Inappropriate & Unacceptable Cosplays

At the end of 2017, we posted a topic regarding the rules of #costuming & #cosplay. Beyond those rules (that are based on actual laws, venue rules, etc.), some #cosplays are inappropriate and unacceptable because of cultural standards. While some jurisdictions and venues prohibit these types of cosplays & practices listed below, not all do; but that doesn’t mean that they are any less inappropriate & unacceptable.

The reasons why certain types of cosplays & practices are inappropriate & unacceptable will become clear as you read the examples below.

Blackface

For anyone unfamiliar with this term, blackface refers to the practice of non-black individuals (usually performers) putting on dark makeup in order to appear black. Dating back to the 18th century, blackface was used by white performers to create demeaning, stereotypical caricatures of blacks for minstrel shows. The practice continued until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s in the United States, but continued elsewhere for several years or decades longer, such as the U.K., where it continued until 1978. Some occurrences continue to this day in some counties.

Blackface is widely regarded as being completely inappropriate & unacceptable due to its demeaning & racist portrayal of African Americans. Movies and cartoons that were filmed with blackface scenes are no longer broadcasted in the United States, even by cable-only TV channels.

Any cosplayer that decides to apply dark makeup in order to appear to have darker skin than they actually do may be accused of being racist even if there was no racism intended by the cosplayer. We therefore highly recommend that no cosplayer use any form of blackface.

An example that was posted to Twitter in 2016:

From Twitter.

Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation can be defined as the appropriation of elements of an oppressed culture by a people who have historically oppressed those they are taking the elements from and who lack the cultural context to properly understand, respect, or utilize those elements. Thus, it is not a a mutual cultural exchange that has occurred in an equal manner, nor was any permission granted by the oppressed culture.

Within the context of costumes, the wearing of anything that represents a cultural or racial stereotype should be avoided. Anyone wearing a costume that is deemed blatantly racist & stereotypical may be called out as being worn in poor taste or the wearer may be accused of being racist. Examples would include the following:

  • Traditional Native American dress.
  • Mexican sombreros and ponchos.
  • Jamaican dreadlocks.
  • Japanese geisha or samurai.
  • Dressing as a homeless person.

An example that was posted to Twitter in 2015:

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From Twitter.

Nazi Symbols & Uniforms

Nazism began as a 20th century political party in Germany before the outbreak of World War II. It’s leader, Adolf Hitler, adopted a symbol (called the swastica) originally used for peace in Buddhism and reversed its direction to represent the Nazi Party and its extreme racism and antisemitism. Under Hitler and the Nazi Party, Germany started World War II in 1939 by invading neighboring Poland, which then escalated to consume nearly all of Europe and parts of North Africa in war. But, even before the war started, German Jews and others that the Nazis didn’t like (including homosexuals, communists, people with disabilities, etc.) were systematically rounded up and sent to concentration camps where Nazis began to murder them in large gas chambers that were disguised as showers. By the time Nazis were defeated in World War II, they had murdered at least 12,000,000 people in the concentration camps. Of those 12,000,000, half were Jews.

Long after the end of World War II and the Nazi Party in Germany in 1945, white nationalists in the United States and elsewhere have adopted Nazi symbols and continue to spread similar racist, homophobic and antisemitic hatred. Thus, anything associated with the Nazis, including its symbols and uniforms, is highly inappropriate and unacceptable. In fact, some conventions have banned the wearing of any Nazi symbols on cosplays.

Unfortunately, there are some who do actually wear Nazi symbols and uniforms to comic, anime & even furry conventions. In fact, one such incident just occurred this weekend in Houston at Anime Matsuri, an anime convention.

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Cosplayer dressed in a Nazi uniform at Anime Matsuri 2018.

References

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Cosplayer Explains First-Hand Account of Recent “Cosplay Is Not Consent” Incident

#CosplayIsNotConsent: #cosplayer #AlchemicFox (check out her #YouTube channel) has published a first-hand account of how she was #groped & #punched while attending an anime con in a #Naruto #costume by a female cosplayer:

 

If you are ever inappropriately touched or attacked at a convention, report the incident immediately to the nearest convention staff, security guard or police officer.

Cosplay is never consent.

References:

For further reading, we have posted on this topic before:

 

Fursuiter Acquitted of Abusing Boy at “Furry Parties”; 1 Plead Guilty; Others Awaiting Trial

On Friday, a PA #fursuiter who was arrested last year after being accused of abusing a 9 year-old boy has been acquitted of all charges. Prosecutors had alleged that the boy had been abused at furry parties that occurred 2009. The fursuiter who was acquitted (Kenneth Fenske, a.k.a., LupineFox), had been accused of abusing the boy while dressed in a red fox costume. However, Mr. Fenske had not obtained the fox costume until 2015, 6 years after the alleged abuse had occurred.

There were reportedly other inconsistencies with the boy’s (now 16 years old) testimony. Mr. Fenske maintained his innocence from time that he had been arrested.

This isn’t the end of the story though: one of the other people (a furry) arrested last year (David Parker, a.k.a., RebelWolf) plead guilty in federal court to one count of child sex trafficking last summer while several others are awaiting trial.

Fursuiter Sonious (RooView on YouTube) discusses the situation in a recently posted video:

References:

What Are the Rules of Costuming & Cosplay?

What are the rules of #costuming & #cosplay? If you ask this question to any #costumer or #cosplayer, they’ll likely say that there aren’t any. While this is true in the sense that there is no universal costuming & cosplay group that has established any rules nor would it be possible for such a group (if it existed) to enforce them, there are rules that costumers & cosplayers should follow or face potential consequences for failing to do so, because some have.

What are these rules? Ones that apply to everyone (not just costumers & cosplayers) because they come from established laws or are established by venues, conventions, movie theaters, etc.

Wearing a costume or cosplay (including carrying props) in public does not exempt one from obeying established laws.

The Basic Rules That Apply to Everyone

1. Laws Governing Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure is the deliberate exposure in public or in view of the general public by a person of a portion or portions of his or her body, in circumstances where the exposure is contrary to local moral or other standards of appropriate behavior. Social and community attitudes to the exposing of various body parts and laws covering what is referred to as indecent exposure vary significantly in different countries. It ranges from outright prohibition to prohibition of exposure of certain body parts, such as the genital area, buttocks or breasts.

Local, county, state, provincial & national governments have typically established laws defining indecent exposure that apply to everyone that is within their jurisdictions. If a costumer or cosplayer decides to go out in public wearing a costume or cosplay that violates indecent exposure laws, then there’s a good chance that the costumer or cosplayer is going to be arrested.

So, before wearing a costume or cosplay in public view, be sure that it doesn’t violate any indecent exposure laws that could apply.

2. Laws Governing the Wearing of Masks

Anti-masking laws refer to legislative or penal initiatives that seek to stop individuals from concealing their faces, who often do so to conceal their identities while committing a crime.

Now, while costumers & cosplayers have no criminal intent while wearing a mask (or other face-covering item, such as helmet) as part of a costume, many criminals do wear masks or helmets when committing crimes.

For this reason, if a costumer or cosplayer goes out in public wearing a mask or helmet that completely conceals their identity and it’s not Halloween or the intent of why as mask or helmet is being worn isn’t clear to the general public, then that costumer or cosplayer could find themselves being arrested or getting into trouble. We have reported multiple such instances on our blog & Facebook page. Here are 2 examples:

Here are other articles we’ve shared about people wearing costumes while engaged in criminal activity:

Thus, it is very important to know when it is and is not appropriate to wear a mask in public. 

3. Laws Regarding Civilians Wearing Military Uniforms & “Stolen Valor”

In the United States, federal laws concerning the wearing of United States Military uniforms by people not on active duty are published in the United States Code (USC). Specifically, 10 USC, Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 45, Sections 771 and 772.

Section 771 states:

Except as otherwise provided by law, no person except a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, as the case may be, may wear –

(1) the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps; or

(2) a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps

Section 772 lists some exceptions, the most important of which that is applicable to costumers & cosplayers is listed below:

(f) While portraying a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, an actor in a theatrical or motion-picture production may wear the uniform of that armed force if the portrayal does not tend to discredit that armed force.

