I hate drama, but I also hate bullies, and I am not afraid to call them out.
So tonight, I am going to talk about Toronto Batman, and why we’re done with him professionally. (Ha ha, that’s a Christian Bale joke!)
For those who don’t know him, don’t google him, don’t bother giving him the satisfaction of attention; that is what he’s after. I will summarize him thusly: he is a Toronto-based costumer-slash-busker who achieved a small amount of internet fame via a viral YouTube video, and since then he has been trying to brand himself. He is very into self-promotion; he likes to hand out business cards and scream — loudly and repeatedly — “MY PARENTS ARE DEAD.” (Sigh.) He aspires to be an entertainer-slash-comedian.
He also happens to be an arrogant, homophobic, entitled jerk who has upset more than a few people, and for us, the last straw was pulled at Fan Expo 2012.
Click to read on about why we are against Toronto Batman.
While Christine had met him very briefly at FanExpo 2010 and had been invited to play Wonder Woman in a Batman fan-film that never happened, we had our first close encounter with him at Fan Expo 2011. He, Josh and I were surrounded by photographers for around forty minutes at the back of some booth. After virtually every picture he shouted out “Like Toronto Batman on Facebook!” He put his arm around me and his hand on me without asking, and then got touchy when I asked him to stop; he got offended, basically, that I didn’t want a relative stranger’s hand that close to my ass. He talked about himself constantly throughout the forty minutes we were there, including belittling my experiences with sexual harassment by talking about how annoying it is to have girls fawning over him, in that smug “I get so many chicks I just can’t handle it” sort of way. Ugh. Colour me unimpressed.
After that, we forgot about him for a while. Then pictures of us started surfacing on his Facebook page. Uncredited, of course. Generally we don’t mind when people do that — it’s the internet and all — but seeing as we knew each other, I had expected better than that. We had a message sent asking him, politely, to credit the pictures, just so people could see more if they liked. We never got a response.
Another problem is promotion at events that aren’t about him, such at at Pride. This is, of course, where he was at his most offensive to me, though not for just that.
At Toronto Pride 2012, he was present dressed as Arkham City Robin, shouting, as always, “MY PARENTS ARE DEAD!” and handing out business cards to everyone who took his picture. We were scooted over together by photographers, as I was dressed as a DC comics character at the time, and pictures of us were taken. When they finished, we exchanged very small talk, and then I asked about the credit on the pictures. He blew me off with a dismissive “Oh, I didn’t know. Well, I don’t care about that stuff anyway. Credit doesn’t really matter to me.”
I asked him why he was handing out business cards if he didn’t care about credit. He dismissed me again, laughing and turning away to other people… only to tell the people asking for a picture that he “doesn’t take pictures with other men.”
Christine and I were, obviously, unimpressed. It was PRIDE, and he was in a costume, and declining pictures with other men downright screams that he didn’t want pictures of himself with other men at Pride being taken.
Before we could say anything, he said “I’m not a homophobe or anything.”
Yeah, okay, buddy.
Thoroughly miffed by the interaction, we left and continued on our night without him. When we shared the experience with some friends, later, they expressed the same frustration over his attitude, citing the same problem of being dismissed, frustrated and belittled. But what can you do, right? We had more important things to focus on.
And then more pictures surfaced on his Facebook page, and most notably, he had taken pictures with watermarks and cropped the watermarks out, not long after our conversation about crediting. These — like the one of myself as Donna Troy/Wonder Woman — had never, ever been posted online without a watermark. No where on the Internet have we ever seen those cropped versions but his page. Josh and another friend commented telling him that not crediting is uncool. No reply.
So as a result, after our interaction at Pride and more picture annoyances, we decided to avoid Toronto Batman this weekend at FanExpo, simply because we didn’t want to deal with him or his attitude.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen; on Friday afternoon, we got into a traffic flow that led us right to him. We tried to slip through the crowd around him, but he called out “Supergirl! Power Girl!”, and when I ignored him, he called it again. The crowd turned to look and I kept walking with Christine and Josh close behind. He called to both Christine and I again, and when we ignored him a third time, he called us “snobby” to the crowd, because we “wouldn’t even smile!”
