Cosplay Is Creative, Not Crazy: An Open Letter to the New York Post

Categories: Opinion

cosplay_letter_christina_mendenhall.jpg
Christina Mendenhall
Jonathan Stryker, cosplaying at Florida Supercon 2013.
Yesterday's New York Post review of upcoming SyFy reality show, Heroes of Cosplay, angered quite a few of us in the geek community. The article portrays the cosplay community as "confused" and "weird," all while looking down its nose at those who might enjoy the creative pursuit.

Yes, cosplay is insanely time-consuming. Yes, cosplay is expensive. Yes, cosplay represents a subset of fandom that not everyone is into, and that can be jarring to an outsider. I haven't seen Heroes of Cosplay; maybe it wrongly portrays the subculture. But it's your job as a journalist to educate yourself about your subject matter before jumping to conclusions based on a reality TV show. Cosplayers shouldn't be scoffed at, lumped in with "nutty Civil War re-enactors," because you were too cool for school to inform yourself an extra smidge about the industry.

We here at Cultist love ourselves some cosplay, so we felt we needed to set the record straight, just in time for any future cosplay articles and reviews you might try to run.

1. Cosplayers come from all walks of life, from full-time employees to students.
No need to wonder anymore "what these folks do to earn a living"; anyone from your dentist to that adjunct professor/freelance writer over there (cough) can be a potential cosplayer. I spoke with one Miami-area cosplayer, Jonathan Stryker, who is a marketing personal assistant for an author, videographer, and photographer but manages to find time for his favorite hobby. Another cosplayer, Alexa, happens to be a full-time writer for gaming journalism juggernaut Polygon. Ryan, a Miami lawyer, attended his first ever con (Florida Supercon 2012) in full Doctor Who regalia, fez and all.

2. Cosplay can range from store-bought pieces with handmade accents to full-fledge custom creations.
Stryker's effort here took about $1000 bucks and countless hours.

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Jonathan Stryker
This cosplay is NOT to be trifled with.
This writer's Game of Thrones-inspired get-up, on the other hand, took a just a couple of days. I bought the dress, and made everything else--only half that hair is actually mine.

MelisandreCosplayNew.jpg
The night is dark and full of hot glue guns.

Sure, some people will spend a ton of money on construction or commissioning custom creations. Many others are just starting out and don't necessarily abide by hard and fast rules regarding construction. They just want to express their love for these characters and show off some artistic skill. Which brings me to my next point...


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23 comments
Deinonychus
Deinonychus

I respect the cosplay community. I respect this cosplayer. I respect this article; it deserves to be read by countless others! I would like to begin cosplaying myself.. However, I do not approve of the quip made by the author of this article in regards to Civil War re-enactors. As a World Historian and a proud American whose ancestors served in the Union, I am appalled by the concept of Civil War re-enactors being deemed "nutty". Cosplay allows for a subculture to unite as one by means of a general interest; of this, I approve. Civil War re-enactors also unite as one by means of general interest. Given history's recent neglect in our school systems, I even see Civil War re-enactments as an alternative form of teaching to our youth the horrors of a Civil War. Cosplay enables to teach our youth creativity. Other than that, this was an amazing article! Cosplay has an interesting history dating back to the Victorian Age. One day, cosplaying, costuming and re-enacting will be viewed as the same.

cajunbunnielove
cajunbunnielove

Cosplay is 97% better than our average everyday Halloween costumes, yet this is the only thing I have to compare against the people "weirded out or confused" on this art form. What annoys me is that everyone was fine and dandy about Face Off, yet when they add cosplay in the mix all of sudden it's this taboo. I personally applaud the people that can take these characters from imaginary worlds and make them ALIVE. Whats the difference between taking the Wolf man or Frankenstein, DISNEY CHARACTERS and dressing up as them and doing the same thing with Japanese or comic book characters or video game characters and recently Disney has been popping up. WHATS THE DIFFERENCE!?!? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, except a passion to an artistry craft that has forever been growing and not respected because it's "different". Yet it's not because no body is told about because of ignorance such as this.


Becky Dillon
Becky Dillon

I am here because of Ms Melendez' excellent open letter to the Post. I am in Germany, and old enough to understand that long before "cosplay," there were re-enactors. No crazier than modern-day costumed applicants, we studied our subjects and did the best to remain faithful to the period/custom/costume we were attempting to create. Today's Cosplayer is a part of a larger activity. For the period that he or she has chosen a different reality, they are whoever they want or need to be. Stock boys can be Kings and dentists can be Vampires and mommies can be sirens, and no one questions the suspension of the everyday; the requirement to be something more and different. In a group, this constitutes the single largest Iteractive Demonstration Art Exhibition in the area, for the duration of the gathering. Along with everything else Ms Melendez' rightfully propounds, the real reason is because its fun and for a brief time you can step into a world you can normally only dream of. Perhaps the Post is only envious of this capability, because they don't dream any longer?

shannonluis
shannonluis

Good on you mate! I have friends that take their cosplay very seriously, I've dabbled but nothing quite as amazing as my friends. I read the article this is in response to, and even I found it offensive and unprofessional. Thank you for setting them straight. 

anymaegrrl
anymaegrrl

I am a recent graduate with an Associate of Science degree and a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant...and I cosplay.

