27 March, 2012

Con Report 2012 (Tekko X) - Part 4: Saturday

So Saturday morning my traveling companions had to make a trip to the emergency room, to take care of the eye injury I mentioned last time. I felt a little bad going off to enjoy the con by myself, but it's not like I could have done anything staying behind; and if one or both of my traveling companions' con weekend was more or less ruined, I could at least still enjoy the con.

So, still tired though I was, I headed off early Saturday morning to catch the Tekko X AMV contest at 9am. I may be forgetting, but I don't think I've attended the main AMV contest at a con ever since that one time at Otakon. So I was excited to finally be able to fit it into my schedule. Although, first thing in the morning doesn't seem to me like the best time to do the AMV contest. I got there right on time, and there was a line already forming, but it was less than twenty people long, and didn't grow much by the time we were let into the main events room to take our seats. So I got a nice front row seat right in front of one of the two screens. Some more people shuffled in as the three hour (or so) long AMV contest continued, but it seems inconvenient that so many people would arrive to vote on the AMVs, not having seen however many they missed before they got there.

Anyway, there were some interesting AMVs. The upbeat category started off with some magical lolis to set the mood, and included an amusing DBZ video that was actually really good, if not for the song being kind of not to my taste. The action category had some good ones, including both a Fate/Stay Night (actually Unlimited Blade Works, I think) and a really good Gurren Lagann AMV. I, of course, enjoyed the Romance category, which included a sweetly controversial relationship video for Usagi Drop/Bunny Drop set to Nat King Cole's L.O.V.E., and a video celebrating tsunderes to the tune of Katy Perry's Hot n Cold. But my pick for best in show was a touching video for a series I am unfamiliar with titled "Ano Hi Mita Hana..." (there's more to the full title), about a girl who I think died as a child, and her friend's attempt to move on (or something like that). I liked it a lot, and am thinking that maybe I should watch that series some time.

I started getting antsy approaching the third hour of the contest, and when the Comedy/Parody category started, I left. Sorry, comedy isn't my favorite category (I know that for a lot of people it is). I'm sure I would have enjoyed some of those videos if I stayed, but I was eager to get back home, check on my traveling companions, and change into my long-anticipated Saturday cosplay (I had gone that morning in my backup outfit, my Tentacle Sex t-shirt :3). And that cosplay is Sexy no Jutsu Naruto! So after painting my nails orange, showering, putting my hair in pigtails, and having lunch, I headed back to the con with the one of my two traveling companions who wasn't suffering from an eye injury (the other one needed bed rest). And then the fun began!

I decided to change into the actual costume part of my cosplay (minus the hair, makeup, and accessories a.k.a. forehead protector) at the con for simplicity's sake. So I headed into the same handicapped stall in the men's restroom where I changed into my pink dress last year for my sensational Chii cosplay, and this time I got undressed and put on my homemade cloud bikini! After I came out of the stall, I was adjusting my clouds in the mirror over the sinks, and several men walked into the bathroom only to glance at me, and then quickly turn around and walk back out - thinking, naturally, that they had walked into the wrong bathroom! This was a recurring theme throughout the day - apparently I make a pretty convincing girl!

But not only that, regardless of my gender, or what gender people thought I was (correctly or mistakenly), my Sexy no Jutsu cosplay was a huge hit! I got lots of compliments all throughout the day, including from people who thought I was a girl only to discover that I'm really a guy, and more picture requests than I've ever had before! I only had a couple comments that were less than totally positive, and those included one person who was concerned about whether I was covered up beneath my clouds (does she think I'm stupid?), and one who had a "Naruto sucks because it's popular" sort of attitude. But all in all, the response was positive by a vast majority, and I had tons of fun in my cosplay! I'm just waiting for the pictures to come in of all those people who wanted a snap of (or with!) me! I also regret missing the big Naruto photoshoot, but I couldn't help it given the change of plans after one of my traveling companions had to visit the ER...

So Saturday I spent a lot of time just hanging around the halls, waiting for people to ask for my picture, while simultaneously looking out for cosplayers that I wanted to take a picture of. I got some good ones, but not nearly as many as I got last year. It's okay, though, because I was more focused on my own cosplay this time. But there were a couple cosplays I wanted a picture of that I missed. Like this one really awesome cosplay that looked like a Chocobo; it was a girl who was practically naked, but decked out in yellow plumage. I missed getting her picture because I got stopped by a [non-Sexy no Jutsu] Naruto for a picture, and by the time I caught up to her, she had slipped into the bathroom to change out of her cosplay! Bummer. Here is a picture of her that someone else got. I'm hoping to see some more (ooh, here's another!). The other girl I missed was cosplaying as Misty (from Pokemon). I actually got another really good Misty, but there were at least two floating around, more if you count the not-as-good ones. I know Misty is a cliche cosplay, but I'll never get tired of seeing her. I love her outfit. So simple, so casual, yet so sexy. :3

One of the all-time cosplay highlights of the weekend was a super-sexy Darth Talon walking around (with a smaller-statured Darth Maul companion), decked out in red body paint. The costume itself was really impressive, but the cosplayer had the perfect figure for it and the resulting effect was truly spectacular. I should have got more than one picture of her... Another cosplay that blew me away on Saturday was an impeccable Lum (as seen in Urusei Yatsura). As far as characters go, she is one of the classic sexy chicks of anime fandom. I think this may be the first time I've seen one at a convention, though. It was great!