Now, while on the surface, these laws seem pretty plain, the reality is that no court has ever really defined what a “theatrical production” is. Hence, is Halloween or attending a comic con a “theatrical production”? While this isn’t clear, the only court case where this topic has been addressed had a very liberal determination.

In addition to the laws cited above, there’s also the issue of stolen valor.

“Stolen Valor” is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds.

If you are going to wear a military uniform as a costume or cosplay, leave out any actual medals and don’t pretend that you ever served in the military. Otherwise, you can very quickly be seen as someone stealing valor. The U.S. government passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 to address issues of people attempting to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefits by convincing another that he or she received a military award.

4. Laws Regarding the Wearing of Law Enforcement Uniforms, Badges & Insignia

Without going into a lot of detail, it’s generally not a good idea to wear authentic law enforcement uniforms, badges or insignias. To do so could be construed as impersonating a law enforcement officer. If you want to read on this subject further, we recommend starting here: Legal information and links to U.S. Federal & U.S. State Laws and regulations as well as Foreign National Laws governing Badges, Emblems, Uniforms, Insignias and Names.

5. Laws Pertaining to Weapons

As many costumes & cosplays include prop weapons, it’s important to remember that those prop weapons shouldn’t be carelessly taken out into public where they could be misconstrued as being real weapons. Not only could you be potentially arrested, you could imperil your own life should a law enforcement officer decide to fire his/her weapon if the officer feels that he or she (or the general public) is in some way threatened.

For specifics on laws pertaining to types of weapons, the following links are useful:

It also goes without saying that it would be highly unwise to be carrying a prop that looks like an explosive device in this day & age, especially one that looks realistic.

6. Zero-Tolerance Policies at Schools

Most public school districts maintain very strict zero-tolerance policies for weapons & drugs. Even toy weapons (that are often used for costumes & cosplays) fall under this type of policy, as well as masks & helmets.

The bottom line, don’t take any prop weapons or wear masks to or near a public school.

Venue or Convention Specific Rules

Venues and conventions often have specific rules pertaining to costumes & props. As these rules vary widely, it is the responsibility of any costumer or cosplayer planning to attend to understand the specific venue or convention rules ahead of time. While its true that some conventions change rules at the last minute, it’s very important to stay on top of them for that very reason.

Any costumer or cosplayer whose costume or props don’t meet the rules of the venue or convention won’t be allowed to enter, and these rules (especially with regard to prop weapons) have been increased considerably since the unfortunate incident of the armed man who entered Phoenix Comic Con earlier this year. Phoenix Comic Con still has very strict rules. We have written posts regarding venue & convention rules:

Movie Theaters that Ban Masks and/or Costumes

Most movie theaters continue to ban any costumes that conceal the wearer’s face following the unfortunate shooting incidents that have occurred over the past couple of years.

Concluding Remarks

No one likes being told what they can and cannot do when it comes to costumes and cosplays, but applicable laws and rules can impact what individual costumers and cosplayers are planning to do. The most important thing is to be aware of them ahead of time. If the laws & rules are too restrictive for what you were planning to do, consider doing something different. You’ll still have just as much fun without the fear of getting into trouble.

Cosplayers

References

DragonCon: 2 Women Injured by Chairs Thrown from the 10th Floor at the Marriott Atlanta Marquis Hotel; Police Are Investigating

Atlanta police are investigating the incident at #DragonCon where 2 women were injured when chairs were thrown from the 10th floor of the Marriott Atlanta Marquis Hotel onto people below. Both women were hospitalized and released, but it was a very frightening experience for both.

One of the victims, Kelly McDaniel, was walking in a first floor area of the hotel when one of the chairs hit her on the head. She then felt blood pouring down her face. She believes that her #costume hat (she was dressed as Loki from the #Avengers) reduced the severity of the injury.

The Director of Media Relations for DragonCon released the following statement:

“Two women at Dragon Con were injured at the convention early Sunday morning when two chairs were dropped from an outside balcony on the 10th floor in the Marriott to a landing below. The women were treated and released at separate hospitals.

We are grateful that the injuries were not more severe.  And we are proud of the Dragon Con attendees who stepped up quickly, realized the severity of the situation and provided immediate assistance.

Atlanta Police Department is investigating.”

