Home > Discussion Topics > Opinion: Awkward Moments at Baltimore Anime Convention WP Article

Opinion: Awkward Moments at Baltimore Anime Convention WP Article

“The dark side of the new demographics has not gone unnoticed.” This quote pretty much sums up the entire article reflecting the supposed “seedy underbelly” of the Otaku Fandom, suggesting that the Otakon Anime convention is the home front for perversion and pedophilia. This is clearly fear mongering and a ridiculous “public service” announcement to paranoid parents of the 21st century.

This article did look at both sides of the argument, it’s just that the bad points far outweigh the good points (and there weren’t many bad points to begin with). When I read this article, it made me feel like I did something wrong as if I’m part of some perverted cult. Everyone has an opinion, it’s just that this was a heavily misinformed opinion, which an outsider is presenting to the public as “truth”. Contrary to popular belief, anime conventions are simply a place where people with a passion for Japan culture including Anime, video games, etc come together. The article failed to emphasise the many good points, like how it raised over $60 000 dollars for Earthquake/Tsunami relief in Japan and boosting the local economy. It is ridiculous to think that Otakon exists for only old perverts that have nothing else better to do than stare at scantily clad teenage girls.   

It is true that there are girls wearing little clothing, but it has happened well before the establishment of anime conventions, it’s called a beach. These people also known as “cosplayers” go to anime conventions knowing that they will be photographed and stared at for this reason, to display their passion and work that they put into making the costume to the public. Just because someone asks you for their photo, it doesn’t make them a creep. When someone runs up to you shouting “Oh my God, its Madoka!”  it usually means that they are a fan of the character, not necessarily the person itself. I’ll admit, I do some cosplaying myself. I find it fun to take on a different personality and make new friends that hold the same interest, it doesn’t make me a creep plainly intent on getting an overly warm “hug” with a girl.

The writer also happens to mention the Alper case, where a 34-year-old male last month was charged for having sex with a 13-year-old girl he MET at Katsucon, another anime convention. Does that mean that no anime convention is safe for a 13-year-old child? Of course not! According to the media, nowhere is safe nowadays. Kids can’t even walk to school because their parents are too paranoid about the miniscule possibility that their children could possibly be abducted. Wonder why roads are congested during the morning? Look how many of the cars are filled with school kids going to school in the morning, even the school car park. I see a huge amount of cars dropping off students at my High school, and you wonder why obesity is a problem in Australia. At a young age I would walk to school everyday without the fear of being approached by a stranger or enticed into a white van, it’s just that society has become too paranoid and the media feed off this fear. 

“Anime is a broad medium that ranges from the purely innocent to the pornographic. Some of it fetishizes young girls.” Washington Post, are you familiar with Rule 34 of the official rules of the internet? Enough said.

When I started becoming an otaku I had a fear of being stigmatised for having an enthusiasm towards Japan culture, but a wise man said to me that “You shouldn’t worry about what others think about you, just enjoy what you love most!” which has been my guiding light. When I was working on an anime art gallery to raise money for the Red Cross in Japan, I was printing off pieces of artwork from artists from Deviant Art that were kind enough to donate their pieces. Some idiots called me weird and quoted “uh huh you’re into Hentai!” which was clearly not. I just smiled and said to them “you are just a bunch of immature idiots that can’t even distinguish the difference between two kinds of art. I don’t think I’m weird, in fact I think you’re the real weirdos!” and continued my work. What I’m saying is it doesn’t help that society and outsiders don’t understand our passion, making it easier for them to make uninformed opinions and jump to conclusions.

 

I wonder, why does the article sound like it’s suggesting that a female at an anime convention is such a rare and unusual thing? I went to Wai-con earlier this year and female attendee numbers were quite close to the male numbers. According to this article, it sounds like teenage girls are simply there to dress up in suggestive clothing and be stared at all day. Anime conventions aren’t exclusive to the supposed “geeks that live in their parent’s basement”, I know several girls that visit anime conventions despite not being huge anime fans. Is that such a weird thing? Anime conventions were never exclusively for shady male characters in the first place, it’s simply a place were people can enjoy what they love.


“Everywhere you looked, there were older girls dressed as little girls and little girls dressed as littler girls — and grown men taking photos of all of them. Sometimes, the men asked for hugs, too.” I’m sorry, what? Are you suggesting that there are sixteen year old girls cosplaying the characters from Kodomo No Jikan? At the very least all I saw was a twenty year old girl dressed as Yuri from Angle beats and Orihime from Bleach. To be honest it wasn’t really that revealing or suggestive at all. “At the trade bazaar in the bowels of the Convention Center, one could buy all the too-short schoolgirl outfits one would ever need. Also on offer: hentai, or pornographic comics, some of which leaned Lolita.” Its just COSPLAY. There is nothing sexual about it, and if you think otherwise than you need to get your priorities straight (a trade bazaar? It’s the dealers room genius). When going to Wai-con, there was hardly any adult material as with many other conventions I have been to. Even then you had to ask the clerk and they would bring it out from the back or under the table, and this made up about 5% of the total stores that actually sell this sort of stuff. I read one of the comments on the bottom of the post arguing that “Lolita is not something that is purely sexual, it is there to make you feel beautiful and elegant”. So what if these girls like to dress in Lolita fashion? I’m sure they dress up without any sexual intention, neither would the majority of cosplayers that go to conventions.

The article focuses too much on selection of detail, framing male otaku as a “bunch of geeks that watch too much cartoons”. Rather than emphasising the good points that conventions bring such as Otakon, newspapers such as the Washington post focus on the (very few) bad points which ends up sending the wrong message to the general public. I’m not saying that you should agree with me rather, you should form your own opinion. All I am doing is contributing an opinion from an otaku’s point of view, after all otaku are human and have rights too.

If you would like to visit the original Washington post article, here is the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/awkward-moments-at-baltimore-anime-convention-as-art-form-comes-of-age/2011/07/31/gIQAFYY5rI_story.html

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