On the heels of the recent Anime Expo, and with the 2007 nerd convention season in full swing, it is important that we acknowledge a relatively recent phenomenon that threatens the very livelihood of novelty costumed entertainers the world over. The number of union performers being hired for conventions has dropped sharply in the last two years due to the rise of “cosplay” (or costumed play). Convention organizers seem to be having their cake and eating it too, as cosplay officianados provide the same service as novelty costumed entertainers, but actually pay for themselves to get into the events.
While the union does not yet have an official stance on cosplay, experts have been monitoring events where cosplay is likely to take place to assess whether an appropriate proportion of union performers are also present. Preliminary numbers for the 2007 season show union presence is already down 20% from 2006.
Any resolution to the cosplay controversy will most likley resemble the Mascot Accord of 1992, which requires any high school or university utilizing non-union volunteer mascots for sporting events or other activities to make a sizeable annual donation to a local branch of the Union of Novelty Costumed Performers. A similar accord in response to the rise of cosplay could, however, take years and cost taxpayers thousands.
One union performer from River City’s Division 18 commented on the situation: “I don’t exactly appreciate havin’ money taken outta my pockets by deez japanimation nuts, but most a doze chuckleheads carry toy swords n’ sticks… so I get to claim self defense when I beat the crap outta them. I guess I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy.”