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Young Vs. Old? – A Silent Bob Rant.
By Bob Hubbard

Posted by: Silent Bob Jun 20 2003, 11:31 AM
A recent commentary of mine created a big flame fest when it was posted on the Toronto Trek message board. In this rant, I took to task several points than had bothered me while reading convention reviews. After I posted it, many members of the board echoed agreement with me. Another group however took offence to what I said, and things got a little ugly. I’ve received many emails and private messages from both sides of the ‘war’. The interesting thing that I note is, the battle line is drawn almost completely at the age break. The ‘old timers’ knew what I was saying, and had seen similar. The ‘newbies’ however, took offence, and so began a war of words than ended with complaints lodged and the thread thrown.

Which is a shame really because many valid points were in fact made in there, though I feel they were missed by many.

I’m going to look at both sides of the ‘battle’ and do a little comparing n contrastn.
I expect this one to raise a little controversy too.

The ‘Old Fans’:
These are the folks over 21, who have been to many cons. Often times, they have been volunteers, even working on the ‘Con-Coms’. These are the people who may have seen the Original Star Trek when it was first run, who waited in lines in the snow to see the original Star Wars, and who might even have seen BattleStar Galactica on the Big Screen. ‘Anime’ wasn’t really a word yet, but we remember Astro Boy, Star Blazers, and Kimba fondly. The ‘old fans’ are the brains and muscle behind the larger conventions. They long for the old days, when the shows were ‘good’ and the fans ‘friendly’.

The ‘New Fans’:
These are a varied group. Age isn’t really an issue here as some are in their 50’s, but most are high school / collage age. They’ve been to a few cons, don’t fully understand how they happen, and may be thinking of helping out someday, but right now want to see everything there is. To them, ‘Next Gen’ is ancient, but ‘Enterprise’ is ‘it’. Many have never heard of ‘Flash Gorden’ or ‘Buck Rogers’, or if they have, they don’t know about the old serials and comics that spawned them. They can tell you every evolution of a ‘Pikachu’, yet haven’t yet learned of the existence of the ‘con suite’. They know nothing of the wealth that is out there, yet stare contemptuously at the old timers who they feel dislike them.

These groups are further broken down into many sub groups:
Con organizers – The old guard who are often stuck in their mindsets, and the new guard who wants everything but doesn’t yet know how things work.

Volunteers – Those grizzled old veterans of many campaigns (often burned out but still in the swing of things) and the raw recruits, full of excitement and energy, with no idea just what awaits them.

Cosplayers – This groups the most ‘interesting’.
You have the ‘authenticity police’ who go apeshit if some aspect of your costume doesn’t match their ‘spec’. The most interesting tale I have on this is one a former associate of mine once told me. Seems he was at an SCA camp, and one guy kept at it. My associate finally tackled they guy, stuck his dirk in the guys mouth and said ‘gee, those fillings aren’t ‘period’, guess we better help ya out’. It can get ugly. I don’t recall if the impromptu dental session was successful, but I was told the ‘AP’ was more polite afterwards.

You have the sci-fiers who look down on the animers who look down on the fantasyers who look down on the gamers who look down on the scifiers….cross connect em all. They all thing the other groups are ‘dorks’ and only they know the true cosplay.

This group is further broken down into ‘cosplayers’ and ‘masqueraders’. One group likes to make and show off their costumes, the other likes to do skits.

Sadly, in too many occasions, these morons have never once remembered that at the core, they all love to make costumes and bask in the limelight. They are so alike, yet an artificial classification keeps them apart.

Casual Fans – these are the folks who make up the majority. They show up, maybe wearing a ‘show teeshirt’, or just whatever. They hit a few panels, see some videos, spend some cash in the dealers room, and just hang out. They look at the con-coms racing by from fire to fire, the ‘weirdos’ in costume, and the bored looking ‘klingon’ at the door, and just smile to themselves. Many have been here for decades, others are seeing it for the first time. Often times, they will join the ranks above.

These sides all care to some varying level of passion about something that moved them to attend the convention. Whether it was to see a guest, buy stuff, hang out, show off, help out or learn something new, they all have one thing in common.

They are fans. With out them all, old and new, weird and normal, we would have no cons to goto.

