This is a direct response to Liz Jones’ London Film & Comic Con article on the Daily Mail which you can read here.
Let me introduce myself. I am one of those so-called ‘saddos’ that you described in your latest article and, as the many comments at the bottom of that article can attest to, you’ve got it completely wrong.
For all the “people with no real lives of their own” that you believe you saw in London, actually you were seeing what we often refer to as ‘friendship’. I actually have a ‘real life’ because of events such as these. If I’m a ‘saddo’ for enjoying Game of Thrones, video games and whatnot then that’s fine. Do you have any hobbies or enjoy a good book or anything like that? I assume from reading your article that you’ve never once enjoyed any fictional television show or movie? If you have, surely you’re as ‘sad’ as the rest of us? After all, how dare you indulge in fantasy rather than reality? How dare you partake in dipping a toe into another universe? Why not just stay in the real world like all the ‘cool’ and ‘normal’ people?
I went to my first ever event in 2003. I’ve been a film and television fan for most of my life. I’ve always found the creativity and imagination inspiring and this led me to taking a media degree at university. When I came across an advert in a magazine saying I could meet some of the actors from my favourite shows and movies I thought it was an amazing opportunity to meet people that have shaped my life over the years and entertained me in many ways. It’s not just entertainment though. Whether it’s listening to a piece of music or laughing through a comedy show or crying your eyes out to some trashy chick flick, it can be very therapeutic and often get people through some very tough times.
Does finding solace in escapism make us weak? To actually engage with something in such a way that it actually has a positive impact on our lives? I met my wife through being involved in conventions. All my best friends are from conventions. I have a family now because of conventions. I know people from America, Japan, Australia and Europe because of conventions. I have a great side hobby that I absolutely love and I get to meet people that I’ve admired since childhood because of conventions. Put all of that together and I wonder what is exactly ‘sad’ about that Liz?
What’s wrong with something that brings together such a wide variety of people from all over the world and all walks of life to share a common bond? From teenagers to pensioners. Race doesn’t matter. Sexuality doesn’t matter. I’ve made friends who have suffered with depression for years and struggled to leave the house. A number of visually impaired friends who would rarely go to such events. People in wheelchairs for various reasons. Yet when you’re all together, and you’re all enjoying something that’s special to you all, absolutely none of that matters. How many things can do that?
You mock Cosplayers and yet could you ever create the costumes that they do? Would you even consider for a second how talented someone needs to be to make a screen accurate piece? Of course not, because to your eyes they’re just a bunch of weirdos playing dress-up, right? They’re just attention seekers. Or maybe they’re talented and creative and they’ve found an outlet for that. They’re able to come along and have their photos taken with children who love meeting their heroes and adults who appreciate the time and effort that goes into their work. What an awful and ‘sad’ thing to do.
When Benedict Cumberbatch is on stage everyone listens. They’re hanging on his every word and that’s not because we’re desperate for Sherlock to be real or for the Marvel universe to suddenly swallow us up so we can all be superheroes. It’s because this is a genuine, honest and dedicated man who puts his all into his work and supporting his fans. A big name like Benedict doesn’t NEED to be there. He isn’t someone winding up his career and looking for a few more moments in the spotlight. He’s there to share tales from his career, to talk about how much he loves acting and to interact with those who have made his career what it is today.
Christopher Lloyd meets fans year after year and finds Back to the Future as popular now as it was decades ago. How impressive is it to be able to be a part of something that generation after generation falls in love with? Do you ever wonder how long your work will last in the public eye, Liz? Will people still be discussing your pieces in thirty years’ time or will they have moved on to the next vitriolic writer hoping to make a name for themselves? Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who and so many other things have made lasting legacies for themselves. Maybe you’re just jealous that all your efforts will be forgotten over time.
As for the merchandise, just because we collect various things it doesn’t make it a ‘virtual life’ really. You see we all enjoy various things. Some people love drinking their wages away down the pub on a weekly basis. Some people gamble. Some people smoke. Some people just happen to go to conventions and really who are you to judge? Every person walked through the doors of Olympia for positive reasons, to make life-long memories and to partake in something that makes them genuinely happy. If that’s wrong then why would anyone want to be right?
By the end of your article you almost sound like you’ve changed your mind. Like maybe there’s a faint glimmer of hope that you might realise how offensive your comments are to thousands of people worldwide. I don’t hold out much hope though. This so-called ‘fantasy world’ that you see is actually as real as anything you live. Maybe even more so. Why? Because we’re more accepting than you are. Because we understand and respect each other. And more than anything, it’s because we’re not afraid to go out there and enjoy ourselves without worrying about what others think. Maybe you’re the one that needs to join us in our real world where not everyone needs to bring others down. Maybe you wish you were as comfortable in your own skin.
You do you Liz and we’ll do the same.
David ‘Saddo’ Bedwell