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15 July 2017

Comic-Con Kookiness

As the Comic-Con brand has grown in popularity and brand recognition throughout the years, the whole demographic of comic-book-loving-sci-fi-reading-video-game-playing 'nerds' has become less stigmatized and more celebrated.

Indeed, I'm not the first shcmuck to point out that reading comic books, playing video games and idolizing anime characters was once a first class ticket to getting your head dunked into a dirty toilet bowl back in grade school. Dudes like Junot Diaz and Kevin Smith are envious of the ease with which kid nowadays can celebrate and advertise their 'nerdiness', when they had to keep their obsessions with comics 'in the closet' as younglings.

Clearly, the landscape has changed with video games having become a billion dollar industry, with a far more even distribution of male and female gamers than ten years ago. Comic Book adaptions are reliably among the highest earners at the box office and anime... ok well  - anime is generally still considered pretty weird.

 This subsumption of nerd subculture into pop culture can be largely attributed, I think, to these seismically large events hosted in the name of all things dorky, with Comic-Con definetely leading the charge. Here, a motley crue of misfits from all walks of life dress up in elaborate costumes and get to pretend to be their favorite fictional character for a day. It's great.

David Glanze, director of PR and marketing for the non-profit that runs Comic-con, insists that Comic Con should really be about the people whom the event is intended for, not the folks who run the thing. Sounds like he's keeping something from us. I'm onto you Dave!

The big boss of it all is 54 year old John G. Rogers, who worked as a software engineer for Qualcomm until about 5 years ago. He's been heading Comic-Con since 1986 and what he did for a living only leaked in 2010. 

From where I stand, they're  running this thing the right way. The comic book writers and artists are given space to advertise their product 'rent-free', while the big shot corporations must pay to use the convention space, which has proved to be an incredibly profitable approach for the company. Well, thank goodness a convention that was started from a love of comics and not the appropriation of comic characters to make blockbusters with actors who've never read the source material (I'm looking at you, Tim Burton) and rewards the minds responsible for the content that all the Hollywood executives profit from. 

Here's the thing: Comic-book culture is much more than just a bunch of dorks. It's evolved well past the SNL sketches of star trek conventions in the 80's. Being a 'nerd' no longer stands in for being 'uncool'. 

How do you feel about the commodification of nerd culture? Lemme know in the comments below
-T
 


Categories: DIY Costumes
15 July 2017

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt...

It pains me to say it, but this attitude that "we should probably stop poisoning our habitat", the one that was so popular at the turn of the century, has fallen out of vogue the past few years. It isn't entirely surprising that people have lost interest, or even more, insisted the whole 'climate change' thing is just a fad. Being the naggy person that reminds everyone they should put their beer bottles in a different bin then their candy wrappers and that they should keep their lights off when they're not in the room is isn't going to earn you very many friends. Maybe that's the problem with being environmentally conscious: people think of you as just a less entertaining incarnation of Reverend Moore from Footloose. C'mon dude, we just want to dance!

I get why people are tired and annoyed of hearing about all the things they shouldn't be allowed to do anymore. Listening to some dweeby scientist talk about rising ocean levels is not nearly as fun as watching, say, footage of a bald Britney Spears attack an SUV with an umbrella. Then again, I can count on one hand the number of things that are more entertaining than watching a bald Britney Spears attack an SUV with an umbrella.

I think It's hard for people to imagine the kind of damage we do to the earth. We look outside to our front lawns and think, "Things don't look so bad. Bernie Sanders should stop fussing and comb his hair already." The second half of that sentence, every reasonable person should agree with. But our geriatric friend from the Green Mountain State is quite right in fussing. Oh, in fact, the more profusely he, and anyone else who's concerned about the longterm health of our planet, fusses, the better off we all are.  

A real issue from where I see it is that so many of these environmentally conscious folks adopt too much of an alarmist tone. They rely on scare tactics such as "If we don't change directions now, then Earth is doomed." Every person who hears that comes away totally deflated. Picture Jane Schmo, listening to NPR on her way to work. She hears that, and may well indeed be wiilling to change her lifestyle completely to be more 'green'. But there's a natural leniancy in us humans to suspect futility because it seems farfetched to expect that everyone else will cold-turkey-overhaul their lifestyles, so that a few generations down the road could maybe have a better planet. Here's the thing I don't find enough environmental activists stress enough: we only have to do a little bit better to make a huge difference. 

