News and Commentary

Portland Comic Con Bans ‘Nazi’ Cosplay – Including Red Skull And Hydra Costumes

Rose City Comic Con in Portland, Oregon, says America has too many Nazis, so they’re banning anyone in a Nazi costume from their event – even if that person is dressed as a fake Nazi from a comic book or movie.

That includes anyone dressed as Marvel villian Red Skull or anyone donning the attire of Marvel’s dastardly supervillian network, Hydra. In fact, those two costumes were listed by name as banned from Rose City’s convention floor – because they’re just too triggering for progressives who might be hanging out amidst the tee shirt sellers and autograph booths.

Rose City Comic Con just happened – and drew around 30,000 fans – but the organizers are getting the jump on next year after they say they were inundated with cosplayers in Nazi and Nazi-reminiscent costumes, and it necessitated a change.

This year’s guidelines read:

“Hateful symbols aren’t welcome at Rose City Comic Con. Historical costumes can be great, but reminders of unspeakable atrocities are not appropriate.”

Next years guidelines were updated to reflect the problem.

Hateful symbols aren’t welcome at Rose City Comic Con. Historical costumes can be great, but reminders of unspeakable atrocities are not appropriate – this goes for Old School Hydra and Red Skull or any other Nazis from entertainment properties. Those figures, while comic-related, are still very much Nazis. As a result, they are 100% banned, always. This includes any sort of “ironic” or satirical costumes that re-appropriate Nazi paraphernalia or gear.

After perusing cosplay photos from Rose City’s event a couple of weeks ago, it’s not immediately evident that they were overrun with Nazis. In fact, in terms of fashion faux pas, Rose City doesn’t seem that different from every other Comic Con: mostly good stuff, a few people who could stand to use a few pounds squeezed into Spandex initards and skimpy Harley Quinn lingerie, and about ten thousand people dressed as Deadpool.

(It’s okay, guys. I’m a cosplayer.)

But, there’s always a possibility that a Nazi will show up out of left field; previous Furry and Brony events have had trouble with Nazi Furries and Nazi My Little Pony fans, respectively, and a handful of comic con attendees are always celebrating that one time per year that they leave the house, so their social skills and sense of humor may not always be well-refined.

But it’s hard to believe that there were so many Nazis, Rose City had to ban everyone from wearing anything that even remotely resembled, or called to mind, the Third Reich.

There are also a few problems with a restriction of this kind. Cosplay is an art, and lots of people prepare for conventions for months, carefully crafting each element of a massive costume. It’s not entirely fair for a comic book convention to dictate the boundaries of that art – or the associated speech – just because someone might get uncomfortable. Heck, I’m made uncomfortable by cosplay sometimes, but I’m also an adult who can comprehend that these are fantasy characters who aren’t out to eat my face of imprison my children.

More pointedly, though, is: what, precisely is considered a Nazi-esque character? Certainly Red Skull and his henchmen are breakoffs from Hitler’s own army, so they’re out, but even Captain America, in a recent arc, was revealed to have joined Hydra, as an undercover Nazi/Hydra agent sent to infiltrate the American military. Is Cap out, too?

Or how about the Stormtroopers from Star Wars? There’s an entire subculture dedicated to cosplaying as members of the evil Empire, which is, in fact, based on the Nazi regime. Will Stormtroopers have to switch out their helmets for something less obscene?

Rose City probably isn’t prepared to answer those questions, but should be.