Verb. Speak to or treat with disrespect or scornful abuse.
Noun. A disrespectful or scornfully abusive remark or act.
The Cosplay Elite. The shining, beautifully formed costumed people who look like they’ve just stepped from the pages of a comic book, a musical, a film, a TV show. An inspiration to many and the curse of some. We all have our role models, some are better known than others. I could name a few of my personal Cosplay Elite, my cosplay role models and inspiration for one reason or another, but I think they know who they are.
Hello, lovelies. OddTogs calling. Today I am back on my soapbox to talk to you all about cosplay elitism. This is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot from one side or another, and something I get called on a fairly regular basis, usually meant as an insult. Yesterday’s example was “you who are ‘Cosplay Elite’ enough to have judged many a cosplay contest”, something I find particularly entertaining as I’ve only done a couple here and there.
But setting aside the troll for a moment, or more appropriately, hitting him with the ban hammer, there is always that concept of what is elitist behaviour and the use of that word like it’s an insult whenever one person sees someone else as trying to be better than other people.
In my view, trying to be better than yourself is no bad thing. Comparison is in our nature, so is competition, and a drive to improve our skills. For me personally, improving my cosplay skill set – mostly fabric based – is vital to my business.
What that drive to improve – and in other’s eyes, be better than other people – means for me is that I have a thriving business, working in a job that I love beyond reason. What it doesn’t make me is a better cosplayer, costumer or person than anyone else.
I like to be good at things. I like to be able to produce good quality stuff that fits. I like to practice things like hair, makeup, voice, mannerisms to get a character right. Last year I got two ex Forces friends to go through things with me for Anderson – how to draw a gun, in this case a Lawgiver, pose properly, and reholster. I now know what trigger discipline is. Is this required to be a good cosplayer? No. Do I like that I personally know all that stuff so when I look at photos of myself I have a sense of pride that I mostly know what I’m doing? Yes. And most importantly – Do I expect other people to care about doing all of that? Hell no. I get what I want out of my hobby and that makes me happy. I expect no less from other people than that they get what they want out of theirs, whatever that may be.
Cosplay is, first and foremost, about the fun of it. If you want to wear the same hotpants and leather jacket as Amy Pond, fine. If you want to swipe a set from a charity shop, fine. Whatever works for you. If that jacket – any jacket – makes you feel happy like Amy Pond running with the Doctor, then you win at cosplay. What you wear and how you look is as valid as the person next to you if it makes you happy.
So how if this is my view can I judge cosplay contests, or work with the Galactic Knights, a costume group that requires accuracy for trooping?
Very simple. In contest, we’re looking for costume accuracy to the source material and the skill in reproducing that. We’re also looking at how it’s presented, how entertaining they are, ingenuity in design or representation etc. Cosplayers who enter competition are asking to be compared to each other. That’s what they want to get out of their hobby. With fabric costumes I know what I’m looking at, how well a seam is finished, how well a pattern is reproduced. I have friends who specialise in armour, prosthetics, wig work etc, many of which are areas that I suck at (for now).
Generally, one of the most interesting things I find is the months of prep leading up to the competition. The swearing, the crying, the offers of help, begging for divine intervention, and then that sense of triumph when you’re stepping on stage, into an event, because it’s done. Whatever mountains you had to climb to get there, it’s done. You win at Cosplay.
With the Galactic Knights there are other things in play. The Knights, as well as other costuming clubs such as Sentinel Squad UK and the Rebel Legion, have costume requirements for trooping. Not for membership. Anyone can join the club, people on the boards are more than happy to help with advice when asked for to finish a costume, but the costume must be produced to a high standard for clearance. Why? Because we’re asked to attend events as those characters. We are asked to perform at events as those characters. With that comes certain perks, free or reduced entry, free board, travel expenses, because we provide a service to the event – we entertain, and to be believable we have to look the part. Clothes matter here to enable us to do the job.
|Judge Dredd & Judge Derp:
Winning at Cosplay
With the Galactic Knights, you won’t see Judge Dredd take off his helmet in public. He does that to maintain character, believability, both for himself and the people we are out to entertain. He is scarier for it. Even more so when he does take the lid off. And because that is his hobby, the reaction he gets from crowds is part of the enjoyment, he wins at cosplay.
So before I ramble off, having already rambled on, I am reminded of Wheaton’s Law –
1) Don’t be a dick
2) Have fun
3) That’s it.
If you’re having fun, you win at cosplay. And if all being called ‘Cosplay Elite’ really means of me is that I like to challenge myself, then I’ll own that too. Because that’s what I get out of my hobby, for me. A challenge. If that makes me elitist in the eyes of some, that is their business and their problem. I refuse to see it as an insult anymore.