Friday, April 02, 2021

Star Trek convention or Star Wars bar?

Posted here mostly so I can find it easily in the future is a link to a 1996 piece comparing CPAC to a Star Trek con:
In short, Trekkies are to average television fans what Iranian Shiites are to average Muslims -- or what CPAC attendees are to average Republicans. In that spirit, we attempted to boldly cover CPAC as no one has ever covered it before, by attending both a CPAC and a Star Trek convention for a straight-up comparison.

In 1992, W. Hampton Sides wrote a book called Stomping Grounds, a study of subcultures featuring everyone from aging hippies in the Rainbow Gathering to geriatric caravans cruising the country in Airstream trailers. "We've become a land of refined fanaticism," Sides wrote. "We choose our flavor of lifestyle and go deep in."

It's hard to imagine anyone as deep-fried as CPACers, many paying thousands of dollars and travelling hundreds of miles to sit through panel discussions such as "Restoring American Citizenship," "Whither Whitewater?" and "Agenda '97: Holding Government Accountable." Of course, there is the additional puppy treat of meeting the rock stars of the conservative movement, like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Floyd Brown of Citizens United, and Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus.

While interviewing subjects, I made no bones about the analogy I was exploring. I quickly became known as "the Star Trek guy." Said one former conference organizer: "Good, you'll be doing all normal people who attend a valuable service." But Catherine Dawson, who was manning a vending station in Washington's Omni Shoreham Hotel, cautioned me: "I've been to Star Trek conventions," she said. "Sure, at both conferences you get a lot of people that think they are a Klingon or they are Buchanan -- but it's not like CPACers are going around wearing uniforms or anything."