Thursday, September 25, 2014

Denise Dorman Did Not Say That Cosplayers Are Ruining Conventions

I've seen a few articles in my news feed today (like this one from Topless Robot) complaining that comic artist Dave Dorman's wife, Denise wrote an article that's mean to cosplayers. Most of the headlines say some thing to the effect of "Dorman Says Cosplayers Are Ruining Conventions." I read the blog post when it showed up in my Facebook feed a couple days ago. I did notice a kind of "you kids get off of my lawn" attitude toward cosplayers, but I remembered the point as being more about the financial realities of exhibiting at conventions.

As I read the TR article, I wondered if maybe I'd missed something in Dorman's blog post. After all, since I usually attend conventions to try to sell games (either directly as a vendor or indirectly by running panels and demo games), it's entirely possible that I sympathized with Dorman over the financial difficulties of exhibiting at cons that I misread or downplayed where she was laying the blame. So I went back and re-read her post.

The first five paragraphs are what I took away as the main point of the article: that conventions are expensive, that attending a convention as a creator isn't usually fun and can be downright miserable, and that cons are getting harder to financially justify. Dorman first mentions cosplay in paragraph six:

"I have slowly come realize that in this selfie-obsessed, Instagram Era, COSPLAY is the new focus of these conventions–seeing andbeing seen, like some giant masquerade party."

She doesn't say cosplay has ruined conventions, she says cosplay has become the new focus of conventions. True, she follows it up with what can easily be seen as overly-harsh accusations of the kind of shallow narcissism that anyone over 30 usually bitches about any time the word "selfie" comes up, paired with a lot of bitterness about creators not getting as much attentions at conventions, but she's still not suggesting the kind of cosplayer pogroms that some of the response articles make it sound like she's advocating. In fact, she even acknowledges that cosplayers aren't the whole problem:

"I just float the idea that maybe we’ve reached a tipping point. Have the expenses of dressing up, rising ticket prices, price gouged hotels, and parking costs to attend these costly conventions made it financially unfeasible for people to actually spend money on exhibitors anymore?"
At no point does Dorman ever suggest that cosplayers are "ruining" conventions, just that conventions are changing (in part because of the increased popularity of cosplay) and that those changes are making it harder for creators to justify attending. Her final question (presumably to other creators) re-iterates that the post isn't about resisting change, it's about how creators are going to deal with the changing focus and financial realities of conventions:
"So I ask you…at what point would YOU cut bait and stop attending these shows? How do we satisfy the fans in a way that makes sound financial $ense ? ? ?"
Post a Comment