The Portland Comic Con has officially banned anyone wearing specific cosplay that depicts Nazi characters or symbols from attending their convention. While these geek culture events typically feature people dressed as popular heroes and villains, there have been some costumes causing a stir with convention goers. Several Nazi-themed costumes have been popping up amongst the various costumed attendees. Some of these characters come directly from the pages of comic books or are supposed “satirical” interpretations of pop culture icons such as Hello Kitty. Here are the latest details on what costumes won’t be allowed and why, as well as a look at where the characters come from.
Basically, Nazi-inspired cosplay won’t be tolerated at Portland’s popular comic convention, with other conventions possibly having similar rules. The Willamette Week’s Sophia June recently reported that a clarification of a cosplay rule was given for Rose City Comic Con, which takes place annually in Portland, Oregon. The convention organizers announced recently that Nazi cosplay is “100 percent banned, all the time” because of “hateful symbols.” Among the costumes featuring these “hateful symbols” with Nazi themes were a Nazi Hello Kitty, as well as Red Skull and Hydra. The latter of these costumes are based on characters that appeared in popular Marvel comic books, including The Avengers and Captain America.
The Red Skull was a supervillain depicted as a Nazi agent who happened to be a major nemesis for Captain America in his comic books. Red Skull was first created back in 1941 during the time when Nazi Germany was at the forefront of world news. It was also right in the middle of World War II, which likely inspired the storylines at the time. The Red Skull villain still appears in Captain America and other comic books today, as does Hydra.
Hydra first popped up in 1965 and had ties to the villainous Baron Wolfgang von Strucker and Nazi agent Red Skull. Several branches of the group would eventually break off as independent groups still labeling themselves as Hydra. The longtime terrorist group became a major part of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show and popped up in several of the recent Marvel movies, including Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The First Avenger.
The controversy of Hydra shook up the comic book world in recent times too (spoiler alert). In 2016, fans of the Captain America comic book were outraged when they learned that Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) was, in fact, a double-agent who was working with the terrorist organization. His uttering of the words “Hail Hydra” confirmed it, but it was later learned his memories had simply been tampered with, causing him to think that Hydra was good. That made things a bit easier to deal with for comic fans.
The rules at the Rose City Comic Con seem easy enough to deal with as well. While cosplay is a major part of the fun that these conventions bring with them, hateful symbols shouldn’t be tolerated based on the terrible connotations they bring up from history. Recent news headlines have given more than enough reason for costumes representing hate groups and terrorists to be banned.
Ron Brister, Rose City Comic Con’s founder, has reportedly said there have been more Nazi-themed costumes at comic conventions around the country in recent times. One explanation given for this trend was a new Amazon original series called The Man in the High Castle, which has a focus on an alternate form of history in which World War II was won by the Nazis. The main character’s attire is said to have “blatant swastikas” on it.
So what’s the deal with Hello Kitty? Most costumes depicting this pop icon are allowed, but there is one that is not: the “Hello Kitty-branded Nazi officer uniforms” that were appearing at Rose City. As Claire Napier from Women Write About Comics reported on September 11, one of their staff members alerted the convention staff that these Hello Kitty cosplay costumes were seen on the premises.
A similar incident apparently happened at the 2015 Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, with the convention’s Twitter account recently indicating the specific Hello Kitty costumes were against policy and the individuals were removed from that particular show.
[Featured Image by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images]