My therapist has not cleared me to talk about this, but it seems only fitting after watching Trekkies and reading about Fandom and TWOPPERS that I admit to you all that I suffer from PCCTSD-- Post Comic Con Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Last year, my partner Mat was on a panel at Comic Con to generate fans for a young adult sci-fi novel he was working on that hadn't even been released yet. He was given badges and a hotel room and asked me if I wanted to go. I said yes. This is where my first mistake was made. Sure, I like to go places, see things, experience newness, I thought. But here's the thing: I'm a writer, I don't. I appreciate a comfortable chair to watch unobstructed views of places, things and experiences on a giant screen.
I have never in my life been surrounded by so many women not wearing pants. Not even the dressing room at Loehmann's. At one point, while trying to walk down an aisle of the convention center, the air suddenly became people. There was no place to go. We could not move. If I had fainted, I'm pretty sure I would've stayed upright. The temperature went up fifteen degrees. And we were stuck like this, thousands of people, for twenty or so minutes, because somewhere, under the same roof was George R.R.R.R. Martin (I think he's earned a few extra Rs) and the cast of Game Of Thrones. And because of this, the whole world HAD TO STOP.
It was awful. As soon as I could, I high-tailed it out of there and spent the rest of the weekend avoiding the very thing I had come to experience.
What I did experience, however, was a great understanding of the meaning of "escapism" television (and movies) to fans. I love TV, but I don't NEED TV. The people I saw at Comic Con, who were immersing themselves in the world of their favorite shows, by costume at the very least, do. If you're a people watcher like I am, you could tell that this was their time to shine. This experience made wherever it was they came from, whatever they look like or do every other day of the year, bearable. As someone who hopes to be a TV writer, it was humbling. And a little terrifying. And here's the thing: it was not just a sub-culture. It was the culture. This summer's Comic Con sold out in hours. And the number of badges they sell has grown infinitely since its inception. It's a "thing" now! I believe they've even done episodes of Big Bang Theory about it.
So picking up where Jenkins and Andrejevic left off, earlier in our TV histories, what does it mean when the sub-culture of fandom becomes popular culture? I see a distinct similarity between the other-worldliness of Star Trek and Game of Thrones, except GoT is immensely more popular. The fourth season finale of GoT was seen by over seven million viewers and it was up against game 5 of the NBA playoffs.
"Thrones also recorded the largest audience ever for an HBO series this season with an average of 18.6 million viewers across all platforms and repeats, up 29 percent from last season."-- EW.com
Star Trek, the original series, didn't even have a fourth season because it was cancelled due to poor ratings after season 3.
So what happens to television when the fan-workers' voice becomes the dominant one? At the moment, it means things like this:
and a lot of people pressuring Martin to "get back to work." I fear what comes next, and I don't mean because Winter is coming.