After some conscientious female nerds made it an issue at San Diego Comic Con, the organizers of New York Comic Con seem to have taken the hint and ran with it in preparing for this weekend’s con in the Javits Center in New York City. The mantra, “Cosplay is Not Consent,” is omnipresent at the show, and NYCC has taken other steps to make sure that everyone has a safe and happy con free of harassment and inappropriate action on the part of people who don’t realize, you know, that “Cosplay is Not Consent.” In other NYCC news their “don’t be an idiot” and “no weapons” policies seems to be causing great confusion with fans whose hours of hard work on that important prop detail seems to be taken out with the trash.
But first, matters of consent. Via Jezebel, fans have been noting signs put up all over the con, and greeting you prominently as you enter the floor, warning fans that consent is given, not implied:
Please keep your hands to yourself. If you would like to take a picture with or of another NYCC fan, always ask first and respect that person’s right to say no. When at New York Comic Con, be respectful, be nice, be cool and be kind to each other.
Giant cosplay is not consent sign right by the NYCC entrance. Very nice. pic.twitter.com/QGu1qhci6N
— Brian Dorfman (@bdorfman) October 9, 2014
The signs are designed by Amy Reader, the artist of Image Comics Rocket Girl, which is an nice touch by Reed Pop, the organizers of NYCC. But in addition to the very artistically designed warnings, there are other signs on the con floor that detail NYCC’s new “zero-tolerance policy” on harassment. In addition, the NYCC app makes it all the more easier to report instances of con-goers behaving badly.
Author John Scalzi, whose attending the con, noted that the policy seems to be well implemented without taking anything away from the con. “[D]id the floor of the Javits Center become a politically correct dystopia upon which the blood of innocent The True (and Therefore Male) Geeks was spilled by legions of Social Justice Warriors, who hooted their feminist victory to the rafters? Well, no,” he said. “The floor of the Javits Center looked pretty much like the floor of any really large media convention — people wandering about, looking at stuff, wearing and/or admiring costumes and generally having a bunch of geeky fun. Which is to say that as far as I could see the policy didn’t stop anyone from enjoying themselves; it simply gave them assurance that they could enjoy themselves, or get the problem dealt with if someone went out of their way to wreck their fun.”
Meanwhile, another NYCC policy seems to generating some controversy. Elizabeth Loto with the Outer Haven website is reporting that NYCC’s policy on costume prop weapons is creating a lot of confusion. As a result some people are having to throw out their carefully crafted props or otherwise just refuse to enter the convention. Sadly, this is not a matter of con security, which is being overseen by a private contractor called Citadel Security, playing it safe, but rather it seems that some of them are being over-the-top in their due diligence.
“Before you say ‘but look, there is a bat in the garbage! Duh you can’t bring that in,’ the janitor was nice enough to stop so I could get a clear picture,” Loto wrote. “That bat is made out of plastic and the nails were floppy rubber. Nobody was getting hurt with that bat. Next to the bat is a wooden bow. Why would you confiscate a wooden bow that isn’t actually functional? There is also an assortment of toy swords in the trash as well. Behind it, in the other can you can see a large plastic prop… something that clearly doesn’t look like a weapon or capable of any real damage if it hit someone.”
Worse still, there seems to be no consistency in the policy. According to Loto, while some people are putting their foam bats in the garbage pail, others are walking the con floor wooden bows and arrows.
“If indeed props made of mixed media using wood, paster, etc, are allowed into the convention and the foam/cardboard rule only applied to ‘weapon’ type props such as swords and knives, why wouldn’t NYCC make sure Citadel was aware of the difference? On my way to the convention I saw a disappointed Cloud cosplayer with an amazing wooden prop. He was heading home because he had no plans of putting his detailed and well done prop in the trash. I don’t blame him. If anything this is a huge fail in NYCC’s already filled up book.”
Sounds like a fail on the weapons count, but it’s heartening to know that in the midst of getting one thing wrong concerning cosplay, the convention is at least getting another thing right. Hopefully, NYCC’s example, at least so far as harassment policy goes, is adapted by other cons.