Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode 2

Here we are again!  All the drama and angst of a cosplay competition!  And some difficult conversations.  This was hard for a lot of people to watch.  Including me.  But it was neither inaccurate nor misrepresentative of the community.

Early in the show there was a dinner conversation.  Two plus hours of footage edited down to 2 minutes, natch, because this is TV and we only have so long.

Here’s what I saw: a group of cosplayers criticizing the choices of other cosplayers.  At least one cosplayer at the table feeling incredibly awkward abuot the conversation.  Like you do.

Here’s what I think: I think that at some point in all of our cosplay, other hobby, even professional careers, we’ve been responsible for needlessly and unfairly judging someone else.  Myself included.  In the past, I’d been particularly nasty, not always intentionally, but sometimes it was just none of my damn business and I thought it was.

Here’s what I say: Ye who have never secretly in your heart and mind judged another, muttered under your breath how you would have done it better, narrowed your eyes at what (to you) was an unacceptable body form, please… throw the first stone at Yaya and company.  Go ahead.

Oh, none of us fit that bill?  I didn’t figure any of us would.

I’ve heard people SCREAM (figuratively, online) that this show is ruining cosplay.  Know what ruins cosplay?  Telling people they suck.  Spewing pure hate at people willing to put themselves out there.  Being a bully.  Being unwilling to allow people to change, apologize, and come back better.  Judging people who are doing it their way.

Cosplayers are not perfect.  As I’ve grown older, wiser, quieter, perhaps a little wistful, I’ve been able to recognize my prejudices and clean them out.  It honestly didn’t happen until really recently.  It was hard.  Letting go of what I had envisioned as deep-seated, worthy platitudes that all cosplayers should follow.  But I realized… it is none of my damn business what other cosplayers are choosing to do.

It’s like I tell my elementary school kids.  “OMG, Mrs. Warner it’s an emergency!”  “Oh?  Is someone bleeding?”  “…no.”  “Is someone on fire?”  “…..no.”  “Then it’s not really an emergency, is it?”  “No, I guess not.”

I feel like we need to have that kind of come-to-Jesus in cosplay right now.  How you cosplay is how you cosplay, and it’s legit.

Additionally, on the subject of someone else working on a costume… perhaps it’s because I teach, and teachers live by the adage of “beg, borrow, and steal.”  (Obviously we don’t really steal, I mean, that wouldn’t be cool.) Maybe it’s because I’ve been dabbling in more ICG-style costuming for a few years.  Maybe it’s because I’ve worked on HUGE group projects where we all had our specialty – sewing, crafting, prop making – and we shared the fruits of those labors.  Maybe it’s because design in itself is an art, and still deserves to be recognized… even if the design isn’t for you, but for your model.

I think we need to start expanding and clarifying the rules about who can be in what costume and who has to have made it.  Create a place for a cosplayer AND a designer who can work AND compete together.  Victoria and Jinyo both deserved a lot of congratulations for creating the Tron dress (EL wire is like…. AAAAHHHHHH).  Again, it’s about the whole sum of the parts – planning, crafting, presentation, and discussion.  Having someone help you – willingly, of course – should be totally okay in competitions.  Just make a space for that person so he or she can share the credit.  Teams make powerful, incredible costumes and simply cannot happen with one person alone.  Let’s honor that.

Final note… I love Chloe so much.  She’s my new favorite person.  I love her bright, open attitude.  I love that she had fun.  I love that she reminded me how fun it is to get up on stage.  Great job, girl!

Havin’ some feels and things, because reasons.

I’ve been feeling a little discouraged (okay, a lot discouraged) by some of the attitudes brought out by Heroes of Cosplay, etc. First, criticisms from folks who haven’t seen it. That doesn’t seem fair to me. We say in elementary school that it’s only fair to refuse something after you’ve had a "no, thank you" portion. IOW, you gotta TRY it at least.

And then, from the folks who have seen it who are so negative about it. Maybe I’m just trying to stick to the old "if you don’t have anything nice to say" adage, but I also didn’t see it as negative. I saw it as real. It’s one of the most realistic reality TV shows I’ve seen in a long time.

I was SO in every one of those positions and perspectives at some point in my cosplay ‘career.’ Now, they’re not all healthy, but they’re part of the reality. I don’t understand hiding what it can really be like. People are saying that it is or is going to give cosplay a bad name, but I don’t understand that. To me, it wouldn’t be right to say it’s all rainbows and unicorns (besides the MLP cosplayers, hurhur ^.~) all the time – that would be a lie, and a great disservice to those who aren’t familiar with cosplay.

It’s like anything else. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. There’s conflict. There are amazing moments of synergy and cooperation. There’s anxiety and triumph. There’s disappointment. The show displayed some great positivity; it also showed some of the most negative reactions.

