Marc Alan Fishman: To Boob or Not To Boob
A short one act play, in response to this recent hubbub during the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind of cosplayers to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fans and parents
Or to take arms against a sea of tsk-tsks,
And by opposing, end them.
To diet (to fit in a form-fitting costume) – to sleep on the floor of your con hotel suite –
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That the display of flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d of the fans to see.
For those not playing along, let’s cut to the chase. This past weekend, a cosplay maven – with distinct permission to come in her much-worked-upon Silent Hill cosplay – was jeered and leered at by some in the crowd, and ultimately (and incorrectly) walked back to her hotel room to change.
Per her posting, she had gotten the proper clearances, but miscommunication amongst the staff of the convention center and the con itself led to her removal. To her credit, she took the whole debacle in stride. As she commented in the aforementioned post: she expects some of the reactions she gets in her guise. As is her opinion, the human body can become a work of art; as such, her costume (the effort clearly of many hours of construction and creation) is her craft. If convention attendees find her faux – décolletage to be too much so be it. She clearly takes proper steps to ensure she’s meeting the criteria to cosplay by the rules.
This of course begs us to ask questions. Is she bending the rules to the given extreme? Is a well-produced facsimile of a naked body part – aligned to some measure of a costume – an allowable choice of expression within the confines of a convention? And if you personally find something akin to the display of the naked human body to be unsettling or offensive, are your rights inherently more potent than that of the cosplayer?
Let’s be clear: I’m not a show-runner, and thank Rao for that. What I am though, is a parent. My children, ages five and one, were attending Wizard World Chicago at the same time this particular cosplayer was doing her thing. The cosplay-picture-posing thing… not the being politely escorted away thing. Now, amidst snapping pics and moments with Wolverine, Batman Beyond, Deadpool and the like, my children nor my wife happened to see the naked-esque participant.
But what if they had?
Would I be chiding the choices of a fellow artist? Hardly. As it were, I sincerely agree with her opinion. The human body is not offensive. A nipple or breast out in the air – be it constructed, make-upped, or otherwise displayed – is of no more or less value to me personally than an ankle or an earlobe. If the costume itself requires the display of one’s personal nether-regions (augmented as necessary), and it falls within the rules of the given convention? Let it all hang out!
It mostly comes down to the show-runner. So long as their rules are on display in some fashion, the responsibility will fall on the patrons of the con to choose whether they feel they can enjoy the show or not. For a more family-focused show, perhaps there will be need to be more specific about the display of human flesh. But as with all things: we are all in shared space at a convention. Choosing to air your negative opinion in any way shape or form will always be far more offensive to me than any exposed tit.
As a parent, perhaps I wouldn’t make a choice for my kids to see this particular cosplayer – moreso because she looked genuinely scary – but if they had seen her? So what. My job as a parent isn’t to protect my kids from the world. It’s to help them interpret, understand, and appreciate it.
To grunt and sweat under a weary costume,
But that the dread of something after death –
The undiscover’d titty, from whose bourn
No traveler returns – puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others dress as yet-another-Harley Quinn?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard, their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. – Soft you now!
The fair Pyramid Head! – Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins rememb’red. Sorry I stared a bit too hard at your cosplay.