Cosplay Bullshit - Part Two
Last time, I laid out some of the bullshit ideas that are flying around in cosplay pretending to be the gospel truth. Here's one that I didn't include in that list, because this may be one of the biggest piles of crap.
BS: The more pictures I get, the bigger success my costume is.
TRUTH: Stop and ask yourself something. Who are you cosplaying for, and why? Are you doing it for yourself, because you love a character, because you really wanted to make the outfit? Or is it a popularity contest? Because the number of photos you get is a popularity contest, and a pretty inaccurate one at that. Sometimes you're accidentally giving off an "I'm nervous, please don't ask for a photo" vibe, or an "I'm too cool for you to stop" vibe, without even realizing. Photographers also tend to swarm - it's easier to take a photo of someone who's already been stopped, than to ask cosplayers yourself if you can take a shot. So one guy stops someone, everyone else decides they must be worth it, or notices them in the crowd suddenly and thinks "omg it's ___!", or just figures they might as well grab a pic since the person has stopped already and is clearly willing.
Some costumes are more readily noticeable in a crowd; big props, bright colors, and shiny things tend to distract photographers. The average Joe Otaku LOVES shiny things. Do you really want people to stop you because you have a bright red, giant prop (no that is not innuendo), or because they actually know and care who you're dressed as? If you just want to go by number of photos, you can easily watch who gets the most photos and pick a costume with those elements. If you don't want to choose costumes that way but you're upset that no one knows who you are, make sure that you actually try STAYING in one place and making it obvious that you're willing to have your photo taken. If you're wearing something from a brand-new series that virtually no one has heard of that looks like plain clothes, you had better be out there doing it for that one person who might know who you are and be thrilled, and not because you're hoping for scads of photos.
The truth is that big, shiny, and popular tends to win the day when you're at a con with *thousands* of other people. The people with cameras are often shallow. That doesn't mean you have to be. The most fun I've ever had at a group photoshoot I was "cosplaying" in an outfit I put together from my own clothes that, luckily, matched those of a character I really liked, and we had an amazing time taking silly photos. None of us knew each other but we all knew and loved the series and didn't care that no one else gave a damn about our little group.
Now the reality is . . . Some of you are going to go for maximum photos no matter what, so here's a little list to help you out.
Things that get lots of pictures (the more of these the better!)
1. Vinyl. But, unfortunately, only on certain people. Anyone can use it in small amounts, but that kind of falls under "shiny".
2. Skimpy. See above.
3. Shiny. This works on everyone. Easy to see from a distance and tends to catch the eye. But don't make it shiny just because you can - do it where it's justifiable, otherwise you risk looking like you escaped from a Vegas musical revue.
4. Lots of fiddly bits. If it *seems* complicated, it looks more impressive. It might be just as hard to make a nicely tailored plain school uniform, but something colorful and detailed is more likely to impress the average congoer.
5. Feathers/wings. They look cool, and they're obvious.
6. Big giant swords / other props. Phallic = good. Again, obvious, and everyone loves giant weapons.
7. Big giant armor. Phallic continues to = good. Can we say EVA-01?
8. Bright colors / high contrast. Especially the color red. Cereal companies use red extensively on their boxes because it "pops" out of a field of other colors; it has to do with the nature of your vision. You don't need color, either; black and white are very high-contrast, too.
9. Large groups. One person is much less obvious than five; and this also has to do with that idea of stopping people. Stop a group of cosplayers, and you get more bang for your buck. You don't have to BE from the same series, just look like you might be (you'd be amazed by the variety of costumes people can assume are from the same thing).
10. Popular characters/popular series. People feel dumb stopping a cosplayer, asking for their photo, and then asking who the hell they're cosplaying anyway. Photographers are just as embarrassed saying "you're so awesome, what are you from?" as you are having to answer it. Even if it's something they haven't seen, just heard of - being able to shout "hey, Vash!" to get photos is much easier. For a series that's "popular", that often just means being readily available, which means more fans (more people who care about your costume).
So basically, if you could get a big group of sexy, young cosplayers, put them all in red vinyl booty shorts, giant wings, and armor with large weapons, you would probably cause a photogasm. Never mind the popular part, people won't care what the hell you're from (but will pretend they know). Good luck with that.
That said, let's talk about good attention versus bad attention. There are things you can do that will get your photo taken - but that doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD.
Things that get lots of attention (for BAD reasons)
1. Being unavoidably obvious. I've seen people do this well, and I've seen them do it very stupidly. Don't be obnoxious - yelling, waving props around, being overly "in character" - you're just asking for somebody to kick your ass. Or, assuming they find you first, asking for security to boot your ass out of the convention. If you want to do performance art, that's cool; set up your cardboard buildings and have Godzilla knock them down in the middle of the con center. But don't do it so that anyone else might get hurt or otherwise seriously inconvenienced. And if you want to be in character, make sure that the people you're talking to want to play along. Don't just use it as an excuse to be rude and inappropriate.
2. Hot girl-on-girl or guy-on-guy action. Are you SURE you want squealing fanthings all around you? And if you're not gay or bi, WTF are you doing kissing that chick/guy?
3. Cheesecake poses. Think about the type of person who wants to take pictures of that kind of thing. Are you SURE you want them to splash pictures of you - when you're not even sure what they might be OF - all over the net, and maybe printed out for their own purposes? If you're underage, don't even TOUCH this one. This is the WORST reason you could get attention. Don't assume that just because you're at a convention it's all in good fun and nothing bad could happen, because it can.
4. Pushing skimpy to "nearly naked". Um . . . let's read the above, okay? Also, remember, some of this is pushing LEGAL. Con security will tell you to change (I've seen them do it), and they might kick you out of the convention. Most of us did NOT come to a con to see that much of a complete stranger, so kindly keep your naughty bits to yourself.
When you're thinking about what you're willing to do for a photo, think about this - this is a con, not Vegas. So forget about that "what happens here stays here" crap. Don't do anything you wouldn't want plastered all over the internet, because I promise it will be. Do you know how many hits the big photo sites get? Your friends, your boyfriend/girlfriend, and even your mother will be able to see it. If you aren't sure, don't do it.
Stay tuned for Part Three: The Truth Minus the BS, otherwise known as "Yes, Virginia, You Can Cosplay and Still Have Fun".
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