Friday, July 17, 2015

SDCC 2015: Ben's Adventures: Day 2 - Clash of the Nearly Religious Protesters

We dropped our friend Ben in the middle of San Diego Comic-Con for the first time in his whoooole life with a list of tasks both mundane and ridiculous and said GO GIT ADVENTURE! And so he did...and it was good. Here's what he got up to on day 2...

Sing me a song, you’re a singer. Do me a wrong, you’re a bringer of evil. The devil is never a maker. The less that you give, you’re a taker. So, it’s on and on and on, it’s Heaven and Hell.

As I approached the San Diego convention center for day two I felt something in air, something elusive… I wouldn’t quite call it a disturbance in the force but something was amiss. Traffic wasn’t too bad getting in as I arrived about an hour before the convention floor opened but I, of course, was not the only one. I parked at a local hotel (note for anyone who has never been to SDCC and may be thinking about attending next year, you have to pay for this parking well in advance, so get planning!) and then proceeded to brave the morning gauntlet of geeks and nerds. Foot traffic was pretty heavy, more so than the previous day, and I was nearly knocked down and bowled over by a daisy-chain of Christian malcontents.

That’s right, my day began by being accosted by zealous Westboro Baptist type “god” people. Welcome to comic-con, kid. In case you didn’t know Jesus is the way and we’re all going to hell because we like comic books. It’s true. It’s in Corinthians or some shit. I’m not sure if these protesters and picketers were legitimate god-fearing representatives of the Westboro Baptist variety—although I am aware that the real WBC were protesting back in 2010—but they were certainly full of the same ire. I attempted to research the affiliation of these folk and was somewhat saddened to find out that this is a yearly occurrence. Nothing against those that adore the g-o-d or identify as Christian or wish to exercise their rights to assembly but this sort of “protest” always feels too demonstrative for me and, well, the setting, Christ, I just don’t get it…


Why is it that some people believe that Jesus walked on water but no one believes that Superman can fly?

I had a moment of secular unity with others trying to navigate around the march and we agreed that this sort of action does more to alienate than it does to foster community or change minds. We further agreed that at least they were in the spirit of the Con by giving out free shwag! I got a totally bitchin’ bible for FREE! They were just giving them away!!! I was, however, slightly saddened to find it wasn’t a King James version, and what with being a Catholic School Survivor, I passed it off as a pamphleteer would to a hapless cosplayer hurrying passed me.

It wasn’t long after this that I found my people because it goes on and on and on, it’s heaven and hell! For every light there is a dark, for every Jedi a Sith, for every Tango a Cash, and the Con was no exception. Yes, even the Satan people were out in numbers at the Con! Well, not really representatives from the First Church of Satan (or at least I don’t think ☺) but rather the legions of Damian! This was one of the cooler marketing ploys I encountered while wandering outside the Convention Center. Apparently the “God Hates Comic Books” picket line is a regular occurrence and what better way to market your upcoming show about the Anti-Christ than through the power of satire and irony. The Satanic protesters were chanting, “IT’S ALL FOR YOU! IT’S ALL FOR YOU DAMIEN! HE IS WITH US!” They were promoting an upcoming TV series based on the Omen films. The show, Damien, will be a direct sequel to The Omen (1976) and ignore the later installments of the series. So far a release date has not been made but it has been picked up to run 10 episodes on A&E with Glen Mazarra, formerly of The Walking Dead, as the showrunner—they aired the trailer later that day and it looks pretty good. Although I usually balk at such ostentatious showings, I couldn’t help but lend my support, so I jumped in did some picketing of my own. “It’s all for you Damian!!!” Hail Satan.

As I gave a tearful farewell to my brothers and sisters chanting the glories of Lord Lucifer—He watches over us from down below!—I was gifted by some more Christian folks with a “Get Out of Hell Free” card. I took it as I take all pamphlets, with nonchalant irresponsibility, but two steps away I read the card and began to cheer out loud. Huzzah! I can do what I want! I gots a card! I will pass Go and collect my $200! The man who handed it to me frowned at my cheers and yelled “But you got to follow the directions for it to work!” Hear that guys? You got to “follow directions” for a card to “work.” It’s a card with magic powers and it has an instruction manual on the back. On the back were directions on how to “Choose Christ” apparently it starts with reading the Bible… the one I just gave away. Fuck.

I’m gonna press my luck on this one and just present it at the Gates of Hell when I arrive, with any luck the guy in front will be new and poorly trained. And don’t worry I got a second card up for grabs! What’s it worth to ya? Gimme your best offer. All requests must be submitted in the form of writing. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope “c/o The Devil, 666 Lord Lucifer Way, Satan-Satan New Satan, New York, New York 10012.

Honorable mention for creative marketing in the category of satirizing Christian guerrilla marketing: Childhood’s End. These guys offset the demonstrative antics of the Christians and the Satanists and offered the presence of the “cult” denomination—something very much missing and needed at the Con. These guys were dressed in all white and at first I thought they were members of the Guilty Remnant from HBO’s The Leftovers—great show, you should watch it—but they slowly walked and made little commotion, saying little more than “There is no need to be afraid” while handing out cards saying “Courtesy of Your Benevolent Overlord Karellen.” This is going to air on Syfy in December and I’m actually pretty excited for this mini-series; it’s based on one of my favorite books about an alien invasion that ushers in “utopia” on Earth (see what I did there with the “quotation” marks). So, yeah, thanks guys, I’m not afraid.

My day of evil continued by meeting Scream zombies based on the now airing MTV show. These guys were just marching around silently and didn’t have much presence. Which is a shame because I quite like the show and I was hoping they’d be more fun. I did, however, get the opportunity to interview some of the cast later that day (which will be up soon). For the record, the Scream television series is actually pretty good. It has nothing to do with the characters of Woodsboro from the film series but builds off of the aesthetic—it’s playing on the slasher genre so high-schoolers are at the center of the drama killing, and it’s postmodern and self-aware in an age of social media and cyber-bullying. It’s only three episodes in so there’s plenty of time to catch up. Sure, it’s still a “teen” show but seriously, if you’re a fan of horror, start watching. The show already has quite a big presence and a pretty cool booth inside the convention where you can get killed in slow-motion (this was a big hit at the Con) so I’m guessing these guys didn’t have to do much other than look evil and scary.

And then, finally, the most evil of all evil that ever eviled… EVEL MOTHER FUCKIN KNIEVEL! And back from the fucking dead no less! My interaction with Mr. Knievel was quick as he seemed a bit “off.” I think he really believed himself to be the real Evel Knievel. A somewhat low-rent version. He was all set up on the corner of a downtown San Diego street and tried to sell me a t-shirt. I told him I would “get one on the way back.” Sorry, Evel, but I lied☹ I never attempted to find you again and I never meant to buy a shirt. I felt guilty knowing I was lying but gave him a “Viva Knievel!” as I walked on.

So, how do you top Evel Fuckin’ Knievel??? Doctor Frank N’ Fuckin’ Furter! This guy was so great! While it’s debatable if the Evel Knievel I met thought he was actually Evel Knievel, I have no doubts that this was, indeed, my Frankie. I asked if I could get a picture with him and he said, “of course, baby” in a sultry high British accent. When I went to pose beside him the good doctor grabbed my leg and positioned it to his waist. As we were readying for the camera, instead of saying “cheese” he whispered “ssssssseeeeeeeexxxxxx” in my ear. And #hollywoodrockyhorror totally felt me up as I was putting my leg down! I can now open a story with “I ever tell you about the time I was fondled by Dr. Frank N’ Furter?” My world = rose-tinted.

All in all it was a lovely day.

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