Rob Wile and William Gallego
William Gallego/Fusion

The No. 1 story on right now is an opinion piece by libertarian economist James Pethokoukis arguing that the rise of “cosplay,” the act of dressing up as your favorite sci-fi, fantasy and action movie characters, “is a bad sign for the U.S. economy.”

He’s referring to the fact that this weekend, New York City is hosting Comic Con, ground zero for cosplay geeks.


“When you're disillusioned with the reality of your early adult life, dressing up like Doctor Who starts looking better and better,” he writes, without evidently having interviewed anyone from the event. “It's not to say that all or even most cosplay aficionados are struggling to find work. It's only to say that any rise in people fleeing reality for fantasy suggests problems with our reality.”

It’s true that the U.S. economy remains in rough shape. Wage growth has been practically nonexistent since the end of the recession, and while unemployment has declined, the labor force participation rate, or the percentage of the working-age population with jobs or looking for a job, is at lows not seen in approximately 30 years.

As Bloomberg View columnist Noah Smith Tweeted of Pethokoukis’ piece, this is “the generation gap in action.”

It’s also worth noting that New York began hosting its Comic Con two years before the recession, and that cosplay in America started taking off in the mid-80s, just as the U.S. economy was entering one of its longest-ever periods of expansion.


Indeed, it’s mighty difficult to tell from these photos by Fusion’s William Gallego that these individuals are experiencing hard times.


Photos by William Gallego

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter