Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I had an interesting conversation today...

  Well perhaps not a conversation, at least not yet, more like an exchange with akimoto89 over at This Shinee World. Their opening bit followed by the rest and my response after the jump.  Mind you it is a wall of text but I think it's worth reading and also keep in mind that I didn't realize that this person may not be my age when I offered to feature them for Cosplay Wednesdays.  I don't know if they're 14 or 40, obviously one of those is an inappropriate age to offer showing pictures of them on the internet.  I leave the distinction to you and the FBI.  I guess what I'm trying to say is: Please don't arrest me Chris Hanson!

akimoto89:

  I inadvertently stumbled upon a shit-show this evening, and it has consumed nearly all of my allotted time for sleep. To make things short, there is a guy named Chris Spags who posted a rather derogatory (in my opinion) slideshow of Black Widow cosplay on his website, and when the cosplay community found out, chaos ensued. Instead of going over it all myself, I’m going to post a link to a pretty good blog post that has summarized all the goings-on quite nicely, with discussion to follow. Mind you, all this is nearly a month old. But because I am an old granny in Internet time, and feel somewhat personally about this matter, I have decided to post my opinion. This is a reply to Fancy Deadpool‘s discussion, taking him up on his promise.

  Late to the party, but whatever.

  I found Chris Spag’s article on Black Widow through a Google search on Black Widow cosplay images. I am considering doing a Black Widow cosplay in the future, and I was trying to garner information about styling, cloth options, etc. Needless to say, I was kind of surprised to find this particular firestorm.

  Personally, I’m very particular about which characters I might cosplay, because I want to do it “right.” Meaning, if I posted a photo of myself in costume on the internet, I would hope it ends up in a “Top 20″ list or something. But I would never belittle anyone who chose to do a character cosplay who didn’t “fit” that character’s image. Because who’s to say that despite my best efforts, I don’t really end up looking like a character I’m trying to portray?

  I think that is partially why the cosplaying community is taking Chris Spag’s article so harshly. He is not a cosplayer. He does not want to be a cosplayer. But he feels that it is fine to put together a slide of photos and make fun of – and this is important – not the costumes or lighting or photo composition – but the girls playing the characters. Oh, she’s too fat. Oh, she looks too much like Alyson Hannigan. (I didn’t get that one.) Oh, she must be self-serving, taking a photo of herself in a hospital, what a bitch. And these aren’t even the worst ones, I expect – he deleted the original fat caption, so I never read that particular one. And though you mention 11 photos in the slideshow, I only saw 8, so I don’t know which ones he erased and what those said.

  What made it worse were his replies to the comments to the article. I read through all of them and he was just fanning the flames, being a total dick, not showing an inkling of remorse. When the girl in the hospital photo let him know that she was from the Avenger’s Initiative, the only thing he wrote in reply was, “Noted.” And when people told him that they were insulted by his post and will not be going on his website anymore, basically his reply was, “Well, you’re no one I care about, so fuck off.”

  You write that he’s only trying to make a living, but there are much, much better and nicer ways to make a living. Yes, the Internet is a sinkhole, but he didn’t have to contribute to it in this manner. Like probably everyone else, I clicked on the link because I thought the list was going to be funny, not derogatory. I can laugh at bad cosplay just as well as any other person. And I will say that a few of his captions were funny – like the one about the punch, which was about makeup, and the one about the bad MILF porn, which was about composition. Harsh, yes, but funny. It’s too bad he didn’t keep it like that for all of them.

  And maybe Chris Spags realized part of that, and that was why he posted his “apology.” And I put that word in quotations, because it is not actually an apology. He started off fine, the insert from Rebecca Young was quite relevant, but he never quite gets to the part where he admits that he made fun of young women for their looks and bodies, and is sorry for it. Instead it goes along the vein of, “Well, I may have done something wrong…but look at all of YOU! You and your inflammatory comments bashing me! Look how hypocritical and wrong YOU are! Plus, I am justified in what I have written, because two “famous” people support me, no proof.” So rather than giving readers the sense that he is actually contrite and recognizes that he has done wrong with the hopeful corollary that he won’t do it again, he just let things stand as they are. And I know you’re written that the cosplay community should have let him go to stop the negativity, but he could also have stopped the negativity by writing a sincere apology. The buck was in both hands.

