This all started with a conversation on Facebook:
The conversation started at around 10pm and my brain wasn’t up to the challenge of mounting a suitable defense. So I left it. Away on holidays in the Grampians, I finally got the strength together to write this. I know I’m not holding a popular position (or at least, not one that people are happy to state out loud), but I do believe I’m write. So here goes.
A couple of years ago, I took the family to Supanova. They hadn’t been to a convention before. I was catching up with my Discworld convention committee.
We marveled at the costumes. My favourites were a pair of Doctor Whos (Four and Seven), a wookie in a hockey jersey, some steampunk Ghostbusters and a lovely pair of Poison Ivys. And that was only a smattering.
When we stopped for lunch, I started people watching in earnest.
And now I’m going to join in on an Internet controversy with the statement I made to my wife on that day:
People need to wear costumes based on their body type.
Wait! Don’t run off! There are caveats. There are reasons. There are exemptions. There are excuses. But yeah, I’m coming down on the Dark Side (with cookies).
When you are dedicated to worlds other than this one, and show your dedication by letting your imagination run wild and your inner child free, the mainstream is going to stop and, not getting it, judge. So we find ourselves making excuses:
“I get so little time to relax. This is a way for me to be myself.”
“Getting into costume is a way to further immerse myself in a world I love. It’s almost like getting into the book.”
We don’t need to make excuses. Most of the people I know have no fear of what the “real world” things of us.
And even that’s ok. It’s fine. To paraphrase: Wear what you wanna wear, be what you wanna be yeah-eh-eh.
“I love Buffy, so I’m going to the con dressed as Buffy.” So what if he is a 200kg body builder with more hair on his body than Sarah Michelle Gellar has on her head?
And I swear, I Truly believe that statement, no matter how much flak I’m going to get over this post. If he wants to wear a Buffy cheerleader skirt and carry a stake, that’s fine.
As long as he knows that he is a 200kg, hairy-backed body builder; that dressing as Buffy is a patently ridiculous act and that he’s making a statement, or simply having fun with the character, fine. Joss has done worse to Buffy himself. Be Buffy. I salute you. I will laugh alongside you and be happy. But if I’m laughing at you, you’re wearing the wrong costume.
I wouldn’t dress as superman. Or rather, I would dress as Superman, but I would be a Superman who has really let himself go. I’d have vindaloo stains on my S and a doughnut in one hand with little Kryptonite sprinkles.
And that would be OK.
If, on the other hand, I decided to be Superman, and dressed as Superman, in the tights and stretchy suit, because I LOVE Superman and want to show the world my love for Superman -
- Then I have failed. You don’t honour Superman by being a poor imitation of Superman. You can honour Superman by parodying him, by being playful with a beloved character. But I don’t believe you can love Superman by being him when you’re clearly not him.
Rant. Rave. Get it over with. Now read on. I’m giddy with the power of free speech. I feel like Andrew Bolt. Without the racism.
There is a movement on various Social Networks to call out cosplayers who dress inappropriately and make fun of them. They search for photos of cosplayers that they judge to be ridiculous and post the photos so that people can laugh at them.
This is reprehensible. These people should be dressed as My Little Ponies and dropped off at a biker bar.
I don’t believe that anyone should be attacked for their body shape, age, gender or colour. And I’m not going to attack anyone. I celebrate and truly enjoy diversity in cosplay. There is an infinite universe that can be realized through our imaginations. The key word here is
I’m blessed in that all of my cosplaying companions have overactive imaginations. I’ve never seen anyone I know dress in anything less than a marvelous outfit. And these costumes range from a certain combination of regular clothing to an orangutan suit and beyond. Money isn’t a factor. Size or shape isn’t an issue. The success or failure of a costume comes from the amount of imagination and dedication that goes into a project (and many many energy drinks the night before).
The people who don’t have any imagination shouldn’t be ridiculed either. And I’m sure they don’t want my pity. Or to know that I’m aiming my pity at them. And, to be honest, I’m probably not pitying them. So that’s OK.
But they need friends who, before they choose a costume, can suggest:
“Hey, I’m pretty sure we can paint you up like a Binar. That would suit you perfectly.” Or “You’d make a brilliant Doctor. Let’s get you a sonic screwdriver.” Or “If I stick a shiny H on your head, you could be a Hologram on Red Dwarf.”
This is my point. Not “You can’t be Superman” (although I’m pretty much saying that, in the case of Superman) but that, with a little imagination, anyone can create a costume that suits them, is clever, worthy of praise and raises the bar of cosplay.
When did cosplay become a word? Dressing up. Fancy dress. Anyway.
- Be a wookie in a hockey jersey.
- Be a steampunk Ghostbuster
- Be the Doctor.
But maybe rethink the Robin Hood outfit.