Freya Lorelei (freyalorelei) wrote,
Freya Lorelei

Cosplay: Fun geeky hobby, or deadly serious life calling?

I want to take a moment to geek out over my new love/hate relationship with Heroes of Cosplay.

When I heard about this show, I was SO PSYCHED. Last year the RTB and I went to Motor City Comic Con as Gambit and Rogue. True, the base of our costumes were purchased, because neither of us exactly has sewing skills, but the accessories were either found (Rogue's bomber jacket was abandoned for nearly two years at the dry cleaner where I work), purchased from thrift stores (the belts) or made (the X-symbols were craft foam, and the RTB made Gambit's hood). I even dyed white streaks in my hair and bought contacts for the first time in fifteen years, while the RTB dyed his naturally blond hair (and eyebrows!) brown. Altogether, we made a presentable showing at the con, and got the cosplay bug in the process.

So when I heard there was going to be a whole show centered around cosplay, I was SO GEEKED. Self, I said, this will be AWESOME. And there was a (much better) Rogue costume featured in the commercials! SQUEE!

Then I watched an episode.

It's...not what I expected. The show seems to purport that all cosplayers are competitive, borderline-OCD perfectionists who spend hours of time and hundreds of dollars creating costumes to impress fellow nerds and win awards. Which...I'm sure there ARE cosplayers like that, but the majority of them are in it because they're, y'know. Fans. Nerds. People who enjoy fringe pop culture and dress to express that affection.

These people seem to think that there are ridiculously high standards to be maintained in the art of cosplay, and have a "go big or go home" mentality. If you don't spend at least $300 and six months on your costume? Pfft. Amateur. Oh, and you should look and act exactly like the character you're portraying. There was actually a segment in the show where several women sat around agreeing that overweight people have no business cosplaying anything but overweight characters, because after all, there are STANDARDS. It was at that point that I decided, wow, y'all are awful, awful human beings.

During this discussion, the lone dissenting voice of reason was a woman named Chloe, who sat bewildered as these people who are supposedly geeks and accepting of outsiders passed judgment on their fellow fans.

Now I do agree that there should be standards for cosplay, but the only requirement is that you be a fan of or otherwise familiar with the genre you are portraying. When the RTB and I decided on our characters, I openly worried that I wasn't familiar enough with X-Men to do justice to Rogue, because I'd never read any of the comics. He pointed out that not only have I seen all of the movies, I've also seen every episode of every X-Men television series to date (including that god-awful pilot from 1989, Pryde of the X-Men), so my fan cred is firmly established.

My other issue is with the lone male cosplayer in the show, a guy named Jesse, who seems like a decent enough fellow, but is WAY too invested in the idea that winning a costume contest at a con will jump-start his desired career of creating custom-made armor. Dude, if you want to start your own business selling armor? START YOUR OWN BUSINESS. Don't waste your time and energy building individual costumes for the display stage; go down to the vendor floors and set up your own booth with business cards and merchandise to sell. It's a much more effective way of promoting the quality of your work.

Then there's YaYa, the "professional" cosplayer who for all I know is a lovely and kind-hearted individual in real life, but her persona on the show is so superior and smugly judgmental of fans who don't invest their life savings into cosplay and attending every convention they can, I'm surprised she's as popular as the show purports her to be. She laid into the other cosplayers over the least little details: her horns were store-bought, this one used a bodysuit instead of body paint (which is apparently "lazy"), this one didn't fully embody the character. At one point she criticized a contestant because the woman had dared to wear a costume that she hadn't constructed entirely on her own--her husband had helped her. Look, SOMEONE made this outfit entirely from scratch...give a little credit where it's due!

I'll keep watching the show (and if it's ever made available on DVD, probably even buy it--the costumes really are that cool, and it has some GREAT tips for creating my own stuff), but I'm rather disappointed with the portrayal of cosplay and the people involved.
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