NYCC: protection and safety

By Robert “Rob Base” Greenwood

I never thought in a million years I’d have to write a post about education of safety for Comic Con attendees. Yet, unfortunately, here I am sitting on a crowded Brooklyn bound G train doing just that.

As of late, a lot of sexual harassment claims are being reported from Comic Cons around the US. One claim was of a man who strapped a Hero 2 (GoPro) camera to his chest and filmed himself hugging female Cosplayers.

Lets, first off, talk about something everyone needs to be clear and up front about. Please, please, I beg of you, DO NOT HUG STRANGERS! I don’t care if the sign they are carrying says free hugs or not.  Keep your body to yourself and/or people you know and feel safe around. The “free hug” signs are there to have strangers try to touch others, this is not safe.

Unwanted attention can be hard to avoid at the larger Cons like SDCC and NYCC, which are hugely packed and crowded. Also, as of late, not all attendees are actual fans of comics and pop culture. Some people (sad but true) treat it like a freak show.

People use the Con to film and ridicule our collective fan base and plaster it all over the internet for the non-enlightened to laugh and mock at. Do not engage in any conversations with people who may seem off, not dressed for the con, or are very rude and aggressive.

Unfortunately, profiling the “non-geeks” seems wrong and being a sub-culture who was mocked for being different, we really don’t want to profile the fan from the gawkers. Yet, in the end, safety comes first! Always remember that, more than likely, they will treat our sub-culture as a joke and mock or exploit you.

It’s very hard to expect help from volunteers and/or convention staff. They are only there to corral the huddled masses or if you are lost and need direction or see if you have badges. Instead of depending on staff, seek out uniformed police.

Booth people and Cosplayers, please try your best not to be left alone, and, if at all possible, try to travel with friends.  If you are at your booth or on the show floor, have a friend or fellow Cosplayer with you. It sounds scary (and perhaps a bit idiotic) but, in the end, humans in small or large groups aren’t always on their best behavior.

These seem like complex and unnecessary measures and maybe I am being the “scared parent,” but I have heard too many horror stories at the big cons and have seen too many jerks make wrong and unprofessional comments.

Be it GenCon’s Nazi paraphernalia or underwear that have printed phrases like “nothing wrong with a little sexual harassment” or idiots trying to take up skirt shots on escalators.

Regardless of occasional incidents, Comic Cons are really awesome, fun and downright enjoyable. Just take some precautions from this cynical old school New Yorker .

Agree or disagree? let me know, follow me on Twitter @AltMindz .