Thank you so much for this article. My husband is one of the types who see cosplaying as "immature" and "childish", and seeing people from all different walks of life being cosplayers just makes me so happy and see that it's not what other people consider it to be.

scifisos
scifisos

I don't cosplay, and I probably never will, however its so great to see what others do! I don't know a lot about the work goes into it, but I do know that the results can be amazing and the ones that are not will get better over time. To me it seems like it can be like an artistic, outgoing expression that a lot of people do for FUN. To get out of that cubicle, home office, or school studies and do something they enjoy doing :) whether they go all out out or not. I'm so glad that this calls out the article, because even though I'm not into cosplay and I don't know much about it... I recognize that its a fun hobby

Hannah Wiese
Hannah Wiese

Oh my god, thank you so much for clearing everything up. That previous post about cosplay really frustrated me.

scashworth
scashworth

So let me see if i get this right: painting your face in bright colors to be "fashionable" is okay.  Wearing new, self made deigns because it's "trendy" is ok.  Wearing outrageous costumes, wigs and face paint to a sporting event is okay.  Dressing up in the jersey of your favorite athlete and sitting at home pretending you have control over the outcome of a game, also normal and okay.  
Dressing up as a serial killer, monster or murder victim covered in fake blood for Halloween, totally sane.  Pretending for weeks, months and sometimes years to be another person for a film or tv series, totally acceptable as a profession.
But dress up once a month or less as a fantasy or scifi character, AT a scifi or fantasy convention, and you're suddenly a freak and a weirdo.  Gotcha.

liz.davison.williams
liz.davison.williams

As a low-budget amateur cosplayer, thanks for the response. That original review was full of ignorance and pretension. I'm glad you took the time to say something and say it well. 

veggielord
veggielord

This article speaks TRUTH.

I don't get why people feel like they need to judge us when in actuality we're learning A LOT from just making a costume. When I'm faced with people who judge me by my hobby, I invite them to try cosplaying. If they really didn't like it, at least they would be able to say that they tried (and it's REALLY not for them).

Also, the point on Halloween! THANK YOU. Can always get the critics to shut up with this point. It's a golden trump. :)

novusluna
novusluna

This article does so much justice to cosplaying, and is so very true. People cosplay for many different reasons, and their are different types of cosplayers. Thank you so much for setting the record straight. There is no one more qualified to write about cosplaying than a cosplayer him/herself.

I am in many fandoms where cosplaying is pretty common, especially in the days of comic con. I understand it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but how dare NYP look down at us from their lofty perches as judge us for the way we have fun. How dare they call us 'weird', 'confused' and say we live in a 'make believe reality'. They might as well have said that 'green is not a creative colour' (kudos to everyone who gets this reference!)

animenutcase
animenutcase

Thank you. So much. I'm glad to see someone on the reality show actually understands. I've been terrified that the supposed "Heroes of Cosplay" will blow the truth of Cosplay (its fun and artistic and we do it because we love the characters) into something its entirely not. I dislike Reality TV because honestly that's what it does to a lot of things. Changes or twists them. I'm glad to see actual participants feel the same way, and saddened to hear that the NY Times called us weird.

Calling us weird is like calling actually actors who get paid money to dress up weird. Or every child who wears a Halloween costume weird. Do we consider Tom Hiddleston weird and creepy for actually walking out on stage in full Loki regalia? No. Do we consider those "Scream" costumes or the Freddie costumes that we see every halloween weird? No. Because it is. Honestly "Cosplay" is merely a borrowed word from another culture, tacked on to a subculture that is quite extensive. Cosplay is costumes. Cosplay is acting. Cosplay is art. Cosplay is fun. It's making Halloween every day without the celebration of it being Halloween. We get to dress up and be dorks and have fun.

What more would anyone want?

Hisomi
Hisomi

This is pretty much exactly what I wanted to say.  Seriously, though.  I was offended by the original article by the NYP.

missyme06
missyme06

THANK YOU!! THIS IS SPOT ON!

EviliciousAZ
EviliciousAZ

thank you SO MUCH for this. here's hoping that author actually sees this

ktdid_is_me
ktdid_is_me

Holy crap thank you. That article seriously ticked me off, so I really appreciate you writing this up. 

writer997
writer997

Thank you for setting the record straight on the journalist that apparently was never allowed to pursue his imagination as a child to have fun. Having fun is what it is all about. It has nothing to do with growing up, by the way, which I do not have time for. I will stay as young as life will let me, then forever stay young in my mind. ;)


core
core

Great piece, very well written.

starryrukia
starryrukia

Thank! You! i hope this slaps a certain "journalist" (if you can call them that now) right in the nose. Serves em right for not researching things before distributing garbage information.

hanna.metaj
hanna.metaj

Loved the end of this article :) And over all: Well said.

heymacarena
heymacarena

@anymaegrrl Next time tell him that it's just as "immature" and "childish" as cheering for a bunch of dudes trying to hit or catch a ball. I'm not even going to mention the shirts.

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