We’re all part of a small community of people who enjoy a certain hobby that might be considered silly by the rest of the great big world. There are those who look down on us as a faction of humanity that rejects reality and likes to prance around in costumes from fantasy worlds. Words like that don’t matter as long as we manage to have fun, which is the main reason people cosplay and attend conventions. But if this little hobby is going to be a source of drama and conflict then we’re really going to look pathetic – like a gathering of the socially-inept. Let’s show the world that we’re still capable of being respectable human beings!
Those who know better might see me as someone who’s merely stating the obvious, but believe me – I would not be writing this if there were no people going against these basic social rules. Common sense is apparently rather uncommon nowadays.
1. COSPLAYERS ARE NOT MASCOTS
Cosplayers aren’t paid to stand there and pose for you. Most of us are willing and happy to take pictures with other people but please ask, and do it nicely. By that, I don’t mean yelling, “UY PA-PICTURE!” while forcefully pulling us away from our friends. That’s not asking for permission. Asking would entail actually giving the receiving party a choice.
Also, don’t force cosplayers into situations that would cause them physical or emotional distress. Don’t pressure them to do yaoi or yuri or pose in a manner that they aren’t comfortable with. Even mascots aren’t being paid to endure that kind of maltreatment.
2. A LESSON ON TIMING
Please be considerate. If you see a cosplayer engaged in a conversation, it’s best to wait until they’re done before you ask to take their picture. It would also be a big help if everyone could kindly wait for their turn. It gets really confusing when we’re pulled away from each other and don’t even know where to look anymore.
Also, when cosplayers are eating, leave them alone. We’d greatly appreciate it if we could have some peace while we’re on break. And it feels like an intrusion of our personal time.
3. BE UNDERSTANDING WHEN PEOPLE SAY “NO”
If you ask for a photo, and a cosplayer politely declines, let them go. If you aren’t a renowned blowhole or pervert, it’s probably nothing personal. Like I mentioned above, cosplayers aren’t paid mascots. They aren’t obligated to pose for you.
My friends and I sometimes have to decline requests for photos and ask them if we could postpone it for later for reasons such as:
a) We’re not completely dressed yet or if our costumes need adjusting, because as much as possible we hope to look our best for you.
b) We have something urgent to attend to, like setting up our merchandise booth or if we have tasks to carry out (like being a judge or a panelist) during a convention.
c) There is an emergency we need to deal with immediately, such as a friend losing their belongings.
d) You might have caught us speaking to a friend and we would really appreciate if you could allow us to finish our conversation.
e) We feel like we’re about to collapse from a combination of starvation and dehydration and would very much like to be excused briefly to replenish our systems in order to stay in the world of the living.
As for the people who do not want their pictures taken at all – leave them alone. Nowhere does it say “Upon entering the convention venue in costume, you must subject yourself to the whims of anyone with a camera in their possession.” There are some who just enjoy being dressed up as they go around the con and would prefer not to have complete strangers keep a record of their faces which may end up on the internet or some crazy person’s wall.
Just because everyone else is agreeing to have their pictures taken does not mean that those select few must be forced to follow. Once again – cosplayers are not paid mascots. If they go out of their way to accept your requests and are treating you nicely, it is from the kindness of their hearts and you owe them your thanks.
To photographers: Please try to be understanding.
To cosplayers: if you’re going to decline, please do so nicely and perhaps offer a short explanation.
4. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR BOUNDARIES
Respect other people’s personal space, especially if you have just met or are only acquaintances. Maintain your distance, keep your hands to yourself and don’t hog their attention. Whatever brief interaction you might have made during a convention does not automatically make you best friends.
5. PHYSICAL CONTACT IS A SERIOUS MATTER
Watch your hands. One wrong move can win you a trip to jail. Or the wrath of an angry boyfriend or girlfriend. Think before you act. If you’d really like a photo with, for example, your arm around the shoulder of your favorite character, ask the cosplayer first. If you’d like a hug, ask first. Keep in mind that there’s a chance that the cosplayer will decline certain requests out of respect for their significant others, or whatever other reasons they might have.
People should know general things like how it’s not polite and downright demeaning to pat cosplayers’ heads or pinch their cheeks even if they are dressed as cute characters. Especially if the cosplayers are older than the guilty party. It’s common decency.
On a somewhat different but still relevant note, if you find yourself fascinated by someone’s costume or props, ask before you touch them. If you’re given permission, handle them with utmost care. Also, don’t be rowdy with people in armor. Unless they are made with industrial-strength materials, costumes are not as strong as actual armor. It won’t protect them in the event that they fall if you tackle them; and it’s likely to get damaged even just by a rough hug. It’s sad that I have to mention this, but don’t hit people with prop weapons. Those things can still hurt or you can damage them in the process.
6. RESPECT PEOPLE’S PRIVACY
Similarly, it’s not polite to hound people into adding your account into their private blog or whatever online account’s friend list. Nothing personal really, but in my humble opinion as a normal member of society, it’s kind of awkward and insincere to start getting to know someone that way. It’s much nicer if, for example – you manage to have a nice conversation where you both feel like you get along and mutually decide to keep that bond.
7. BE KIND TO OTHER CONGOERS
It’s great that you get to have fun with your friends and all, but DON’T RUIN OTHER PEOPLE’S FUN IN THE PROCESS. It’s okay to be excited, but don’t go screaming all over the place because it disturbs the peace and you could potentially hurt someone’s ears. Wait for your turn to take pictures, look at booths or participate in activities. Control yourself and avoid being too rowdy – you could hurt other people or damage someone’s costume. Don’t loiter and block walkways if you’re a big group. Don’t make rude, unnecessary remarks… the list goes on.
Cosplay.ph note: The original article was written by a group of cosplayers who had requested to be referred under the pen name “Captain Obvious”. They agreed to have CosPH redistribute the article and provided this revision that’s more suitable for the general public.