By Connie Canseco
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Cosplay is a form of that. Fans of any genre, be it animation, cinema or a period of time, tend to show their appreciation by dressing up in their favorite hero or heroine. It is a sincere appreciation of the art. Cosplay takes a lot of time and effort on the player and of course, if you are going to put that much time an effort into a costume or prop, you are going to want to show it off. Conventions, gatherings and even just everyday events can bring cosplayers out in droves. They are just having some harmless fun with other fans and should be appreciated. That being said, remember some guidelines when approaching these “people”.
Guidelines for mere mortals (non-cosplayers)
Acknowledge them if you can. Don’t be rude and scream out to them, but if you can, recognize the character or the story and let them know you know who they are.
DON’T NITPICK!!!!! So the blaster on the storm trooper looks too much like the Nerf gun you just picked up for your little sister or the lines on the Alchemist’s jackets are ¾” off from center. IT IS A COSTUME!!!!!! Unless you are one of the prop masters from Warner Brothers or the actual artist of Deathnote (even that is pushing it) it is a REPLICA!!!!!! No one really has the exact specs on all the costumes. Enjoy for the hard work they put into the costume and their creativity to create the illusion they are presenting.
Take pictures. “Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” Yes, yes it will. Cosplayers are out and about to be seen, whether it be at a convention or at a showing of whatever it is they are cosplaying, they want to be seen. If their picture turns up on someone’s Facebook or someone’s site, they accomplished what they set out to do…be seen.
Be polite. If you do want a picture, ask. As said before, they want to be seen. They want to be acknowledged. Just be mindful of what you are taking pictures of and where. If you know that it will be a quick click just grab the opportunity and take the picture. If you are on a busy show floor or a crowded street, try to step aside so that you are not blocking the flow of ‘traffic’ and you can avoid being bumped and banged with bags, strollers or such and your subject is getting glared at because they are the cause of the blockage.
Be compassionate. Even though everyone can wear spandex, doesn’t mean that they should. You will get those players who you will just look at as say “NO”. Keep it to yourself. These players put in a lot of time and effort to make these illusions come to life. They are very proud of their work. Don’t be a hater and bag on them if they don’t meet your specification for the perfect Wonder Woman or Spartan. Do you have the confidence to pull off that look?
Guidelines for Players (you costume folk)
Play the part. You are here in full costume you are here to make an entrance. Like RuPaul says, “Work it honey”. You put in a lot of hard work for that costume. You should show it off.
Be tolerant. Remember that not everyone is into the same things as you are. People may have questions about your character. People may have questioned how you made things. Be prepared to answer them. Don’t be frustrated if you constantly get stopped to take pictures. These are fans just like you. Remember, you put yourself out there to be seen.
Accept the compliment graciously. That may be the 50th time you have heard, “I love how you made the belt holster” but in the mean time, no one has even taken the time to notice that wrist armor is actually embroidered and stamped with that crystal. True fans will notice. Just accept the fact that some of your hard work will be missed. In the same light, you never know when someone really appreciates the work (PIXAR).
Have a bit of a thicker skin. Just like I mentioned in rule 5 for the mortals, some people who, more power to them, are confident to wear the micro shorts and the 6” platforms may want to take that second look in the mirror before stepping out. There will always be those critics out there that will just not get the look you are going for and although you may think that the bodysuit that Ivy is wearing in Soul Caliber is the sickest look, you may want to rethink the pirate instead. We tend to have a different vision of ourselves if we really want something. Like I said, take a second look.
Remember your audience. This goes with the thick skin. That Dawn costume is great at Comic-con but do you really want to have your co-workers remembering you at the water cooler the day after Halloween like that. Be aware of who is around you and what can be said. Also, not that I am trying to censor anyone’s creative liberties but, age appropriate. I don’t really think anyone really wants to see a 12 year old Leeluu from ‘The Fifth Element” without feeling like a pedophile.
Are these the official guidelines, heck no. These are just things that I keep in mind when I go out in costume. Remember, this is all fun. Mortals, remember, if you see something you like, let the players know. If you see something you don’t keep it to yourself unless you can do better. Players, you are awesome for getting out there and living your fantasy. Just remember everyone is entitled to an opinion.