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Cosplay

Nerdist Chris Hardwick Makes the Course of the Force to Comic Con 2012 in Less Than 12 Parsecs

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Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 4:16 PM

click to enlarge Hardwick, suited up, gets things running - PAUL T. BRADLEY
  • Paul T. Bradley
  • Hardwick, suited up, gets things running

"Wait, isn't a parsec a unit of distance and not time?" you ask.

"Who gives a shit?" we say -- because it's all for charity. And also a reference to a fictional universe.

But try telling that to all of the nerds, nerdists and nerdettes who showed up this week for the Course of the Force. Chris Hardwick and Peter Levin's lightsaber relay from Santa Monica to San Diego, which began on Saturday, ended yesterday at the main event, the con of all cons, San Diego Comic-Con. Raising money exclusively for the Make a Wish Foundation, and ending with a surreal performance by the Dan Band, the Course was peppered with "Conivals," or Con Carnivals of cross-marketing sponsorship things.

It all began with a well-produced mini-movie staring Hardwick, where he's got to get the lightsaber from Lucasfilm in Marin County all the way to Santa Monica. The film had car-stealing Ewoks, some Tusken Raider racism and a repentant Boba Fett all along his journey. "What...a couple of decades in the sarlacc pit really changes a person," Fett admits.

A 40-year-old-man who's clearly dominated by his inner child, Hardwick took the event full tilt. Members of the 501st Legion, Darth Vader, Lego Land, Shoe-bacca, etc. all followed the madness down the coast, as participants, sponsors, hangers-on and fans. He's got the best job in the world and he's at least getting the nerds off the couch, right?

click to enlarge The Course of the Force flotilla making its way down the PCH - SCREENSHOT FROM NERDIST'S LIVE COVERAGE
  • Screenshot from Nerdist's live coverage
  • The Course of the Force flotilla making its way down the PCH

But the idea for this tour de charity wasn't Hardwick's -- the event owes its existence to constant, unrelenting domestic abuse. Well, the fun kind. Peter Levin, Nerdist Industries main business-doing-guy, probably rued the day he bought his son a lightsaber. "My son likes to wake me up by whacking me in the face with a lightsaber," Levin told us in May, "and since I ran the actual Olympic torch in Los Angeles in 1984, I kind of put two and two together."

Chris Argyropoulos, the Lucasfilm representative who facilitated the event told Nerdist correspondents, "When we first got the call from Chris and from Peter, I thought 'This is crazy;' but then I realized how much fun it would be and an opportunity to do a lot of good for Make a Wish."

Of all the nerd families and folks in Santa Monica for the start of the Course, the most vocal were the nerdettes, who were on hand for the 1pm Saturday start just to get a glimpse of the Nerdist barge -- a smaller scale replica of Jaba's pleasure barge from Return of the Jedi.

"Where's the barge?" they asked. It wasn't parked at the pier. It was off on the PCH, even confusing Hardwick at one point. You don't need a giant barge to start running though -- which he did, Make a Wish kids in tow.

At events like this, it's important to know: "How do we know you're all really nerds?" We asked that question to a group of nerdette spectators. "Pony up your nerd cred!" we demanded. One of the the nerdettes whipped out a Farscape tattoo. Done deal. That was the last time we had to ask that, as all manner of cosplay runner and spectator alike came dressed in their geekiest duds -- there were mini-Darth Vaders, giant ewoks, even some jokers in classic Star Trek regalia.

After about 100 miles of torch-passing in quarter-mile increments (the Course skipped the chunk of coast dominated by Camp Pendleton) over four days, with a one day break, the torch landed in San Diego to fanfare and a second Dan Band performance. A flotilla featuring the pleasure barge replica, two buses, and some security folks on bikes flanked each individual saber-bearer for the duration of the route.

Though the actual relay is over, and a different kind of madness begins for a weekend of Con, Course for the Force's online charity auction continues through July 21.

Even though events like this kind of beat the dead bantha that is Star Wars, at least the Nerdist nerds are earnestly nerdy and it was all for a good cause.

Follow me on Twitter at @paultbradley, and for more arts news follow us at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.

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