Anime Expo 2000
Pornography Fiasco

by Christopher Macdonald, Jul 8th 2000
On July 1st reports started coming in of a “Police Raid” at Anime Expo 2000 as well as Disney censorship of the movie screenings and art gallery. AnimeNewsNetwork was one of the first News sites to publicize these reports as they came in, however as more substantiated reports arrived in the following week it became clear that the original reports were far from the full, correct story.

The SPJA and AX management have yet to release an official statement regarding the pornography incident at AX2000. However many of AX's staff frequent the AX discussion forum on Yahoo and have posted their versions of the incident on the forum. While many of the posts differ somewhat on the details the later posts by AX staff, particularly Nati Sangrujiveth and Mike Tatsugawa (SPJA CEO) agree on the fundamentals, it is largely from these posts that this article is constructed.

On Friday Disney personnel, responding to a complaint, observed 2 dealers in particular who were selling pornographic material. Over a period of two hours one of the two dealers was observed selling said material to minors while the other was only observed as not taking any actions to keep minors from viewing the pornographic material he had on display. Some reports state that the police were called to the scene at this time, however others make no mention of this; The reports that state that the police were called to the scene at this time state that an agreement was quickly reached between AX management, Disney and the police and that the police left the convention satisfied that AX management would properly deal with the problem.

The dealer who had sold pornographic material to children, he is also suspected of having done the same at a previous Anime Expo, was asked to leave the convention by AX management, complied and left without causing an incident.

The second dealer however claimed that his first amendment rights were being violated and demanded that the police be called to the scene (again?). The police arrived at 11pm and informed the dealer that the first amendment did not apply on private property (Meaning that Disney and AX had every right to restrict the dealer from “expressing” himself through the sales of pornographic material). At this point the dealer claimed that 90% of anime is child pornography and proceeded to show the police all the other dealers who were selling pornographic material.

At this point the police have a very bad view of Anime and inform AX management that all pornographic material would have to be removed from the convention or that it would be shut down. Disney official claim that they also demanded the complete removal of any and all inappropriate material from the convention pending complete closure of AX. At this point AX management has no choice but to do as requested.

The dealers are informed of the matter and requested to remove all pornographic material and also material with strong sexual content from the show. The dealers complied, and a few who's stock was almost entirely pornographic in nature left the convention of their own choice. Himeya Soft was one of these dealers.

Disney also enquired about the nature of certain products such as Perfect Blue, however were satisfied that the “mature” content in these cases was not inappropriate.

Hotel staff also took an active interest in the movie rooms; some screenings in the “Midnight Madness” program were cancelled in order to avoid the possibility of further problems. The screening of X was also cancelled, not because of this fiasco but simply because the print did not arrive at AX on time.

In their zeal to keep Anime Expo from being shut down, AX staff also removed some fan paintings from the Art Gallery. All sources state that most, if not all, of these paintings were not pornographic but merely sexually suggestive. "Unfortunately, a few very good pieces with tasteful suggestiveness were removed," laments Tatsugawa. "That was the fault of SPJA, not Disney, and we apologize for the mistake."

Prior to opening the convention center on Saturday morning, after AX staff had ensured the removal of all pornographic material, five representatives from Disney examined the entire dealer floor for pornographic content. After a short sweep the dealer room was opened ahead of schedule and there were no further incidents regarding pornographic material.

According to some sources Disney was well aware in advance that there would be some material of pornographic nature present. These sources say that Disney had no problem with this as long as it was properly managed. However according to Ray Gomez, director of Communications for the hotel and convention center, Disney had no prior knowledge that pornographic material would be present, and would not have agreed to the presence of such material. Mr. Gomez stated that the hotel and convention center are part of a family resort and that the presence of said material is absolutely unacceptable. What is quite possible is that while Mr. Gomez was not aware of the expected presence of Hentai, Disney sales staff were.

It has been suggested that a “Hentai Dealers Room” would have averted this fiasco. The suggestion calls for a separate room with an actively enforced age restriction. However the added overhead to dealers who's stock is only a small part Hentai has been given as the reason that this “Hentai Room” would not occur.

This event may have ruined AX for a very few attendees and dealers, however most convention goers are united in saying that while a very big deal has been made of this fiasco, it had very little impact on their enjoyment of the convention.

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