Maybe You Should Refuse That Free Hug…

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If you’ve ever suddenly been offered a hug by a stranger while you’re cosplaying, your first reaction is typically “Su..err..wait a..umm, maybe?” You might do it because you genuinely feel honored that someone must like your cosplay. You might do it just to get it over with. Hell, you might love hugs.

But at this year’s Anime Expo, a few hug requests seemingly allowed a group of GoPro-equipped guys to take advantage of female cosplayers.

A self-described stunt/action team called EMC Monkeys wandered around Anime Expo, walking up to unsuspecting female cosplayers, asking for a hug while wearing a chest-mounted GoPro. After AX was over, they compiled the footage into a montage called “GoProHugs: ANIME EXPO ’13” and uploaded it to their YouTube channel. You can see the screencap up top from their Instagram advertising it (I edited out the cosplayer’s chest).

After a few cosplayers reported this to the staff of AX (one of whom was under 18), the AX staff quickly responded with the statement below:

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EMC Monkeys took the video down, and attempted to apologize using the infamous “half-apology” on their Facebook page. They apologize, but then attempt to explain that the camera really wasn’t hidden, that they yelled “GoPro hug!” as they reached out for a hug, and then pointed out the camera. They even say they aren’t sure if that’s legitimate consent or not.

If they weren’t sure before, I think the Internet cleared that up for them quickly.

A couple other thoughts… Their version of the story runs counter to the stories of several cosplayers who said they never had the GoPro pointed out until after the hug. While allegedly only one cosplayer complained to them, that doesn’t mean that many more weren’t offended. There’s a good chance that many of them were so surprised that they didn’t know what to say. Some people will just say “OK” but are actually offended. They just don’t want to cause a scene in a huge venue.

Also, in their apology they said “it was about hugging not just boobs”. The “#boobs” tag used in their Instagram post seems to run counter to that statement.

Incidents like this make cosplayers feel less safe enjoying their hobby. As someone that likes to shoot pictures and video at cons, it makes it more difficult to ask for a photo when people make bad decisions that make all photographers look like perverts.

Cosplayers should be able to feel comfortable at a convention without having to worry about things like this. But I guess the same rules always apply–have a handler nearby, don’t do anything you aren’t completely comfortable doing, etc…

Now even though something like this gets a ton of attention, 99.999% of the environment at a con is about friends, fun, and showing off your skills. Most attendees are amazing people that love the art, cosplay, and fans that make these events possible.

While I question the sincerity of their apology, I’m sure the EMC Monkeys have walked away from this incident with some perspective. They obviously have a passion for art, video games, and action movies. In this instance let’s hope they just made a poor decision that they won’t make again. Of course, the Internet Hate Machine can fuel the fire on both ends, from people who are offended to people that say “get over it”.

What do you think?

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