  In the end, despite some in the cosplay community overreacting with the stuff they wrote, I feel that Chris Spags was in the wrong, and my opinion will very likely not change on that point. However, to address the very end bit of your post – is being set apart for being geeky really all that different for being set apart because you’re a minority? It’s not about costumes and taking them on or off – it’s about the thinking that if you’re a cosplayer, then you must be a nerd/geek. It’s not that cosplayers are discriminated against, but the clear stereotyping and bullying that happens when someone is pigeonholed into a minority profile. That was probably what the person who originally mentioned racial discrimination was trying to get at.

  My Response:

  Very interesting. I would like to make clear that my intention was to support neither party in my rant. I believe nobody was in the right, it was pretty much handled poorly by everyone involved and while Chris Spags “apology” may have been entirely insincere it was better than the no apology. At least an insincere apology requires thought and effort. What bothered me about the whole thing, at least from the cosplayers side, was this sense of entitlement. “I am entitled to things because I tried.” No one is entitled because they try. You aren’t entitled if you try and succeed, you earn success, you aren’t entitled to it. That’s what bothered me about the cosplayer side. I suppose I was harsher on the cosplayer side because I expect more from them and I was therefore more dissapoint. Chris Spags represents the “Men’s Interest” nerd (I still don’t know what that is, but I hear Linkara says he knows), I have nothing in common with them and I didn’t read the comments section at all because I don’t care to hear a bunch of “Alpha Males” (another nerd type) talk, really, at all, about anything. So the fact that he even managed an apology and put some effort into it went above and beyond what I expected and was therefore happy. I expect better from my own community so I was really disappointed that we didn’t collectively turn the other cheek immediately and not give him his hit’s or make him money or give him recognition.

  Now to the “ring leaders” Chris Spags and Gail Simone. I do have to thank Chris, when I started my blog I thought going severely negative was the only route to go. I was originally going to post the worst of cosplay every week and then make fun of them. Going through all of this I realized that I didn’t want to be negative (except in 2 weeks, I scheduled everything to post 10 weeks ago, before I had this revelation but it’s only positivity from here on out baby!). There are things I don’t like about cosplay, some things I absolutely hate about cosplay and I’ll always be negative about those things but it’s good to encourage the people who do it right. As for Chris Spags, we aren’t friends and that was the first and last 2 times I’ll ever give him hits. He shouldn’t have let it degenerate into name calling, he should have been classier than that. He probably wouldn’t have even apologized but he poked what he thought was an empty bee’s nest and was swarmed by bears. He probably didn’t think he would get the reaction he did and learned a valuable lesson and at least he had the class to attempt an apology, which seemed about as sincere as we could expect so I accepted it. I outline my disappointment in Gail Simone in my follow up, the cleverly titled “Twitter Cosplay a’splosion Y’all pt 2″ I know, I expect my Pulitzer any day now.

  Now to address the very end of your article. No. I don’t agree, I’ll never agree. If you dress in a costume that is the likeness of a fictional comic book character (like I do and will again) then, in my opinion, you are a geek/nerd. Geek and nerd aren’t bad words, as a community if we haven’t gotten over that then we need to. Everyone is a geek or nerd, some are sports nerds, some are fashion nerds, some are home improvement nerds (both of the show and the act of improving one’s home), some are cooking geeks. We’re all geeks, it’s just that some of these geeks/nerds (I call them nerks) either have more “mainstream interests” (whatever that means) and/or are comfortable and confident in their nerkdom. We should be too. Now I don’t advertise my nerkdom but I don’t go out of my way to hide it either (it has to do with social contracts and knowing your audience). We aren’t a “minority”, we are a majority, our conventions, our internet pressence, this very incident proves this. There’s no reason to hide and if someone makes fun of you on the internet, maybe even me in two weeks (I scheduled it 10 weeks ago, when will you let that go!) you, the cosplayer, has to be able to say “Fuck you, I did my best, I’m happy with result, I don’t care what you say.” not aloud mind you, just to yourself, possibly as you stand up straight, clench your fist in a righteous pose and smile. The stigma that is sometimes attached to it and the bullying are two totally different issues that would take lengthy articles to address. I’ve already wrote more than enough I suppose. So I’ll end with hawking my blog by saying, sincerely and creepily, when you do cosplay Black Widow send me a pic from the convention floor and I’ll feature you for cosplay Wednesday (I could use the content). If you have friends that cosplay, male or female, do the same and I’ll feature them. I’ll be nice, I promise. Well, I promise to try at least.




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