CBS Doesn’t Get It, Insults Convention Goers

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I’ve been mulling addressing this article that appeared on CBS‘s website on September 3.  Written by Christina Ruffini the article is a look at Baltimore Comic Con.  Instead of the usual puff pieces (which I’d of preferred), we’re given a holier than though, I’m better than you, look at people who dress up in costume at conventions.

Normally I wouldn’t have an issue with this type of a focus, as it’s an interesting aspect of conventions.  But Ruffini at numerous times refers to the individuals as “nerds” and starts the article off by making fun of these individuals.

Adults, dressed head-to-toe like a bunch of Prismacolor power-lads, their geekdom elevated to such a magnitude of misfit, not even Stan Lee could hope to compete.

and

I could not think of a reason why two socially functional individuals, neither of whom lives in their mothers’ basements, would even consider frequenting such a function.

It’s nice of a reporter to show their bias right off and begin to immediately talk down about their subject.  Way to not hide your disdain.  The fact glossed over by the reporter is it’s her friend that begged her to go.  Congratulations, you’ve also insulted your supposed friend.

Writing off my Sunday, I dug out a graphic t-shirt and some thick-rimmed glasses, and mentally prepared myself for a day of dodging nerds.

True to expectations, Baltimore Comic-Con was crammed with them.

The “reporter” (I use that term loosely now) would have you believe the attendees were all dressed in costume, the majority enjoying their chance to show off their loyalties to their favorite characters.  Not only is that an exaggeration, it’s just a flat out lie and wrong.  The vast majority of the individuals were not in costume, and in fact looked like average sociable individuals.  Don’t believe me?  I’m pretty sure this photo, this photo, this photo and this photo all show off how normal the people attending were.  It’s actually difficult to find people in costume in these four crowd shots.

As if shocked Ruffini goes on to write:

Nerds do not discriminate. They came in all shapes, sizes, ages races and genders. I saw black Supermen and a white Hulk. There was an Asian Power Girl and a few Latino Peter Parkers.

And more shocking than the price of owning Dick Grayson’s first appearance, was the fact that most of these folks seemed pretty normal.

One man, a Department of Defense employee for more than 30-years, explained it to me this way:
It’s not about how much your costume makes you look like a Power Ranger. It’s about how powerful said ranger ensemble makes you feel.

“Nerds” may not discriminate, but I guess elitist reporters do.  Consistently referring to her subjects as nerds, Ruffini dehumanizes and talks down about her subjects.

I prefer the term “geek.”  A geek is someone who is overly intellectual about a subject.  There are “comic geeks” just as there are  “football geeks,” “political geeks,” “movie geeks,” “television geeks,” “video game geeks” and “journalism geeks.”  Why it’s ok today to snub one hobby yet overlook other’s fanaticism is beyond me.  I’m sure Ruffini has her hobbies, and I surely don’t make fun of her for them.  Why should she take a “holier than thou” attitude towards mine?

She wraps up her story with her supposed change of heart:

Maybe I am starting to lose some of my hard-earned cynicism, but as the minutes ticked by, I began to enjoy the parade of happy faces nodding approvingly at the rampant ridiculousness.

I began to understand the high that comes from having someone ask to take your picture, or the thrill of finding the one volume you were searching for in a stack of thousands.

Though some may cringe at the prospect of spending their Sunday with a bunch of overgrown kids and their comic books, I soon realized that perhaps feeling like a kid is the best part.

By the time my friend finally found me, I was busy shopping for a costume, a comic, and a second childhood, courtesy of Comic-Con.

Too bad she couldn’t show that positive attitude for the majority of the article, instead she chose to take the easy writing route and make fun.  For shame Ruffini for writing this and CBS for thinking it’s news worthy.

One comment

  • I think what’s disappointing about this is that it’s such an obvious way to approach the subject — from the “ha ha nerds!” to the conclusion of “Oh, these people are just like us!” There isn’t really any insight into anything. I feel like she basically knew going into it what she was going to write and that’s not a great way to approach it.

    Comics — or comic conventions — aren’t for everyone. And that’s fine. But I’m not going to go mock her knitting group or whatever she likes just because it’s not my thing. But then, I guess I’m pretty used to this kind of thing.

    She’s local to DC, so Christina Ruffini, if you happen to read this, come to Small Press Expo in Bethesda this weekend. There won’t be (many) people in costume but just a lot of awesome people making awesome comics.