I know I’ve done a few blogs of this nature, such as my ‘Open Letter to the Cosplay Community’, but I felt a few things that I couldn’t express in any way besides blogging them out. Let me paint you a quick picture of what my night was like last night. I sat on my couch, dazedly scrolling through Facebook while half-watching ‘Friends’ on Netflix, when I come across a post in a local cosplay group. I won’t state exactly what was going on in this thread, because I’m not trying to start issues or blow up anyone’s spot. But, to make a long story short, people were complaining about this one thing ad nauseum, and tempers started to flare. I sigh reflexively, prompting my boyfriend to ask me what was up, and I explained the day’s daily dose of drama. “Seriously, I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m the only sane one in this community.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt the same way.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other people, maybe even in my area, who feel this way. People who probably contribute to this problem might even feel this way, but that’s another thing entirely I won’t get into. If you’ve noticed an overwhelming cloud of negativity in our community as of late; you’re probably correct. The cosplay community has become over saturated with people who seem to LOOK for something to complain about, who need their ego’s fed at all times, who silently judge people for this or that whilst pretending to be “body positive” and “there for everyone”.
I really do my best to stay positive. However, it’s really hard when it seems like everyone wants to bring you down. It really has me wondering where it is we went wrong, here. Conventions have been around since the 1970s, so I’m imagining that it has to be a combination of things that have lead to such a drastic change in temperament of the community.
The Mainstreaming of Geekdom
Geekdom as a whole is way more mainstream than it has ever been. You could pick up your remote, scroll through the channels at a super fast pace, and I guarantee you that 75% of what you’ll see are things that would otherwise have been considered obscure (ex: SHIELD, Arrow, a Star Wars commercial) or “ew nerdy” five years ago. It seems nerd is in these days and of course that over saturation leads to unsavory people interjecting themselves into the community.
Rise of Social Media – Hunger for COSfame
I don’t know WHY this is even a thing, but shit like this takes the “play” right out of cosplay. People seem more concerned with numbers than they are about putting out quality work. Or about having fun. Sometimes people approach me acting like a friend and not-so-subtly drop the bomb that they wish they could achieve what I have or would like to be brought along to a con with me. And I’m sorry to say, that’s not how it works. You don’t ride on someone’s coattails. Especially not someone like me, who busts her ass and does PR/Promotional/Event Planning work for these conventions in exchange for being able to hold panels about issues I REALLY care about. It’s not for popularity and it’s not a game to me. I want to help people and deliver content that REALLY matters. My likes are higher than they were a year ago, or even a month ago, yes, but it’s a direct result of that aforementioned hard work. I don’t just have a magic recipe to gain popularity. If you want advice from a PR/Social Media standpoint, that’s another story. Just don’t use me as a stepping stone for your bullshit.
Models Turned Cosplayers
I stand by my belief that literally anyone can cosplay whenever. But now that it’s becoming more mainstream, and models are using cosplay as a “niche” to gain a following and to acquire jobs. Once again, this is great and I love that our community is growing. However, some asshats seem to think model=cosplayer and if we don’t fit that archetype, we don’t belong and aren’t as good. Even though I’m a signed plus sized model, the word “model” is synonymous for skinny, buxom and curves that aren’t exactly realistic. We just need to remember that the idea of cosplay is that it encompasses many different people of all walks of life and all body types. No one body type is better than another and we are all beautiful, no matter what size or race.
I’ve never really competed seriously to the degree that they showed on “Heroes of Cosplay”, since I’m more about the big picture and don’t care much for people diminishing the work of others just to make themselves feel big. I’ve judged plenty of times (and for those people who like to act like I don’t have the credentials to judge sewing or craftsmanship because I hate to sew: I have a B.A in Theatre and grew up with a mother who immersed me in theatre and great grandmother who knew how to sew/taught me how to sew. I just HATE TO DO IT and I am much more inclined to commission pieces like that. I am always honest and forthcoming about where my cosplays come from. My specialties are painting and prop making and makeup. Craftsmanship is more than just sewing. So for those who want to pick on me…stop.) and I always take care to judge critically but kindly. People work HARD and just because 3-4 judges like one cosplay the best, doesn’t diminish someone else’s craft. Lately it feels like people are making EVERYTHING competitive. I ask: why? Seriously. It was so much more fun when people didn’t have their noses upturned at every single person all the time. People could do with a dose of humility. Even if you’re the best in your little local bubble — performing/auditioning/singing has made me realize that even if you think you’re the best, there’s always someone better and always room for improvement. The same goes for cosplay. It’s a learning curve. Nobody just starts at an AMAZING level. We’ve all had to hone our skills. So, if you think you’re the shit, just remember where you came from, because I can assure you that your first cosplay probably wasn’t the best either.
Personal Notes: I feel like lately the messages of positivity myself and the other members of COSUnity have been falling on deaf ears. It makes me wonder what the fuck I’m doing if I’m not making a difference. I work so hard to make the community a positive place and it’s been feeling like I always get treated like shit and dragged through the mud. It’s really depressing. I won’t lie — through a lot of the recent drama, there have been times where it’s taken a huge toll on my well being. I feel so alone in this sometimes. I feel like people are constantly saying rude things about me. I’m so tired of defending myself. I do good things for this community but it almost feels like it’s never enough.
My plea to the community once more is to really reflect on yourselves and think about how your actions affect others. It’s really not okay to treat people wrongly and it’s sad that a hobby that was once an escape for me and many others is going to such shit.
Did I get all of the variables leading to the distortion of the cosplay community? Share with me your thoughts, please.