The oldtimers are the core. The newbies are the energy that makes it go. All of the other variations make it interesting and fun.

Nobody should ever goto a con and feel unwanted or unwelcome. When there are problems, the staff is there to help out. If you cant find a satisfactory answer, rather than bitch about it, get involved. People can’t fix things they aren’t aware of, and they can’t fix what they do know about without extra help.

So, if the guest you want isn’t on the bill, ask why. If the panels aren’t done to your liking, join up and get involved. If the shows you like aren’t represented, ask why, and maybe, do something yourself. Maybe, just maybe there are dozens of other enthusiasts like yourself afraid to speak up, and you will be the key to another expansion of the dream. Get involved. You’ll get so much more out of it.

Its not a battle of young vs old. It’s the contrasting of experience verses fresh perspectives. IDIC in action.

In the end, it is all grey.


- - -
“Silent” Bob Hubbard has been a fan since 1975, and has been attending cons since the mid 1980’s. He is also the owner of, a popular martial arts forum, and president of SilverStar WebDesigns Inc. His personal site dedicated to Japanimation and random insanity is found at His 'rants' combine sarcasm, bluntness, cynism, contradiction and humor to make people think.

Posted by: Silent Bob Jun 20 2003, 12:52 PM
The layers all vary. TT is 'old' enough to have many layers, whereas AN may only have 1 with a second forming. Some of the smaller fan-cons may only have 1 layer which evolves over time, but still stays a single layer. I was trying to be 'generic', while using a few small 'knows' as a starting point.

Sometimes, as time goes on, the 'vet' this year, becomes next years newbie. You work your way up, spend a few years in the 'trenches' then, drop back to the 'fan' level and start the cycle over again. There are many reasons for this. Burn out, Time, a desire to 'reconnect', etc.

Its like an onion. (Yes, crying is sometimes involved.)

Another point - You may be at multiple levels at the same time.

I'll use LynLyn (From TorontoTreks BBS) as the example here :
She's a 'newbie'. Just getting started on the con-cosplay and congoer sides, brings a fresh look at stuff to the concom and still has the energy and excitement of 'youth'. Yet, her thought processes are more of the 'grounded in reality, but lets have fun' mode often found in the middle levels of 'fan-evolution'. She hasn't burned out yet, or faced her first 'Aw crap, I gotta get outta here' level crisis.

Shes a good example of a multi-leveler. CdB might be another familiar example due in good part to the number of different rolls he plays with many different cons.

Thats also another good point. Often times, a person is a 'newbie' at one con, yet a 'grizzled vet' at another con.

5 additional groups:
'Complainers' post on whats wrong, write reviews that state what sucked, and generally sit n pout. Complainers are always quick to see whats wrong, but rarely get involved in the 'fix'.

Complainers have a sub-group,
Whiners. The whiner is the one who really tears thing to shreads. They nitpick, they focus on all of the negative and how all their fun was ruined. A con report from a whiner is almost totally negative.

'Solvers' will seek out things that are 'broken' and often times drown you in sollutions. These are the 'idea' folks. They have stood in enough registration lines that they will tell you a hundred different ways to make it faster, smoother, cleaner, straighter, etc.

Solvers are broken down into 2 sub groups:
Talkers They have all the answers, but quickly disapear the moment you hand em the 'line warden' badge.
Doers These are the guys you want. They have an idea, can impliment it, and will get things done.

Then there is the fourth group:
Silent Fan. This is the guy or gal who keeps everything quiet. Both the good, and the bad. They have ideas, but are afraid to speak up. They have complaints, but are afraid they will not be heard. This is the largest group out there. Ways must be found to get more people out of this group and into one of the other 3, preferably the 'solver' group. Sadly, short of duct tape and tasers, I'm unable to think of a way to get more of the average fans involved.

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Bob Hubbard also known on various on-line forums as "Silent" Bob, and just "Kaith", is a long time sci-fi fan. Currently head of the I.K.V. Devisior, an independant science fiction, anime and fantasy fan club, he has held positions with numerous other groups. He has organized activities at Media Play and Barnes & Nobel, worked con security, participated in club challenges for charities, and participated in masquerades, art shows and model shows at several Toronto conventions.
You can reach Bob at his website,


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