Recently, a friend of mine asked a loaded question in a group setting knowing I would hear the answers, “what do you guys think of people who go to those sci-fi conventions?”. Some of the answers included ‘geeks’ and ‘nerds’ which falls in to your stock standard responses but then I heard words like ‘loser’ thrown in to the mix and statements like, ‘they probably smell’. As someone who attended my first con late last year I began to take offence when my personal hygiene came in to question.
At the age of 16, I was taken on a beautiful adventure by the television series Stargate SG-1. I tried to fight it, but one boring, rainy day I got hooked and I’ve never looked back. Other Stargate franchises, Atlantis & Universe and shows such as Farscape and Smallville have since found a special place in my dvd collection and I can’t even begin to list the countless movies of the same nature that have captured my imagination. Knowing no bounds, each episode became a perfect and light-hearted mini-vacay from reality. Interestingly enough, I’ve come to realise I was always a bit of a fan with The Fifth Element being my favourite movie for many years as a youngster.
In my 23rd year of life I decided to embrace the trekkie within and attend my first sci-fi convention hosted by Culture Shock Events and aptly named A Date With Destiny. The major drawcard? Michael Shanks, the actor behind Dr Daniel Jackson of the SG-1 team, was the main guest appearance and I harbour a very real ‘crush’ on this super cute Canadian. How much was I willing to pay to get there? I spent $247.20 on two tickets to attend this day with a ‘lucky’ friend I dragged along as well as $80 for a photo opportunity with and autograph from Michael Shanks. Thankfully, the con came to The Citigate in Brisbane, otherwise I’m sure I wouldn’t have hesitated to dip into the pockets for two return flights to attend the event elsewhere. In fact, many fans will follow a convention to every city it visits, each meeting providing different insights as the guests answer new questions and there’s always the exciting possibility they’ll reveal trade secrets they’ve never spoken of before.
The most important consideration that crossed my mind (something that is often my first thought when a new event is pencilled in to the calendar), was what on Earth was I going to wear? We’ve all seen the movies and Big Bang Theory episodes, the people who attend these days go all out! Not only do they wear the costumes, they take on the persona of the clothes they wear. They sometimes even know more about the plots, characters, sets and webisodes than the actors themselves. My first-timer nerves led me to settle on a compromise, I’d incorporate camo print into my outfit so that I would fit in easily with the military theme but didn’t go so far as to label the garments with SG-1 arm patches.
I believe I made the right call clothing wise. I arrived and noticed there were the more subtle fans, a splash of camo here a Stargate t-shirt there. Then there were the big guns, literally, decked out in SG-1 jumpsuits with military vests and carrying fake machine guns. You would be correct in assuming that the more intense the costume, the more vocal the patron. My favourite of the day was the guy seated two rows behind me in the previously mentioned jumpsuit who I learned had been attending cons for over 17 years. During group discussions, he shared many of his favourite memories with the MC who knew him by name. The best part about this group of people? It didn’t matter if you were a first timer or an old hat and regardless of what you wore or what your opinion was, every one was just there to enjoy themselves and discuss similar interests. No judgment.
For those that are curious, this wasn’t the type of convention I had first imagined it would be, with rows and rows of stalls of merchandise for sale and different stations where you could line up to meet the actors/actresses of your favourite shows. It was centred specifically around Stargate although no show or topic was off-limits during discussions. The actors weren’t pretentious, they hung about in the corridors instead of their hotel rooms and sat amongst the crowd during each others q&a sessions. I was lucky enough to catch Stargate Universe actor David Blue playing a piano that was set up outside the hall and when having a conversation with a Culture Shock staff member, was luckier still to have actress (and Shanks’ real life wife) Lexa Doig come up and help me choose the best photo of Michael to have autographed. They share interesting and funny stories from behind the scenes of the shows we love so dearly and from real life happenings also, they are entertainers after all and I was certainly not disappointed.
Having my photo with Michael Shanks was definitely the highlight of the day. I’m sure he’s had his photo taken a million times whether it’s with people lining up to meet him at conventions or fans who approach him in the street and yet every single person who stood beside him, myself included, was made to feel appreciated for their support. Plus he totally rested his forehead on mine and wrote ‘l-o-v-e’ on my autographed picture… swoon! If you ever wanted to see what a lovestruck weirdo looks like, take a peek at the photo below!
At some stage in your lifetime I’m sure a movie or television show of the sci-fi/fantasy genre (Avatar perhaps?) has snuck its way into your heart and so I guess what I’m trying to say is, can you really blame those that get swept up in the magic of it all? Maybe this post will help to dispel any unfortunate stereotypes that have been lumped on sci-fi fans for generations now. But even if it hasn’t, before you judge, remember that if aliens ever attack the Earth then us nerds may just become your only hope for survival.