We all know about the ongoing changes to cosplay policies at various conventions around the country., many of which center on cosplay weaponry. In light of the issue that occurred at Phoenix Comic Con with a (clearly disturbed) cosplayer who believed himself to be The Punisher, and who had made threats toward actor Jason David Frank, con staff around the country have made the decision to re-vamp several of their costuming policies in order to ensure the safety of not only the celebrity guests, but convention attendees as well.
Well, now it seems that other conventions have had to take things a step further.
On September 14, 2017, the website for Rose City Comic Con was updated with a change to their cosplay policy. According to the new addition to the convention’s policy, “…reminders of unspeakable atrocities are not appropriate. This goes for Old School Hydra and Red Skull or any other Nazis from entertainment properties.” The updated policy goes on to mention that this includes any satirical or ironic cosplays which appropriate Nazi paraphernalia or gear, and that anyone seen found wearing these cosplays or accessories would not only be ejected from the con, but would also be banned from Rose City Comic Con for life.
While one would think that this would be a decision that basically amounted to “duh, this is a good idea”, the impetus for this action by the convention management seems to be the appearance of a duo of cosplayers who’ve appeared at various conventions around the country dressed in Hello Kitty-themed Nazi SS uniforms (no, really). The appearance of these cosplayers was reported on in Women Write about Comics, and it was noted that they had also been asked to leave by the folks over at Emerald City Comic Con, after showing up there as well. One would think that they would learn from their first ejection, but apparently not.
This is not a new topic for us here at PCU. A little while ago, we talked about some reasons why dressing as a Nazi for a convention is really not the best of life choices. It seems, however, that our advice went unheeded, as there are still cosplayers out there who feel like this is the best thing to do. However, it looks like conventions across the country are not taking this lying down, as instances like these have also prompted other conventions to enact similar cosplay bans.
Granted, the recent “rallies” in places like Charlottesville, VA and other places around the United States have emboldened those who harbor the hateful beliefs espoused by the Nazi party. In fact, following the announcement from Rose City Comic Con, convention founder Ron Brister spoke with Gizmodo, and expressed concern that Nazi-themed cosplay seems to be a growing trend. In his conversation with the website, Brister stated, “I would say that I’ve seen more people dressed up as some form of Nazi this year at conventions around the country than I’ve ever seen before.” In this writer’s opinion, that’s pretty disturbing. I don’t want to go to a convention to speak on topics like diversity, only to have to see some neo-fascist cosplayer who thinks he’s funny, dressed up as the love child of Adolf Hitler and some My Little Pony character. For me, having to see that detracts from the fun that I would normally have at the event, as I would feel almost obligated to take photographs of them, and then vomit my disdain for their decisions all over my social media pages.
Not only are cosplays like this an eyesore for convention staff and attendees, but they’re also insulting to those individuals who created these beloved characters. Those of us who have been true fans of comic books, movies, etc. over the years know and understand that the creators of these characters and their iconic stories wrote them as allegory for fighting against those horrible ideologies:
Superman was created by two Jewish men, and uses his power to defend people against not only everyday crime, but also against oppression and bigotry in all forms. Captain America punched Adolf Hitler in the face. Charles Xavier and his X-Men fought against anti-mutant bigotry and those who would commit violence in the name of “purity”. Shazam battled with Captain Nazi and kicked the crap out of him on several occasions. Even the Joker – one of the most evil and sadistic villains in all of comicdom – freaked out and refused to work with Red Skull once he found out that the crimson-domed character was an actual Nazi.
“When even the Clown Prince of Crime thinks you’re an ass…”
Another aspect to this, is that those who cosplay as certain characters normally do so because they believe in the values or ideas for which those characters stand. We’ve talked before about Superman/Supergirl cosplayers who chose their character because they want to embody the characters’ values in their real lives, and what happens when a cosplayer who leads a very public life goes against those values.
Let’s recap. Showing up to a convention or geek/nerd culture event in something like Nazi cosplay is a pretty poor life decision. Not only is it insulting and hateful to an entire portion of the population, but it could potentially give people the idea that you believe in the ideologies espoused by your character (regardless of whether or not you actually do).
There are also consequences for making this dubious decision. Putting on a cosplay of this nature could get you:
- Photographed, and your visage posted online (good luck getting rid of that image)
- A lot of dirty looks from fellow cosplayers & con-goers
- Refused service by vendors at the convention(s)
- Asked to leave
- Banned from conventions
There’s a flip side to all of this, however. Regardless of what the thought process of these individuals may or may not have been, we as a society of geeks/nerds/cosplayers also need to be aware of certain consequences of our own actions. We all know that there are trolls out there who do things specifically for shock value & notoriety. If we as con goers and members of the press are not careful, this notoriety could result in more publicity for these cosplayers, potentially granting them the attention and 15 minutes of fame that they so sorely crave. Should we put them on blast? In my opinion the answer to this would be yes. However, we should also be careful to not glorify things like this, as it would only serve to make those who truly believe in these views more sure of themselves and their causes.
Finally, I’ll say this: If you get the idea in your head to take an innocuous & fun-loving character like Sanrio’s Hello Kitty – whose very existence is meant to make children & young adults feel happy and bring joy to her fans – and use its iconography in a cosplay of a fascist and hateful bigot, you’re a moron. Congratulations, you’ve completely twisted the spirit of the character, and you have no understanding of satire or irony. Get out of my convention circuit. If, on the other hand, you choose to cosplay as a character who has done good things for the world in which they exist, please learn to embody and emulate the tenets of said character(s), and continue displaying your talent for the world to see.