Otaku Corner: Cosplay is not Consent

Godzilla Guy panel-Otaku Corner

Sean “That Godzilla Guy” McGuin­ness hosts the “Cos­play is not Con­sent” panel dur­ing Nashicon 2015. | Photo by Bran­don Beatty

Say it loud and proud: Cos­play is not Consent

Brandon-2012-cutoutI’m divert­ing from the nor­mal course of review­ing the lat­est in anime and manga for a new seg­ment called “the otaku tent.” I’ll give my thoughts on issues that not only affect otaku, but also other fel­low fans of geek cul­ture. Don’t worry, Otaku Cor­ner will still do reviews of great anime and manga. This quar­ter, how­ever, is a topic that affects more than just fans of anime. I feel that as a fan and fel­low con-goer, this requires an imme­di­ate call to action.

GI Editor-in-Chief Lyn­d­sey Hicks has recently writ­ten columns about issues regard­ing equal­ity in geek cul­ture. Those arti­cles were writ­ten not to put down the entire male geek pop­u­la­tion, but to ensure that no gamer or fel­low geek is dis­crim­i­nated against in our diverse-yet-awesome world. After read­ing her columns, I felt com­pelled as a fel­low gamer/geek to write about a move­ment called Cos­play is not Con­sent. While attend­ing Nashicon 2015 in our home­town of Colum­bia, S.C., Lyn­d­sey and I sat in a CNC panel hosted by fel­low Columbian Sean McGui­ness. McGui­ness is a known fix­ture in our city’s con scene as “That Godzilla Guy,” who sets up shop at Nashicon and Ban­za­icon, dis­play­ing excel­lent draw­ings of the King of Mon­sters and his cohorts.

Dur­ing his panel, I learned about CNC and why it was unfor­tu­nately cre­ated and needed. Last year, there was an attempt of sex­ual mis­con­duct toward an under­age Nashicon attendee. The alleged per­pe­tra­tor was found and reported to con staff and police, but if that attendee had not spo­ken up, it would have been a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion. This is sad because inci­dents like this one are not iso­lated to Nashicon. In 2013, Seattle’s Aki-con expe­ri­enced a pub­lic rela­tions dis­as­ter when a spe­cial guest DJ was charged with sex­ual assault against a minor attendee. Despite his cap­ture, Aki-con’s han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion resulted in Aki-con being liable and los­ing ded­i­cated attendees.

After the panel, I spoke with McGui­ness and learned that cos­play­ers (espe­cially females) are catch­ing inex­cus­able lev­els of hell for either dress­ing too provoca­tively or being a poser. To me, a fan is a fan be it either anime or video gamer. It takes CRAZY lev­els of courage to do a cos­play of a favorite char­ac­ter and brave their way while at cons with­out the side looks of either an ultra fan or bible-thumper. My fel­low geeks, I need to say this: Alien­at­ing our own kin­dred AIN’T COOL. I also have mas­sive beef with dudes that are per­verts toward women cos­play­ing or not.

In my six years writ­ing for GI, I’m VERY for­tu­nate to have learned from a gamer that eats, breathes and sleeps video games and geek cul­ture, and also has the intel­li­gence to make sure that this pub­li­ca­tion is on the mark in get­ting to the pub­lic on time. With all of the stu­pid­ity in our soci­ety, I’m glad that peo­ple such as Sean McGui­ness are step­ping up to make our anime — and sim­i­lar con­ven­tions — which we thrive in are wel­com­ing to all. I’m send­ing out a call to all my gamers, larpers, comic book fan, bronies and all geeks: If we see harass­ment of another geek, whether it be inap­pro­pri­ate touch­ing or putting down one’s fan­dom, PLEASE step in or report it to con staff so that they can do what is need to stop it. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, fel­low geeks. Let’s step up like our favorite char­ac­ters and fight against evil. Let’s say to the world COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT.

Bran­don Beatty is editor-at-large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

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