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No Sonic Screwdrivers Allowed?

Whovians around the world were buzzing about the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor.” The simulcast on November 23 was a huge success, then fans got a chance to re-watch it (or see it for the first time) in theaters on November 25, thanks to Fathom Events; it was even shown in 3-D.

Nerdy events like this are not complete without cosplay, a fact Fathom acknowledged on the event’s website with added restrictions:

“Doctor Who Fans: We want you to have a fun on 11/25 – but safety is paramount. Please note that attending the event in costume is fine; however, masks, elaborate or face-concealing make up, fake weapons, tools, accessories (like sonic screwdrivers), and other related memorabilia as well as any costumes that conceal what you are carrying, your natural body shape, or face are strictly prohibited.”

So, Daleks, Cybermen, and other aliens are not allowed. If you dressed as a Doctor who (no pun intended) carried a sonic screwdriver—which was all but four of them—you had to go without the most important tool; that’s like dressing as Captain Kirk without a communicator. A few people on Fathom’s Facebook page understood why sonic screwdrivers should be put away during the screening: it’s the same courtesy as shutting off a cell phone in a theater. However, several of the Doctors wear long coats (most notably David Tennant as the 10th Doctor), but cosplayers were kept from zipping it up because concealed their “natural body shape.”

Undoubtedly, it is the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting last year that inspired these rules. Precautions are always warranted, but these rules are absolutely Draconian. The “no masks” rule at least seems reasonable, and perhaps even the clothing rule, but how could someone make a sonic screwdriver into a weapon?

What Fathom has forgotten is the shooter at Aurora wasn’t one of the moviegoers. He snuck in through the back door. That doesn’t mean a would-be assailant couldn’t be a moviegoer, though. Still, such drastic prohibitions seem extreme when such occurrences are rare. It’s yet another case of good people suffering because of the actions of a few evil idiots.

The biggest problem is where should people of authority draw the line? Say, God forbid, another shooting happens at an event like this, and it was perpetrated by someone in costume. Does that mean cosplay should be banned? For many fans, that’s half the fun. This becomes a catch-22 for theaters and studios: While they must be sensitive to safety, such strict regulations may make fans forego events like this, causing venues to lose money.

What do you think?

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