I normally don’t write rebuttals to stupid things I read on the internet. However, my friend Becky recently linked an article on CraveOnline entitled “6 Reasons I Hate Cosplay” by a man who attended San Diego Comic Con 2014. Becky has already written her own rebuttal, ripping the ass a new one; you can read it on her blog, Sugar Smacks Design and Aesthetics. But I’d like to put my two cents in.
I do apologize for my language. I cuss a lot when I am highly irritated.
His Reason He Hates Cosplayers #1: Manga/Japanimation
What??? He has apparently done some research and knows that the word “cosplay” comes from the mix of the words “costume” and “play” and the Romanji of the Japanese language. While cosplay did not originate in Japan, the word did. Did he not bother to retain that little bit of information? Besides, have you not bothered to see the “normal” world these days? I have had students walk into my classroom in all manner of dress, and all they are doing is a photosynthesis lab. Why the fuck are you picking on a specific genre of cosplay? That’s borderline racism, and as a non-Caucasian person that really irritates me.
His Reason He Hates Cosplayers #2: Know Your Character
Here he picks mostly on comic book character cosplayers, stating that they should know every detail of the character’s life before they cosplay said character. Again, what??? There are various reasons a person chooses a character to cosplay; sometimes it’s as simple as “I like their costume.” Sure, I like getting into extensive detailed conversations with my fellow cosplayers about a character’s history but it doesn’t always have to be like that. Besides, comic book characters have such an extensive history with the various dimensions, retcons, and revisions it is sometimes difficult to keep up with everything that is going on. The one thing all cosplayers have in common is that they cosplay characters they like and connect with. Beyond that, no one should judge or shame a cosplayer because they didn’t know there were 6 other individuals who used the name Captain Marvel before Carol Danvers took the mantle (see, he probably would have thought I was mentioning DC’s Captain Marvel, also known sometimes as Shazam).
His Reason He Hates Cosplayers #3: You’re Not Going Home With The Hot Cosplay Chick
The feminist in me fumes at this reason. He states that part of the reason he can’t move through SDCC at the pace he wants is because fanboys are ogling the sexy and sometimes scantily dressed female cosplayers. But rather than blaming the boys, he stealthily blames the girls. WTF mate?! Most of the time, the female cosplayers do not want that kind of attention; it’s usually why – at least every female cosplayer I know (myself included) – won’t go to a con in cosplay and not have at least one other person with them at all times.
His Reason He Hates Cosplayers #4: “Will Someone Get This Walking Carpet Out Of My Way”
Here he is blaming cosplayers for even daring to consider bringing props with them to a con because they get in the way and he ends up getting hurt by them. While I haven’t brought large props with me to a con, I know many who have and 99% of the time the prop is kept a very careful eye on. No swinging it around, no throwing it, sometimes even the prop has a handler. Some characters need props: what is Captain America without his shield? Who would Hawkeye be without his bow (awww bow!)? When a character is named Nine Tails, just how many tails do you think they are going to have? It’s not like these characters/cosplayers are spies and blending into the background; you can usually see them coming from at least a 100 yards away. I have had people walk into me in my Elsa cosplay with the 10 foot long magneta satin cape and say “Oh sorry, didn’t see you there.” How did you not?! As Becky said in her rebuttal, paying attention is a 2 way street. Apparently, this person was not paying enough attention.
His Reason He Hates Cosplayers #5: Dress For The Character Your Body Is, Not The Character You Want Your Body To Be
This reason speaks to a larger problem of society, that of a skewed body image and body shaming when individuals don’t fit that image. If you’ve seen images of my Katniss and Daenerys cosplays, you may have realized that I am a barely 5’2 clearly very Asian person. I fit zero characters physically or facially – except maybe Mulan. Who do I usually choose to cosplay? Taller, clearly Caucasian individuals. Why? First of all, the entertainment industry hasn’t quite created that dynamic of a range of racial characters (that’s a rant for another time). Putting that reason aside, the main reason I cosplay characters outside of my physical type is because, simply, I like them. I connect with them. I do what I can to get my body in the best shape for the character because I also use it as an excuse to be healthier. But no amount of exercise or make up is going to make me a fuckingly gorgeous, incredibly intelligent redhead named Barbara Gordon. I can’t get pale enough and magically have ice powers like Elsa. I am not ever going to be blonde enough or strong enough to be Carol Danvers. And yet, I have and will cosplay them all because I love them. Cosplay isn’t about who you look like; it’s about who you love and want to be. So you don’t have the perfect body, skin tone, hair color, or eye color to be Batman. Is Batman your hero? Don’t have Bruce Wayne’s figure? Who cares? Be Batman and be fabulous.
His Reason He Hates Cosplayers #6: Crowds
Crowds? What do cosplayers have to do with crowds? Oh, because people are stopping to ask for their pictures? How does this even relate? You went to SAN DIEGO COMIC CON. Even if SDCC banned cosplayers, who goes there? Peter Jackson and half the Hobbit cast was there. The Avengers cast was in attendance, speaking about Age of Ultron; their fellow Guardians of the Galaxy cast members were there as well. George RR Martin and some of the Game of Thrones casts attended. The Sleepy Hollow cast promoted season 2. The lovely Kelly Sue DeConnick and her Eisner winner husband Matt Fraction was there. Wonderful talented artists with varying degrees of recognition was there. And what were people doing? Getting autographs and taking pictures with all of them. Let’s not forget the exhibition hall where people are buying things from various artists and vendors, talking to people they have been dying to meet. Do you think the crowds would have been any smaller if cosplayers didn’t attend SDCC? No, because those cosplayers would have still attended in plain clothes and the place would be just as crowded. Clearly there’s some delusion going on here. And what business is it of yours what they do with the photos they take of cosplayers? Why do you even care?
I have been cosplaying for 11 years now. It’s reasons like the above that I have almost quit the hobby despite how much I love crafting and bringing a beloved character to life. It’s friends like Becky who encourage me on. But in all seriousness, the body shaming and misogynistic ideas need to stop. They are present even outside of cosplay, and it’s doing nothing but hurting people.