I enjoy stories written by people who are at first unfamiliar with the territory, but then immerse themselves, learn the terrain, and provide a unique perspective on any given subject.
Think of when William Burroughs reviewed a Led Zeppelin concert, or when Bob Woodward looked at the life and death of John Belushi, and you get the idea.
Geek conventions can be easy targets, often the jokes there write themselves, but by and large I think they’re great because it’s a cool place for fans of movies, TV, and comics can all get together and talk about what we love.
Now James Wolcott is a great writer, he’s contributed to Vanity Fair for many years, and his political commentary book, Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants, was hilarious.
This month for VF, he gave his point of view of Comic-Con, where he had to have stuck out like a sore thumb, in fact he was repeatedly asked, “Is this your first Comic-Con?” Wolcott pointed out the 6,5000 capacity Hall H was “the big top” of the Comic-Con “Circus Maximus,” where the major panels are.
“Mostly the atmosphere is festive, avid,” Wolcott writes. “Like the country singers who play Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and feel obligated to oil up the audience by telling them how honored they feel in this sacred venue… The audience expresses its appreciation by applauding itself for being such great fans; then, the niceties over, it’s like, now show us the damned film clips, give us kids something to tweet!”
Wolcott noted there were celebrities who brought their full court star power, like Colin Farrell and Charlize Theron, and those who clearly would rather be anywhere but there like Harrison Ford (surprised?), and “weary campigner” Kristen Stewart, or K-Stew as Wolcott calls her.
“The returning favorites are those who truly speak the Comic-Con language because they are part of that culture,” Wolcott continues, and he’s referring to guys like Guillermo del Toro, whose inner geek still lives on strong.
Wolcott also mentioned Francis Ford Coppola’s bizarre appearance for Twixt, his horror film, that will be in 3D, and will also let the audience interactively pick what they want to see, but with Coppola trying it himself he “fumbled at his computer like Grandpa trying to work the remote control, playing the same scene again and again, at one point chanting ‘Nosferatu over the footage while Val Kilmer, mimicking his Jim Morrison from The Doors, intoned ‘Ride the snake.'”
Wolcott was also amazed by the “throners,” fans of Games of Thrones, but added that Justin Timberlake, starring in the upcoming In Time “will never be accepted as an action stud,” but that Ryan Gosling is already there with Drive.
But he also concludes that he’s not interested in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, claiming “Not even the prospect of a skeleton avenge urinating fire will entice me to see [it].”
Still, you get the impression that overall Wolcott was very amused by it all, an interesting voyage to planet geek that was probably funny and bizarre to visit, but he’s sure not going to live there.