Wondercon 2014 Cosplayers Vs The Porno Dude: Three Moral Quandaries

WonderCon, the smaller sister of ComicCon, is not only about buying action figures and cosplay. It’s also a time to question who you are, right from wrong, power and responsibility. Bear with me, this article talks a fair amount about porn.

1. Do you report on the guy who is probably a porn guy scouting for gullible young girls? And why do you know that he is the porn guy?

I’ll answer the second part first. I know he is the porn guy because, for good or ill, I know enough about “adult” entertainment to recognize that the typical porn guy (from behind his video camera POV, in a high-pitched demonic purr) talks like this:

“Hey what’s going on here? I like your outfit. Mmm. Do a little spin for me? Can you spin around for me? Nice. Great. You look great. Turn around for me.”

And then the porn happens. (Full disclosure, as a side hustle, I used to edit short tease videos for a guy.) Except in this case, this is EXACTLY what this one dude at WonderCon 2014 said to a young cosplayer girl dressed as Ms. Marvel. I was taking a photo of her for my meme about #AvengersTexting (Am I the male gaze? Yes. Is that different from being a predatory porn guy? Yes again.) and he rolls up with his camcorder and his little teal-and-grey stripy shirt and starts in with the “spin around” bit.

I knew something was wrong, but didn’t immediately know what it was, because at the same moment a guy dressed as Prince in Burton’s Batman came by with a boombox blasting “Partyman.” There are a lot of distractions like that at comic conventions.

Whereas the truly moment-appropriate song woulda been….

I walked off. Dude is still video-ing little Ms. Marvel. She’s like actual young-girl young, she’s not a grown-up booth babe. Something was still wrong.

Then I realized, that’s the porn guy. That’s his voice. He is looking for girls who have vulnerable personalities and are confused about how to express themselves. Because that’s another thing that there are a lot of, at comic conventions.

DISCLAIMER: Or maybe not. Maybe he’s just a guy with a creepy voice, of which THERE ARE ALSO TONS at comic conventions. But the compelling factor is this: he also looks like a second-tier Abercrombie & Fitch model. Or the first-tier, screw it, they all look like porn guys. You know, the good-looking, not-too-tall white dude. He doesn’t belong here. And he really enjoyed saying, “Spin around.”

The only real reason that this guy maybe is not the porn guy is, unfortunately, because some white dudes just normally talk to women in that manner.

My attempt to shadow the Porn Guy did not go so great. I need an iTelePhoto.

Here’s the moral quandary part: If I’m wrong, it’s a big wrong. It’s judging a guy for sounding weird when he talks, and I know all about being subjected to that, unfairly. It ruins the beautiful ritual of spontaneous cosplay photo-ops to say, “YOU can take a photo of me, but not YOU, ’cause Dominic The Infallible got a bad vibe off YOU.” It is, possibly, my natural prejudice against Abercrombie & Fitch.

But even though he is not definitely the porn guy, you know what? He’s definitely a douche. Moral quandary SOLVED. I see that the guy has disappeared into the crowd, and I go back to talk to Ms. Marvel (who, adorably, is at the moment talking to another cosplay Ms. Marvel.)

ME: “Hi. It’s not my business, but I just want to say, be careful of that guy. The guy who was videoing you when I was taking a picture of you.” (I feel in this moment like a total, total a-hole.)
MS. M: “Why? Do you know him?”
ME: “I don’t know him. I think you should be careful of him. I don’t specifically know who he is, but I think he sounds like That Guy. You know what I mean?”

(Little pause.)

MS. M: “Okay. Thank you for telling me.”

I go away and talk to a security guy about my unproven, baseless, prejudicial gut feeling. He’s attentive and only a little disappointed that I didn’t get a photo of the Porn Guy.

I apologize, too-handsome white dude, for momentarily judging you as inhuman based on your physical appearance and mannerisms. That should never happen to anyone. But DON’T TALK LIKE THAT TO WOMEN, OR GIRLS. If you said any of that to the actual Ms. Marvel, she would incinerate you with a gesture. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. (*ed- referring here to Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel and former Ms. Marvel, of course; Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel would not incinerate you, although she would knock you into the previous century)

I’m not even the anti-porn person. If I were, I probably would not have recognized the “spin around” voice. I think adult women can choose to do porn if they want. Porn is not the problem. The problem is THE PORN GUY (or the sexual predator guy or whoever he is) who seeks out vulnerability in women and exploits it so as to treat them like a soulless object at a public gathering of children and celebration, because why? He likes it? You want to steal Ms. Marvel’s soul? Hasn’t she given enough already to Rogue?

I think I did the right thing there. I really don’t know.

Classic Ms. Marvel, at WonderCon 2014 in Anaheim, California.

2. Despite these uncomfortable dynamics, is it wrong to believe that WonderCon is truly the Happiest Place on Earth (with Disney’s purchase of Marvel [*ed. – and, of recent, Fox] now about 70% de facto owned by the other Happiest Place on Earth)? What does it say about you, @dommah that you believe this? Are you, as they say, “living in the real world?”

WonderCon IS the happiest place on earth, because: it is not as mobbish and corrupted as ComicCon. It is gigantic without being colossal.

Here at WonderCon, the lesser are the greater. Weirdos are okay. Every KIND of weirdo is okay, except the Porn Guy. Kindness is noticed, appreciated, reciprocated. Everyone is dressed not just to be loved, but IN THE SHAPE AND FORM OF SOMEONE THEY LOVE. There is a nice hotel bar where you can get sloppy. There is a fountain, where people stand and celebrate each other. You can get a free hug. There are douches, but far fewer than are in San Diego on any regular day, never mind ComicCon days. There are food trucks within a shuriken’s throw from the main entrance that have delicious pork-belly-cheese-brussel-sprout grilled sandwiches. You can talk to people. You can find a place to sit and read.

From the JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS soundtrack, Kay Hanley & Co.

And to paraphrase Naughty By Nature, if you don’t agree with any of that about WonderCon, then stop coming to WonderCon, don’t ever go to WonderCon, because you wouldn’t understand WonderCon, so stay the frak away from WonderCon. Especially you, Probably Porn-Predator Guy. Get a life.

Captain America and Falcon (Falcon’s original costume).

3. Do you put the cosplayers’ image in the header when you blog about it, bringing up the subject of pr0n?

Um. I ended up with a soft no, but one does put cosplay pics in the body text because the point is, cosplay pics are cool? It’s another thorny sub-topic, because these conventions are massive ongoing photo ops, by entering one is giving a general consent to be photographed (as per the sign at the entrance), and getting verbal consent for publication is an extra part of the social contract that I like to do, but it is certainly not enforced. Nor should it be on account of one jerk with a video camera. Oh wait a sec, we are all now, in some sense, jerks with video cameras. Sigh. A battle for another day.

From DragonCon 2013, Classic Ms. Marvel punching Power Girl.
Labeled for reuse, according to Google Image Search.
From Wondercon 2014, Thor and Captain America.

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