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