Yes, you read that right, Elite Con – a very small pop-culture collectible convention down in Florida is riding the waves of social media drama by banning Cosplayers from their show, and as you can imagine across the cosplay community a tsunami of condemnation hit their Facebook page.
This news first came to light via Bleeding Cool – the leading website for click-bait headlines and breaking pop-culture news (based on little more speculation). You can read their poke-the-bear take on this conventions unconventional stance here.
This Has To Be Said First
Before I go any further into this commentary, I feel it is very important to say I’ve don’t have an issue with cosplay, I see them mostly as superfans and those that I do know personally are great folk, who have a greater comic book/pop-culture knowledge than me. and have on occasion allowed me to take a bathroom break by watching over my table.
I have no issue with cosplay in general. None… Zero… Got it? Okay, I will continue…
That being said, I’ve been travelling to conventions for almost a decade now and seen cosplay explode from fan creation into its own industry, that is competing in the same space as me and I like many who are Artists or Vendors have experienced the negative side of cosplay, that does go out of control. I’ve suffered through a long weekend of having my booth blocked by cosplayer (my lost weekend at VA Comicon), had my display table used as a storage area for their food as they have their photo taken, had customers squeezed away and dealt with more than one Cosplayer who thinks they have to kayfabe the character. But, beyond a very specks in what is a mutual show relationship, Cosplayers are just superfans of the genre they like.
The issue here is a pop-culture convention going against the grain of other pop-culture conventions. There is already a perceived artist/vendor v cosplay shadow war going on at conventions – mainly due to the behavior of a select few self-entitled cosplayers and the artist/vendors pushing back against it. This cosplay ban only serves to further this non-existent issue, by making cosplayers cry ‘victim’ when in reality they really aren’t.
Look Beyond The Headline
Elite Con is a very, very small convention, about 3500sq ft which is tiny, the convention does not have room for some of the more outlandish cosplay outfits and is promoting itself as a serious convention for collectors only. They are positioning themselves to be something very different in this landscape, much more inline with coin, or sports memorabilia shows.
Elite Con has a right as a private entity hiring the space to set up a dress code for their show, if they feel cosplay is a thing they don’t want, then it is their right as the event organizer to act upon it. Is is shortsighted? Maybe… Will it hurt Elite Con if they grow, most likely.
My understanding this decision to ban cosplay was brought about over concerns about space, not any malice towards cosplayers in general, maybe as Elite Con grows and is able to expand they will become more cosplay friendly. We just have to wait and see.
Vote With Your Feet
The Elite Con Facebook page has been bombarded since they announced their cosplay ban, especially when it is being badly reported, or aimed at a vocal community like cosplay. It is so easy to outraged on the internet, to follow the herd and say this is outrageous, when really you are not sure why it is an outrageous thing. You do have a right to express your opinion, but don’t be a jerk about it.
If you don’t like Elite Con’s policies then vote with your feet and $$$’s, if you are in the area don’t attend the show, conventions live and die on foot traffic and word of mouth, and while Elite Con is trying to be something different, appealing directly to the collector, they may have made a misstep here. But it is only a small show and it is not like Wizard World is saying… No More Cosplay.