“Don’t look at me…I think these guys are completely nuts.”
Yes, it has been three months since my last update, but I’ve had a lot going on; some things good, and some things bad. The good is something I have to wait for, and the bad just wants to get done right away…such is life. I couldn’t wait for this, though. Recent events have been eating at me…
I am a 32 year old man who plays with dolls. Did that statement make you uncomfortable?
Well, let’s try another one…
Wanna see one of my dolls?
“But Doc,” you say, “that’s NOT a doll…that is an ACTION FIGURE.”
Want to see a few of my other dollies? I even painted them myself!
“Wrong again, Doc,” you say, “those are MINIATURES, not dolls.”
Want more? Here’s another…
…I like to play “dress-up” with other kids my age!
“No, no, Belmont, you have it ALL WRONG!” you cry, “that’s COSPLAY!”
huh…well, let me tell you something else: Twice a week I get together with friends and we play make-believe that we’re warriors and wizards fighting dragons and monsters, finding treasure, and rescuing fair maidens from certain doom!
“Come on!” you yell, “you’re ROLE-PLAYING, Doc! Don’t you know the DIFFERENCE?”
My question to you is: “Is there one?”
You see a bowl full of apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, and other things…I’m merely stating that we are looking at a bowl of fruit. Neither of us are really wrong, and don’t even begin to pretend that there is some huge difference. You’re just so afraid of being viewed as being “immature” or “childish” (or for the guys, you are so afraid of being emasculated), that you place your fingers squarely in your ears and scream denials until you’re blue in the face.
Fandoms and hobbies are a funny thing. As we get older, we proudly proclaim that we retain our childlike love of life and sense of play, but we spend a very unhealthy amount of time trying to distance ourselves from that whole “youth” part. We make excuses, we place labels, we play word games like politicians, redefining terms and trying to find the most politically-correct labels to place on our hobbies. It’s SHAME, folks! Shame is making you feel bad about something you love, and you feel you need to hide it by masking it with another name.
No matter what the media tells you, being an “adult” isn’t about being an activist, screaming politics at each other, your sexual status, virginity or lack of it, 2.5 children with a home and a white picket-fence, the 9 to 5 job, the number of digits in your salary, reading The Wall Street Journal, discussing pretentious literature, or drinking ridiculously overpriced coffee with silly Italian names. It’s also not about your age. I’ve met plenty of people older than me that are the very definition of “petulant child.”
Let ‘ol Doc Belmont define real adulthood for you: “Adulthood (and by extention, maturity): The ability to take responsibility for one’s own actions.”
For those of you who take care of your families, pay your bills, own up to your mistakes, and take charge of your life, you are adults. Your hobbies don’t define your maturity. Stop being ashamed of it. You are who you are. That being said, it leads me to the part I hate about some of the fandoms I belong to: ELITISM.
Fans of a franchise are some of the most spoiled, persnickety, and entitled people on the planet. The picture at the beginning of this blog epitomizes everything in my rant. Rabid fans will go far out of their way to show you how much of a bigger, more devoted fan they are to their fandom than you. Hierarchies form to distinguish the lambs from the goats. You aren’t a REAL fan until you can check things off of the VERY unofficial “True fan of X franchise” list. Are you big into Steampunk? Well, don’t even try, because you AREN’T G.D. Falksen or Evelyn Kriete. They are the real deal, and nothing you do will ever be as good as them. They ARE steampunk…you’re just a poser. Oh, so you like Dr. Who? You’re little coat and scarf are cute, really…and is that your sonic screwdriver? Did you duct tape some crafting wire to a fountain pen? Adorable. Please move over there, this person wants to take a picture of The Doctor, and I am far more the part than you.
Every fandom has this mentality, and nowhere has it pissed me off more than it has in one of my favorites….Ghostbusters.
Ghostbusters, to most people, would seem a strange fandom to get anal-retentive about, but I can tell you that many Ghostbusters fans are the most draconian, exclusive, member-only club fans that I’ve ever been a part of. I used to get hung up on elitism in Ghostbusters, so I can’t say that I wasn’t guilty of it at one point in time. What changed? Well, I had the realization that I’m a fan, and that there is no difference between me, and the guy who just watches the movies or the TV show.
One of the biggest faux pas’ you can make in the Ghosthead community is to claim to be a fellow Ghostbuster, and not have a costume…I’m sorry….a UNIFORM that stands up to scrutiny. To be a “proper” ghostbuster, you need the following:
1) More than one person in your “franchise” within reasonable distance.
2) A official and authentic-looking website devoted to how awesome you are.
3) A uniform made from a Nomex CWU-27/P Flight Suit, with a SEWN ON Ghostbusters logo and a name patch, U.S. army pistol belt, a Lifegard II PASS alarm, a leg hose that we have no clue what it’s for, black neoprene chemical gloves, a Motorola 500 radio, and volleyball knee pads…you lose points if you don’t have the exact kneepads….oh, and the PROTON PACK. You MUST have a proton pack, and this is the most scrutinized item of your entire getup. There is a proper way to build it, and you lose points if your “clippard valve” isn’t right, or your “ribbon cable” isn’t twisted just so, or if the barrel is off by an eighth of an inch.
Your props make or break you. There’s even quality tiers in the accurate prop packs! If you have a “hero” (movie accurate replica with light kit installed) pack, then you are a REAL ghostbuster. How does one get all of this? Well, you build it…and God help you if you don’t. Only those who build their own stuff have the divine right to be called a ghost buster. If you want to be part of the club, though, you can commission one from the Honored Sacred Order of Official Ghostbusters Prop Builders. This top honor should be reserved only for those worthy of it, and that means that you had better be willing to shell out $1,500…MINIMUM. Just for the pack. The Ghostbusters prop community is pretty much the Freemasons of the nerd world. You’re not one of them unless you know the secret handshake, can speak the language, and can learn the secrets of making your stuff. Sure, if you donate a sizable amount of money, you can buy your way into the prestigious organization, but the higher order demands a skill set.
If any of you reading this thinks this whole thing sounds absolutely retarded, that’s because IT IS.
None of us are “real” or “official.” We’re role-players. This kind of attitude makes us and others like us (The Star Wars 501st Legion, Trekkies, LARPers, etc.) into a damned punchline.
What happens when a company licenses the copyright officially (and LEGALLY), and mass-produces the marvels that until now had only been available to members of the secret club, or to the rich that can buy their way in?
Enter Matty Collector and their Ghostbusters line of prop replicas. One would think that this would be a wonderful thing for the Ghostbusters community, bringing more people together.
Nope. It only managed to REINFORCE the elitist mentality. Each and every time they release a new prop, you fall into one of two camps: fans who are excited that we’re getting official ghostbusters merchandise, and the prop-guys who do nothing but bitch about it. It happened when Matty Collector gave us the P.K.E. meter. It happened when we got the Ghost Trap. It happened when it was announced that we’re getting the Ecto-goggles. Now, it’s happening when we’re getting the Neutrona wand for the Proton Pack (with a few hints that we’re getting the pack at a future date).
The complaints are all the same.
“It’s horribly inaccurate!”
“It looks and feels like a toy!”
“Matty is just gouging us prop-builders!”
Let me address those complaints.
Horribly inaccurate? BULLSHIT!
The following is a picture of what is considered to be a “proper screen-accurate replica.”
This next picture is right out of the Matty Collector display case at the San Diego Comic Con:
See the difference? No? Well that would be because the differences are so miniscule that they are beyond most peoples’ “give-a-damn” threshold.
Want to know what’s different?
1) The handle on Matty’s has a large crease running down the handle.
2) The handle light on Matty’s is clear instead of red.
3) The light above the heat sink on Matty’s is again, clear instead of red.
4) The barrel’s wire is green instead of red
5) The barrel crossguard light on Matty’s is red instead of orange.
6) Matty collector’s neutrona wand is pristine, and doesn’t have “weathering.”
This is a level of anal-retentive scrutiny that just boggles the mind. Yet, while this awesome piece is being made available to fans, some have taken it upon themselves to blast it as a piece of crap because a wire and a couple of lights aren’t the right color. To most, these are insignificant; to a purist, this is a form of blasphemy. Give a prop purist a few hours, and he can tell you how grossly inaccurate the scale and measurements are, and that the prop doesn’t weigh properly, or that the timing of the lights is .437 milliseconds off.
“It looks and feels like a TOY!”
I have news for you, guys. It IS a toy…and so is yours.
1. an object, often a small representation of something familiar, as an animal or person, for children or others to play with; plaything.
2. a thing or matter of little or no value or importance; a trifle.
3. something that serves for or as if for diversion, rather than for serious pratical use.
Your ghostbusters uniform, your proton pack and everything else; THEY’RE TOYS! They are there solely for your own amusement, and serve no practical function, and you know what? That’s okay. You are allowed to have toys. We ALL have toys. Your proton pack? A toy. Jim’s XBox 360? A toy. Biff’s cherry mustang that he only takes out to show at car shows? A toy. Angelica’s brand new iPhone 46 with all the bells n’ whistles with lots of gaudy bling? A toy. My board games and role-playing games? All toys. “Adult toys” aren’t only found in seedy shops with “18 and over only” signs above them, marketing giant rubber phalluses for rock-bottom prices. Geeks and nerds have lots and lots of TOYS. That’s what they are, and many of us seriously need to get over it and accept that fact.
“Matty is just gouging us prop builders!”
