otakon 2012 postmortem, or; on white korras

Well, Otakon/Weebfest/Animelosercon/Homestuckcon/Adventuretimecon/Avengerscon/Anythingbutanimecon 2012 is over and I am home. Or rather, the con was over for me on Saturday afternoon when I came down with con flu and spent the rest of the weekend vomitting profusely and passed out in bed. Because of that, I missed a large number of the panels that I wanted to attend (The Abridged Series, Dubs That Time Forgot, The Art of Fanservice, etc.) and didn’t get to hang out with anyone.

So then what did I do? Well, I was more or less dragged along to Otakon so that I could hold spaces in line for the Tetsuya Kakihara events (moar liek Tetsukyaah Kyaahkihara amirite ladies?) I proved successful at this, but just barely. This segues into one of my biggest complaints with the con organization: the fundamental issues with dealing with lines and crowds. Otakon is a pretty big con at 30,000+ attendees. Out of 30,000 people, only 100 can get autographs from a given guest at a given signing. The 100 person limit isn’t the problem; after all it’d be overwhelming to have the guests signing for hours on end. The problem is that there’s really only so much time and space available but not really an optimal way to handle this bottleneck.

I first tried to get in line at 2:00 for a 4:30 signing. The staff told me to come back later since the line at the time was for Hidetaka Tenjin. So I came back at a little bit after 3:00 and was told that they weren’t going to start lining up until 3:30. At this point I just stood there where the line would form. The area started to fill up shortly thereafter and by about 3:20 there was a large cloud of people surrounding the entranceway to the queuing area for autographs. By my count once we lined up, there problem were already 100 people there. Essentially, there was no real way to “pay” for events. There’s no money option like at cons like NYCC, but there is also no real way to pay with time due to the caps on when you can line up.

A similar issue popped up, causing me to miss the The Worst Anime of All Time panel. I started to walk over to there half an hour before it was ready to begin (and when the panel already in that room was ending) when I saw a communique from the Twittersphere informing that it was already at capacity. I did at least get to salve my pain with some schadenfreude when I heard about the people that camped out in a panel that they didn’t care about in order to get into the Avatar panel that was supposed to follow it. I say “supposed” to because apparently the panelists no-showed. Whoopsies! Seriously though, I really hope that in the future they clear rooms when the panels end so that people that are just sitting there to have a place to sit don’t take up spots from people that actually want to see the panel.

But on the plus side organization-wise, the Guidebook app was a godsend. The usual delays and moves that plagued Otakons in the past were really easy to plan around this time when they’re pushed directly to your phone ahead of time.

Oh hey, I just said Avatar didn’t I?

One of the most common questions that I was asked this weekend was “Why do you keep twittering every time you see a white person cosplaying as Korra?” Well, it’s complicated. The short answer is “lol social justice warriors lol”.

For anyone that doesn’t know, the production of the live-action movie of Avatar: The Last Airbender got a lot of very much justified criticism for the fact that they cast white people in all the main roles. It’s dumb from a verisimilitude sense (why are these Chinese monks all white people?) and from a legit social justice angle (despite being this being perfect vessel to help with the underrepresentation of Asian actors in Hollywood movies, they still use white people.)

My general interpretation of things was that when this genuine activism reached Tumblr, it turned to shit when social justice sallies (not social justice activists!) really took to The Legend of Korra to the point where I’ve found at least three separate blogs on Tumblr dedicated solely to policing and bullying people over how they interact with the show. When I say “social justice sallies”, I mean people that have appropriated social justice concepts like feminism or anti-racism in order to use them in petty, bad faith, and generally harmful ways. In the context of Avatar/Korra, the weapon of choice was to claim that anything that you didn’t like was racist, with the worst offense being anything that made Korra “white”. I put “white” in quotes because that term is completely nebulous. Not in the “race as a social construct” way, but in the “constantly moving the goalposts so I can be right and you can be wrong and btw kill yourself.”

This causes sightings of not-sufficiently-dark Korras to get infinity reblogs in RAEG. So my counts of white versus non-white Korras was my way of chuckling at this inanity, with added jabs at the appropriation of things like trigger warnings or PTSD (and my lack of photos to prevent the cosplayers from potentially getting bullied). The most inane aspect of this is that in general, any non-Japanese person doing anime cosplay is going to be pretended to be someone of another race, and hell many Japanese cosplayers are also going to pretend to be someone of another race. All those white Sailor Moons or Japanese Marios! But for some reason Korra is this unforgivable offense.

Next, some non-inane thoughts on the non-inane cosplay that I observed there.

  • The sex ratio appeared to me to be wayyyyyyyyyyyy skewed towards the female side. I think there was a single man at the DRRRRRRR photoshoot. All the other male characters were portrayed by women. Even ostensibly male franchises like Mass Effect were made up predominantly of women.
  • I noticed maybe like, three Hetalia cosplayers. Thankfully.
  • Looks like nobody cares about Naruto, Evangelion, DBZ, or Bleach any more.
  • I counted exactly two male Lokis. I lost count of the female Lokis. There were maybe 3 male Captain Americas. I lost count of the female Captain Americas. I counted maybe one Iron Man. I lost count of the Iron Women. (I was going to say “Iron Ladies”, but there were no Margaret Thatcher cosplayers despite the Olympics also beginning.)
  • I think the most common cosplays were Homestuck, Adventure Time, Avatar/Korra, and Avengers. Guess what all of these have in common.
  • With the increase in those Chinese bootleg costume sites, I feel like I saw both way more cosplay than usual, way higher quality costumes than usual, and way more homogenous choices of franchise to cosplay.
  • After waiting on lines, looking at cosplay, and vomitting, the final thing that I spent a decent portion of time at Otokon doing was perusing the dealer room.

