Heroes of Cosplay: My First Thoughts
Just a bit of background, if I may: 5 years back the very idea that a grown 30 something year old man in a costume did not appeal to me. My idea of costuming was that it was just for Halloween and also for kids. Now that idea has changed. My very first costume was a low key made up Matrix character but so many people liked it because I was told that I embodied the persona and also won my jobs costume contest and off I went. As of today, I have maybe 6 different costumes with 2 more that my wife is working on. My wife and I both cosplay, and are in the process of finishing up our costumes for the Baltimore Comic Con.
Over the years, our costumes while not intricate nor costing us the farm have gotten us plenty of praise and attention. We have also done community service while in costume and this hobby has also opened the door to other opportunities that are out there. I get excited now when I get a chance to cosplay and I am even in the process of looking at joining a community service program who needs nothing more than my time and costume to make someone’s life a little brighter.
So, what did I think of Heroes of Cosplay’s first episode?
When you see shows like this one has to go in thinking that there are people who are watching may be new to this hobby and considering getting into this and cosplaying can be fun and it is fun. But during this show, it did not look as if anyone of these folks looked like they were having fun. Part of cosplaying is meeting and making new friends, networking and photos….TONS and TONS of photos.
At the end of a con, many of us have made at least 5 or 10 new friends and contacts, taken photos, met celebs and have hurt feet; it’s not all about costume contests. This first episode was just work, work and more work. I agree however, that putting a costume together is work and one should never skip that step but in my opinion, but the way this was broadcast just made the effort look dull and frustrating.
The producers seem to miss the idea that sometimes all cosplay is, is being a celeb for a day. One scene caught it: there is a joy that a kid coming to a con will get to see his favorite characters come to life and that smile on their face is just priceless. Not all cosplayers go to cons to compete for prizes. For a lot of people, it’s a cool social outlet to get out and not exactly have to be oneself for the day and that is the absolute fun factor that was barely touched on. You get to a show and you get to be a star for a day or not, it’s totally up to the individual. The show attempted to hit that point except I think part of the problem was that it came off as you had to ooze sex appeal or have an ultra-elaborate costume to do so and that’s not always the case, which brings me to my next few points.
On the plus side while I respect that these people pour a lot of heart and cash into their craft the negative is the disappointment that they have when they don’t win…that out of 100s of people, if they don’t get that crucial win in a costume contest, then it’s 1000s of dollars gone to waste. I always felt that the bottom line of cosplaying was just to bring a character to life in your own interpretation whereas I felt like the show is only concerned about the competitive side of it. It’s great if cosplaying can be your life but for many of us it is what it is; a hobby and when you make a cool hobby like this into something that may come off as a way to generate income, you risk alienating viewers who may not want to try cosplaying because they may get the impression that $1000’s of dollars HAS to be sunk into a costume for it to have any worth or be noticed and that’s not the case at all. This is especially disingenuous to someone watching that is a newbie to this. Let’s be a bit realistic, more than having money at one’s disposal, it’s the imagination that one puts into a costume that is one key to being successful. A lot fo cosplayers may not be talented at sewing or creating but they come up with something fun just to go out and enjoy the con; which essentially it’s a big party for us. Many would be surprised at how many cosplayers have taken many regular items and transformed them into a key prop for their costume and sometimes that extra effort is worth it. By the way, many of us DO have regular jobs and have regular lives and making costumes is something we do when we have spare time. Many people out here have families and other responsibilities and this is something that this first episode show is missing and hopefully is addressed. Cosplay should not always be what pays your bills. Again if you can make a business out of it that’s great but it’s something that takes YEARS to do. When you make a business out of it, it’s now an entrepreneurship and that in itself is work. Yaya Han was good at showing this. But again, that’s not the goal of the average cosplayer. There was another quip that caught my attention also which was about whether or not someone got a store bought costume vs one that was made by hand. I have seen people on both sides of the fence on this argument and my opinion is, it doesn’t matter how one’s costume was acquired, it’s the skill of pulling off the end product that matters. So many times have I seen people put together costumes and have barely an idea of who the character is and then there are times when I have seen people get a ‘store bought’ costume and melt right into the character. Regardless, who are we to judge when it comes down to the person that did it? For many of us, just coming out of the door dressed in these costumes in the heat and freezing cold knowing that we will draw major attention is a big step!
