The first evening of Polaris, I sat alone in a food-court, eating a plate of General Tsao’s Fried Chicken and thinking: Is this why I wrote Technicolor Ultra Mall? To end up in a Markham hotel/mall, trying to market a nightmare of malls, marketing and television to people who are in a mall, dressed up like television characters to see television stars?
Some things are a too meta. This is one of them.
Polaris is a pretty good con. There’s a lot of dealers, panels and high profile guests. Daleks patrol the halls, posing for photographs with girls while shrieking “EXTERMI-DATE!” It’s well-organized, well-attended and the money goes to charity. There’s not a lot to complain about.
But it is, also, a hyper-capitalized space where everyone is either buying or selling something. Home-made things, plastic collectables, books, videos and autographed pictures. Everything is mediated through commerce, fame and combinations thereof.
On one end of this, you have cosplay. The supreme moment of identifying with what you consume. I don’t just watch Doctor Who, I am Doctor Who. On the other, you have me, finding a quiet bathroom on an unused floor and locking myself in it for twenty minutes.
Just to breathe.
My best moments at these things are always in the parking lot, having a smoke and a chat. If those anti-smoking laws did me any good, it’s that they briefly force people outside the circus. But you look around the parking lot, at the mall across the street . . .
“How’s life in a bigger prison, Dae Su?”
It’s better. I guess.
I saw an American Goldfinch. It sang atop a little tree. Then it flew away.
I doubt I’ll ever attend another convention.