Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Celebrity culture is a weird thing. We watch movies and shows and read books and listen to music and we experience real emotions related to people who aren't real, or to characters who are being portrayed by actors, who are themselves different people entirely. And then, those real people, who present not real people on TV or in moves, go around the world meeting fans of the not-real people they play, and we the people lose our shit over it

Last month, for the third year in a row, I attended the New Orleans Comic Con. I am a huge fan of cons. It's a gathering of nerds, where artists and writers and cosplayers and just general lovers of things meet to talk about how awesome things are. And this year, for the first time, I bought a VIP pass, because Matt Smith (!!!) was going to be there. 

The first thing I learned was that VIP passes to meet celebrities are expensive. Like, a substantial portion of my monthly rent expensive. But that didn't matter, because I was going to meet the Doctor. And that was awesome. My friend Liz went with me, and she bought a VIP pass to meet Alan Tudyk (!!!); between our two passes, we'd both get to meet both staples of modern sci-fi. 

I didn't really know how to prep myself for meeting these people, or even whether I should. I wanted to say all sorts of things to Matt Smith about how much Doctor Who has meant to me, about how I loved the passion and childlike glee and seasoned militaristic harshness he brought to the role, how the show inspired me and reminded me about important things – but I remembered last year's Con, when I met James Marsters and lost the ability to form words. I had never been "starstruck" before; I thought the concept was silly, because people are just people and these actors are just people doing jobs that are a little more public profile than others. But then Spike was there, and he was super nice, and I couldn't remember how to talk. So I wasn't sure how I'd be able to communicate with Matt Smith like a human. 

Turns out I needn't have been concerned. There were thousands of people at the Con to meet Matt Smith. Our photo with him took about 14 seconds, and our autograph session took about 20. I had the time to blurt, "The episode Vincent and the Doctor really meant a lot to me and got me through some tough times" as he was signing, and he replied, "Thank you, that really means a lot to hear you say that," before a line manager funneled me out of the way. It was really nice to meet him, and get his signature, but there was nothing involved that could be considered anything close to a conversation. It can be noted, however, that I forgot how to smile when faced with the task of taking a photo with the Doctor. 

But the other celebs we got to meet that weekend were much more human. We ran into J. August Richards and took a photo with him and our new light sabers and he texted it (probably) to J. J. Abrams to vy for a role in the new Star Wars franchise. Alan Tudyk was phenomenally nice, and also funny, and also just ridiculously handsome. He's like some computer-generated example of what perfect symmetry and structure looks like in a human. We went through his line twice just to talk to him again.

I think, though, the meeting that really blew me away was Linda Hamilton. We went up just to say "Hi" when her line was down, and I told her a story about how my mom and I used to watch Beauty and the Beast together, and how much that time had meant to me. She held my hands and smiled and listened and talked with us and then autographed a print to my mom, and gave it to me freely, even though they were supposed to be $40 a pop. 

Last night, Liz and I got to meet a different kind of celebrity. The podcast radio show, Welcome to Night Vale, has been traveling the country, performing live shows, and last night, they were in New Orleans. It was a totally different live experience, because it was essentially a stage broadcast, but also something of a play, and also something of a standup routine. Afterwards, we got to meet the cast and writers, and I gave them all Mardi Gras beads, to provide a fail-safe to my apparent inability to communicate with celebrities. Turns out, I didn't need one: they were normal people who had created something other people enjoyed, and were following that creative passion to its logical conclusion. So, thankfully, I remembered in conversation with them how to form words and sentences and not fall into a slobbering goo pile at their feet. 

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