Question: What do NOLOSE, Comic-Con, and Animal Crossing have in common?
Answer: They all propose alternative, utopian spaces where the attendee/player can develop alternate identity(ies), meet new people, and obtain a different sense of embodiment.
Here’s a rundown.
Boasting a Facebook page with almost 1000 fans, NOLOSE offers an annual conference in Oakland California for fat women of all orientations and self-descriptions. Embracing body positivity, and now open to cis men, NOLOSE‘s conference features an exhilarating schedule of aerobics, history, painting, parties, writing workshops and more. Returning revived and happy, one of the members of Magically Real HQ regaled us with the hidden histories of fat ladies in the circus, displayed a picture she had made at the conference, and discussed how the group-activities she participated in deconstruct the ways in which white privilege tended to dominate discussion.
Our expert reports that this year’s conference revolved around the question of safe space, and the challenge of making NOLOSE a positive space for everyone. So, our resident expert cautioned, NOLOSE would probably not welcome the designation of utopian, since this feeling of ideality is not experienced as such by everyone.
On the other hand, the very promise of a world where “fat” is a positive term, and whatever kind of body you have is a good body, a fun body, and beautiful body makes the editorial staff of MAGICALLY REAL jump for joy. NOLOSE gives us a taste of that world and even a a taste of the utopian possible is pretty darned groovy in our book.
Check out the organization at http://www.nolose.org/10/
2. Comic-Con –
Say what you will about the Movie/TV mogulization of what started out as a comic book convention, Comic-Con remains the sine qua non of the fan convene-circuit. People come in costume as characters, attend panels, go to various parties, and gawk at the celebrities prancing down the hall. Jenthefangirl, an esteemed associate of Magically Real, has been faithfully attending the convention and has established deep friendships at the con. She looks forward to attending every year.
But a single overarching statement about Comic-Con is doomed to falsity. Jenthefangirl notes, “Comic Con is a city of communities. Some overlap and others are separate. There are layers and it means things to different people.”
Fair enough. In a bleak world of bleak opportunities, dressing up as a Star Wars storm trooper may give you the lift you need. But, as Joe Scott Coe notes, you have to pay. A day ticket at Comic Con costs $40, and the full experience costs $175 and that’s without lodging and food.
Check out this mega-event at http://www.comic-con.org/
3. Animal Crossing — And now for something completely different.
Equipped with 2 different plastic manual controls, yours truly braves the oddly adorable libertarian, late-capitalist world of the Animal Crossing videogame with the kindly assistance of Lillian Beelz Behrendt.
- First, name your avatar (in my case XenoCute).
- Next buy a house.
- Meet everyone in the darned town.
- Then get to work at the retail store for Tom Nook. It’s all about earning those bells (dollars).
Or is it? There’s a museum to donate fossils to in Kokoton (the player [in this case, Behrendt] names the town), and there are fish in the river and oranges on the trees. As I navigate the hills and dales in the diminutive body of XenoCute I have to admit that there’s something pastoral about the world of Animal Crossing. While you have the ability to be downright nasty to other people, it is so very much easier, to get that fishing rod or butterfly net out of your magically deep pocket or — better yet – go plant some flowers. As XenoCute, I get to be small (!), do things I don’t know how to do in real life (fish, earn money), as well as practice talking to my neighbors (something that as a New Yorker I was trained to studiously avoid).
So perhaps Animal Crossing is not libertarian at all – it might just be a little bit socialist.
To learn more about Animal Crossing, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Crossing
and here: http://www.animalcrossingcommunity.com/
What utopian/alternative communities have you visited this July?