con who isn't dressed as their favorite Avenger or X-Man or Justice Leaguer is wearing a Stormtrooper uniform. And it just ain't so.

So there's your reminder. Remember: costumes = good, most nerds ≠ costume-wearers, most nerds are actually fairly well-rounded and intelligent people with diverse interests and many of us have even kissed a real, live girl in our lives. Comic-Con is a wonderful opportunity for nerds to let the proverbial freak flag fly...but it's only a fairly small set that has such a large freak flag.

In short, enjoy the photos, y'all, but remember to see both the forest and the trees.