Saturday night I had a lot of panels I wanted to see. It's unfortunate that they have to squeeze all of the 18+ panels together at the end of the night, because if you're like me, and most of the stuff that interests you is 18+, then you end up having a huge scheduling conflict. But I've missed out on the adult material at these cons in the past, probably not infrequently because you have to stay so late to see them, so I was determined to stick it out this year. I wanted to visit the rave again this year (now that I've gotten over my fear of it), but they wouldn't let me in with my bag, and I didn't feel like paying to drop it off at bag check, especially given that it was already so late in the day. It's a shame, because I wanted to see how my white clouds glowed in the black lights of the rave, but oh well. I had other things to do, anyway.

Half an hour after the rave started, I had a panel to see. It's the one panel in the whole con I was most excited to see. The title of it was "My Cosplay Brings All The Boys To The Con", and my first impression was that it would be a panel discussing sexy cosplay (right up my alley, obviously). Reading the description in the booklet, however, revealed that it was going to be a feminist panel. I should have given up right then, but going by the (ambiguous) description, I thought it still might be an interesting discussion on the feminist implications of sexy cosplay (and I was rather curious how a feminist would interpret a man crossplaying as a sexy female character at a con, breaking down gender expectations and all that). In other words, the panel still had potential, but I'm sad to report that it was a huge letdown, as it turned out to be little more than a bitchfest by a couple of angry feminists who were jealous because they weren't sexy.

I know, that's harsh, but when you try to implement the tool of shame (in this case, sex shame, and guilt), I'm not gonna play nice. The panel heads actually had some insightful points to make, about the ubiquitousness of sexy females in media, and the need for more positive female role models that don't rely on their sexual assets, but they ruined it by attacking sexual expression and neglecting the legitimacy of sex. They seemed to be implying that although a girl who wears a sexy cosplay is not herself at fault, she still represents the symptom of a societal problem - a view that entirely ignores the possibility that the girl might enjoy being sexy, feel empowered by it, and not believe that sex is just a tool of the patriarchy to force women into submission and degradation.

To put it very simply, regardless of whatever feminist cred they might have had, these were people who had utterly failed Sex Ed 101, and were the type who bitch about the fact that sex is popular. Get over it. If you want alternatives, I'm behind you 100%. But if you're gonna try to cut down people who like sex, then get out of my way. You ain't gonna earn my sympathy that way. But the most pathetic part for me to watch were the sexy girls in the audience who were backpedaling and making hypocritical statements to try to appease the feminist ire and earn brownie points, at the cost of their integrity. I've heard people say, "I only let people take my picture if they know the character and like the series, not just because they think I'm hot", but when have you ever observed a cosplayer quizzing a photographer on their knowledge of a series, and turning them down if they can't pass? Not once has it happened in my experience as a cosplay photographer.

I've seen cosplayers modify their characters' costumes to make them more modest, and I'm fine with that if that's what they're comfortable with. But how often does a person make a point to wear a specifically sexy cosplay, and then not expect to get compliments - not necessarily series-specific - but on how hot the cosplay is (whether in those words or not)? I know I wore my Sexy no Jutsu Naruto cosplay because it was sexy. I know the character. I'm a fan of the series, and I take inspiration from the character's massive self-confidence, something I could use a little more of myself. But if it were Naruto alone I wanted to do justice to, I'd have gone as regular Naruto, and I wouldn't even need to gender-bend. But no, I did Sexy no Jutsu because I wanted to be sexy. And I appreciated every compliment I got, no matter if it was the kind where the person complimenting me was admiring the craftsmanship or creativity of my costume, the success of my ability to crossplay, or whether they were simply admiring how sexy I am.

I mean, if it's about popularity and recognition, then you have the same issue with characters from popular series (like Naruto) getting more recognition than unknowns, even if the costume for your unknown is really good (unless it's unusually flashy). It's not like sex is a unique problem, it's just that it's really popular. And if you don't like that, that's a bummer. Believe me, I know what it's like to be in the minority, but the solution is more tolerance, not less of it. More choice, so that people who like sex aren't made to feel bad about it, while people who don't, have an opportunity to feel good about themselves, too. That doesn't mean bashing female sex icons in the media, that simply means providing more alternatives, without disparaging what's already there.

