It’s not often I get to a Con and have full freedom to roam.
But heading to Star wars celebration Europe on Saturday two things struck me. One was the sheer SIZE of the booth that I was not actually stuck to – and the work that had gone into making the company’s presence actually happen – but the second was something about the Con itself.
Inclusion is a geek grail; it’s an ideal that we raise to the light and we wish would happen, and it’s also (sadly) often the thing that eludes us. There are those events that go to great effort to welcome to people and to make them feel at home, to ensure that environments are safe and wanker-free, and long may they continue.
But SWCE had done all that, and made it look effortless – apparently The Force is with them.
There were cosplayers of every kind, no barriers raised by age, by gender, by sexuality, by wealth, or by anything else. Signs stated very strongly the ‘Cosplay is Not Consent’ motto – but that boundary seemed to be taken as read. There was humour, there was appreciation, and that’s all good – but nowhere did I see a lack of respect.
One of my colleagues commented, on Saturday morning, that she’d seen ‘no Slave Leias’ – (in fact, I did see one later, but that was a fella) – through she had seen a dozen women, from little ones to big ones, all costumed as Rey. And I thought – we’ve done it. This is what a Con should get right – the freedom to Cosplay whomever the fuck you choose. (And I have no problem with Slave Leias, just for the record, my only problem comes when that’s ALL a girl (or a boy) is allowed to be, if that makes sense? Anyone is allowed to go to a Con in a bikini and be hassle-free and happy, but they should also have a choice!)
As Star Wars proves that it has the sheer power to break boundaries and feature a strong female lead, a black stormtrooper, a gay pilot (oh you know they have to), the fact that we can get this right can blaze the way for the rest of fandom to follow. Everyone should have a hero.
SWCE showed me – that you really can be anything you want. And it’s okay.