I stopped and looked at him, unimpressed, and Christine folded her arms. He had just made us look like assholes to make himself look better, so I got fed up.
I said that I’m not snobby, I “just don’t want to interact with a homophobic jerk.”
He immediately said “I’m not a homophobe!”
The crowd was thick around us, and I felt a little intimidated — big guy versus me, I guess — but I recounted what happened at Pride. He refuted it again, “That never happened!” and insisted he is not a homophobe. Everyone around us had moved away so there was no one between us, but was still circled around us, like it was some showdown.
But I decided I didn’t want to do this any more, as I had said my piece, so I turned and slipped through the crowd to leave, knowing Christine and Josh would follow. I didn’t get more than 5 steps before he blocked my path — I still didn’t know where Christine and Josh were at that point because they were behind me and I didn’t want to break eye contact with Toronto Batman. I don’t know what kind of guy he is beyond how he has behaved to me, and I didn’t want to risk it getting physical. Not saying he would have, but I am saying I felt very boxed in and threatened.
"Why did you say that," he said.
I will note that he was still using the Batman voice at that point, so I asked him to speak to me in his regular voice. He paused but did it, and asked again.
I explained again what he had said at Pride, and he refuted it. I pointed out that he has also ignored our THREE requests to take our pictures down off his Facebook page, as we do not want to be associated with him and he has been cropping out our watermarks.
He denied that, too, claiming no knowledge of photoshop… but cropping doesn’t demand a knowledge of photoshop, and that doesn’t change that our pictures are there, and some have never been posted online WITHOUT watermarks. As I said, nowhere on the Internet have we ever seen those cropped versions but his page.
I told him I didn’t want to argue anymore. I knew he wasn’t going to listen to anything I had to say, so what was the point? He immediately started telling me that I’m slandering him and that I’m snobby. So I walked away. As I left he told me to “pull my head out of my ass” and Christine told him “same to you, sweetheart.”
Look: I took his bait. I won’t deny that I called him out in public, in front of a crowd (some tweeted about it) when I should have pulled him aside. But when you have someone putting you on the spot and telling people that you’re a snob because you have chosen to not interact with an obnoxious, self-centered homophobe, you do what you can to defend yourself. He is an instigator and refused to drop it, and REPEATEDLY solicited my attention when I was clearly uninterested, given by how I repeatedly attempted to walk away from him and verbally told him that “I am done here.”
He later claimed on Twitter that we were just jealous of his “success”, and that he isn’t homophobic because he has gay friends.
When I shared this experience with people later on in the day, they recounted their own experiences — for example, parents upset that Toronto Batman had made fun of their children, and that isn’t the first time we have heard that complaint. A number of other young women shared how they have made to feel uncomfortable by him, or experienced his arrogance and entitlement. On Saturday, he grabbed our friend Max’s fiancée (who was dressed as Thor) and tried to kiss her for a picture without her consent. He got upset when Josh and his friend Mark passed by their booth and didn’t stop to talk to him. On Sunday, he got angry and offended when Christine told him she wouldn’t stop for him to take a picture of her, and when she said “you don’t recognize me?” he clued in and sulked away. He regularly tries to surround himself with good cosplayers to draw more attention to himself; we have experienced this, friends have experienced this, and so on. This is a guy out for attention, who is out there for self-serving reasons; as I understand it, he wants to be an actor and break into the industry… well, I can think of over a dozen people who deserve that more than he does. He’s an unkind person and that is why I will be refusing further contact with him… unless, of course, he is willing to apologize and adjust his attitude.
But you know what? I’m not holding my breath, because this is what he says on his own Facebook page:
"To many people, I am a nut/nuiscance/annoyance/egotistical/piece of shit. Pick one and I’ve been called it. In fact there’s people that dedicate their precious lives to talking behind my back for hours. But I accept and am ok with that. "
Guess what? If many people think that about you, maybe it’s you that is the problem. And hell, dedicating their lives to talking about you? “Egotistical” is right. And if you accept that and are “okay” with it, then what’s with the diatribes on Twitter about how life is so hard with haters like us? If we’re the ones out for attention, why are you profiting off of Batman, a character who is not your intellectual property, and shoving yourself in front of every camera pointed in your direction?
