POPULAR COSTUME SELLER GOES ANTI-SEMITIC

HOW CAN WE KEEP COSPLAY SAFE?

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AMBER LOVE 06-OCT-2016 This isn’t a going to be a personal thrashing of a man that the cosplay community has been talking about all week. Jamin Fite is dead wrong for saying he only “shared videos” of Holocaust deniers, but thinks he doesn’t deserve backlash and consequences. Of course sharing in and of itself is not an endorsement, but his own actual words are. On his Facebook, he continued to argue that “science” and alleged eyewitnesses made the theory plausible that the Holocaust didn’t happen. His non-apology saying all he wanted was a debate contradicts all his previous posts and comments about the videos.

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FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT BY BILL WATTERS

If you aren’t involved in the cosplay world, especially surrounding STAR WARS, you have no idea who this is or what’s going on. I’m sorry, but I have to spell this out. He’s one of the most popular builders and sellers of the Slave Leia bikini with the business name, “Leia’s Metal Bikini.” Talent will not surpass the audacity and flagrant bigotry shown publicly this week. Thankfully, I don’t think I’ve had any personal connection to this guy since MySpace.

I didn’t get invested in the situation until now for a couple of reasons: 1. my own sanity. 2. I don’t have a dog in this fight as I’m not a Leia cosplayer. 3. I sat back to see the reaction that my disenfranchised friends had before putting my own words on the matter. AmberUnmasked contributor The Geeky Redhead was the first person I saw posting about this; she’s also a Jewish woman. She’s spent the last few days pleading with people on her friends list to pick a side: her or Jamin, because she doesn’t want mutual friends with him.

To be brief, I cannot stand to see one of my best friends in this much pain.

ALTERNATIVE SUPPLIERS OF LEIA’S BIKINI:

There are other vendors who make Leia’s iconic outfit from RETURN OF THE JEDI. I never owned one so I can’t endorse quality or customer service:

  • Dragonfyre Designs by Mike Schiffbauer – though he closed his shop, Mike has some costume pieces in stock and is the most reputable supplier I know for this outfit.
  • Amber Brite decided to start making metal bikinis and will donate a portion of sales to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO IMPROVE THE COSPLAY COMMUNITY:

I’ve never been to SDCC but I’ve seen a thousand photos of the epic Leia photoshoot around the Jabba the Hut replica. They do it every year. The character in that state of reference is important to people for different reasons. While I agree, it is a completely gratuitous and stupid outfit, it served the purpose of a woman being captured as a slave and managing to kill her abuser.

People have tried to defend some of the problems in cosplay by comparing it to historical reenacters. Cosplay is almost always fictional characters. War reenacters already have a convenient disguise for built-in bigotry whether it’s the Civil War or WWII. I question the people who love to be the bad guys in historical reenactments. Those aren’t acting jobs. They do it because they want to live that way for X amount of days for an event and be fully immersed. It’s not the same as cosplay; similarities end at the premise of donning a costume.

Cosplayers are also not as dumb as people like to think we are: We know Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, and GI Joe’s COBRA are villains and racists who blow up entire civilizations. The way STAR WARS was crafted, it’s slightly more subtle with the designs of the imperial officers than Marvel’s approach to Hydra. Not by much, I realize, but that’s something. A lot of the discomfort of the imagery is off-set by how much charity work groups like the 501st and The Finest do. Neither Marvel nor DC cosplay have a big umbrella group like those. There are small regional groups that do charity work like East Coast Avengers and Heroes Alliance.

In my feeds, I saw a lot of arguing about whether it’s appropriate for cosplayers to dress as Red Skull or other clearly Third Reich-inspired characters from manga and games. People like to have their picture taken – that’s part of costuming and theatrics. They like to plan hero v. villain photoshoots. So there are some valid reasons for wanting to do that at a comic con. Yet, as we saw with the twisted tale of Captain America saying, “Hail Hydra,” at the end of a comic, people are profoundly and deeply wounded by the imagery. The Joker is as vile as they come, but not deemed racist so people don’t seem to consider not dressing as him; “he hates everyone HA HA HA.” People in costume want to be popular and they will pick characters that will get them photographed.

IDEAS FOR IMPROVING COSPLAY MORALE:

  • Respect the rules of the convention/event organizer; all of them have dress codes these days.
  • Respect the photoshoot organizers; if they request not to have imagery of a certain type, there has to be a reason.
  • If you built a controversial costume and want to show it off, do a private photoshoot and share the pictures if you can’t wear it to an event.
  • Save the outfit for an off-site gathering like cosplay cruises or after parties where it may be allowed.
  • If you don’t make your own outfits, use ethical vendors.
  • If you absolutely cannot convince a group to exclude a particular character that upsets you, try setting up your own photoshoots; explaining why you’re doing so to your friends will show you that you have support out there.

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