The Cosplay Creep, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo
So, was that creep really a creep? I tracked down one of the very cosplayers who appeared in my video to find out. Rian, AKA the femme!Loki, was kind enough to answer some of my questions and shed light on the issue. Also included: more information on why this is important and tips on how to stay safe at conventions!
A few days ago, I re-posted clips from my “Cosplay, Creeps and You” video on Tumblr (original video can be found on YouTube here). The response was huge: 80,000 notes and counting! I’ve been floored by the amount of attention my video received; I never ever expected so many reblogs, comments and sheer support. I’m glad that folks are coming together to help their fellow costumers and feel more encouraged to speak up or take action if they feel threatened at a convention!
Not all the attention was positive, however. Some comments defended Greg the “creep” and stated that his actions were excusable because of his reputation as a comedian. “He knows many of them [the cosplayers] personally. He gets permission to interview them beforehand. They’re aware of the comments he’ll make, that they’re usually off-color, and totally insincere,” wrote one Tumblr user. Curious, I tracked down one of the very cosplayers in Greg’s original video. Rian, AKA the femme!Loki to whom Greg joked about having an erection in his pocket, was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
M: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me! So, I want to hear you about your experience with that infamous interview. Tons of questions have been asked about Greg and his practices at conventions, but the most frequently asked is this: when he approached you, did he ask for your age before beginning? Did he ask your explicit permission to publish you on his channel or did you sign some sort of release?
R: No, to both questions. Didn’t sign a release and he didn’t ask my age/consent. He simply asked if I would like to interview for YouTube. That’s why when I saw it [the video he ultimately posted] I was extremely surprised to discover he was so renowned on YouTube. I had no idea I was going to be represented in the light that I was on his channel. I was disappointed about what he chose to use in the video.
M: Did he give you any indication that the interview would be a “joke” and might include sexual references?
R: No. He just asked if he could interview me for a video on YouTube. He also didn’t tell me what channel or anything until I asked him where I could find it. The whole interview was very uncomfortable actually. He cut a lot out because I think my reaction was negative. He just stressed that he wanted to give me air time. I didn’t want to be rude so I answered any questions he asked and brushed off the inappropriate ones and thought that making a joke of it would lighten the situation. I guess that is how I react to things that make me uncomfortable.
M: That’s actually a pretty normal reaction. Do you remember anything that he cut or what negative reactions you had? I know it was a while ago so I understand if you don’t recall.
R: Some things. Not a lot considering I did a couple interviews and so many people wanted to talk. Mostly compliments and such, introducing me to his microphone chef, saying how great my costume is, asking how I made it, etc. Though I feel like he used it to take away from what he was going to actually use in the video. 60% of the questions were appropriate, but %100 of what he used was not… So naturally when I saw it I was really surprised and a bit disappointed. But as far as specifics of what he said I can’t say for positive. He did take full body shots and things of my costume. None of my reactions were drastically negative, mostly brushing it off. Uncomfortable “ums” and giggles and shifty eyes. Deflating an uncomfortable situation is what I was trying to do. I also have modeled before so I was somewhat used to the negative attention and have handled things like this before.
M: It almost sounds like he tricked you: started the interview one way, then asked and eventually published the inappropriate questions. Is that more or less accurate?
R: Tricked wouldn’t be the word I would use, maybe manipulated the interview to seem one way but then used it in a different way. I guess some people would use trick. But I guess that’s just me making light of the situation again. Just by the questions he was asking I thought the interview would be more about cosplay, less about my sex life is what I’m trying to get at. The erection and bondage talk was definitely the highlight of uncomfortable points.
M: Okay! Thanks for clarifying. Out of curiosity, would you interview with this channel again or advise others to do so?
R: Honestly after seeing all of his videos about “hot cosplay girls” and what he chose to use from our interview I probably wouldn’t. I would definitely warn people before interviewing with him. If I ever did agree to interview with him again I would let him know that anything that can be viewed as inappropriate or distasteful I would simply refuse to answer. I just felt like I was put on the spot in a negative way… And I was definitely not prepared for it. I wasn’t wearing a particularly revealing costume either, no cleavage was showing, no midriff, the only thing that was showing skin were my shorts. Of all the girls at the con wearing revealing clothes/costumes I thought mine was definitely on the less revealing side. Definitely didn’t think I would’ve been asked those types of questions. I haven’t been asked such questions in any other interview before or since.