I probably should have walked out of that panel in protest, but to be honest, I was embarrassed just being there, and didn't want to draw that kind of attention to myself. On the other hand, walking out would have been too predictable, and I don't want to be accused of not giving my opponents an opportunity to express their opinion. If anything, it's not that there are people in this world who disagree with me that really makes me mad, but the people who suggest that I shouldn't be allowed to voice my opinion in the first place, whether because it offends them or runs counter to common "wisdom".

So after that debacle, it was time to cool off with the Extreme AMV contest, open to 18+ only. Compared to the AMV contest I attended that morning, the extreme AMVs were definitely more to my style. Both the videos and the music used, interestingly. Some actual nudity, even a little bit of softcore sex (unfortunately nothing truly hentai, though), and lots and lots of violence. But it was great. There was an End of Eva AMV, but I ended up voting for the one romance AMV, which featured the most sex and nudity. :3 After the videos were done, I unfortunately didn't have time to stick around for what else they had in store for us, because I had to rush to the other panel I had been greatly looking forward to - The Ninja Legion's League of Dirty Old Men!

As the league professes, Dirty Old Man is not an age, nor a lifestyle - it's a state of mind. Their panel was mostly humorous, but also a little informative. We looked at some of the classic DOM (Dirty Old Men) of anime, including the venerable Master Roshi from Dragonball, the lead character in City Hunter, and Happosai from Ranma 1/2, among others. We were then treated to a series of tips and tricks both in identifying DOM, and in avoiding them. This was followed by a live demonstration wherein three women from the audience (including one in knee-high leather boots) were invited to demonstrate self-defense techniques (slapping, kicking, etc.) against the three DOM on the panel.

It was a fun panel. I definitely identified myself in a lot of the DOM's characteristics, especially "takes pictures of pretty young women at cons. Exclusively pretty young women." Lol. I think it's great to be able to laugh at yourself. And it's also good that they made a point to distinguish dirty old men from dirty old rapists. However, I felt there was a little bit of playing into the stereotype of pervert vs. perved-on wherein the pervert admits that he is doing wrong and deserves whatever treatment he receives. Obviously, if you're being a pest, or invading people's privacy, or whatever, you can't complain if you get slapped or what have you.

But I'm coming from a rather alternative direction where I believe perverts should be better respected, and people in society should learn to tolerate natural sexual behavior (not including abusive sexual behavior, thank you), and not assume that perversion is necessarily a vice. Like, there should be a distinction between someone who clearly prefers to take pictures of pretty young women at a con, and the type of person who will grab a stranger's ass just for the thrill of it. One is an honest and open sexual being, while the other is a molester. That, to me, is the difference between a pervert - who does not deserve ridicule and retaliation - and a predator - who does. Maybe it only bothers me because, even though I'm a pervert, I can't see myself doing anything for which a swift kick in the nuts would actually be justified. So emphasizing that it's okay (let alone righteous) to treat perverts (as opposed to rapists) like that understandably makes me uncomfortable.

I also felt that the serious note at the end of the panel gave off some mixed messages. I believe they wanted to reiterate their emphasis on the difference between perverts and predators, but what they used as a scary example of the latter was a man who was charged with "enticing" a minor at some anime con (not Tekko). Not raping a minor, but enticing a minor (age unspecified, so anywhere from 1 to 17). Enticing? What does that mean, anyway? I'd be willing to bet that I enticed more than a few minors in my Sexy no Jutsu cosplay without even realizing it, let alone intending to. And focusing on the fact that the victim was a minor seems to make the suggestion that the difference between a harmless DOM and a potential rapist is the age of the girls he pervs on. From another angle, that would seem to imply that the age of a person is more important than the manner in which you treat them. Yeah, great lesson.

But it's really just the fact that you have to put a disclaimer like that at the end of this sort of panel that is such a buzz kill. It's like, yeah there are bad perverts out there. But there are good perverts, too. And the good perverts don't need to be subjected to a disclaimer like that, which only serves to scare people straight, into thinking that all perverts are potentially bad, and to be careful. It also seemed to blur the all-important line (at least it did in my head) between the dirty old men and the dirty old rapists, considering the demonstration on self-defense tactics earlier. Is this a panel about perverts, or predators? If the former, then why talk about the latter, if not to conflate and confuse the two? I'm probably getting pedantic at this point, but I thirst for a brand new societal discourse on sexuality, one that puts all our old prejudices and assumptions at last to rest.

After the panel ended, it was pretty late, and I was freezing in my near-naked cloud bikini (that panel was on the cold side of the building), not to mention exhausted. I changed back into my street clothes, and we left the hotel just as we were beginning to get kicked out, apparently because the hotel announced they wanted everyone out by 3am. We made it home by that time and collapsed into bed. And in the final part of my con report, I'll briefly discuss Sunday and my lingering impressions of the con!

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