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!