Regardless of whether or not you’re into the cosplaying scene, you have to admit that the people who decide to dress up as their favorite comic book, movie, anime, video game, and pop culture characters are sometimes capable of some truly mind-blowing work.
Work so good that you have to take a step back and appreciate the vast amounts of time, resources, and ingenuity that go into the costumes that they develop. I mean, I’ve never done the whole cosplay thing, but I’ve gone to some conventions and holy moly there are tons of people who take the whole thing very seriously.
Now, within the confines of whatever convention center you’re in, it’s totally normal to go walking around with a realistic-looking sword, scythe, or predator spear complete with decapitated head on it.
But when you’re outside in the “real world,” walking around with a get-up that might be deemed scary or offensive to some, well, could cause you to run into some problems. And I’m talking problems that are bigger than scaring some kids at a McDonald’s when you’re just trying to get some grub after a long day of pretending to be Goku.
Like this one cosplayer who was mistaken for a potential threat in Canada after he dressed up like a character one would find in the popular Bethesda RPG, Fallout. It was his attention to detail that got him in so much trouble.
The cosplayer was waving around a “New California Republic” flag from the game, and was also rocking a mask, trench coat, and wearing a backpack that people reported to the police looked like it carried bombs.
The “bomb backpack” actually was a collection of pringles cans that were spray-painted silver. Officers swiftly responded to calls from concerned citizens who were taken aback by the cosplay. Eight officers tailed the individual and watched his movements, assault rifles in tow.
They observed the man enter a local business, which turned out to be Lynn’s Alterations. Once inside, the man requested the tailor make some alterations to his outfit. While the business owner was getting ready to work on the cosplayer’s costume, his phone rang.
It was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police giving him a call. They asked the man if he noticed any wires coming out of the individuals clothing or person, and then advised him to leave through the store’s back door. He complied.
They then approached the cosplayer in the store, and, after observing him and asking a few questions, they determined fairly quickly that the individual wasn’t a threat — well, not to people’s lives anyway.
Officer Shawn Graham from the RCMP commented on the relief the squad felt after discovering that the man wasn’t a threat at all: just someone in costume on their way to a convention. These pictures on the CBC website depict the officers sharing a laugh after such a potentially scary situation.
“We have to believe everything is real until proven otherwise. In the end you’ve got a good feeling after going, ‘OK, there wasn’t a bomb, there was no intent to do anything criminal, it’s just someone with their costume,” Shawn said.
Although the man ultimately wasn’t charged with anything, he was still taken into custody, which probably put a damper on his convention experience. Officer Shawn Graham went on to say that there’s a “time and place” for walking around with fake weapons and maybe downtown in a congested area isn’t the spot for it.
The hilarious misunderstanding obviously went viral in several places, especially in gaming and cosplay communities. But it was a specific Tumblr thread discussing the potentially scary incident that had what I think is the most beneficial lesson to be learned from this entire debacle.
The back-and-forth on the jellopaclypse thread is full of treasure troves of information for all those cosplayers out there:
A reminder to all you cosplayers out there: be careful how you dress when in the general public. Not everyone is savvy to semi-obscure characters/designs.
This, a thousand times this.
Take your mask off, bag your props, and move with people.
Now although this information could be extended to pretty much anyone type of cosplay character, it’s the specific instructions for those who dress up as post-apocalyptic character that’s knee-slappingly funny: Always bring a “Safety Naruto.”
Every post apocalyptic cosplay group needs a Safety Naruto. The Safety Naruto will signal to ordinary people that yes this is indeed a costume.
That’s right, “Safety Naruto” is a surefire way to let people know that you are indeed among fellow weirdos who like to dress up. And you have no intention of carrying out some terrible plan.
Obviously, other people in the thread found it funny, too:
The concept of a Safety Naruto is $!#*ing hilarious
Just like a buddy system except it’s a bunch of people with prop guns are each assigned a Naruto.
Now although I’ve never watched a single episode of Naruto, I know who the characters are and could spot a brightly-dressed ninja from the series from a mile away. No comic book convention can be complete without a healthy percentage of Naruto cosplays.
It’s a design that’s immediately familiar and instantly dissolves any perception of threat or violence, so if you do plan on rocking a cosplay from a video game or series with some more-close-to-life characters that rock serious looking firepower, make someone a designated Naruto in the group.
That should actually be a campaign, the designated Narutos of the groups could potentially save lives and stop people from being taken into custody. That or you could change into your outfit at the convention center, but then again, it’s a heck of a lot more fun to roll up in character than to get changed in a crowded bathroom stall. That’s no fun.