Yes, it was majorly about competitions. That’s going to carry a lot of dramatic weight and make for exciting television. Some people love to compete. I love to compete because I love to be on stage – I have a background in music and it shows. That’s MY perspective, but I would never expect everyone else’s perspective to be the same. The feeling of winning is gratifying. And I have had those moments where I was upset because I felt someone won who didn’t deserve it (I like to think that’s in my past, but who knows what the future will bring?). I’m so impressed that some of the participants in the show had the balls to come out and admit that! It’s an ugly feeling (for me at least), but it’s also real.

And the time and cast is limited. They can’t cover the hundreds of thousands of cosplayers out there. They have six (six? Did I count right?) [Edit: Nine.  I read the synopsis, durhur]. They have to be on coasts because that’s where TV happens. Maybe if this is successful, there will be more and better coverage. There are a lot of things that are the way they are because that’s how TV is made (I’ll tell you what, I wish there were more home decorating & landscaping shows in the US interior, I could sure use some help!). They can’t speak for everyone. But they took a good sample. Hopefully there will be more.

[Edit: It was identified that the cast is mostly white females, which of course doesn’t make for an appropriate cross-section.  I was referring to the sample of perspectives, attitude, and areas of expertise.   Food for thought.]

And at the last, some semantics. Those cosplayers ARE heroes. Each one of them, for their own reasons. But EVERY cosplayer is a hero. It takes guts to put on a costume. It takes heart to put yourself out there. And any one of those people who were on the show would tell you that every cosplayer – every level, every perspective – is a hero.

Maybe it’s me. I’m an optimist. I see the good in things, most of the time. It’s a perspective that works for me. But I’m also a realist, and that can still jive with the optimistic perspective. I can go back 15 years and see from that perspective, and see these important folks having to make the same difficult choices as I did, I can watch them feel anxious and triumphant and appreciated and afraid, just like I did – and do. That made it very positive for me, to know that all those feelings I had and still have are out there in other people’s brains. To know that my perspective was always valid. That makes the show itself valid. They did a great job.

[Again compiled from FB posts, etc.]

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode One

(As compiled from several Facebook posts and subsequently edited to make more sense and follow some kind of grammatical logic.  Hurhur.)

I love it. I love the vast variation of skills and experience and perceptions and behaviors. All the feelings, all the experiences, all the perceptions, it was all so VALID. It honestly reminded me of my earlier days in cosplay, when competing was a priority for me.

No, it wasn’t all pretty. Anyone who’s cosplayed for any amount of time KNOWS it’s not always pretty. No, I wouldn’t have made the choices that others would have made, but that’s why it’s so awesome – it’s another perspective! And each one of them is valid. The joy of success. The tragedy of disappointment. Priorities and perspective are totally different for each person.  That’s real.  Some of it was hard to watch because I KNOW THOSE FEELS.

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My first costume, Super Sailormoon from Sailormoon, made in 1998 (Photo from NDK 1999).  I had on two wigs. For realies.

I swear I’ve been every one of the competitors shown over the last 15 years that I have been cosplaying. I felt like I got gypped, I felt like a performer, I felt successful, I felt like I swept, I felt like I had a rockin’ good time and that was all I cared about. All of those things. All of them.

And I’ve been the bitch. And I’ve been the one hurt by the bitch (or bastard, as it were). I’ve been the grown-up princess with the little girl who loved me for who SHE thought I was. I’VE been the little girl meeting a princess I love. I’ve been incomplete, overdrawn, stressed, blissful, grateful, exhilarated. I think HoC portrayed that perfectly, honestly.

And on top of that, there were any numbers of really amazing tips and tricks – costuming at a professional level!  Automotive paint, head moulds, embroidery machines.  So much to learn and try.

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Rosa of Final Fantasy IV (DS) done in 2008 for Dragon*Con.

It was inspiring. I want to go up to my studio and work. I want the back yard to be done so I can convert the garage into a shop. I want to compete again. I want to be on stage. Yaya Han & company, you should be proud. I am.  I am proud to be a part of this beautiful, fun, dysfunctional, nutty and nerdy community.  I love it.  All of it.

Also love DJ Spider’s take, and I can’t agree more.  Read it here!

Watch the show Mondays on SyFy.

You’re A Great Cosplayer

I was reading through my Facebook feed today and came across some frustration and anguish over the more unfortunate parts of cosplay.  We can be very critical of each other, and not in a healthy way.  It reminded me of a cute bit of text – originally aimed at the myths of motherhood – and I decided to write a similar piece about cosplayers and costuming.  Enjoy!

[Edit 12/11/2014: So I totally fixed the picture that went poof. My bad!]

