Alex Yarde makes the case for why every Geek should attend
Pop Culture Anti-Bullying Coalition’s panel
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
“From now on, Con-goers will come for Cosplay, entertainment, freebees, autographs- and healing
I just witnessed something truly remarkable today at the CN Pop Culture Anti Bullying Coalition Panel in room1 A121. The End Bullying! Responding to Cruelty in our Culture Panel was a revelation. Co Founder and Author Carrie Goldman’s (Harper Collins’ Bulled: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Violence) masterful moderation, armed with studies showing the need for a paradigm shift from the passive “Anti-Bullying,” type workshops and more of the active and empowering ”Hero Creating” that Adam Heartly Co-Founder of The Hero Round Table is a proponent of. Co Founder and Actress Chase Masterson (Star Trek:DS9, Doctor Who, Big Finish) and her esteemed colleagues educated, informed and enlightened attendees in ways to help others develop self esteem with tools to address bullies without violence and enlists us all into becoming more involved, as Matt Langdon of the Hero Construction Company said “The opposite of a hero isn’t a Villain, it’s a bystander.”
The panelists shared personal stories like Eva Vega-Olds, Anti Defamation League Director, who broke down the pathology of why lashing out wasn’t the answer to a bully while relating a text she received from one of her brave Cosplay loving nieces and the pushback they received because of it. Dr Travis Langley (Author, Batman & Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight), spoke eloquently of how students can both face harsh realities and open up to share through discussing fiction. Her Universe Creator & Actress Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) about her motivation to create a positive fan girl community and Comedian Joe Gatto (TruTV’s Impractical Jokers, Jokers Wild) who related some painful childhood memories and while he used humor to diffuse his bullying came to the realization that the problem wasn’t his, it was his bully and that “Bullies are Dicks”.
Perhaps most importantly, the panel set a tone in the room that made it a safe space for several audience members to feel compelled to stand, maybe for the first time publicly, and courageously find their voices and share their own stories their own childhood bullying. The remarkable skill and thoughtfulness that every member of that panel showed toward us attendees gave us the permission to share with others within a 45 minute window. This is a testament to the level of expertise and experience they bring to bear on the subject of bullying.
So the questions I find myself left with are these. How many more people were waiting to unburden themselves but were unable to for lack of time and venue size? Why is this VITAL work for our Geek Culture only 45 minutes long in a midsized room? What impact to our #NYCC community and our larger communities back home if we left these four days with a little less swag and a little more swagger? Think about how great and transformative a wave we could make locally with local like minded partners. Who hasn’t been picked on for loving Cosplay or Comic Books or Sci-Fi or Horror Films? Even worse, singled out being the “wrong” gender, color, body size, religion/lack of, ability or simply loving the “wrong” person?
What could be more important to attendees and consumers of Geek IP than the compassion & commitment to help others I witnessed in room A121, prepared with tools to help others and having the confidence to come to someone’s aid? What if we clamored to feel empowered and educated in the same way we clamor to see a DVD being released or a TV pilot or a rubber dog puppet? What if we wore our capes on the inside? The people who fill the 750,000 square feet of the Javits Convention Center have all experienced bullying at some point in their lives, I have. YOU have. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade.
We can still party and hunt down that poster or collectable we cherish but filling our heats and minds should be as important as filling our person sized bags shouldn’t it? I love Cons and because I love the people I meet and the connections we share as fans I want us to be a stronger and healthy community and I think this panel needs to be required at The Academy I was impressed so much by what I saw. I want our kids to feel empowered to ACT. Because everyone knows what should be done. It’s the will that’s lacking.
A large scale venue and additional time for End Bullying! Responding to Cruelty in Our Culture Panel is the perfect opportunity for a much larger swath of our community to learn something about being true heroes, to empower our kids and our communities against bullying, share stories, lay down our personal burdens and start to heal hearts and fill minds. Arm individuals and families with the tools to wear their capes on the inside and feel enabled to step in when they witness injustice. It’s more than not kicking someone when she’s down, that’s easy; it’s making sure they get back on their feet. It’s offering a kind comment on a wall full of vitriol. It’s asking, “are you okay” when you know they aren’t and sticking around till they are. If it were easy it wouldn’t be heroic would it?
It dawned on me at the risk of sounding hyperbolic (truth be told never stopped me before) that what I witnessed in Room A121 was nothing short of the formation of a Justice League (please don’t sue me Warner Entertainment/DC Comics.) these panelists banding together to help those in need and by example, inspiring others to do the same is the very definition of heroes in my book, and a Justice League needs a Hall of Justice.
For more information go to: AntiBullyingCoalition.Com
Photo Credit-Alex Yarde