I don’t really have time or interest to attend local conventions. The biggest reason by far is that the overall offering within the programmes rarely have anything worth watching, and often are incredibly low in quality. Hell, even very specific programmes have been incredibly boring and misinformed to the point of being almost insulting. However, seems like I a new reason to add to the list; moral outrage for nothing.
When you think of Finland, one thing you might recognize as part of the cultural standard is how we bathe in sauna. Butt naked, sometimes with complete strangers and we whack each other with tree branches. To me, how we deal with sexual matters has been very reasonable. Nakedness in itself has not been anything to be ashamed of or to get mad about. Sea, river and lake beaches are full of people in bikinis and whatnot, sometimes topless. Doesn’t matter if its winter or summer, we still go for a swim.
I never saw anyone to have any problems with the human outside what we call flower headdress ladies, i.e. people who spread their own moral views to others in order to maintain certain level of moral cleanliness and how to live, often criticising erotica, pornography, alcohol use, smoking, dating, pre-marital sex and all kinds of musics.
When otaku sub-culture gained popularity across the globe, one of the first comics that was published here in this wake was Dragon Ball. However, in 2003 some parents and Korteniemi-Poikela of Family Federation were indignant of the rowdy humour it had. The aforementioned resented the way Master Roshi was portrayed as a pervert and how, and I quote “little girls are the object of men’s desire, who are taught to use their sexuality for their advantage,” essentially calling it as portrayal of pedophilia. Karhumäki compared the treatment of female characters in Dragon Ball to enjo kousai, compensated dating, a thing who has read Dragon Ball or knows even a little bit about it knows that its slightly racy humour is far from enjo kousai.
In reality, very few parents complained. In truth, only a very marginal amount of loud flower headdress ladies got their shit tight because something they didn’t like was sold on comic stands. Because of this, Dragon Ball was slated R-13 after the first few books, and re-releases would have censored panels.
As such, you can imagine how mad the fans were. For some years afterwards, there was a stigma that all Japanese material was perverted, and it didn’t help that series like Urotsukidouji, Adventure Kid, Devilman OVA were sold next to children’s cartoons in the same rack. People in charge had no idea what they had in their hands and blamed the products rather than the parents who bought these cassettes to their children.
It took some time for the otaku sub-culture to become slightly more mature than it was, and the current base here seems to handle most things with care and with taste. While some bad habits have been imported from elsewhere, there has been an overall quality on how things have been treated, and in a lot of ways the sub-cultured has blossomed and embraced its own oddities. After Dragon Ball we haven’t had any real debacle over anything, even comics have stayed uncensored, gore and all, and nobody has complained.
That was until last weekend in Yukicon Finland, where a cosplayer was asked to change clothes. There is a large post about the subject in Finnish in Facebook (archived) from where it has spread from. Do check the link for the cosplayer, if not for nothing else. The cosplayer had put on the outfit of Ryuko Matoi of Kill la Kill fame, which shows less skin that your normal bikini cosplay we see quite frequently.
The cosplayer had made certain that her own breasts would now show with the underboob and had opted to create relatively impressive fakes with foam and fabric. I’m not going to comment on the quality, because I am known to be less than nice to cosplayers when it comes to the quality of the outfit. Anyway, according to the cosplayer herself, the only people who threw glaring gazes at her and her fakes knockers was the security guard who would issue the outfit change. The cosplayer asked if she could take pictures of the outfit, and as she was outside in the freezing cold, another security guard demanded the outfit change as well.
The reason for the demand was that the convention was family friendly. Do note that their site especially mentioned the following;
Yukicon is mainly intended for teens and young adults but game and anime fans of all ages are welcome.
Note the point mainly intended for teens and young adults. If you intend to bring your small child to a convention that has a specifically targeted audience, you should be expecting content that is relevant for that age group, and the same applies to the event holders.
Is Ryuko’s outfit sexy? Yes. Is it anything out of ordinary? No, you see worse stuff on day time television on the streets, especially during summer. These conventions rarely have children under ten, and anyone older and into the sub-culture has seen worse and actively search for smut. These conventions have bikini laden characters cosplaying everywhere, like Black Rock Shooter, who actually has a more revealing clothing. Then you have the sales stands, where pornography is sold openly to minors, a thing that is counted as sexually assaulting a minor, and skimpy figures with barely nothing on are sold on the tables alongside Osakan love-me pillows i.e. dakimakuras.
The main reason why I’m writing this is because this comes from within the sub-culture. Thus far the sub-culture has managed to be open and admired anyone with enough guts to pull an outfit like this off. Sexuality was not repressed, and never was it sexualised as such. By that I mean how a person looks sexy with her look, just like person with an admirable body with the right clothing, but not sexualised as in Come and fuck me right here. That takes an effort from the wearer and the watcher, and I have seen this action taking place only in mutual fashion and extremely rare outside after parties. Seeing how the cosplayer felt confident, extremely so, about herself with the outfit, the only person who saw problems with the outfit were those who sexualised her themselves, i.e. the security guards, and that’s sad as hell.
Censorship works best when it comes from the inside, and when people begin to silence and limit each other. Then, whoever is in the power, only needs to sit back and let the fruits ripen. Ryuko Matoi’s character design is bold without a doubt, but it has nothing that wouldn’t fly in a family friendly convention about Japanese culture. Rather, a confident Ryuko could work wonderfully as a positive model in few ways.
Hell, the series makes fun of this sort of stupidly puritanical views to boot.
Really, their argument was what Helen Lovejoy is famous for saying.
In a convention specifically aimed at a teen and young adult audience? Give me a break
I thought we had handled this matter with the Dragon Ball censorship case, but history does indeed rhyme. I hope this will be the sole case, and that the organisers will see into this matter deeper and do the right thing. They’ve already lost a potential customer, but just like any service provider, they can always win me back. I doubt they will issue an open apology or even recognize the whole thing.
If we start to go the way of Sweden and Germany, I will cosplay as Hentai Kamen sometime and see if I can cause the security to force me cover myself up. Hell, I’ll ask somebody to wear Blue Snow outfit with me and spread smutty pictures around while laughing like maniacs.