LocalCon 2015, and The Darker Side
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I had written the first half of this post on Saturday night while the idea was fresh in my mind, but this addendum is being added on Monday morning because I’m still angry about it.
Sunday my daughter was invited to her friend’s house, so my wife and I dropped her off after our weekly breakfast with my father. Her friend lives in Manchester, and I think we’d consider her parents to be friends of ours, or at least very close acquaintances, which means we always end up chatting with them after my daughter and her friend have gone off to watch anime.
Let me see if I can summarize what lead up to what I want to talk about: My daughter and her friend are both interested in cosplay. There’s an anime convention coming up in Manchester in October that my daughter’s friend and another friend were planning on attending. However, my daughter’s friend got herself grounded, and her punishment was that she can no longer go to this convention. OK, that’s a good summary. This story lead us into talking about cosplayers.
My daughter’s friend’s parents (we’ll call them The Parents for short) have a very dim, very…let’s say offensive view of cosplayers that they freely related to us in that tone that tells you that they expect you’re in on the joke and are going to naturally agree with them. They said that they always viewed those who dress up for these events as emotionally stunted people who couldn’t let go of their childhood. Basically they stopped short of calling them “mentally retarded”, but the insinuation was there. They then tried to divide me from them by saying something to the effect that even though I play video games and “wear Spider Man pajamas” (which I don’t, but I’ll relate the story that sourced that gem at another time), I was an otherwise normal, well adjusted human being.
I think that’s what they said; I couldn’t really hear very well over the sound of my rising blood pressure. Under every other circumstance with The Parents, I keep my mouth shut when they go off on one of their tangents (they’re pretty vocal Conservatives, and I don’t care to get involved in political quote-discussions-unquote, no matter what), but this time I kind of let them have it. I was proud of myself; I didn’t use any swears. But I told them that they were way off base. Cosplayers are normal people who are very passionate about their hobby, and are very talented and dedicated. They form communities with communities, they make friends, trade tips and stories, and they don’t do it because they’re unable to function at an adult level. Some people do it professionally, and get paid for it. Their craftsmanship is top-notch, professional special effects/professional costumer grade that could be on TV or in movies, and they do it on a budget that makes ILM look like it was run by the government. Even the street-level cosplayers who we saw the day before, whom I’ve seen at PAX and Anime Boston, put a whole lot of time an effort into their craft. It’s really no different from people who fix up old cars, or (gawd help me) those who paint themselves up for football games. It’s all about creativity and expression, not about some feeble-minded clutching of childhood.
Even now I’m still pissed off about it: that they are so ignorant, and latch on to the first and easiest possible explanation they could bother to come up with as a blanket rationale for how to refer to a legion of people. To make it worse, my people from my community who love the same things I love, and who have the balls (literally and figuratively) to express their creativity and love of their hobbies in ways that make even me feel like a poseur. It also made me angry because this is the kind of attitude that surrounded me when I was growing up, although this time it was carefully neutered in an attempt to not be directed at me, and delivered in a faux-conspiratorial manner assuming that I was in on the joke this time. It was still the same hate and the same bullying and the same narrow-minded ignorance, just covered over by a pitifully thin veneer of “adulthood”.