Juxtapose: A Cosplay Story has its cosplayers!

In addition to my own crafting and cosplay, I’m currently producing a documentary focused on three Denver-area cosplayers.  I wanted to do this because there’s just SO much talent and passion in the mountain region that tends to get skipped over just because of the inconvenient location – despite the fact that we have one of the biggest comic cons in the country happening in June!

The cosplay contest – aka the Shindig – at Denver Comic Con will be the terminus of our project as we follow three cosplayers on their journey there.  From concept to competition, I wanted to capture what the creation process is like in our unique and wonderful community.

 Juxtapose: A Cosplay Story

The cosplayers who are participating have just been announced at the Juxtapose Facebook page, and you can keep up with the action there, at the website, or on Twitter.

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode 6 THE FINALE

The as-yet-to-be-renewed Heroes of Cosplay completed its initial run tonight with some spectacular fun and serious drama (guys, it’s reality TV, there is drama.  Did you know you have nerves attached to your muscles?).

Embedded image permalinkI HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY SICK PEOPLE AT A CON.  Stop that.  Even so, it’s not hard to understand the motivation to work through an illness for something you’ve already put so much effort and time into.  Despite how you feel, you want to go through with it.  How many of us do that with our work or career?  It’s a tough choice.  Admittedly… my illnesses in the past have come the next morning… *mumblemumbledragonconmumble*

One of the most lovely moments was Jinyo’s proposal to Victoria.  So sweet, and the opportunity to have help from such a fantastic gentleman as Peter Mayhew (THE Chewbacca) simply can’t be passed up.  Peter is also currently in need of medical care which his friends, family, and fans are helping to support via the website Standing In The Stars.

Unfortunately, a far more negative scene awaited us during the masquerade as the crowd jeered the “out-of-towners.”  It is my understanding that there was some frustration with the show and management, but in my opinion, that is absolutely no reason to be heckling people, offering rudeness, or (even if you didn’t start it, as I have heard is the case) continuing an argument.  What the hell was that?  Aren’t we all adults?

Aside from that, “out-of-towners?”  REALLY?  It’s a major convention that brought hundreds of thousands of people to Kansas City.  Conventions are DESIGNED to be attended by non-residents.  If there were only residents of that city attending THERE WOULDN’T BE A CONVENTION.  And heaven forbid there were only locals in the masquerade – it’d be five minutes long with two entries and no judges.

When you are costuming, you are there to do YOUR best.  If your best doesn’t win you an award, keep going.  Learn.  Seek out new and better techniques, materials, keep creating and GROW.  But do not stand there and cry in your beer that you were “outclassed.”  Every single one of those people started out with no skills; they worked for them and built them.  It is an extremely ungracious and disingenuous way to approach anything.

You didn’t start it?  Good for you.  But you didn’t leave it, either.  You participated in a meanspirited, abrasive heckling.  You were hungry, tired, and hurting?  So was everyone else in that masquerade.  No excuses.  Bullying and meanness is never okay.  Period.

Aside from that, it seems like it was a great experience for all the folks involved.  There was a lot of growing, learning, and the requisite struggle that is one of the things that makes anything – but especially cosplay – worth doing.

Looking forward to another season!

Learn more at SyFy’s website.

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!