Day two was a little different than preview night. Now the panels have begun. There are groups of people clamoring to see a glimpse of their favorite show or star. The cosplay is popping up all around us. The South Park display, the Game of Thrones Hall of Faces, and the Suicide Squad room are up and running. It is a festival for the senses. Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch all have their place in this environment.
After talking with some of the students who have come here to SDCC, I found myself reflecting on old Erving Goffman and The Presentation of Self in Everyday life. So much of what is going on at this con is about managing the front and backstage. What does it mean to be a fan on this stage? What makes a fan more or less authentic? Is SDCC a community or is it an environment which facilitates the opportunity for smaller, individualized popular culture communities to spring up and connect.
I would have to say that one of the major features of this convention, isn’t the already established, it is the atmosphere of “try this.” Yes, it is in the economic best interests of NBC that you visit their Timeless booth and then watch that show, but this is also a person’s opportunity to sample that show and see what it is like.
One of my favorite activities of the day was watching Alix in the Learn Dungeons and Dragons experience. Trying, struggling (teaching is a skill), and working together made that environment an incubator for community. However, in some ways it fell short. More experienced players got frustrated. Lack of knowledge prevented beginners from fully participating. It is a microcosm of the Day Two experience.
This whole thing makes me wish that Adam W. Tyma and CarrieLynn D. Reinhard were here to talk about the diversity of fan experiences and the fractures that occur. The presence of white males pervades both the halls and the panels. It even impacted the rhetoric of the Her Universe fashion show.
Her Universe, a fashion line targeted toward geek women, held their fashion show outside the convention and the symbolism was not lost on us. The videos and the speeches position women as outsiders and still underserved in these spaces. Difference is palpable here in both fandom and along traditional lines of gender, race, and class. However, it palpability has made it a topic of discussion and maybe a space to confront these issues around popular topics and stories.