So, Kotaku posted an article, The Creepiest Things People Have Said To Cosplayers. As usual, the comments section is a mixed bag. As you would expect from this kind of article, the responses vary from "They deserve it for being scantily clad at a con." to "They are portraying a character and deserve to be treated with respect." to "Hahahaha - geeks are creepy!".
This topic always generates heated discussion, and it's almost a guaranteed click generator. It also raises my ire something fierce. WHY, might you ask? Well, even if you don't want to know, I'm going to tell you. This discussion and others like it are prime examples of what we, as a people and culture, have lost:
It is becoming more and more socially acceptable to treat others with a total lack of respect and dignity.
People often say, "Respect isn't given, it's earned." or some other variation of that phrase. But, I always interpreted that as a view of a leadership chain. To my dismay, as I grew older, I began to see society pervert this to refer to EVERYONE, not just supervisors, managers or other leadership types. As I grew and matured, I just assumed that it was natural to respect our fellows; to treat others as I want to be treated. It just feels like, as a whole, that we are headed in the complete opposite direction as a society.
Minute by minute, you can see examples of how poorly we treat each other, and it's everywhere. Internet, Television, Radio, Newspapers. Movies. Social Media in general has built its' fortunes on the backs of people treating each other horribly. Even after we break off into our societal groups or cliques, we find ways to insult those who share our interests and hobbies. Even when we at our MOST similar, our most alike, we STILL manage to alienate and debase our kin.
As gamers, we see it particularly in our online gaming communities. The common joke is that it's Xbox Live, but anyone who's played an MMO, MOBA or other online game knows this is certainly a widespread issue. Between racial slurs, name-calling or other abusive behavior, it's a wonder many of us bother to get online with other people at all. Of course, we all have our friend lists of people we KNOW we can work together with, but it seems like the longer this trend continues, the more and more difficult it becomes to try to manage or work around. But why should we have to work around it at all?
Conventions and Cosplay are another example. When someone puts in the time and effort to make themselves into a real-life version of some of our favorite characters, it's a gift to the community; a person put their blood, sweat, tears and in some cases, dignity out there for the love of their hobby and the character they portray. In turn, our community responds as you would expect. For every 10 people that are respectful, there are another 3-5 that treat the cosplayer like they are an object or worse.
Are there any easy answers? Well, depending on your opinion, yes. We can remember that everyone is a human being, with their own set of problems, foibles and loves. We can take a moment before typing in that insulting, degrading comment and put ourselves in the other person's shoes. To some, these things are easy to do. To others, those things may be the hardest things. It falls to us to try to be better as a whole, to attempt to make the change in ourselves that we wish we could see in others. Lead by example, right?
I am as guilty as anyone else, I can admit that. However, I want to be better. I want US to be better. Being better requires effort, and I only hope we have it within ourselves, as a community, to put forth that effort. I mean, this is a bit of a rant, and I know that for as negative and degrading as we can be, we can also be accepting and supporting. I simply hope that we can shift, over time, to favor the positive over the negative.
Let the flood of TL;DR commence! :)