Snobs? Come on. We put a lot of effort into our costumes and how we present ourselves specifically for the sake of con-goers. We could just skip out on conventions entirely and devote all of our get-togethers to private photo-shoots, but we like being social and meeting other comic book fans and costumers. We put in so much time, blood, sweat and tears into our work, and even if we don’t always deliver 100%, we try our very best to be outgoing, chipper and smiling, even when we’ve been squeezed into crowds for hours, are wearing pinching shoes, or are feeling upset because of harassment or other such things. We will interrupt our own conversations with friends and acquaintances — sometimes even family — to let people get their pictures. Even when we are late or in a rush to get somewhere, 95% of the time, we will stop to let people get their shots, and if we can’t, we keep a look out for them later in case they still want one. We believe, 100%, that when we go to conventions, we should fulfill as many requests as possible, and that works well for us — we are honestly grateful for every “thank you”, every person who is patient while we apologize for being slow to set down our bags, everyone who stops to talk to us. We are so fortunate to walk amongst such wonderful people, and we would hate to let these people down.
But even with all that, I am utterly hurt to think anyone might get the idea that we are snobs, much less that we are snobs for not wanting to interact with a homophobic jerk who will make jabs at us in front of many people, or repeatedly instigate with us. And fuck, snobs? We do this entirely on our own time, as a hobby. We have never asked for money, we always decline offers for money, we don’t sell merchandise, we don’t profit off of our costuming (99% because IT IS NOT OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY), we don’t tout ourselves as celebrities, we don’t plaster ourselves on t-shirts, we don’t try to brand ourselves beyond our group name, we don’t refer to ourselves as having fans. If we’re snobs by his standards, so be it, I’m much happier this way.
And the sadder thing is that Toronto Batman wasn’t always been like this. (EDIT: Olivia has more experiences from 2010 that indicate we are wrong on this.) Christine has had him on Facebook for two years, and she has watched him go from somewhat gentlemanly and well-meaning to a downright jerk, the biggest changes coinciding, obviously, with his rise to “popularity” with that viral video. When we took pictures with him on that forty-minute stretch, he picked up a little boy dressed as Robin and held him up on his arm so he was better in the frame. That was sweet of him, and at the time I was mildly impressed at the gesture, but that man seems to be gone, replaced by some jerk spouting Batman memes and falling in love with his own legend.
With this post, I wash my hands of Toronto Batman. I’m satisfied making this post so that people know this guy is a dick, and that his fifteen minutes of fame should be long over. There are many better Batman cosplayers in Toronto, Batman cosplayers who are kind, dedicated and lovely people to interact with. Arkham Batman and Tyler Panesar are just two, amongst many. Don’t give jerks your attention.
Let’s not fall into Geek Social Fallacy #1; we should not tolerate assholes, and from now on, I will be ignoring his presence at any and all events we happen to frequent at the same time; I did so the rest of the weekend, and when he tried to pull Christine over to him in her Captain America costume so he could get more attention, she declined and walked away, and again when he tried to get Christine as Juliet Starling. We don’t want to associate with him in any way, shape or form after this weekend; we don’t want his attention, we don’t want to work with him, we don’t want to take pictures with him, we don’t want anything from him other than to never have to interact with him again, and we don’t want people to be hurt/upset by him anymore. If he wants otherwise, we will walk away just like we did this weekend. We have NEVER approached him or solicited his attention; he has always, ALWAYS been the one to approach us first. We want to be as far away from his little world as we can be.
Toronto Batman does not represent the costuming community, he does not represent Toronto. And, most heinous of all, he does not represent Batman. Thank you for your time.
TL;DR: Yeah, fuck that guy, he’s an asshole.
Testimonies from others in our community:
Anonymous wrote in to tell us how he terrified a toddler at a FCBD 2012 event.