Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Waicon Cosplay Saga

Just as a quick disclaimer, I was a volunteer at Waicon in the back corner running around at the Gamezone so I was away from the majority of the Drama! that was occurring with costuming and props. However these are my thoughts, feelings, and worries about the future about costuming, or cosplaying if you prefer, in and around Perth and future conventions.

So in case you didn’t know, weren’t there, or wasn’t around, there were apparently a lot of complains for cosplayers who were refused entry for various reasons by various staff or volunteers. These particular cosplayers have since been flooding the Waicon event page on Facebook expressing their disgust, leading to several heated arguments over the last couple of days. I’m personally on the fence for most part because I believe both sides have valid points but it does concern me about future events.

First I wish to discuss the ‘inappropriate’ costume topic. I’m a bit torn on this particular subject because on the one hand, as a costumer, I know what it’s like to obsess over details and trying to achieve a costume that has accuracy and looks the part, but I kinda have to agree with Waicon in preventing costumes that may be a little bit too ‘revealing’ from entering what is essentially an “All Ages” event. That being said there good reasons to debate these issues, for example the majority of the turn-aways seem to be of female who apparently were wearing too little (or at least the majority of complaints were from them), but I saw plenty of shirtless guys all over the con. I must admit as a single hetero male I’m all for girls in skimpy clothing jumping all over the place, and would much rather see that then the guys, but I have to abide by the ruling set by Waicon, ultimately it is their show and they have also have to abide by rules set for public decency and to try and keep it PG. I also believe that this is also a reflection of the anime/manga industry as a whole, but it’s also incredibly prevalent in western culture as well that it’s hypocritical to point the finger squarely at that. I’m personally all for people being able to dress up as their favourite character, even if said character is wearing on a bit of cloth and some bandaids, but I also believe it’s up to the costumer to maybe have a bit more decorum and think about how appropriate this may be for others. I suppose the simple test is do you want your child to be wearing the exact same thing? Probably not a great example but it might at least cause for some pause for reflection. 

Urgh I feel like such a prude, which believe me, I’m not. I do believe people should be allowed to wear what they want, when they want, wherever they want. I also have to acknowledge that there are still laws in place to prevent such things, as well and bylaws with the convention centre itself to go with the organisations ruling. Speaking of the convention centre’s own rules, this leads me to my next point…
I’m not sure how many are aware of this but the PCEC appears to have a ‘No Weapons’ policy. No I suppose what you are currently thinking is, “Sure, that makes sense, we don’t want people going in their with guns or knifes who want to deliberately harm someone?” until the guy with outrageous armour and bit spiky hair one-handed wielding a 7’ tall by 1’ wide sword made out of balsa is told he’s not allowed to take it into the pavilion due to the ‘No Weapon’ policy… wait what? Yeah, you heard it right, everyone that had a clearly fake sword wasn’t allowed to have this one the floor (but were allowed to have it in the Cosplay Competition). No you might this is probably reasonable because you wouldn’t want people fighting with them, which is a truly stupid mistake to make because if you think ANY prop builder wants to damage something that took them a lot of time and money to build just to hit things with, you are clearly deluded. It’s like saying you should take that expensive dinner set that’s been in the family for generations and start eating McDonalds off it daily.

Okay I got sidetracked (drink). Now the policy does state that it includes weapons that are real or fake, again probably reasonable because you really don’t want the cops shooting to death someone with a toy gun. You would also probably think this ruling would only affect objects that clearly look like a weapon? Come on, do you really think I’d bring it up if it was that easy? I can give you a very personal example for a friend of mine.

Now who here has played Portal? If you haven’t, shame on you. Otherwise you pretty much know what the Portal Gun is, what it does, and what it looks like. Okay stop saying “The Cake is a Lie” and focus. For those that don’t, I think the best description of a Portal Gun is that it looks nothing like any weapon that has ever been made in the history of mankind on this planet. Or in other words, NOT A WEAPON. So the night before the con, my friend Jon decided to make himself an Aperture Scientist costume very quickly ready to wear around the con. Now being a volunteer, and having knowledge from the previous year’s con at the PCEC, I knew about the law and told him that there is a distinct possibility that they might refuse it. Now I must state that I was probably about 33.333% paranoid about this, 33.333% knowing what happened last year, and about 33.333% hopeful someone wouldn’t have their head up their arse on this matter. Care to guess what happened? Well wrong because if he got let in I wouldn’t have a point. I must point out that I believe it was the PCEC security that prevented the Portal Gun’s entry, not a Waicon staff member, but either way Jon’s costume was pretty much ruined without the one recognisable prop.

And now for the hypocrisy! As have been the case for several conventions lately, there is always someone who is selling toy firearms and swords, usually exactly like the ones that are denied entry within the convention themselves. Now this is not a finger point at them, they are legitimate vendors selling legitimate merchandise that is legal to own and possess, I’m also not having a go at Waicon for allowing such things, ultimately this is a business and I respect that. However, a cosplayer who spent time and money crafting something to perfect is denied their prop when anyone can just buy a cheap toy and wave it around with impunity? Okay, they are not supposed to take it out of the box, but when was the last time you saw a kid wait that long to play with a brand new toy?

This trend ultimately worries me. Why? One of my most popular costumes involves wearing a 15 kilo prop on my back that is THE most crucial part of my costume… and is sadly recognised as either a gun or a bomb by imbeciles. Yes I’m of course referring to my Proton Pack, without it I just look like a plumber… and not even a cool plumber that eats mushrooms. I’m petrified that I’m going to go to the PCEC is costume and be told “Sorry you can’t wear that thing in here, it’s a weapon.” And then what? Most, if not all, people recognise us as Ghostbusters because of the pack, they draw attention and is one of the most recognisable icons of the 80s. I’ve walked around the streets of the City Centre wearing that thing and get plenty of people coming up to ask for photos, none have demeaned I’m wearing a bomb. I’ve walked near Police whose reaction is typically delight, never “Put down the weapon”. I’ve walked through the streets of Perth in the yearly Telethon Christmas pageant, one of the most publicized events in the city, and no one ran away screaming because I was allegedly going to kill them; in fact I’ve never felt so much love from a crowd before in my life. I’ve taken my pack on as luggage on a plane, never one pulled aside for concealing an explosive inside. I even walked the streets of Melbourne, one of the biggest cities in the country, and to their own Exhibition Centre and have never had any trouble from their security. The idea that I will be prevented from taking in something that is clearly just a prop frightens me.

In fact I’ve just had a change of opinion. Fuck the regulations, let people do what they want. If they want to wear a skimpy bikini and wield a ridiculous sword, as long as it’s demonstrable to be part of the costume then LET THEM IN!

1 comment:

  1. It kind of proves the old saying true: If you are too stupid to get into the police force, then you can always get a job as a security guard.

    These are definitely not the smartest cookies in the jar.