This. I can’t even wrap my head around this. This makes it sound like there was a grand conspiracy by a jealous company to divulge the prop-community’s secrets, and to unfairly steal money away from the prop-builder community. Think about how insanely stupid this sounds. This is coming from FANS, who are MAKING A PROFIT from an intellectual property that they DO NOT OWN or HAVE A LICENSE FOR. You. as FANS (and let me stress that word), do not have the legal right to do such. You only have the ability to make props, and do your fund-raisers and charities and such because SONY ALLOWS YOU TO! At any point in time, Sony could send any one of you prop-builders selling your overpriced props a cease and desist order, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It is their legal right to do so. Sony wisely decides not to because fan-made stuff keeps an intellectual property alive, spreads its popularity, acting basically as free advertisement. You have absolutely no right to make money off of it…you do only at SONY’s mercy.
You know what prop-builder’s are actually angry about? They’re angry because Matty knocked them down off of the Ivory Tower of self-importance. They’re no longer the kings of the community that everyone has to pay reverent respect to, or to beg them for their prop table-scraps. Now, folks who aren’t a part of their special club can look just like them for a fraction of the cost that a prop-builder is going to charge you. If anyone is “gouging,” it’s you guys. If I can get practically the same thing for what is probably going to be a QUARTER of the price, you’d better believe that I’m going to take them up on it! I don’t even want to hear that talk of the “superior, fan-built” models…as the “hero pack” I paid an arm and a leg for is falling apart (not to mention I had to fix a defect in the light kit when it was sent to me), and the only thing it’s used for is for conventions and as a conversation piece hanging on a wall in my home. You’re telling me that I should pay YOU $1500+ for the privilege of being condescended to and telling me I should really “do it myself?” I’ll pass.
The prop-builder response? Disdain for the folks who “bought” their stuff. They consider them cheap. Not REAL Ghostbusters, like THEY are. There’s even a slogan amongst the prop-builder crowd of Ghostbusters fans meant to drive that wedge firmly into the community divide, and enforce that fan hierarchy: “BUILT, not BOUGHT.” Stay classy, boys.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against prop-builders, and you have every right to be proud of your hard work. You guys are awesome at your craft. Not everyone in your group is a tool. Unfortunately, it’s the massive toolboxes that make the most noise.
As a fanbase, we Ghostbusters fans have a propensity to whine and bitch about every little thing that comes our way. Any company who holds the license and releases official products is usually met with complaints of accuracy, if not downright hostility. It’s no small wonder why companies would even want to give us anything at all! Does anyone remember the old, very INACCURATE (even for the Real Ghostbusters design) Kenner Proton Packs when we were kids? We BEGGED our parents for those! Only the cool ghostbuster fans had those. They were the status symbol of the day for ghostbusters everywhere. If you wore one of those (or re-purposed that for an adult frame) now, you get laughed at from a good many people in the community.
To be fair to us Ghostbuster fans, though, we HAVE been burned in the past (I’m looking at YOU, Sebastien Clavet). Even Matty Collector has, at times, exhibited what looks like contempt for the fans:
Club Ecto-1? Gone because they didn’t have as many memberships as they wanted.
Manufacture more product? Nope…they didn’t sell fast enough on their first run (to which a week is not fast enough).
Hey, we’re making a 24 hour early pre-sale on this spiffy prop for members of any one of our Matty Collector “clubs!” What? We cancelled Club Ecto-1? Well, I guess you need one of our OTHER subscriptions. What? You’re only interested in Ghostbusters and not He-Man or DC Universe? Well, sucks to be you, I guess.
You’ve asked me an innocent question on the forums that requires a simple answer? No. I’m just going to give you the talking points over and over, then give a snarky answer like you just insulted my mother.
Yeah…those were dick moves on Matty’s part, but to their defense, we haven’t been the world’s most appreciative or even polite fandom to work with. With the reception we give them at times, it’s a wonder why they haven’t dropped the license already. I’m not saying that we all need to bow down and worship Matty or anything, but for goodness’ sake, can we at least be civil, and maybe show at least a little appreciation?
I may be picking on my fellow Ghostbusters fans right now, but this really applies to ANY fandom. Geek-snobbery isn’t warranted on ANY level. You don’t have to like particular products, but for pity’s sake, can we stop with the “better than thou” attitude towards our fellow enthusiasts? I hate Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition with the heated passion of a thousand Foreman grills, but I don’t think ill of anyone who actually enjoys it. I’m not going to scoff at my opponent in Warmachine because his Cryx army isn’t painted in the “proper” palette. I hated the Shadowrun game for the XBox 360, and at the time focused my frustration on the man who led the project…but now he’s helped make not only a GOOD Shadowrun game, but a GREAT one.
Most likely, I’m going to be bombarded by hate mail, called traitor to the community, or some other hogwash, but some of you guys really need to be called out on this. I made some very good friends from the Ghostbusters community, many I still keep in touch with, a few I’ve met up with at conventions. I love you guys, but even some of my friends seriously need to relax. This is the crap that made me drift from the community…the drama.
Chill out, relax, and be appreciative that Ghostbusters isn’t a completely dead franchise. We should be better than this. Isn’t our motto, “bustin’ makes me feel good?” We need good vibes, and a little bit of support for each other and for license holders putting out products for us. Negative emotional vibes have already released ONE dark Carpathian sorcerer, we don’t need another!