According to the EPA, if we increase our national recyling rate from "27 percent to 35 percent, [it] would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11.4 million metric tons of carbon equivalent... over landfilling the same material. (https://archive.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/payt/web/html/factfin.html).

If on top of that, we all decided to cut our national waste by just 5%, combined with the aforementioned 7% increase in recycling, it would be equivalent to nullifying 12 Million households worth of emissions with respect to electricity consumption. With the average U.S. household being comprised of roughly 2.5 people, that's like having 30 Million less people using electricity. There are less than 30 Million people who live in New York and New Jersey combined! That's quite a dent we'd be making.

Well then, maybe we should think of a few ways to encourage people to recycle more? Look at Michigan, for instance. Civilians would receive a $0.10 refund for every recyclable bottle or can they redeemed. This incentivisation to properly handle waste yielded a 96% for the whole state in 2011.  Well, that seems like a pretty good start to me. That exceeds the 35% we talked about earlier by a heckuva lot, and if Michigan has shown us anything good (because we sure as hell know they've shown us a lot of bad. Have you watched Hardcore Pawn?) it's that we can do it if we put our minds to it.

It's not just bottles and cans that we should be concerned about with respect to waste management. 

Think for a moment about the amount of clothes that you've owned across your life. Now, after you've outgrown, or simply grown tired of, some of those clothes, how many have you given to someone else second hand? Hopefully a lot, because according to Henrik Lampa, H&M's development sustainability manager, only 0.1% of the textile from all clothing donated to charities and take-back programs can be recycled and used again. The rest, as you've likely surmised, is simply waste. 

This statistic was alarming for us, and should be for anyone with their brain screwed on straight. A crucial part of Chrysalis' mission is to not recycle, but re-use perfectly good costumes. 

Can you think of any article of clothing that people almost ubiquitously use once and throw away like a costume? We can't. The amount of wasted textile fiber from the costume industry, which sells around 3 Billion dollars in sales every year, is pretty astronomical. The way I see it, if this company can help you save money on your costumes, and you can ease the strain on the planet by decreasing the demand of excessive costume production, we are all acting pretty heroic ; )

Do you have any more good ideas of how to keep the planet cleaner, or help incentivize proper waste management? Leave your idea's below.
 
 


Categories: education
11 July 2017

Dressing Up and Letting Go

I’ve been playing around a lot with the question of why Halloween and Cosplaying are so popular. Just why is it so much fun to dress in costumes? What is it about ‘making pretend’ and disguising yourself that people are so drawn to?

On a superficial level, we recognize that Halloween is the night that our society agrees, once a year, that we honor & purge the spirits. Some may say It’s when we reconcile with the shadow, where the ethereal converges with the corporeal. 

But hey, maybe the reason people are so into dressing up is because the spirit being exercised is your own. Some people spend all day behaving like what they understand a normal person behaves like. It’s like we need need this day once a year to misbehave - to let the animal out of it’s cage.As the great Oscar Wilde once said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.“ 

 There’s a song I like about aliens observing mankind from up above, on a space ship, remarking on “ all these weird creatures who lock up their spirits. drill holes in themselves, and live for their secrets”. And we can’t forget we are creatures. Sure, we have language and clothing, but we can’t forget that we lived in trees for millions of years. Something ancient and innate is being exercised us when we can discard our daily persona and embody something different. It’s easier to do, in a strange way.  

Society isn’t all bad, but  from where I stand, there is this cross-cultural theme of repression of inner-self. Sometimes, the mammal in us needs to dance around a bit. Your soul is hungry to flourish. It needs air. It needs play. 

If you had your choice between living in the world you do now, and one where people behaved like the characters they dress up as everyday, which would you choose? Feel free to share your thoughts below.


Categories: DIY Costumes

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