M: I thought your costume was awesome (I love Loki!) and it made me really sad to see that all he could focus on, at least in what he published, was a perverted sense of humor. Thank you so much for answering all my questions. Is there anything else you want to share?
R: Thank you! I worked hard on it. It was unfortunate that all he and all his viewers saw was some uncomfortable Q&A. It’s really not a problem. I really appreciate you getting my take on it, because when I saw it I just brushed it off again but it never really sat well with me. I think you bring up valid points and are extremely brave for speaking your mind so freely. Just wish that his video didn’t reflect so negatively on me, considering I work a professional job and teach at a high school. I would be extremely embarrassed if the students I teach have watched this or will watch it. I just see a lot of regret with this video.
M: Thank you for the support, I appreciate that. Is there somewhere people can see your cosplays or a particular site I should link to credit you?
R: This next con, Comikaze in November, I will be Russel (from the Pixar movie Up) and the con after that I will be a League of Legends character. I will also be at SDCC 2014. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Greg, the mind behind Mediocre Films, is definitely a character. Many who commented on my cosplay creeps video failed to realize that I know he’s a comedian (in fact a fairly well-established one in the YouTube community) and not only married, but married to Kim Evey— co-producer of Geek & Sundry. Greg also directs The Guild and is apparently friends with a few of the costumers he interviews, like Jessica Nigri. Many of his videos are, in fact, harmless and light-hearted. He’s even known for being a friendly individual. I did plenty of research before recording my video.
Unfortunately for him, his status does not excuse his behavior. While he can be genuinely funny, I do not find his series of videos with cosplayers at conventions humorous. When his material crosses into territory that would be considered sexual harassment under any other circumstances, it is no longer comedy or satire. I understand that tastes are different and everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, but I challenge Greg to walk up to Marina Abramović or Daniel Radcliffe— artists who have not just appeared in “skimpy” clothing but completely nude for public performances— and attempt similar “humor.” The excuse of comedic value does not work.
Also, at no point does he suggest that he’s making fun of actual creepers; in fact, his behavior groups him with them. It’s true that he pushes the envelope for laughs, but he’s achieving those laughs by intentionally making others as uncomfortable as possible. This is an act that he does with everyone, but in this case pushes it much too far. He’s known for asking strangers for interviews and then bopping them in the face with a microphone or doing something unexpected because it’s “funny,” and it’s obvious from Rian’s account that the cosplayers he interviews aren’t briefed about the sexual nature of his questions beforehand. The joke is in the surprise. While it’s true that no one is obligated to complete an interview with someone like Greg (though it is admittedly very difficult to turn away when you feel pressure on camera), the bottom line is that no one should have to face such a tasteless situation in the first place.
Please note: I am not picking on Greg. All I’ve done is share his own work across different platforms to highlight a bigger problem. There are, of course, far more offensive creeps than he– for example, the AX attendee who secretly videotaped women’s cleavage and who currently faces legal reprecussions. In order to avoid singling out one man further, I’ll direct you to this YouTube search for “comic con girls.” There you’ll find a whole slew of cosplay creeps from a variety of different channels. Be extra careful when agreeing to interviews!A few other notes:
- Creeps come in all forms. I’ve gotten plenty of messages from men stating they’d faced similar scenarios or worse from handsy con-goers. Women can also harass women, and men can act inappropriately toward men. There are guys who dress up as half-naked, oiled-up Spartans from 300 and there are girls who dress completely covered up in elaborate Victorian garb… and unfortunately, both parties are susceptible. People can be cruel.
- Our voices do make a difference. The “cosplay is not consent” movement was prompted after more and more costumers decided to speak up and recount their horror stories. As a result, some conventions have taken to revising their harassment policies to more specifically outline what is not tolerated, who you can call, which safe spaces you can report to as an attendee and the consequences in store for offenders. Even if the convention you are attending does not have specific regulations in place, there are steps you can take that supersede even con security, as explained by the head of security for one of the largest anime cons in the midwest. The more we stand up to this kind of behavior, the more help we get!
If you want even more information on this subject, check out the step-by-step guide on how to report harassment at a convention or browse through The Mary Sue’s numerous pieces on the matter. Above all, I want my fellow fans to have fun… but I want them to be safe, too!