Superhero Registration Act?

This has been a bad year for cosplay, between the shooting in Aurora prompting theatres to ban costumes, numerous issues with sexual harassment and “cosplay as consent“, and the fake geek girl debacle that left many feeling unwelcome or unsafe at conventions. Now, an effort to ban or heavily regulate costumed characters such as requiring written permission from the copyright holder for the character stands to threaten cosplay at New York Comic Con. Even if this would not effect the private property at which a convention is held, there is the matter of getting to said location via public transit and public spaces.

Costumes are under fire because some nut jobs in New York harassed people on the streets. News flash: you don’t need a costume to do that. Street harassment is hardly limited to people in spandex and muppet suits. To punish an entire industry, subculture, and pastime for the actions of a few is not only ineffective, it is an infringement on freedom of expression and one that seems extremely difficult and subjective to enforce.

So, I can’t wear my Black Canary costume without written permission? What if I just say I’m dressed like that by accident and have never heard of the character? What if I just wear Wonder Woman’s boots? Is that a costume or an homage? What about one of those superhero t-shirts with capes on them? Chewbacca hoodie?

Does this outlaw costume parties and Halloween costumes in New York? If little Suzy and Jimmy want to trick or treat as Aladdin and Jasmine, do they need written permission from Disney? Does a kid in Hogwarts robes need permission from Warner Brothers, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, and J. K. Rowling? I normally dislike the slippery slope argument, but this issue honestly has a lot of grey area.

Banning or regulating costumes and cosplay would only serve to make conventions far less desirable to go to, as cosplay is a big factor in attendance. Conventions not only make money for copyright holders and vendors at said events, but boost the local economy via hotels, restaurants, etc. Much like the attempts to ban costumes at theatres, this seems like an overreaction that hurts far more than it helps.

Remember, gun regulation is an assault on your freedom and will lead to a police state. Costume regulation is a public safety issue.


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About boundandgaggedbooks

Shannon is a freelance writer and folklore buff. She has a degree from Hampshire College in Creative Writing/Mythology & Religion, with an emphasis on epic/oral traditions, their anthropological implications, and their modern counterparts. Her work can be found in Fabulously Feminist, Wolf Wariors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology, The Concord Monitor, Redhead Magazine, and The Climax.

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