And then there is this:
“Male characters tend to be simpler — lots of body armor and weaponry and spandex and capes. They’re usually nowhere near as interesting and intricate, or sexy and cool, as the costumes worn by the women. And, let’s face it, female sexuality is a big part of comic-book art and a big element in the Con world.” -Mark Cronin
That statement is so far off to the point that it’s nearly absurd. First off, depending on the character, there is nothing ‘simple’ about most of the costumes we wear. I would like Mr. Cronin to try wearing of one of my simple Sith costumes. Oh sure, getting the robes and gear on is one thing, but try applying the face paint. And when you sweat or itch? try scratching it. Too simple? Sure, try getting into some armor like an Iron Man, a Mando armor set or even a stormtrooper armor and then have to walk all day and not be able to sit or in some cases go potty. Sure, simple.
Most of these costumes while cool will take a lot out of you without help. The other part is that Cronin’s comment makes it seem like he wants to push the eye-candy or sexy female angle into the viewers’ face. We have seen for the last few years that women are taking a stand against this sort of thought; that women sometimes have to change how they are approached at cons and who they let come near because the truth of the matter, some fans don’t know how to act and his statement as well as the fact that the majority of the cast being female just brushes the efforts that women go through to be safe at shows, aside. Not to mention that another issue at shows is some of the efforts that cosplayers still have to contend with is race. I can’t tell you how many times myself and others have been told that we can’t cosplay a character simply because we are the wrong color to do that character. Really? I can only imagine what reactions will be with the costume I am doing of a certain mutant come this fall. I am waiting for someone to come to me and say, “You’re doing it wrong, __________ isn’t black.
And this is what needs to happen if this show has a 2nd season, simply is more minority representation or better yet more representation across the board, period. There are many of us of different colors ages sizes and shapes that cosplay and if you want to use this show in hopes of inspiring others to do this, people need to be well informed that you don’t need to be in your 20s or the child of a famous special effects producer or have really large boobs just to cosplay. All it takes is imagination and a want to embody a character to do this and you are already halfway there. Follow around cosplayers at a show and really see how it works, and then this could go over a lot better.
While I may seem critical of the show’s first efforts, I do feel that despite the one sided nature of it all there were some elements that it did capture correctly. It does take hard work to do but while it may not require $1000s of dollars to do, it does require determination and a little bit of skill and knowledge of your character to do. It needs to show more that it’s not always a competition but you can network and make a lot of new contacts this way. It also needs to show more that it’s not about drama and in-fighting and that there is a bigger reward to cosplaying than earning a dollar. I have many friends who are far more talented than I am in this realm and at the end of the day if one person tells all of us that they really loved he costume we are in, then we have done our job and the money and hard work we put into our craft, the aches and pains and trying to find hotels, as well as getting our gear on site, getting into and out of our costumes, was well worth the effort.
In the past 5 years, I have met many great new people, I even lost a few on the way, I have a group on facebook that is over 200 strong that has a mission to help all those along the way with whatever questions they have about their costume such as where to find gear, how to make items and just get feedback on their costumes from their peers. Some of us also communicate outside of the realm and some get together just for the sake that they made a new friend, and to me, this is what it’s all about.
The first episode gets 2.5 stars out of 5 with the hope that it gets better.
This is what real cosplaying looks like
It is sad that this is Commercial Television, and is unlikely to aim any higher than that.
What I Would like to see happen is a Bunch of Webisodes, Webcasts, and Youtube channels that will show all of the Other aspects of Costuming, Propmaking, and Cosplay.
The SyFy channel’s offerings may lack the Ratings to compete.
We look forward to seeing it all.
“You’re Doing Make~Believe Wrong !!” is Never a true statement.
