Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni: Getting our geek on

Thousands attended last weekend's Armageddon Expo at the Auckland Showgrounds. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Thousands attended last weekend's Armageddon Expo at the Auckland Showgrounds. Photo / Herald on Sunday

I have always listened to conversations about the Armageddon Expo with interest, safe in the knowledge I will never be attending said event.

In fact, through my association with Plunket I knew the woman who arranged the Auckland event with her husband. As well as I wished her, I formerly had no interest in the types of entertainment on offer - or so I thought.

I am the kind of person who detests science fiction, slept through Lord of the Rings, flat-out can't understand The Hobbit, dislikes video games and finds the experience of watching Dr Who akin to watching paint dry - except more boring.

I'm sure it's probably a failing of imagination on my part, as well as a result of having no brothers, but the fact is my childhood - full of dollies, Lego and cheesy pop music - simply didn't dispose me to Dungeons and Dragons, swords and sandals, or hobbits and elves like so many others.

But this weekend, in a nod to my 4.5-year-old son and his irresistible urge towards Ben 10, Spiderman comic books and the like, I thought we should brave the crowds of the expo and really understand what this event was all about.

We came, we saw, we left $100 lighter of pocket.

My husband enjoyed the wrestling, my son was transfixed by the Spiderman Gameboy-type thing which I'm sure will be on the Christmas list not long from now, and both kids loved the mechanical bull (although the two-year-old had to be swiftly removed when it was revealed that her parents had forgotten to put her underpants on that morning!)

After sampling both indoor and outdoor attractions, as we sat outside the main hall with the kids dropping their ice creams all over our feet (me, morose because once more the strictures of Weight Watchers meant all the delicious naughty food was off-limits), I had a chance to reflect upon what I was seeing - and what I was seeing was wave upon wave of (mainly) young people, male and female, and with a staggering display of racial diversity, not afraid to align themselves with the kind of crowd that had to regularly keep its head down in the high schools of my youth.

Specifically at my high school, where we all got afternoons off to watch the first XV play; where if you were a non-rugby-playing boy you were, at best, a 'dork' and/or completely invisible, and at worst a moving target for bullies.

I say thank God we've moved away from a New Zealand teenage-hood where the only viable options for social acceptance were sport.

Hopefully we haven't moved toward a teenage-hood where everyone sits on their expanding butts playing Playstation and slurping Coke either. I guess a mixture is a good thing.

But for mothers like me, who fear their sons may be less the 'jock' and more the 'geek' (and I say that with the greatest of respect), it's a relief to know there's a huge crowd of similarly-minded young people with whom he might find some kind of connection.

Not only that, but it means he won't necessarily have to survive being trampled at the bottom of a scrum each Saturday morning or drinking himself to a standstill each weekend in the hopes of proving himself a 'man', like so many generations of young Kiwi males before him.

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Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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