When Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492 he was under the ultimately misguided impression he’d landed in India. Dude had no idea he’d just found a new world. On September 29, 2014 when I landed in Courtroom 5c of the Maricopa County Superior Court, I had no idea I’d just found a new world either, and man, were the natives restless.
What I didn’t know when I showed up to report on the State vs. Jodi Arias was the existence of a deliciously fascinating subculture of curiously passionate people I’ll simply called the Trial Watchers. (alliteration alert!)
From the second I hit “send” on my first Tweet from the court, my follower count exploded, people from around the world… the United States, Venezuela, Dubai, Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, Germany, Senegal, South Africa, Greece, and… well you get the idea. Scores of people linked together by one common fascination… trial watching.
The reactions to my first tweets should have been my first clue something was afoot. I’d received several Twitter replies complimenting my reporting. I’m among the first courtroom reporters to add six pints of snark to the otherwise droll reporting found at most trials. On the back end though, I also received more insults, hate-filled replies, and pure unadulterated rage than I’d ever before experienced… if you don’t count that one bipolar television journalist I dated for a month.
I was caught off guard, but the reaction showed unbridled passion. To be sure, its the sort of fanatical devotion rivaled only by the other subcultures that in and of themselves generate an economically impossible-to-ignore zeitgeist.
There’s an increasingly growing culture of people who love My Little Pony called, “Bronies.” By love, I mean, if the pony wasn’t animated, they’d be in serious danger of triggering a jealously-fueled rampage by the famous Mr. Ed. He is a horse, of course.
Every year, thousands of these “Bronies” gather in Baltimore for BronyCon. They spend days talking about, well I don’t know what they talk about. Their inexplicable attraction to a cartoon pony? Their lack of dating lives? Theories on global thermonuclear war, it’s effect on geopolitical relations, and whether Twilight Sparkle could bring about world peace?
Or take the KISS Army. Around the world, in cities from Oslo to Orlando, rabid fans of the iconic band that won’t go away, make the pilgrimage to a shrine of the unholy, or just really, really bad makeup. Call these conventions what you will… KISS Expo, KISS Fanfest, KISS Konvention, but don’t call them unpopular.
So zealous are these face-painted fanatics, they’d fork over $80 just to see Gene Simmons’ tongue. $10 for every inch.
But for militant devotion, one can hardly top Star “Trekkies” and the deliriously devoted (alliteration alert!) minions of Star Wars. Rather than list their conventions, we’ll lump them into one super-sized collection of nerddom. They generate billions, and whatever you do, do NOT offend a 47-year-old accountant dressed as a Stormtrooper.
So if people who embrace a common passion can gather together for three days of peace, love, and conversation, then for devoted Trial Watchers, might I suggest a new convention…
We’ll rent a convention hall. We’ll have booths featuring replica bloody knives, bloody gloves, guns. Enterprising entrepreneurs will sell autographed mugshots… “To My Best Friend, Stan. Love and Kisses. Jodi.” We’ll build jail mockups with life-sized recreations of our favorite convicts. We’ll pay $12.95 for the a cardboard-framed photo.
There will be symposiums covering everything from proper courtroom etiquette to how to effectively insult people who don’t agree with a Tweet.
Nicole will teach on how to engage professionally with whom you disagree and Red will give a three-hour lecture on the most potent methods for hateful trolling.
Don’t delay. Buy your tickets soon. The first 100 purchasers receive a signed copy of “A Guide To 160,000 Porn Sites” by Kirk Nurmi.
So grab the kids, pack the car, book the room, and spread the hashtag, #TrialCon is coming soon!