But what have we learned? Well, it forced us to take a look at how we were spending our weekends – somehow our affection for Star Wars or Japanese cartoons or pulp novels was leading us to spend our weekends locked in mid-sized convention center hotels with people with whom we shared nothing and whose behavior ranged from annoying to criminal, yet whom we were expected to treat as brothers and sisters in “fandom.” We found ourselves reevaluating our relationship with conventions and with fandom as a whole.
We also learned how to generate authentic fakes, which stood us in good stead when we created a fake newsletter for a real fan club (“The Alliance”) and a fake promotional newsletter mocking that of a real convention (“Fandumb”). Yeah, that was us. No, Ed Kramer, former head of the Atlanta convention Dragon Con, had nothing to do with any of it, though he invariably seemed to get the credit (or blame).
It forced us to come to grips with the profound disconnect SF fandom had with the rest of the world – decades of “them versus us,” “fandom versus mundanes” thinking had created a hermetically sealed environment where outsiders were not welcome and where anything that smacked of the “real world” was to be shunned. At a time when science fiction permeated every aspect of popular culture, the SF conventions should have been bursting at the seams with new members – and yet the opposite was (and still is) true – SF fandom continues to wither away. Not because people don’t like SF, but because SF fandom, collectively, is still smarting from getting picked on in high school and wants nothing to do with “normal people.” As a representative of “normality,” the Christian Crusade was merely a crystallization of everything SF fandom already feared.
For the record, the Christian Crusade participants never committed acts of vandalism at SF conventions. We never “trashed hotel rooms,” as self-defeating as such a thing would be – hotel rooms being registered to actual people with actual credit cards, after all. None of us came from Alabama, none of us owned vans, we did not have anything to do with right-to-life organizations. We did not sneak into conventions, we paid for memberships or worked staff. No other SF convention was involved with the Christian Crusade in any capacity whatsoever, nor was it a personal vendetta against any specific con or con chair. I like to think adding some drama to the convention world helped make things a little more exciting for the fans.
In the final analysis it was merely a prank. As a scientific experiment or an exercise in social engineering it was lacking in several vital characteristics, namely (as has been pointed out) controls, methodology, and ethical guidelines. But as something entertaining for bored young adults to pass the time doing, it beat the hell out of, say, arguing about Star Trek, dressing up in fur suits, or throwing dice while pretending to be a wizard. Perhaps we influenced a few previously-gullible fans to think a little more critically. Or maybe we just annoyed a lot of people and wasted their time. I do hope with the passage of time that all concerned can look back on the Christian Crusade with nostalgia and even fondness, and maybe everybody can get a little enjoyment out of it. We certainly did.
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