Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bullying is still okay as long as it's aimed at the nerds, right?

I spend a decent amount of time perusing the internet for news and interesting stories. Sometimes I find things that disturb me, sometimes I find things that inspire me, sometimes I find things that just rub me completely the wrong way and piss me right off.

Monday was one of those days.

I came across a review of a show on SyFy called Heroes of Cosplay that ran in the New York Post.

Of course it immediately grabbed my attention. I've professed before to my love of cosplay and the extremes that my family has gone to in order to put together themed costumes.

This one, again, because I love this shot of me as Wonder Woman
and Freckles as Supergirl.
I'm on the hunt for a corset that can do double duty for my Halloween costume this year and next year's Con, if anyone is wondering....

Anyhow, I read the article with interest. As a first time Con attendee this year, I was floored by some of the cosplay I saw. Some of the outfits were ornate and detailed, some had clearly taken a long time to assemble, some were as good as anything the special effects people in Hollywood could come up with.

I've spent many days, nights, weeks and months assembling costumes. I've probably spent more money than I should on some of the pieces. I've made others from scrap stuff lying around the house. My oldest recently took to disassembling all the Nerf guns in the house, transforming them to steampunk ray guns and reassembling them so well that they remain fully functional.

We take this stuff pretty seriously.

So, when I read the brief review of the show, written by Linda Stasi, I was a little bit horrified. Not that the author was critical of the show, but that she was critical of anyone who enjoys cosplay.

You read that right.

Rather than giving any sort of information about the show itself, she spent her few paragraphs musing about how she doesn't understand anyone who would spend that much time, energy or money making a costume to wear to a convention. She can't see how it is a purposeful outlay of resources, and she just doesn't understand it.

She can't comprehend why renting a costume isn't good enough, or why adults would ever bother wanting to pretend to be someone else. She even wonders what all those who enjoy cosplay must do for a living to support this strange habit.

It's weird, she says, to want to be the fictional characters we dress as.

Her only relevant comment about the show itself, which is what she is supposed to be writing about, is really the last sentence, where she says something to the effect that you'll like the show if you like cosplay.

Here's the thing, Linda...you're a bully.

Just because you're some big shot reporter doesn't mean that you can say whatever you want about an entire group of people in a demeaning way.

So what if you don't understand cosplay? No one cares. You weren't supposed to be writing an article about the appropriateness of cosplay in society, you were supposed to be writing a review of a television program.

So what if you don't "get" dressing up? No one cares. I'm sorry if you don't have an imagination anymore, if you've outgrown it, if you can't identify in any way with some of the most awesome fictional characters ever created. I feel sad for you a little bit, actually. You don't know what you're missing.

What do you enjoy, Linda?  Are you a sports fan?

Here's the thing about sports fans - everything you said about us in the cosplay universe could as easily apply to sports fans if you so chose to make that connection, except that it's widely accepted in society to adore a football player, but it's not as accepted to love a character from Lord of the Rings.

Sports fans spend a ridiculous amount of time watching sporting events, attending games, waiting in line to get tickets. They blow huge amounts of money buying the jerseys of their favorite players, buying autographs, getting season tickets. They might even decorate parts of their homes with the colors of their team, hang memorabilia on their walls. They isolate themselves from anyone who doesn't love their designated sport during the season. They forgo other things in life for sports. They yell and scream and get fired up. They join fantasy leagues online where they can pretend to be coaches of dream teams.

They do all the same things we do, for one reason and one reason alone...because they love it.

Yet, no one chastises them for the love of their game, of their player. No one tells them that they are weird or obsessive. No one questions how they can afford tickets to the game or why they spend so damn much time watching it on TV. No one blinks an eye when they join a fantasy league online. No one tells them they are strange for wearing a jersey with someone else's name on it.

No one does because being a sports fan is socially accepted, but being a nerd isn't.

Linda, you are picking on cosplayers because you can. You are picking on us because in your view it's not okay to love what you love unless enough other people love it to mainstream it. You are picking on us because we're one of the groups that it's still okay to tease.

For the record, Linda, those cosplayers you are picking on...they are lawyers and doctors and teachers and accountants and bloggers. They are sports fans too, many of them, myself included. I've not once been harassed because of my love of college football or major league baseball, but I've been picked on plenty for using big words, for loving science and for dressing up.

Think about what you are writing before you write it. Imagine what other things in society could be made to seem silly and wasteful if you turned it around that way. See that what you are doing is really nothing more than just picking on the nerds.

Stop it. Leave us alone.

We love what we love because we love it.

We won't judge you if you don't judge us. Hell, even if you do judge us, chances are we'd still accept you. 

That's the coolest thing about cosplayers, if you didn't know, by the way. We accept everyone, whoever they are, and whatever they want to be.

I happen to think that's pretty goddamn amazing.

If you get a chance, write an actual review of the show, because there are people out there who might want to watch it, regardless of whether you happen to think we are freaks or not.


  1. No words for this reporter...

    Hubby does role playing twice a week and goes to midevil fairs as often as possible. Its his destressor. I get it. What ever works.

  2. Amen sister. My husband and I like to go to LARP events, I'm a dark priest and he's a hobbit warrior. We have a freaking blast and love getting new pieces to our costumes in the off seasons. My friends and fam thinks it's weird, but we have a blast and get hella exercise. I see no problem with getting your nerd on personally. I have a lot more fun with people role playing and acting out of character than people who are trying to fit into society.

    -dunno how to add stuff. so from Sarah Walker haha

  3. What a great allegory. I've never thought of it in this way, Kelly. So fucking true.

    Nerds unite.

    -The Insomniacs Dream

  4. Couldn't have said it better myself! Amen Sista!

  5. This speaks right to my heart as someone who both loves the nerd world (I'm an avid gamer and a semi-permanent resident of the Fantasy World), and a huge sports fanatic. August through February is the best time of year for me for all things collide into one and it's mana from heaven, short the constant teasing about my nerd flag flying high. I've learned to overcome though. Great read as usual!

  6. Yes, yes, yes! I'm working on my Lady Mechanika cosplay for the October Comic Con in Dallas. :)

  7. Very good point. I think that cosplay is a very imaginative and creative use of your time - in the past, I've been Lara Croft, Morticia Addams, Chun Li and a female Beetlejuice, and I've had more fun in so-called fancy dress than I have in my normal clothes. People should just be allowed to do what they do without someone else casting aspersions on it because they don't understand it.

  8. It's about strength and power. Intelligence is still seen as something cool people avoid. Which shows how stupid people really are.


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