Sonnenberg: Embrace Your Geekiness at FanX


A normal interaction at Comic Con

By Kristiane Sonnenberg

In early September, Salt Lake City hosted the newly rebranded FanX® Salt Lake Comic-Convention™ (formerly Salt Lake Comic-Con, or SLCC). According to the co-founder Bryan Brandenburg’s estimate (as reported by the Deseret News), 110,000 fans attended the three-day event dedicated to everything geeky. Many of those attending were students looking to meet their favorite stars, buy some branded merchandise or show off their homemade cosplay. I would like to encourage all students, regardless of their level of geekiness, to attend FanX at least once.

Walking through throngs of people dressed up as anime, comic and movie characters can remind students that it is okay to be passionately geeky. At FanX, there is no such thing as a show too obscure to reference. On the mainstream end of the spectrum, no one will judge you for your obsession over Captain America. On the slightly esoteric end, no one will judge you if you’ve constructed a full costume of Siren from “Xenoblade Chronicles 2.” When I was in high school, I thought that I was weird for liking “Doctor Who.” It wasn’t until I went to SLCC my freshman year that I realized there are many people who share and even eclipse my passion for the popular British show. My collection of “Doctor Who” t-shirts paled in comparison to the elaborate costumes of weeping stone angels and Daleks that I saw at my first Con.

Attending FanX can be invaluable for students because it teaches us that we are not as weird or geeky as we might think. Being surrounded by crowds of fellow fans teaches us that it’s okay to be enthusiastic. As author John Green said in a VlogBrothers video, “nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff — nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank [Green’s brother and fellow blogger], when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.’”

If we think that college is partially about embracing who we are, then we should embrace our nerdiness and the unironic enthusiasm about life that it entails.

Just as attending FanX helps us to realize that our own interests are normal, so too does it help us realize that other people’s interests are valid too, even if they differ from our own. Before I attended my first Con, I was judgmental towards fandoms that I thought were weird. I thought that Bronies (adult male fans of the show “My Little Pony”) and SuperWhoLock devotees were inappropriately obsessed with shows and combined fandoms that were too weird for the average fan to enjoy. Going to Comic-Con helped change my perception. I realized that members of strange fandoms are just fans like anyone else, and that they are normal people who happen to enjoy something different than I do. This might sound obvious, but I think that too often we make fun of people whose interests are different in order to make us feel better about our own. I was having a hard time owning my personal nerdiness, so I looked down on people who I considered to be even nerdier. Going to Comic-Con helped me accept my own nerdiness and, by extension, other people’s nerdiness.

FanX® Salt Lake Comic-Convention™ is a unique opportunity for University of Utah students. Every year it invites big name actors — the September 2018 convention included stars like Jeff Goldblum, Evangeline Lilly and Jason Momoa. The convention is easily accessible from the U by TRAX, and there is something for everyone, including photo ops, shopping and admiring the cosplay. Students should take advantage of the Spring 2019 convention (April 19-20, according to the FanX website) and learn to embrace their own geekiness.

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