I’ve been on the fence about following through with our Mary Poppins and Bert cosplay because of the frenzy surrounding a line in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I won’t explain it here; I haven’t even seen the movie and I’ve heard it and seen about 1.2 million memes and cosplays about it.
It’s hard to put aside the feeling that something you loved as a youth — and even my generation didn’t grow up with Mary Poppins…I’m not THAT old yet — is being replaced or poked fun at by something you don’t particularly like. (Imma let you Guardians finish, but Iron Man is the best Marvel hero movie….)
It’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that the 16 year old cosplaying a Mary Poppins and Yondu mashup hasn’t even seen Mary Poppins and that your beloved childhood icon is being reduced to a joke.
It’s hard not to want to throw up your hands, shake your cane, and yell “GET OFF MY LAWN” at everyone and everything as you see all things you knew and loved being remade, remixed, repackaged, rebranded, and regurgitated to appeal to a new generation.
I wonder if the older generation who loved campy Adam West Batman watched The Dark Knight and said “what the fuck is this garbage?”, or if they enjoyed a new take on a character? Did people who loved emo Batman watch The Lego Batman Movie and develop a new hatred for both Legos and Batman? Does liking one Batman detract from the others?
It’s the nature of pop culture and fandom to be constantly changing. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it’s magic. And the magic, my friends, is the point of this rambling. When you’re younger, everything is magic. That silly line about Mary Poppins is perfection. Those mashup cosplays are clever and funny. Spotting Mary Poppins at a con is the highlight of your month. Magic is everywhere.
But the older you get, the more jaded and worn down and broken you get, the more other people tell you that there isn’t magic, the more you start believing that. That line is stupid. Every mashup cosplay you see annoys you. You don’t even want to wear your Mary Poppins cosplay anymore because you don’t want people to make jokes about it. Everything. Sucks.
The timing of all this couldn’t be more appropriate, as I look for “real jobs” that require me to sacrifice every bit of who I am as an artist and a human being. I find myself thinking of Hook, another beloved classic of my youth that hopefully no one decides to ruin by remaking or remixing, where Peter Pan is a middle aged grown up, leading a life with a stressful job and an unhappy family. He has to go back to Neverland for…reasons (watch the damn movie, kids), but he’s forgotten who he was–who he still is. He’s forgotten how to see the magic.
So as I keep throwing application after application at employers who won’t give me the time of day because I got an art degree instead of going to office school, I find myself remembering a quote I heard a long time ago:
You don’t stop playing because you get old; you get old because you stop playing.
I will hold on to the magic even if it means living in a car. I will sally forth with our cosplay as planned, and I will take whatever silliness comes in stride. Because isn’t interacting with fellow nerds and fans magic?
I’m Mary Poppins, y’all.