December 8, 2011

Where Politics & Pop Culture Meet

Via delusionalcubfan on flickr - used
under Creative Commons license
(WARNING: the following blog post contains strong language and stronger opinions. If discussion of either offends you, this probably isn't the blog post for you).

I'll be totally honest - part of my lack of blogging activity has been more to recover from NaBloPoMo last month (which, thankfully, has earned me a small prize). I was also straining for an idea to write about - yes, electronic copies of comics are filling my hard drive, but I just couldn't find the motivation to write a really good, insightful, from-the-gut post that I'm used to with this blog.

Thankfully, two current events in recent months have me raging full-on, with two milestones that demonstrate the consequences of blurring the line between self-promotion and self-delusion.

As I write this, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison (and a variety of fines) on various corruption charges. At least one commentator has spoken of this as "tragic" (more in context of Blago's family and for state affairs), but for me this is....well, extremely apt. And a far, far less severe punishment than I believe our former governor deserves.

Of course, what did not help was that Blagojevich seemed to revel not in proclaiming his innocence, but in the way in which he decided to "take on the powers that be" - through reality television, talk shows, and making huge proclamations about corruption in state government as if it were a relative new phenomenon....and not the status quo. (Or even that it is limited to just the state of Illinois). It was his seemingly erratic choices to air his views publicly - from The Bonnie Hunt Show to The View, from being a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice (to be fair, however, he did need an income) to, most surrealistically, an appearance at 2010's Wizard World in Chicago.

A candid shot of Gareb
from 2011 Wizard World
And speaking of which, Gareb Shamus also announced his resignation from Wizard World on the eve of its initial public offering. I have to admit some personal dissatisfaction with Wizard World Chicago - instead of being a great celebration of comics, it has degenerated in recent years into a testosterone-fueled flea market, pandering to the worst impulses, but all under the aegis of "cool".

(Any convention where meeting special guests involves shelling out more money than you pay, and with the level of disorganization of the fest...well, it makes me wish that every major city with a Wizard World also had a C2E2).

But for all its '90s-style bluster, Wizard World was slowly, but surely, disintegrating - for all his talk about how their conventions were "pop culture celebrations", the publishing arm of Wizard was sinking - the magazine folded earlier this year, it's new "online" presence was less than spectacular, and according to one rumor-driven source, Shamus actually attempted to have an artist fired due to a less-than-flattering portrayal. However, the sad thing is that the webcomic portrayal...was dangerously close to the truth, as Wizard bought out smaller, regional shows in order to gain "market share", and that it desperately held onto an idea of comics and pop culture - think "pandering to fans" - that was slowly, but surely, becoming outmoded.

I take no pride in publicly mocking and/or denigrating Blago or Shamus - even now, both men are still attempting to "make their case" (although Shamus, gratefully, has been extremely silent). But there's a hard lesson for all of us - that sometimes, having ambition can be a bad thing.

And that if you're going to fall, be sure you're falling gracefully.

Unlike Gareb and Rod.

No comments: