Why does my opinion matter? It doesn’t. At least no more or less than anyone else’s, and there’s nothing stopping you from hitting ‘delete’ and moving onto the next article that catches your attention.
Choose to read on however, and you’ll be exposed to the thoughts of a complete stranger, someone who until relatively recently had limited knowledge of Cosplay. Having done so, what should you do with the information? Well nothing really, because it’s only a set of thoughts, and who the hell am I anyway?
The point is we read articles everyday, written by complete strangers, some of whom clearly have an agenda. We may nod in agreement if the content strikes a chord. We may learn something new, or be awakened to an alternative perspective. Whatever the case may be, we weigh those words, (oblivious to the motives behind them) against our own personal views and beliefs.
The sad thing is that for the most part, the greatest reaction is reserved for opinion that criticises something or someone close to us, or something in which we find pleasure.
Consider for a moment that the authors of such mischief know this already. In fact their notoriety, maybe even self-worth, relies upon it. Dare I say that regardless of the upset they ultimately cause, they are the ones in the most vulnerable position; needing us to be upset or outraged, because their own sense of self is in the balance.
Think about it for a moment. If they can’t stimulate reaction, how relevant are they?
I strongly suspect that this was the case having read a recent article by an established contributor to a well known tabloid. I won’t mention either by name because what’s the point? Her view could have come from anyone. The only difference really was in the number of people she’s able to reach.
I’m told that the content of her article appears to have changed from her original version, is it less harsh now? Does it matter? Does her opinion matter at all? Given the level of response it provoked, I’m guessing many would say it does. It’s probably an exaggerated version of her thoughts anyway, because her writing style is frequently controversial. Think of it as her ‘character’; sound familiar?
Now seeing that you’ve made it this far, I’m guessing that you’re somewhat interested in my take on the matter, and what motivated a complete outsider who’s never been to a Con or fabricated a costume, to comment.
Well a member of my household is a regular attendee at Cons, and I’m pretty used to seeing Wonder Woman, Ciri, or an assortment of Disney characters parade through the kitchen. Yep when Wonder Woman has fetched you a brew, you’ve kinda seen it all.
What I’ve learned from having a Cosplayer around, is the level of skill and the hours of work it takes to create a costume. Wonder Woman Mk1 took forever. Mk 2 was much quicker, as of course you learn by experience. I don’t have that level of creativity, and I’m impressed.
What I’m also impressed with is the level of community that’s involved. The support, help, and camaraderie that’s available to complete strangers who just happen to share an interest. I hear the stories post convention, and love listening about all the fun and interaction, often with kids who got to meet their heroes.
Then there’s the charity work, and the time given so generously to visit poorly children. You set a wonderful example and put many of us to shame.
Does it matter that it’s all make-believe? It’s something those outside of the community seem to get very hung-up on, as they focus purely on the fantasy aspect. Duh, of course people are aware that super-heroes aren’t real. But tell me which aspect of the fun, laughter, creativity, human connection, or even just getting out of the damn house, isn’t real. That’s looks like 90% reality to me.
I actually think there’s something very healthy in adopting a different persona for a day. Consider someone lacking in self-confidence, who evokes a kick-ass powerful character simply by donning a costume. It may be role play, but it’s also a kind of visualisation, which forms the backbone of many a therapeutic technique.
You cannot act confidently and be outgoing without a certain amount leaking back into the self.
Sadly, I’m also aware that all is not entirely sweetness and light. While the vast majority of Cosplayers will have been outraged by the aforementioned tabloid article, a proportion will hypocritically settle down behind their keyboards and bitch about fellow community members.
This shouldn’t be surprising as Cosplayers are normal people, and this sort of behaviour happens in every community. But what I’d say to those who do indulge in harsh or unnecessary criticism of others, is think about how it felt when an outsider mocked you, and then think twice about indulging in exactly the same behaviour.
It’s a choice to give another person’s opinion power over you, it’s also a choice to attempt to wield that same power.
Would I ever don a costume? No. Would I ever attend a con? Who knows, it does sound like fun. The point is I would never go to a football match either, or involve myself in any number of activities that are massively popular. In fact some of my own hobbies and interests would be considered ‘fringe’.
So while not being one of you, I still feel a sense of connection. Not simply because someone I love is a Cosplayer, but because we both share a view from the fringes, and I know what it’s like to be judged from a point of ignorance.
Therefore the view of this outsider is carry on doing what you’re doing, be kind to one another, and continue to make your community a strong and inclusive place. Above all….have fun.