Jul 25, 2008

In Which I Hang Out With Costumed Geek Types.

I could have gone through life without ever hearing the phrase "sexy ewok."

But, there she was, all done up in a fur bikini thing, topped off with an Ewok cowl. The typically skinny Japanese girl strutted across the stage and shook her fuzz-bedecked ass at the audience, much to my surprise and bewilderment. Regrettably (?) I wasn't able to get a good picture of her.

This was on Sunday in Chiba city's sizable convention center. Another teacher from my company had gotten some students to go to a Star Wars convention, and I came along, camera in hand, hoping to get a few photos of enthusiastic geeks done up in their finest. The sexy ewok was strutting about in a fan costume contest, milking the applause of the audience for all it was worth.

I had a great time. A really excellent time, actually, but not because of any of the official Lucasfilm stuff that was on display. To be honest, most of that stuff was fairly underwhelming. A majority of the fun I had was thanks to the fans. The fanatical and weird fans who took time out of their lives to dress up as sexy ewoks and other sundry characters.

Like this guy, Barbecue Vader.

There was the requisite Slave Leia. She got a lot of attention. And yes, that's a chick dressed up as Luke.

And of course, tons of Storm Troopers. A few of them carried around a boombox playing the Imperial March.

The fans were more than happy to be photographed. Swarms of camera wielders walked up to them and asked for pictures and poses, and they were happy to oblige. What made it all the better, was that a lot of the costumes were obvious labors of love. When I could see the saw marks on a plastic Stormtrooper costume, I really appreciated it. Here were a bunch of utterly weird, dedicated people doing something that they loved. And they were being appreciated for it. It was a giant room of very geeky people being instantly validated. That was really something.

On a slightly weirder note, I did mention to one of the students I was with that my favorite character was Han Solo. He replied with a "Who's that?" and I said "You know, the pilot of the Millennium Falcon." He explained that he'd only seen the new movies, but really liked them. I think there was some proselytization on my part after this. We were cool, though. We agreed that Christopher Lee is awesome.

Of the official exhibits, the only one I really liked was a collection of differently painted Darth Vader helmets. Different artists offered their spin on the iconic headpiece, and the results were fun to stroll through.

The project, though, really illustrated why I didn't care for the Lucasfilm stuff there. Darth Vader and the rest of the established Star Wars characters are icons, archetypes. They're not going to change or develop much. What they do offer, though, is something that can be constantly reinvented without ever losing it's quintessential qualities. That's something that's awesome about icons- their inner core is so well established that their exterior can be modified over and over again.

It was this kind of modification and play that showed up in the verve and love of the fans. They riffed on and played with something they loved, and the crowd cheered them on. Seeing that was far better than a movie.

More fun with mispronunciation!

A few days ago the word "ashore" showed up in a textbook. A student asked what it meant, but, oddly, did not combine the "s" and the "h" into a "sh" sound. Instead, he pronounced them separately, and it came out sounding like "ass whore." It was pretty awesome.

1 comment:

Sydney said...

"Where's Captain Davis, Ensign?"
"He's gone ass whore on leave, sir."
"Damnit. Well, I'll leave a note, though I know there's no point."
"Why not, sir?"
"When Davis goes ass whore on leave, he doesn't surface for days."
"Oh. Well, if I see him, I'll make sure to say you were looking for him."
"Good man."