I just found your review through facebook, and let me tell you, you are SPOT ON with your assessment of the show. I hadn’t seen the show yet, but I knew from watching the promos that the show was not going to showcase true cosplayers and their craft. I knew that it was going to be like a reality contest show, and I’m just not into that. But also, the fact that the producer made such a careless and ridiculous comment about male cosplayers, really cemented the fact that this was not going to be a good show, and that the people behind this are “preying” on the new and current cosplayers for the sake of making a buck.
Nicely put my friend. I will say here what I said elsewhere:
I think everyone is overreacting to the show because they are uncomfortable with the idea of what we do being mainstream. We take an element of pride in being in a niche hobby, in being special because of our geekdom, and some people really threatened by the idea that the “Mundies” might start taking over. We worry that Hot Topic will dismantle the special nature of our beloved hobby the way they oversaaturated and killed the true Goth Culture. Also, people need to remember that without Drama (with a capital “D”) then the show would devolve in to. YouTube how-to video, and that is not good for the Networks’ Bottom Line…. So everyone take a pill nd enjoy this for what it is. Now I will say that the show is badly edited, there is a lack of Male Costumers/Cosplayers, and the editing and portrayal of some of the primary characters is less than flattering, but I have a “Three Episode Rule” for any new show I watch, so ask me again how I feel about this show in two more episodes.
These thoughts were by no means ALL my thoughts. I saw and agree with much of what others have said here and elsewhere, I just have chosen to reserve some of my comments until I have had time to let the show sink in.
I will say that the near total lack of male costumers is reprehensible, and I feel bad for the lone guy because, as it seems to be going he was added as an afterthought, he will not be respected or properly represented.
I concur sir. Thorough and objective. Go forth and do great things. 🙂
I like your perspective. I think it is very similar to my own. For example, I am a proud member of Rebel Legion, and I like to dress as an X-wing pilot. But regardless of how accurate my costume is to Luke Skywalker’s, I’ll always be labeled as one of the generic Rebel Pilots because I’m Asian. When I dress as Captain Kirk, I get called “Sulu.” It happens.
Being a cast member on Heroes Of Cosplay, I have a somewhat different view on the show. I’m not going to tell you the show is great, and as a male cosplayer, I’m certainly not going to try to defend Cronin’s statements about male cosplayers. I just want to add a bit of nuance to what you are saying.
For example, the show makes cosplay look like work, and not the fun of meeting other cosplayers etc.
But as you point out, we see the little Belle meeting Merida. And we see Rainbow Dash and her friends partying with other cosplayers. The fun stuff is in there, just maybe not as much as you’d like. We do it FOR the fun, but remember that an elaborate costume can take weeks of work, for that day of fun. The work takes longer than the fun, just as it does on the show. It just seems disproportionate on the show because we cosplayers are always thinking of the fun.
You said that the show “came off as you had to ooze sex appeal or have an ultra-elaborate costume” in order to have fun cosplaying.
But look at the cosplayers in this episode. Becky as Merida, Holly & Jessica as their D&D characters, Jesse as a Vault Dweller. None of them did “sexy” costumes! (Though I’m not gonna complain if you tell me I look sexy working on that embroidery.) It would have been easy to work some cleavage into the D&D characters, because fantasy art is full of inappropriately-dressed women. But Holly & Jess chose not to, and they still won a prize. I think that is an important message. There is only one cosplayer showing cleavage (Yaya), and she wasn’t competing. Also, you see Becky and Victoria as Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, going around the convention and partying later. Those are not ultra-elaborate costumes. The only reason Victoria was trying to finish her Lulu costume is because she wanted to impress the judges in the masquerade, where it obviously IS important to have an elaborate costume.
I could obviously say more, but this is your blog, and I’ll keep my brain dump to my own blog. Have a look and you can tell me what you think.
Keep up the great work, both cosplaying and on the blog!
Jinyo…first of all it’s an HONOR to hear from you…this shows that you guys out there are listening. And 1. I did LOVE the D&D girls even if they had to break down and buy their peices. But the one thing that kept jumping out is that in the cutaways and setup shots…there was always some boobage somewhere and that’s what I kept seeing subliminally. but man….thanks for weighing in and check out my other entry also!!