Today I had one of those traumatic flashbacks from the bad old traditional days of the San Diego Comic Book Convention today known only as Comic-con.
Star Wars was out and after explaining the intricacies about the making of a movie I had not scene, I inadvertently outed myself as a comic book geek to my tenth grade honors English class. And thus began the slow decent into madness as people who didn’t read comic books slowly began to appear at comic-book conventions and eventually out-number those who did. It isn’t all sadness and misery, I totally dig the cosplay girls and cry myself to sleep wondering why that wasn’t around when I was in high school, but did okay for myself even in those dark times.
One of the first group of unwanted invaders of comic con where the Japanese Anime folks. Now no doubt as you read this there are no shortage of gifs of Scarlett Johansson walking away from the camera in her Ghost in the Shell suit and think I’m either insane or a cultural appropriation nutter, but these were as I said, the early days of interlopers.
And so it was, High School neophyte friends in hand, we advanced on the dealer’s floor and it wasn’t long before disaster struck. There was no internet in those days and the only hope folks had of finding folks similar to themselves with like interests as themselves was Comic-Con.
In retrospect, I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t just find someone with similar interests as myself with a keystroke or two, but live through it and grow up in it, I most certainly did. For historical reference, in the Star Wars special edition, there is some old footage of comic con at the Grant Hotel. I’m off camera as I’m sitting beside the camera, more or less inside the tripod’s legs. And I took the first computer arts course ever offered at San Francisco State University. My project was to see if it was possible to write a story on a computer given you could only write about a page and a half before the Apple IIe ran out of memory.
It quickly became apparent my High School friends, not having come of age on the dealers floor, were equipped to, deal with the onslaught that befell them. And so it was, I established one simple rule for survival – every man for himself.
The way it worked was this – and here it helps to have scene Apocalypse Now – imagine my little group as a boat, and if you got off the boat, you are on you own, only this boat will scatter and abandon you when you cannot escape the horror. The horror is as you’ve no doubt guessed, the Japanese Anime fan.
And keep in mind my friend, these days, I dig the stuff myself, but those were dark and dangerous times. So there you are, on you boat of friends on the dealer’s floor sea, when two hands reach out of the water, grab you by the arm and insist on telling you about the joys, wonder, and history of Japanese Anime. Your boat friends scatter leaving the waves of knowledge to wash over you until you drown.
It didn’t have to be Japanese Anime, it could be and was anything that at an individual level we cared deeply and passionately about and had absolutely no one we could talk to about it and they’d kill you if you tried. It was the Highlander Holy ground for all of us, but the Japanese Anime guys, that was a hard core crowd that showed no mercy. I hope those guys hung in there long enough to swing at a cosplay orgy and they are swimming in the kids to this day. I suspect some of my emotional reasoning for throwing in with Cecilio in support of the Trans community are tied to those early days at comic-con. The Japanese Anime guys needed a support platform that wouldn’t get them killed in the attempt to reach out and find someone of similar kind and experience.
And so I went to a room where they illegally screened the Japanese Anime with my High School Boat Mates. Japanese Anime wasn’t distributed in the United States, there was no translation to English – no sub-title, no dubbing, and you got to see five minute clips for somewhere in a twenty hour epic that made sense. And then there was the Anime sex, which really made you wonder about those guys.
All in all, I thought Japanese Anime definitely rocked and yet maybe call me when you have it figured out so I don’t have to first learn to speak Japanese and have an extensive understanding of the culture that spawned it, just to watch a damn cartoon. And no, this doesn’t mean I’ve thrown in with the meme folks who’ve never heard of Richard Dawkins, but I’m closer in most things to those folks these days, than the Japanese Anime folks.
These days I keep running into folks who insist I really learn Japanese when all I want to do is watch a funny cat meme. I could watch a trusting cat – my human’s right there with that thing, so I just know I’m safe before I jump onto the top a trash-can, because my human wouldn’t let anything humiliating happen to me, and then the cat jumps and promptly disappears into the trash can.
Think about it, someone had to stand there and actively watch and film their beloved cat jump into a trashcan, when clearly, said owner could have opted to have stopped the cat or not have a trashcan that could trap the animal when you aren’t around to film the thing.
That humiliated look a cat has when it emerges from the trashcan while their trusted owner laughs at stupid cat behavior, that’s me, ever day of my life. I live for jumping in the trashcan and being laughed at.
Laughter is one of the great bonding behaviours of our Species. I had to take the time to learn to speak evolution by natural selection before I could appreciate people are basically assholes and we do enjoy a good laugh.