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To the cosplayer wearing their own handmade costume: Awesome job! You worked really hard to create that costume, and you should feel proud of your work! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer wearing a purchased costume: It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there! Thank you for supporting costuming, as well as the person you bought the costume from! You’re a huge part of this community. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer wearing a wig: We suffer for our art! Wearing wigs isn’t always comfortable or easy, but they’re an amazing look. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer without a wig: Comfort is its own brand of style! That amazing style came out of your own head, how awesome is that! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who spent loads of cash: Being able and willing to make a financial investment is fantastic! It obviously means a lot to you to use quality materials to create your costumes. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who spent $20: Who cares if you’re broke! You’re rocking that costume like it’s worth a million bucks! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who doesn’t have a Facebook (or whatever): Look at all that extra time you have for making costumes, you lucky duck! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer holding a giveaway at (insert number here) followers: Thank you for supporting the community by making connections and sharing your tools and skills! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who makes their own props: What an incredible skill! Sculptor, painter, engineer… you do it all! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who leaves the props out: It’s pretty nice having hands free to eat a meal or go to the bathroom, right? You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with a highly detailed costume: Wow! That workmanship is incredible! You are clearly dedicated to your craft and willing to go above and beyond for craftsmanship. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer in a sexy costume: It takes a lot of courage to – literally, sometimes! – bare yourself to the world. Not to mention having to engineer something that could be rather gravity-defying! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with professional photos: Those photos are fantastic! It’s a worthwhile investment to capture all the hard work you’ve done. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with phone photos: Thank you for sharing the work you’ve done and treasuring the memories! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer in a big group: It’s so awesome to have friends to share your passion with. Let the good times roll! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the solitary cosplayer: Your dedication to your work and the costumes you love comes through everything you do. You’re a great cosplayer.

To ALL THE COSPLAYERS: Do what you love. Love what you do. You’re a great cosplayer.

 

Inspired by “You’re A Good Mom,” read it here: http://www.duchessoffork.com/2013/05/youre-a-good-mom/

A World Less Magical

sophie-green05Over the weekend, one of my favorite and one of the most delightful writers of YA fantasy passed away, Diana Wynne Jones.  She was of course the author of Howl’s Moving Castle, which became quite famous after the production of the Ghibli film of the same name, but her wealth of other literature was equally amazing.  Her close friend and fellow author, Neil Gaiman, has written a lovely blog entry about her passing and their magical relationship.

Even though I came rather late to Diana’s fantasy party after seeing Howl, I still loved her books once read, and look very forward to sharing them with my future students and children.  I was of course inspired by the movie to make several of Sophie’s dresses, and always intended to make a dress more in the style of Diana’s description from the book, Sophie of the red-gold hair and drab grey dress.  Maybe this will be the year to do it, in her honor.

Thank you for your worlds and words of magic, Diana Wynne Jones!  You have been so inspiring.  Enjoy walking over rooftops.

Refia, finally!

A quick (and hilarious) shot from Animeland Wasabi of my Refia costume.

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I love tea from Starbucks.  I need a slightly different wig, as this one was a bit light and definitely too short.  But otherwise it was a great, comfy, fun costume!  Love it!

Additionally, I plan on participating in the For Japan With Love Bloggers Day of Silence on Friday.  Bloggers will keep a day of silence for the people of Japan, as well as direct donations toward shelter boxes.  Don’t forget that you can also donate by text to Red Cross, or donate via your PayPal account, like I did this morning. =)

Weekend of Fun!

I was busy on Friday checking in people at the cosplay contest at Animeland Wasabi here in Denver, hence my lack of post!  I will resume regularly posting this week, but here’s a quick shot of where I was!

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Not the greatest shot, taken from my phone, but it was a wonderful time and a very successful contest!

Also want to mention, of course, to please pray for and send support to Japan in any way you can.  We wouldn’t have cosplay as we know it without the Japanese culture that influenced it, so please show your appreciation!  You can text 90999 to REDCROSS to make an instant $10 donation or visit the Red Cross’ website for more information.

thing-a-day twenty-six: finally fitted

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There we go!  A nip and a tuck here and we’ve got a better fitting dress.  This is the lining, with edits pinned.

Wonder what’s going on with my funny dressed dressform?  Well, it’s not exactly my size, so I padded it with some extra fabric and an old, er, undergarment.  Fixed!

thing-a-day twenty-four: Refia’s earrings, part two

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And done!  Alas, I am fighting to find a wig in time for Animeland Wasabi… I had no luck in my local store, and online shipping takes a while… Here’s hoping!

thing-a-day twenty-three: Refia’s earrings, part one

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I started out with some gold feathers/leaves charms and enameled them with some nail polish (which is still technically enamel! hee!).  Glad I had that green polish in the bathroom.  Tonight they are drying and tomorrow I need to acquire gold-tone earwires to complete.