    I spent zero dollars. I really wanted to buy some Muv-Luv Senjutsuki models/figures, but I didn’t see any. Instead, it felt like almost every booth sold the same naked Holo wallscroll, same giant-sword-and-giant-tits High School of the Dead wallscroll (which I feel like I always see in any of those “my otaku room” pictures”), same Cat Planet Cuties wallscroll, same bootleg-looking Vocaloid t-shirts, same Oreimo hump pillow, and same assortment of trading figure packs. I keep wanting for something interesting to catch my eye, but every booth just sells the same stuff that I could’ve bought at any time from CD Japan or YesAsia or whatever if I actually liked those series.

    That said, if I ever wanted to start collecting terrible VHS dubs of terrible anime (being totally non-sarcastic here!) I would sooooo raid those few vendors that had those shelves of full of 5 for $10 copies of Baoh and Harmageddon. (But sadly zero copies of the magical negro arc of Marmalade Boy.)

    And with that, BARF. Still not over this con flu…

    (PS: for the love of God, PLEASE get some new jokes/references/memes in your AMVs/parodies/panels. A lot of the audience wasn’t even born when Evangelion/DBZ/Sailor Moon/Tenchi Muyo/Detective Conan first aired, and soon there will be people that weren’t even born when Zero Wing was a meme.

    Actually, scratch that. Please, no more memes in your videos, period.)

    Also, don’t lie. You totally answered one of those craigslist personals. And as of this writing, there actually was one w4m missed connection!

    (The rest of our pictures are here.)

    About jpmeyer

    Every once and a while, I'll write something about those Japanese porno Pokemans cartoons that are STRAIGHT FROM JAPAN but AREN'T KIDS' STUFF. Just not today.
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    12 Responses to otakon 2012 postmortem, or; on white korras

    1. omo says:

      It’s pretty rare to see someone go down from con aids while AT THE CON. I hope it wasn’t the long friday and high temperature, oh wait.

      I also lawled when you started to count brown korras as opposed to white/asian.

      There were some pretty interesting stuff sold at the dealer’s room but you have to really stop and look. I picked this up [watch wordpress mark this as spam now lol]
      for $30!

    2. Miken says:

      Of line waiting I can understand the giant hassle — I had to hold a place in line for a friend for the autograph line for Jason David Frank. Granted — the man’s awesome, but I think my sleep deprivation and bad knees took some of the fun away from the whole ordeal.

      The number of Loki sightings compared to everyone else was highly unbalanced (though at least the quality was on the higher side on average). I was happy to find two kid!Loki cosplayers for the current run in Journey Into Mystery — one of each gender (bringing to total sighted male Lokis to 3). There was also a female cosplaying Tony Stark who threw me for a giant loop when she started talking. I should be used to this by now, but I have to give credit where credit is due — the makeup job was really good and I totally didn’t know she was crossplaying till then. On the topic of Stark — I think I saw maybe one or two guys in an Iron Man suit type getup and around 6-7 girls but for “Genius Playboy Philanthropist” it was all guys barring the above case.

      The lack of Hetalia cosplayers was a godsend — Anime Boston was probably 50% Hetalia, 20% Madoka Magica, 20% Homestuck, 10% everyone else, this worked out pretty well.

      • jpmeyer says:

        IIRC the one Iron Man that I saw was in the casual wear with the blue light shining through his t-shirt. Most of the Iron Women were more of the burlesque variety.

        Lots of the women doing non-Loki Avengers cosplay were doing burlesque costumes, come to think of it.

    3. Mandoric says:

      More US merch means better prices, fewer doomed-from-the-start retailers, and the ability to respond to market research rather than shoveling up whatever one-of-a-kinds wash up at the Torrance Book-Off. Sure, it’s boring to not have a treasure trove of wacky shit, but at least you can get Bluefin to pay shipping on that foot-tall robot or Hen Da Ne to take responsibility for your creepy tastes at customs.

      I do wish we could get some WonFes-style action going in artist’s alleys to balance it out, but AAs in general are way too polarized between unsellable ego projects and haberdashers riding their silly, barely-relevant gimmicks long after they should have been kicked over to vendors b/c sales volume and then to the curb b/c rights issues.

      • Hinano says:

        yea most artist alley were like buttons or original or kuroshitsuji/madoka stuff. the button makers were also selling like faces like😄 and ^_^ on their buttons so yea so much for any effort

      • jpmeyer says:

        Artist alleys are always in a weird place with me. They’re for people selling small volumes of fanart. If you’re above that volume, you should be in the dealer room. But if you’re above that volume you start running afoul of bootlegging. So ultimately they should be for people that won’t sell much (either because of lack of interest or lack of quality), but then you need to ask what’s the point of having a place full of stuff that nobody cares about.

      • omo says:

        T how I feel about AA too. I mean okay, fanart is one thing, but I wish it gets a little less derivative than “put popular characters’ meme on button/print/patch/etc = profit!” If the con fanart sales scene evolves beyond this then maybe they’re no different than Hen Da Ne really.

        The one booth selling prints and wallscrolls from pixiv…now that one I’m kind of like “whaaa”

      • Hinano says:

        yea that pissed me off. at first i was like ooh pretty but then I heard the girl say “oh no we didn’t draw this” and im like wtf!? =_= the nerve of some people honestly

    4. kakoishii says:

      So no one yelled at you for taking pictures in the dealers room? I took a picture in the dealers room once at tekkoshocon and got the nastiest looks from some of the vendors and one with the gull to tell me to stop taking pictures. I so don’t miss going cons, those lines, those smelly otaku, those obnoxious fantards, I don’t know how you could stand it.

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