Should Cosplayers be Banned from Conventions?
I knew this would grab your attention. That same statement is in fact real and a done deal for a local Florida Convention . We will not argue the legitimacy of the issue but look into the rights of promoters as a whole and the potential impact on the fandom from both sides of the aisles.
It seems a small convention in Florida said no to cosplayers and they said from day one that they are not welcomed. Now before people start getting their pitchforks out let’s look at what kind of show this is. Elite Con is a Florida comic convention being held this weekend, March 12th. It bills itself as “A Premium Collectibles Marketplace for Advanced Collectors”. They stated that no one will be allowed to enter the show in costume. People have raised bloody hell over this and they called for a boycott and picketing at the show. First things first, stop. Read what the promoters are going for. The site lays everything out in plain text so no one, and I mean NO ONE should expect anything different.
This con has a right to limit what they want and with the overabundance of cons, people can pick and choose what they want to do. This convention is for collectors and high end collectors alike. Now I have no qualms with cosplayers as they are a major part of our hobby. They do have a place in the community and everyone loves a Harley or two. What I dislike is the overall attitude of self entitlement over the issue. The issue as a whole could have been resolved or prevented with just a few changes to the name of the con. Maybe Collectors Expo would have worked better.
Now I can see the reasons why this was done. Most cosplayers are there for cosplay and not to spend a lot of money. The same could be said for the comic collector. They are looking for books and not necessarily toys. This leads into point one of this argument– Sometimes cosplayers have elaborate costumes and they take up a ton of room in a booth. I welcome all to our booths and I will chat up a storm with you no matter how large the cosplay is. On the flip side I have seen merchandise knocked down and damaged due to some cosplayers underestimating the size of their cosplay. If the con is aiming at high end collectors, dealers want people there who spend money. They also want to ensure merch is not damaged and or restrict access to their booths.
The other issue I see is cosplayers attract a lot of attention and photos are taken. Sometimes this can lead to a halt in traffic, aisles slowdown and crowds blocking booths. This is indeed irritating to no end. People stop in the middle of a walkway to take pics and it sucks the life out of you. What really burns me is the blocking of the booths. In the past I have asked people to move to the side so shoppers can enter the booth. This reason alone could be why the promoter “banned” cosplay. This leads to point number two– crowds. Cosplayers attract crowds and that could be an issue for a high end con. On the flip side, cosplay draws crowds (see how that works). You see, both go hand in hand and it’s hard to see why a convention would ban them. I guess it can go back to point number one.
Now if we back up to the original question proposed, should cosplay be banned from shows. The answer is not as simple as it looks (refer back to point number one and two). I do see changes coming down the line at some point and more high end shows could eliminate cosplay altogether (such as the above). Some in the community frown on the cosplay community and this is causing a rift to a degree. Personally I could not image a show without cosplay; that would break my heart but I do see more shows limiting it to a degree. Promoters can limit what is allowed at their shows, that we know but how will it affect attendance? The answer is unknown but if you look at Dragon Con for example, that show would implode without cosplay as that show is a cosplay event!
What I am getting at is cosplay is important to shows but not all of them. Promoters can restrict what transpires at the show and people can pick and choose the event he or she wants to attend. We live in a golden age of comic cons folks and shows are abundant. I think the issue is overblown and it definitely could have been handled in a better way. Let us know what you think. Lets talk about this issue and see if we, as a community can come to an agreement. I look forward to your comments.