Saturday, September 7, 2013

Heroes of Cosplay?

This week, I've caught, via Hulu, up with the SyFy series Heroes of Cosplay.

As you might remember, I'm not a huge fan of conventions. I go to C2E2 in the spring and then don't feel up to going to another con until C2E2 is coming up again. I get overwhelmed by the amount of people and the amount of noise on the floor, I can't eat anything served, and I end up having weird feelings during some of the panels.

My roommate has a thing for causally cosplaying. Because she's a fun person and wants to get into the fun of any situation she in. And we usually find the cosplayers to be the most interesting and impressive part of C2E2- with the cosplayers tending to be really nice and creative people that are fun to interact with. But we never bother to pay attention to the competitive side of the situation and, to be honest, I have always been baffled at the mention of costume competitions.

So, I thought I would check out the show, despite not being a fan of reality TV and its way of skewing people's personalities for the sake of drama. I figured I could at least see some awesome costumes in motion.

And... yup, there's some skewing. But it is nice to see a show that's focused mostly on creative and skilled women (all but one of the followed cosplayers are female). But most of them come off a little... bitchy. Or, in some cases, super bitchy to the point of feeling bad for how poorly they're being presented just to up the drama and anticipation. It's not as bad as the girls on America's Next Top Model and I know most people say "Buyer Beware" when it comes to reality show casts at this point in the game, but I still worry about how this will negatively impact the lives of the cast.

The one I feel the worst for is Monika, as she's so young and the producers seem to love to include every catty comment that comes out of her mouth, especially if it's about one of the other cosplayers. While also portraying her as incredible naive at the same time. Even in the web exclusive segments where the cast critique each other's work, the clips of her rarely show her making constructive criticism  They also feel the need to make her mother interact with her every so often, just so Monika can sneer at someone while making her costume. I can understand feeling a little superior about being a teenager that can out-do most adults in competition, but I worry if the show will open her up to a lot of new harsh judgements coming her way.

Holly and Jessica from Crabcat Industries have the least to worry about with how they're portrayed and it shows that they're just there to have fun and get Crabcat exposure. They know the drill, as the show is basically taking the format of their part of Morgan Spurlock's Comic-Con documentary. They are getting more and more actual work for their creature creations and are basically just trying to challenge their skills and comfort zones by doing the cosplay competitions. This especially shows in their hilarious (although, life threatening) decision to do "Cats: The Memesical" for an anime con where everyone else was doing an anime-themed costume.

Becky and Chloe definitely come across as the nicest two of the cast but also as the two that do least labor-intense costumes and seem to be in it more for just having fun. Becky does a lot of cartoon characters that she can act the part of on stage and can get carried away focusing on the wrong thing (going big with her Taffeta costume having a car rather than thinking of a costume that would just require more detail). Chloe has only competed in one episode, but anyone that has seen her Nerdist Channel work knows that Chloe just loves to celebrate other people being able to enjoy themselves with fun costumes- as shown when she gets mean girl'd over drinks at Emerald City because she's not drinking the koolaid. Becky and Chloe represent the type of cosplayers that I adore the most and it's easy to see why they are the two that get asked to host events and work for conventions- they're nice people.

Victoria is portrayed as intense, constantly leaving everything to the last moment, and relying too much on her boyfriend to do most of the work. And everyone keeps reminding her that she leaves everything to the last minute, which would make me be a little intense and have an inferiority complex, too.

Riki is mostly portrayed as pretty sweet and focused on perfecting her prop-making. But she is the one that was commenting that a 300 pound man shouldn't cosplay as Superman, which made me like her a lot less very quickly. However, it is important to also remember that she created Cosplay for a Cause and therefore is probably actually a really nice person who just said something stupid.

Yaya is basically the Tyra Banks of the show. She can do no wrong. She's very diplomatic with her phrasing. She is the wise elder stateswoman that scolds the less knowing. She is never shown struggling much to put a costume together. She always looks amazing. And she never seems to have a sense of humor or to be enjoying anything. Because she is one of the handful of professional cosplayers in the world.

Jesse, the one guy, is portrayed with a lot less inter-personal drama than all the women. His issues are usually with just trying to come up with a costume that will finally get him noticed and the struggle with creating the costume.

As for the costumes... the show is pretty disappointing when it comes to the actual costumes. I don't really care about how accurate the appliques and embroidery are on a costume. I just want to be surprised and impressed. I love out-of-the-box costumes a lot more than super-accurate re-creations. I like gender bending costumes. I like Riki's Rocketeer costume and Victoria's Tron costume. I love (from before the show existed) Chloe's GlaDOS costume. I love the dedication Holly put into her performance in her Galaxy Quest costume. I love how natural Jessica's Tank Girl costume came to her. and looked so amazing. Hell, I even love Becky's Pinkie Pie via the 80s outfit she wore while working at Anime Matsuri.

Also, not everyone has the equipment to vacuum form their own helmets and whatnot. I'd prefer to see some more inventive substitutions from what you can get ahold of rather than seeing people spend hundreds of dollars on a single costume that they'll compete with once.

I wish the show would focus more on cosplaying on the showfloor, as I feel that's more interesting. You'd get to see if they stay in character the whole time or only when asked for a picture, you'd get to see them interacting with people that might've written or portrayed the character they're dressed as. And it would be a more organic way to go about the details of how they created the costume.

However, that would make it, essentially, the show that Chloe (and Holly and Jessica) does for the Nerdist Channel. Just with more footage of the costumes being made before the convention.

And, you know what? I'm not going to put any pictures in this post. So... whatever. I just had to get my thoughts out about the show.

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