Things I learned from Brent Spiner (Wondercon 2010)

5 04 2010

As I mentioned, I love Wondercon. I don’t think anyone doubts my love of it.  This year I discovered something new to love about Wondercon and that is the possibility of meeting your heroes and discovering they’re nice people in real life.

I have posted before about my issues and concerns with the idealism of and the ability to “know” people you’ve never met.  I do not know Brent Spiner in real life, nor do I know Marina Sirtis; no matter how much she may know about my name.  There is a risk in adoring actors (or any famous people) such that an idealization of them can disguise itself as familiarity, as knowing.  Brent Spiner can use contractions, is very expressive, does theater, and apparently doesn’t like cats (poor Spot, you’re still a pretty cat to me). This trivial knowledge, however, does not make a primary source on any actor I may like.

This is where Conventions (sci-fi, comic, or otherwise) provide a great service; they give people the opportunity to meet eyes with a living-breathing person rather than an idealization. The experience I found to be illuminating, and rather than being let down that Mr. Spiner does not in fact have yellow eyes, I felt enriched at having had the opportunity to say “I really love your work.  I am thrilled to meet you” and getting back a natural unexpected response.

Even though he did not shake my hand for he “shook a gentleman’s hand earlier and got leprosy,” the friendly fist-bump we shared infected me with a case of the giggles. I had bound across the giant room at Moscone; taken a mad dash from Marina Sirtis’s presence into the mischievous gaze of a nice, real human being (rather than an android).

Our conversation was brief but pleasant. His sense of humor struck me; its quirkiness and his quickness to make fun of me for stumbling over my words (I asked him to sign a photo of himself “to me” and he noted the strangeness of autographing himself for himself) left me feeling rewarded. I was rewarded for my anxiety over allowing myself to feel too familiar. The reward itself was being able to swoon slightly, place a hand over my throbbing heart and exclaim with no pretense whatsoever my appreciation of his work. His Work, his Talent; not merely my appreciation of his existence as some sort of object for my idolatry.

I learned from Mr. Spiner as he encouraged me to place a few candles and a place to kneel beneath his photo– which I promised to frame expensively– that I don’t have to be ashamed of my quirky obsession with Star Trek or its actors (I bought this on Amazon.com on Saturday night). Nor do I have to feel uneasy admitting that I searched through youtube videos following Wondercon for more examples of Brent Spiner’s quirky sense of humor and stage talents.  In the end I learned that all obsession, fascination, and fandom are not created equal. Just because neither Brent Spiner or Marina Sirtis will remember my face, my name, or how we met, the experience isn’t negated. I don’t need them to remember. I didn’t know them before. I don’t know them now.

But we saw each other.  It’s just wonderful to have learned my sci-fi heroes are nice in real life.


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6 responses

8 04 2010
James

But maybe he will remember you! You never know- perhaps the interaction was rewarding for him as well- to know that their series and work is still relevant and capable of garnering a young fan-base is hugely rewarding for them I’m sure. I’ve heard Mr. Spiner is quite smart too… I’m stoked you got to meet them- Data is my childhood hero.

8 04 2010
Uly

the extent to which the idealization of a person and the feeling of familiarity apply in our lives is incredible. in a sense, this is the stuff that stereotypes are made of. we don’t do this only with strangers though..sometimes we live in response to the idea of our friend as we have edited her in our mind. i think that can be frustrating, this “not-seeing” of other human beings. i wonder if this irks people like your Brent Spiner & Marina Sirtis, or if they eventually accept it, understanding that it is perhaps human nature to seek relative perfection in things that cannot be perfected..

12 04 2010
BeastMode

I once instant messaged Marshawn Lynch, he was as ridiculous as expected. Also, frightened. So very frightened.

7 06 2011
A Hyatt Trek: My First ST Convention! « Ranger Bagel: The Press Ranger

[...] He said he was. I didn’t need anymore than that. As I mentioned in my post about Wondercon last year, I don’t need anymore from my heroes than they’ve already given me. Nimoy isn’t [...]

25 09 2013
louise

Thank you for this. I am going to meet Brent Spiner next week and I was feeling totally ridiculous and scared. I thought, “I want to meet him, but he could care less about meeting me. he will humiliate me or something when I faint. Glad to know he will just make his usual hilarious jokes.

26 09 2013
Ranger Bagel

He’ll be great! I saw him last year at the SF Convention and he reacted very well to some VERY weird audience questions and comments (including “Call me if you get divorced!”). A friend of mine brought along her ten-year-old daughter and he answered her question even when his stage appearance was over. He’s totally used to people fawning over him (I think back in the day he wasn’t), and he handles it with good humor. If you fainted, he’d probably help you up and then tease you for being so overwhelmed by his commanding god-like presence.

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