As the father of a young daughter, I am not used to social progress. I’ve come to expect that female politicians will be constantly asked about their appearance. I’ve come to expect that corporations will forget to make toys based on the female lead of their new blockbuster movie. I’ve come to expect that it will take Barbie over 50 years to acknowledge what real women look like. I’ve come to expect that, at every turn, society will find a way to let my daughter down, in big ways and small ways, entirely due to her gender. I am used to being disappointed on my daughter’s behalf.
So, imagine my surprise when I recently encountered some small, hopeful progress for girls in a completely unexpected place – children’s character underwear.
That’s right. There are Star Wars and Marvel underwear for girls right now and it’s kind of a big deal.
We should’ve seen it coming. After the #WheresNatasha and #WheresGamora campaigns – hashtags that called out the lack of female representation in the merchandise for Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy – WHY did anyone assume that Disney, toy manufacturers, or retailers would’ve learned their lesson for Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Were we that naïve? Did we just not want to admit what we all KNEW was going to happen? That, even though Daisy Ridley’s Rey was the LEAD CHARACTER in the whole damn film, she would be almost impossible to find on Force Awakens merchandise. Because that’s EXACTLY what happened. Hence the inevitable hashtag #WheresRey.
We all just watched that new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, right?
It was… solid. Intriguing, nostalgic, raised more questions than it answered. (Still no Luke? The Force is a myth again? Why do Star Wars people always forget about magic religions within one generation? Who is Rey? Why does hyperspace look different? Is this the first time we’ve ever had in-atmosphere X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter battles? Because they look AWESOME.)
There are a lot of different kinds of dads on Instagram. There’s the “blurry vacation photos hurriedly taken on his iPhone” dad. There’s the high-end photographer “I-just-spent-two-hours-taking-the-perfect-shot-of-that-butterfly” dad. There’s the “I just like taking pictures of my grill/Corvette/Settlers of Catan board” dad. But, despite the sheer number of shutterbug dads out there, we can honestly say that there aren’t ANY dads on Instagram quite like Michael Gump.
If you’re not familiar with Gump’s work, you NEED to check out his Instagram account @bobbugs (or the IG hashtag #GumpMasterofDisguise) and prepare to have your mind blown. Almost every day, Gump posts a picture of himself in disguise, but we’re not talking about glasses and a fake mustache. We’re talking about insane, over-the-top, blisteringly creative disguises, in which Gump regularly transforms himself from the neck up into veritable works of art.
There are certain things you can always expect from a Jurassic Park movie.
Dinosaurs (duh), that iconic John Williams score, a Cliff Notes introduction to chaos theory, someone accusing someone else of “playing God” – Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park really laid out a template that the subsequent films have followed religiously. One could even argue that the huge opening weekend success of Jurassic World is, in some way, due to the fact that it followed the original “Jurassic formula” much more closely than the other two lackluster sequels. (Isla Nublar is WAY cooler than Isla Sorna.)
However, there is ONE strange component to that formula that inexplicably has shown up in EVERY SINGLE Jurassic Park film so far. And it’s not dinosaurs, DNA, or Dennis Nedry.
ALL of the Jurassic Park movies have subplots about divorce. All of those cute kids who spend the movie running away from prehistoric carnivores – every last one of them is a child of divorce. That seems odd, right?
When you become a parent, there are a lot of little things that you lose – sleep, personal freedoms, the ability to use the bathroom without the threat of unflattering household commentary afterwards — but, the one thing I didn’t expect to have ripped away from me when I became a dad was my steadfast belief in the overall awesomeness of time travel.
But that’s exactly what happened. I absolutely hate time travel now. The very idea makes me shudder.
And it’s all my daughter’s fault.
I am a comic book geek and so is my seven-year-old daughter. Before we start pointing fingers, let me just say that I blame myself for her condition. When you raise a child in a house filled with comic books, where the living room bookcase has Two-Face book-ends and your art supplies are kept in Hellboy lunchboxes, a certain level of interest in the medium is bound to develop. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when the concept of the “comic convention” stumbled onto my child’s cultural radar.
She’d seen pictures of Comic Cons online. She’d even seen conventions parodied in her favorite Simpsons comics. She knew what the word “cosplay” meant and she wanted to experience it for herself. Through the eyes of a child, pictures from a comic convention look vaguely like snapshots from a trip to Disney World, except EVERYONE is in costume. It looks like non-stop fun…to a kid who’s never been there before. However, I’ve been going to comic-cons for over twenty years and I knew that, while they can be fun, they can also be poorly organized, crowded, smelly, dull, and vaguely soul-crushing.
Every con is different. So, since my daughter had set her mind to experiencing her first convention, I began my due diligence to try to make sure that her first trip to a comic-con would be a positive experience.
On September 16, minutes before the Detroit Tigers, the current American League Central division champions, took the field against the Seattle Mariners, I found myself standing on the deep outfield grass of Comerica Park, waiting for my almost-seven-year-old daughter to throw me her best approximation of a fastball.
It was a heady, surreal moment, a moment where – thanks to my surroundings, my daughter’s determined scowl, and the scuffed Major League baseball in her tiny hands – all I could think about was how wonderful it was to be a father.