The hotel management also said that they would be taking steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the future.

We again urge anyone with knowledge of who threw the chairs from the 10th floor of the Marriott Hotel at DragonCon to contact the Atlanta Police Department.

Kelly McDaniel

References:

Hotel Guests Allegedly Injured at DragonCon Due to Chairs Thrown from 10th Floor

Utterly #unacceptable behavior: #cosplayers & #DragonCon convention attendees reported injuries after someone allegedly threw chairs from the 10th floor of the Marriott Hotel onto a crowded landing. Folks, conventions can end when hotels refuse to permit them on their premises when there is vandalism and/or other inappropriate behavior. DragonCon, which is regarded as the ultimate #cosplay convention, should be a place for cosplayers to meet and have fun without having to worry about dangerous items being thrown onto them from above.

If the reports are true, we strongly urge anyone with information as to who threw the chairs onto the crowded landing to immediately contact the Atlanta police. The individual(s) responsible must be held accountable for needlessly endangering and injuring others.

Report on Reddit

References:

 

 

#Costuming & #Cosplay 101: Deescalating Troublesome Situations

Troublesome situations can sometimes occur between #costumers & #cosplayers. Quick deescalation & compromise are always the far better options in the long term than allowing the troublesome situations to grow into something far worse. This is especially important in #CostumeClubs.

Leaving a troublesome situation in an unresolved & non-deescalated state greatly increases the likelihood that more troublesome situations may occur in the future because the parties involved are already primed for them.

A series of such unresolved & non-deescalated situations (or even a single one) can lead to long term conflict & drama, which can spread to include more individuals that weren’t part of the original troublesome situation(s) when the additional individuals are motivated to take sides & compelled to defend one side or the other.

Thus, what could have been a far simpler issue to resolve can become extremely difficult (if not impossible) to resolve once a full fledged conflict & drama erupt and additional individuals have allied themselves and by doing so, joined the conflict themselves.

How can one deescalate & potentially resolve a troublesome  issue at the onset?

1. Remain calm. Nothing fans the sparks of a potential conflict better than allowing oneself to become angry. Anger not only reduces a person’s ability to think rationally, it increases the likelihood that statements or actions will occur that antagonize the situation. By remaining calm, however, there’s a far greater chance that the parties involved will choose of their own accord to find a resolution.

2. Control your tone & body language. Building on remaining calm, body language & tone of voice can say more to another person than what’s being said with words. If you appear threatening, you’ll be perceived as being threatening. If you sound angry, you’ll be perceived as being angry. Instead, take a relaxed stance, don’t enter the other person’s personal space and maintain a calm voice. This will help to encourage the other person to do the same & remain calm.

3. Listen. Building on remaining calm, listening to another person’s concerns is often the first step in finding a resolution. Failure to listen eliminates the likelihood that a resolution will ever be found.

4. Accept & acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Accepting & acknowledging how the other person feels not only shows respect for the person, but that you’re not passing judgment on them. Ignoring & not acknowledging how the other person feels will only intensify the negative feelings that are already present.

5. Take responsibility & be willing to apologize. Taking responsibility for one’s own actions and apologizing can go a very long way at ending a troublesome situation. Failing to take responsibility for one’s own actions or, worse, blaming the other party will only make the troublesome situation far worse.

6. Be willing to compromise. If the two parties can’t fully agree to what the other wants, willingness to meet part way so that each party gets at least part of what they want will deescalate a situation. Standing firm & being unwilling to compromise will only lead to more troublesome  (& potentially worse) situations in the future.

7. Look to the future instead of the past. Focusing on the past can make troublesome situations worse. By focusing on the future, you & the other party can focus on problem solving rather than fault-finding. When you create hope, you’ll make yourself far less threatening.

8. Don’t just walk away. Walking away from an unresolved troublesome situation will only make it worse because it leaves the other person frustrated and upset. It also primes both of you for more troublesome situations. Instead, follow the other steps listed above to deescalate the situation.

9. Don’t get involved in other people’s troublesome situations. Involving yourself in someone else’s troublesome situation will only result in you becoming part of it yourself, which not only complicates the situation, it makes it far more likely that the original situation will grow.

Conflict & drama are never worth the damage they create.

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