Destination Star Trek and the Joy of Fandom

High quality picture of Wil Wheaton - in the middle, white shirt
High quality picture of Wil Wheaton – in the middle, white shirt

On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of visiting Destination Star Trek, a convention dedicated to the famous Galaxy Quest rip-off of the same name. I’d debated with myself about going in the months leading up to it, partly because while I love The Original Series, I’ve not a huge amount of knowledge about the likes of Deep Space 9 and Voyager, partly because I find conventions so darned difficult. Regular readers will know I’m a bit shy so wilt in big crowds, but they’ll also know I’m trying to break out of that: so I went…

And had a really good time.

I attended with my brother-in-law, who was autograph hunting and got an awesome art print signed by various cast members along with a picture with Christopher Lloyd (who appears as a Klingon in The Search for Spock). I’m not quite as into autographs, so I just wandered around, taking in the replicas of the Original Series and Next Generation bridges where attendees could have their pictures taken, and the awesome (but sadly rather small) art gallery that was erected. It was lovely to just have a casual stroll and see what was going on.

He's so angry about being confused with a magician
He’s so angry about being confused with a magician

As this was a convention there was, of course, a lot of cosplay and while I’m not a cosplayer myself, I love seeing other peoples’ efforts. There were Klingons, Borgs, Seven of Nine, and even a woman in a dress made entirely of tribbles. I really wanted to ask some of them for a picture, but lacked the courage. I’m still a work in progress in that regard. I’ve got another convention (a general one rather than one specific to a particular franchise) and hope to push myself a bit more because the only real progress I made here was talking to some guy called William Shatner while he signed my brother-in-law’s print for me (I was stepping in while my brother-in-law was in another queue).

He… was…. everythingyou… wouldeverHOPE… HE WOULD BEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Spock and Kirk, just about to drop the freshest cut of 2016
Spock and Kirk, just about to drop the freshest rap album of 2016

My favourite moment came when I was watching people have their picture taken on the Next Generation bridge. There was a huge queue and you could see every single person get gradually more excited as they got closer to being called up. Kids and parents, boyfriends and girlfriends, brothers and sisters, elderly husbands and wives… they all queued up for hours just to get on that set. One young woman who was on there own looked like she was going to explode with joy as her moment came. She sat in the captain’s chair, smiled the biggest smile I’ve ever seen outside of a Disney film, and left again, smile still in place. A moment that lasted seconds, a memory that will last a lifetime. It was one of the loveliest things I’ve seen in a while, and a definite highlight of what everyone agrees is pretty much the worst year in known history.

Why was I so taken by her? Because that’s what fandom is all about. It’s been a pretty rotten few months for fandom. DC fans seem to think they’re in some bizarre war with critics, Ghostbusters fans proved that while they ain’t scared of no ghosts we should all be flippin’ petrified of them, and a subsection of Star Wars devotees still think that Jyn Erso should be banned from life cos she is a wimmin. Yet here, on this little replica of a piece of fiction, this young woman found absolute joy, just as we all should when we engage with the things we love. After all, why on earth would we continue to follow something that makes us as angry as Ghostbusters fans were this year?

This Pokemon adds little to the story beyond cuteness. And isnt that enough!?
This Pokemon adds little to the story beyond cuteness. And isn’t that enough!?

I keep hoping that Disney will bring their D23 Expo to Europe as it’s simply too difficult for me to get to California. I would smile as much as that young lady on the TNG bridge if they did because that (or a Spielberg convention) would be my happy place. Just wandering around the convention floor, never mind taking in all the sure-to-be-awesome events, would be enough because that’s one of the wonderful things about conventions: being around likeminded people who love what you love. It’s what makes me sad about finding it difficult to talk to people, and what makes me sad about how exclusive some fandoms are becoming: why on earth would you want to limit the amount of people who can take part? The more people (the more diverse people – and Trek is a very diverse fandom) the merrier.

So while I wait for Disney to realise there’s life outside of Anaheim, I’ll just continue to use this blog as my own little convention, and talk to the lovely friends I’ve made through it. Because that’s what conventions are about. That’s what being a fan of something is about.

Now, anyone wanna cosplay Frozen?

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In celebration of cosplay

I am not a cosplayer, but I love seeing the creativity and passion of those who are. This summer, I’ve been to two conventions: Star Wars Celebration and the MCM Comic Con in Manchester. Both, of course, were jam-packed with people dressed as their favourite characters – everyone from Batman to Ben Kenobi via Leia, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor – and I loved every second of them.

There were plenty of characters I didn’t recognise too (mostly from video games and anime, of which I’m not an aficionado), but it’s not recognising the costumes that matters; it’s appreciating the passion and dedication that goes into creating the,. Cosplayers put hours and hours into crafting their wonderful creations, and some are so elaborate it’s difficult to understand how their makers aren’t employed by major Hollywood film studios as costume designers.

That said, while the accurate costumes are incredible, it’s actually the ones that take some creative licence that impress me the most. When I was at the Manchester Comic Con, I saw a woman dressed as a vintage female Captain America. Her costume wasn’t armour or a military jumpsuit, but rather something a civilian would have worn in the 40s if they wanted to pay tribute to Cap – a blue blouse, a red skirt, and a cardigan to pull it all together. It was clever and very similar to the excellent Disneybounding concept fans do when they go to a Disney Park. I considered asking her for a picture, but being shy and not wanting to disturb her, I ultimately decided against it.

I’m very keen to build my confidence over the next few months, and as part of that, I’ve decided to go to Comic Cons in Birmingham and London. At the former, I’ll be joined by a cosplaying friend, and have decided I’m going to do some light cosplay myself. I’ll be Elliott from E.T.. It’s a relatively simple costume to put together (red hoodie, little bicycle basket, and a plush E.T.) and while it won’t draw too much attention, it’s a point of conversation, which will help bring me out of my shell. Exactly what I need really.

Hopefully that will lead to some conversations about cosplaying itself and I’ll have the courage to compliment people on their skills. It’ll probably only be a few mumbled ‘hey that’s really cools’, but hey, it’s a start.