So... a little background. I’ve gone to DragonCon down in Atlanta, GA for the last 11 years. My wife has gone for 21 years. I’m 47, but my geek genes are stronk enough that I will refer to myself as a 47th Level Geek. We got married over DragonCon weekend in nearby Marietta in a full-on Doctor Who themed Gallifreyan ceremony at The Strand theater. We marched in the DragonCon parade in our wedding clothes with a Just Married banner behind us.
It’s a great stonking 80,000 strong convention that spreads across downtown Atlanta for all of Labor Day Weekend. I was literally this morning working on a thing to submit to DragonCon TV, the channel you can get in the Con hotels with panels, fan-works and the infamous DCTV bumpers. Our regular thing as husband and wife when we go down there every year since 2012 is to see the Georgia Symphony play genre music in concert with vocalist guest stars and the like. It’s a hot sweaty expensive exercise where I’m pushing my wife around in her wheelchair for literal miles per day. But we know the ins and outs. It is a labor of love.
And it breaks my heart that I’m considering the necessity of not going.
Mind you... DragonCon has themselves done nothing wrong. If anything, their guest list has been improving ever since they finally managed to get themselves shed of that one pedo board member a few years ago. The one who kept breaking his parole, and causing so many celebs to boycott the thing. They seem to be making strides in the right direction. I’d even put in an application to perform there with friends of mine riffing movies, MST3K style. I want you all to understand going in here... I’m not pissed with them.
But the state of Georgia and now the US Government itself is making it awfully hard to keep attending.
Earlier this year, in the current state administration’s rush to be the first to attack Roe Vs. Wade in a draconian bill that effectively makes women chattel and property, several filmmakers, showrunners and celebrities boycotted working in the state altogether. Shows relocated themselves elsewhere. Major studios like Disney rumbled that if stuff didn’t straighten out soon, they may have to relocate their efforts too. And one thing I noted in Spider-Man Far From Home before that final credits scene.... or rather something I noted the ABSENCE of, was the ‘Filmed in Georgia’ peach logo. It was a noteworthy omission.
Living in North Carolina, I saw the effects that had on our one-time burgeoning entertainment industry. Studio facilities were being built on the malls I once frequented in my youth down in Charlotte. Hunger Games movies and other productions were being filmed up around Asheville. Wilmington out on the coast was a going concern. And then the McCrory (R) administration did all that bathroom bill nonsense. And suddenly the entertainment industry was gone. Building stopped. Suddenly Panem was being filmed in the Mariott in downtown Atlanta. And being a voice actor myself... I saw very keenly how opportunities dried up here. And I would’ve thought that being just two states north, the folks down in Georgia would know better.
Now... I’m very much aware that a very vocal minority made effective by way of gerrymandering and vote fraud by way of their current governor would like nothing better than to have their entertainment industry pack up and leave. You know, so they can get on with creating New Gilead. Perhaps hoist the rebel battle flag in defiance of kindness, equality, and basically not treating people like the Nazis did during World War II. Hell, the rest of the country burned down their capitol over a similar argument some years ago. I understand it was a whole thing, and Ken Burns made quite a documentary on it.
Anyway. Before I start ranting in a true Spider Jerusalem kind of fashion, I’ll ramp that rhetoric back. At least for now. But understand. I believe the tolerant and accepting Americans of Georgia still outnumber their vocal bigoted and racist minority. I understand that they’re working hard as hell to unseat the fascist-appeasing sympathizers that sleazed their way into government down there. I understand the damage boycotts can do to a state and an economy. And I certainly understand how negatively it can affect finding a job in those industries when the opportunities dry up.
Got it? Good.
As of this moment... I’m still saving money to go to DragonCon this year. It’s my annual pilgrimage to reconnect with my tribe. It’s my wedding anniversary. Atlanta’s the city I met, handfasted and married my wife in. This vacation is our thing we do every year. When Kemp signed off on that bill that effectively reduced women to property and chattel, I was ready to not go. My wife, who has a lot more reason to be upset than me, gave me THE LOOK. Husbands and wives will know this look. The one that says, ‘If you value your life, or at least the rest of your year with me in peace, you will drop this line of reasoning.’ And I was informed that we will be going. Okay. I guess. I can buy food to bring with here in NC so I can try to spend as little in Georgia as I can apart from the hotel bill and the DragonCon memberships. I love my wife and value the peace we have with one another. And I love our time together for our anniversary every year. It’s going to bother me the entire time, the anti-abortion law they’ve put forward. But if it survives the courts, I will not return.
However... something new has been added.
Just today, I read about how the current federal administration (Witness me not dipping into a rabid vitriol when I describe said administration. This is what I call restraint.) is considering leasing permanent facilities in which to keep kidnapped migrant children. This was not some kind of rageblog that might be owned by someone with the nefarious intent of spreading disinformation. This was NBC. (Comcast and defense industry shills that they can be.) They mean to indefinitely incarcerate them in these concentration camps. This would be in violation of UN-agreed upon definitions of crimes against humanity and genocide. They’re looking to lease these facilities for as long as 20 years. And one of the states they’re considering opening one of these places up is Georgia. Just short of Atlanta.
No. Sorry. Not sorry. No. I can’t do that. I cannot knowingly take a vacation in a state that’s home to an actual no-bones-about-it, we-already-have-dead-kids, why-in-the-wide-world-haven’t-we-risen-up-as-one-as-a-people-to-dole-out-the-smitings, concentration camp paid for with my tax moneys. I can’t do that.
I actually posted a very respectfully worded link to the NBC article about this on the official DragonCon page. I was quite behaved. I didn’t launch into a Warren Ellis/Hunter S. Thompson-esque tirade as can be my wont. I was civil cos I was bringing up a relevant concern as to whether I could continue to come to a convention near and dear to my heart and to my wife.
The conversation, as I very honestly should have anticipated, blew right the hell up immediately. Within 5 minutes, the post had been yanked. And I’d been kickbanned from the group.
Well then. I’m trying not to take it hard. Honest. Given 11 years attendance, I felt their reaction a bit disrespectful when I was more civil than I felt the subject deserved. I understand that they’ve got a contract with the hotels and the city to continue to host it there. But that’s not my problem. Their problem is now that they are tied to a state that not only considers women chattel and property legally, but may soon be home to actual white supremacist concentration camps. If they thought they had boycott problems before, then wait til the guests start pulling out in droves for not wanting to appear at a venue in a fascist state.
This is part of the downward spiral our country is in, I know. Privileged luxuries like conventions going away pale in comparison to the sheer horror of what’s happening to living breathing people within our borders who arrived legally looking for safety. Safety we are legally obliged to offer, I might add. I can be sad about losing my vacation. I’ll get over it. This kind of inconvenience is going to be a night at the movies compared to what’s coming if we can’t stop this oligarch-fueled fascist fundamentalist supremacist coup threatening every last one of us. I’d like to hope Georgia will see sense and tell the feds just what they can do with their concentration camp. And into what orifices they can insert it brick by brick.
I can hope. But I’m not counting on it.