Last Wednesday morning as I was headed from Phoenix to San Diego Comic Con I stopped at the Gila Bend McDonalds to grab some grub for the road. It was about 5 a.m. and on the McTelevision monitor CNN was broadcasting the highlights from the previous evening’s Republican convention, specifically focusing on the controversial Melania Trump speech, where the super model (inadvertently?) plagiarized Michelle Obama. A group of aged rednecks were gathered around the TV when their spokesman decided to let the entire restaurant crowd know that, “Melania can be my ‘First Lady’ anytime! Heh, heh, heh!”
For me, as a card-carrying member of the Misanthrope Party, those sexist comments were just another example of how the world is going to Hell in a handbasket. When Gila Bend Boy’s vote for Trump, because he envisions the candidate’s wife in his deranged sexual fantasies, carries the same weight as someone’s well-informed electoral decision … well … let’s just say it highlights the fallacy of democracy – and that’s scary, especially considering the alternatives.
On the drive back home, after the long weekend at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) 2016, I had time to reflect over the past week, where I spent my days among the geeks and freaks at the world’s biggest pop culture convention, and evenings listening to the news from the Republican National Committee Convention in Cleveland – two simultaneous events that could not be more different.
Where almost every speaker I heard from the RNC was talking hatred, fear, divisiveness and prejudice, the attendees at the comic convention were actually celebrating the best our society has to offer. At every turn you could see people of every culture, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion joined together in an atmosphere of inclusiveness, love and respect for each other.
As an old, fat, bald, white guy, I was thrilled to sit next to a Muslim woman wearing a hijab at the Wonder Woman 75th anniversary panel. While waiting in line for the Congressman John Lewis panel I made new friends with a young black woman who is beginning her career as a writer for an upcoming Albert Einstein docudrama TV series. I took pictures of a senior Asian woman who had to walk with a cane, but was still having a blast cosplaying as Harley Quinn. I could go on and on.
America is a melting pot and I believe that Comic-Con is a shining example of our diversity at its best, where celebrating fandom joins us all together as one and the only differences we have are our fanciful predilections for pop culture.
Does the comic-book community play better together because we’ve absorbed the many moral lessons from the superhero mythology we love; and does that lead us to living a life more heroic? All I know is that after observing the stark differences between #SDCC2016 and #RNCinCLE I’ve never been more proud to be a member of the nerd community.