Consumerism and Storytelling at San Diego Comic-Con

A week ago, the annual San Diego Comic-Con was going on, and this year was my first year in attendance. From numerous panels (some that sound so good, that you’d need a Time Turner to attend them all due to some of them overlapping), to the thousands of booths, to jousting demos and over-the-top cosplay, it was the ultimate gathering of the nerds. It was an experience in itself which even involved me cosplaying on a few of the days, but what racked my brain at times was the high power of consumerism going on, how the stories of these franchises appeared to be buried underneath that, and also how generally speaking, there wasn’t a lot provided that appealed to my own interests.

There was just so much emphasis on what you could get out of Comic-Con; not in terms of chance (or even planned) encounters with public figures and memories made, but I mean literal material – merchandise and freebies – you could get from Comic-Con. I can’t tell you how many instances I saw of people carrying two to three heaping bags of Funko Pops, knowing that they’ll eventually be sold online for a profit. I can’t tell you how many booths put attention on exclusives and limited editions; so much as to where my brother most certainly brought home more valuables than I did. On Preview Night, I like many others got one of those giant, plastic bags upon check-in. Now I think to myself, “Why did I even grab one if I hardly used it?”

It was because of all the consumerism that the meaning of why any of it even existed – the franchises and stories of the various films, TV shows, and other media that were being celebrated – seemed to be lost underneath all that. You go out of your way to get an exclusive BB-8 Funko Pop of it doing the “flame-up” that you may or may not forget why it means a lot to get it in the first place, other that its exclusive existence. There’s bound to me more to get your hands on that Pokemon art book, other than the fact that you won’t find it anywhere else. Are you willing to take the risk to come back the next day and see if a signed copy of that new book will still be available for purchase, despite the fact that the story will still remain the same if bought elsewhere?

Really the only exceptions where the stories were emphasized was at the panels and the booths that were more so for creating experiences rather than profits. For instance, my brother met the cast members from one of his all-time favorite shows, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and it was great for him to meet them and tell each of them how much he enjoys the show and how he individually likes each of their characters.

How telling it is then that it was also because of the franchises that were present that created another issue for me: I just felt so excluded at times from all the hype because the TV shows and films that were being promoted were ones that I generally had no interest for. From the many upcoming Marvel films to everything “Star Trek,” there was just so much to go off of and consume that I found myself dejecting a good chunk of it, because they were all stories that I’ve never been into. You know Hall H, the BIG hall that has the big panels for the upcoming Marvel films and hit TV shows and what not? None of the panels I attended were in there, because none of the ones that were hosted in there met my appeal.

I would hope for the organizers of Comic-Con to put more emphasis on TV shows and films that didn’t just meet the demand of it being about a superhero or about the supernatural. I would like there be more emphasis on shows that are breaking boundaries like “Fresh Off the Boat” or shows that are shot on unique locations (apart from Canada and Los Angeles) like “Hawaii 5-0”. I would like there to be panels about the importance of diversity in the media and the importance of reading books for fun in today’s time as two of the big ones in Hall H. I would like for more new media stars to be included as well – in particular new media stars of color, for I notice that they’ve hardly been invited out to big events like this.

In the end, it was the little things that I found gratitude and fun in from Comic-Con. It was the fan-run legacy panel for “Avatar: The Last Airbender” that I felt I close bond with the others in attendance, as we came together and celebrate one of the most remarkable shows that ever hit television. It was finding joy in purchasing No Face and Naga plushes, for despite not being of a lot of monetary value and could easily be found anywhere else for purchase, I meant a lot to be to buy from my very first Comic-Con. It was meeting two of the creatives behind one of my favorite YouTube channels, Wong Fu Productions, and playing a game set up by the 501st Legion that gave way for a fun time. It was the pictures taken of me and with others in cosplay that would lead to visual mementos to keep for years to come.

Comic-Con had its flaws as far as the hype of consumerism and lack of variety, but otherwise I had a good time. Though with episode eight of “Star Wars” due out next year, as well as the 40th anniversary since “A New Hope” was first released, I hope with all my might to walk the crowded San Diego Convention Center again next summer.

A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 12 reviews so I’m already just past the halfway point to my goal). Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.

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