Going to an anime convention is a little bit like stepping inside of your internet browser. You will be assaulted with vibrant colors, tons of people, and countless folks trying to sell you something. Inside of this symbolic internet we can see that certain trends sort of play themselves out in front of us. In front of every booth we will see the stereotypical ‘booth babes’ and while they are harmless enough on their own, they definitely change the opinion of casual visitors in terms of what to expect out of conventions and geek culture in general. On the whole there seems to be a plethora of people that believe that geek culture is reserved for a certain subset of the population. These people believe that geek culture is the rightful possession of the disenfranchised, the unpopular, and the not so conventionally ‘beautiful’. On the other end of the spectrum you have corporations also trying to sell pre-packaged cookie cutter models as the new norm. While no group is necessarily in the wrong there are a few interesting points we should raise about getting more diversity out of our culture and convention life.
Women Need To Be Represented
Without searching on Google ask yourself, “How many female characters are top selling franchises in geek culture?” The answer is quantifiable and there are some famous answers like Storm in X-Men or Uhura in the Star Trek reboot but there really aren’t that many in comparison to other races and creeds. Were Hollywood and the geek culture surrounding it willing to embrace more females in the traditional sense, then it would only increase the width of their fandom. There are very capable actresses in Hollywood right now that are really ready to get into the game. Marvel would do well to engage in that sector of their audience.
Diversify the Booth Babe!
As a red blooded male you would assume I love the concept of booth babes. Of course there is very little more enticing to me than a bunch of beautiful women dressed up as my favorite fictional characters. The problem is though that the idea of the booth babe encompasses a rather homogenous model. There need to be more booth babes that represent the broader nature of geek culture. Studies have shown that booth babes actually detract from sales figures, as your average nerd is likely to find them unapproachable or unrelatable.
While the 5’4 blonde beauties are wonderful to most people (pleasing to the eye and all that), the purveyors running these booths should also give attention to those of other body sizes, races, and styles…. because not all geeks have a perfect figure with great abs or a slim waist. We don’t always need to see Bikini Leia. While skimpiness is nice from time to time, it is not exactly required. Some of the biggest female gaming icons of all time look great in their classic costumes and they have nothing to do with sexiness. Armored Samus Aran and Zelda are just the tip of the iceberg. The gaming industry would do well not to forget their original icons.
Open the Doors to All Fandoms!
Looking past just the sheer physical aspect of diversifying the geek culture and world we can point more to the time of fandoms that dominate it. In 2014 the Anime Convention world is run by the ‘staples’. You see your shounen, shojo, and harem stuff dominating every single corner. What the conventions need to focus on, however, is diversifying their line ups. When you get quality programming in every shade of color there is you are going to bring more than your fair share of new fans to the convention scene. These new fans will fall in love with all of the classics and then you will have created a whole new array of paying customers who love all of your products. Fandoms should not be ostracized from the convention circuit for being out of the norm, or different. There are so many great anime and mangas out in the world right now that don’t receive the coverage that they deserve because they don’t fit into niche categories.
The history of anime conventions and geek culture in general is rather interesting. The roots of geek culture go deep and are ingrained in various traditions and concepts. Star Trek, for example, set the standard for what to expect out of serialized science fiction. Anime like Death Note! set the bar for what we would want out of our animated shows. Yet, we cannot see geek culture live by the traditional trade-show mentality we’ve seen in the past. In order for it to maintain itself as a prevalent part of our world it has to evolve and bring in new ideas that push the envelope and please new fans while maintaining the old ones.