Saturday, September 14, 2013

2013 Brony Fan Fair

Daphne and I attended the second annual Brony Fan Fair. It's still going, and will be held tomorrow, too, but I don't think our schedule is going to allow us to attend anything... Although, since D said she wishes it would never end, we might find an hour or two to sneak over in the early afternoon (I did just finish baking a pie I could have made tomorrow just in case we have the time and energy).

If you've never been to a fan fair, or a convention, of a festival, or a con, or whatever you want to call it, you might be tempted to take one look at the rabid fandom, the panels, the cosplay, and the merchandising and think, "Well, now, really... that's just taking things a little bit too far."

Now, it's true that today, I saw literally thousands of people who were all dressed in appropriate costumes, who had shelled out a ton of cash to be here today, who were parking and lining up and hanging out hours before the festivities started, and who are getting ready to scream and cheer and drink too much, and fangirl out to the max. And I'm talking about the UT fans I passed on the way to and from the Brony Fan Fair. The game doesn't start for 40 more minutes, but they've been parking and walking and buying and eating and drinking and hanging out in our neighborhood all day.

So, it really doesn't matter to me if the object of affection is football (which I don't get) or Star Trek or anime or My Little Pony (which you might not get): There is something extremely comforting about gathering with your own people and geeking out over something you love together.

Amelie Belcher, who hosted a couple of panels on the various generations of ponies, said (and I'm paraphrasing), "Where were you people in 1992? Back then, if you liked My Little Ponies, you kept it to yourself." This is how I felt about "Scarecrow and Mrs. King." I didn't know anyone who liked it as much as I did, and absolutely no one who wanted to talk to me about it, to discuss some of the more subtle undercurrents, to theorize or vision cast... I felt like an island.

I absolutely loved seeing teenaged boys walking around wearing ears and wigs or hoodies with pony heads. How can anyone not feel completely heart-warmed by an environment where everyone can be themselves and be understood?

There were six year old girls, and there were sixty-year-old men. The most beautifully-dressed lady I saw was probably in her 70s (I didn't get a lot of pictures because there were picture-free zones and I was trying to be respectful): She had her long blonde hair braided into a crown using her hair as one strand, and then a gold and a blue long run of fabric for the other strands (a lot like this, only more queenly), then she had on beautiful turquoise and gold robes.

About 50% of people were in cosplay on Friday, and more today. Of the rest, some had on fan shirts, and others, like me, were just boring. I love cosplay, though. It's so much fun. Dressing up as Tonks for HPDH2 was amazing, even though it ruined my hair for two years... AND if I'd taken the class on mane styling that they had yesterday, I would have known not to bleach my hair. So even though I'm not necessarily a Bronie, I did enjoy the Fair and learned quite a bit.

There is no shortage of hate for Bronies in the "real" world, just like people thought (think?) that Star Trek fans were geeks who needed to get a life. For some reason, it's socially acceptable to fawn over sports, they even have bars for that kind of thing! And it is a completely inconsistent mindset, to assume that organized sports deserves a rabid following more than any other pastime. That's one reason I'm really glad that there are cons like this one: EVERYONE is a "freak." And when everyone is a freak, then no one is a freak. Attendees are accepting, gracious, and appreciative of each other. (I know there are moments of extreme stress, too, - like when schedules are off or room is limited and the line is long - but this is overwhelmingly the atmosphere.)

As for me, I feel like these are my people, Bronies or any other fandom. I like people who dress up. I like people who are comfortable enough with who they are not to care very much about someone else thinking they're weird or immature or interested in something that is not gender-appropriate.

So maybe trying to get back there tomorrow isn't so much a favor for Daphne...

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