Comic-Con: Everything that’s wrong with Hollywood

July 23, 2013


I’ve posted diatribes the past few years about Comic-Con – an event I’ve never attended and never hope to.

But I was going to ignore it this year.

For a couple of reasons: For one thing, I feel as though I’ve made my arguments in the past. But I recognize that mine is a minority opinion, at least in terms of influencing whatever impact Comic-Con may have. The geeks shall inherit the Earth, as many wags have punned in the past.

And, frankly, there are more important things to worry about.

But when the big weekend – last weekend – arrived, you couldn’t get away from it. One of the entertainment websites from which I receive news updates via email must have blasted a new news notice every hour on the hour with “COMIC-CON” in big letters in the headline. Easy to delete, but still annoying.

Here’s the thing: In the greater scheme of things, Comic-Con – and all that it represents – is yet another pointless distraction, a way to keep the masses occupied while all the other important stuff goes down.

Because there is little at Comic-Con or in the bulk of the entertainment it represents that attempts to raise consciousness, increase awareness on the most pressing issues of our time or otherwise edify its consumers.

Oh, I can hear the fanboys already: Hey, man, I can point to comic books that deal with racism and homophobia.

Really? Tell me about it when it’s not such a rarity that it makes news whenever it does happen.

And then there are the ones who say: Dude, sometimes we just want to turn off our brains and be entertained. Understood.

But Comic-Con represents what amounts to the intellectual equivalent of the all french-fry diet. Or the all Snickers diet. Choose your poison – then overdose on it. That’s the influence and impact of Comic-Con.

So it’s disheartening to watch the mainstream media attempt to play along, further enhancing the role Comic-Con continues to play in the culture. An AP piece I read Monday summing up the weekend in San Diego used actor Samuel L. Jackson as an example of the seemingly normal person who regularly reads comics. That was the lead on a story about how important Comic-Con has become to Hollywood and popular culture in general – without a speck of critical distance as to what the larger impact might be from this infection.

For starters, I’d venture to guess that Samuel L. Jackson’s intellectual world does not consist solely of comic books – just as people who are fans of genre-fiction writers probably read other things as well.

Secondly, this positive AP story about Comic Con’s impact arrived the same day as a New York Times story about how so many of the movies touted at last year’s Comic-Con – such as “Pacific Rim” and “The Lone Ranger” – were DOA at the box office this summer, including two (“RIPD” and “Turbo”) that opened the weekend of Comic-Con.

(Speaking of context: There’s a big difference between “The Lone Ranger,” which died because it was a horrible film, and “Pacific Rim,” which did less business than it should have but was really an outstanding movie.)

Yes, there’s an audience for this stuff. They start young – as kids, or adolescents. That’s the mass audience for this material. That’s the tail that’s wagging the Hollywood dog. They’ve got the time and, apparently, the disposable income to see these movies over and over again during the summer (and even other times). That’s the audience for which studios are investing literally hundreds of millions of dollars to create tentpole franchises that can spin off money-churning ancillary products.

But that audience eventually (hopefully) grows up; the bulk of them outgrow the constant diet of fantasy, comics, videogames and all the other things that Comic-Con represents.

And then they’re stuck like the rest of us: searching for intelligent entertainment in a world where Comic-Con consciousness rules.

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