Sexy Cosplay, Nerdlesque and Men’s “Right to Sex”: Time to Move Past the Karate Kid

Crazy days, friends.  The President is an admitted sexual predator.  There are open debates about whether women should be “redistributed” to provide more sex to more women. But at the same time, there are now feminine Star Wars heroes to choose from, and women are finally getting some much needed, much-deserved justice on matters of abuse and assault.

Incel, The Misogynist Ideology that Inspired the Deadly Toronto Attack.” (Vox)

Blizzard Wants its Diverse Fans to Feel ‘Equally Represented’ by Overwatch’s Heroes“- (Polygon)

Nerdlesque and Body Positive Cosplay.” – (The Geek Anthropologist)

The Redistribution of Sex” – (The New York Times)

…..and finally, “Anyone want to cosplay Overwatch Playboy Bunnies with me?” – (one of the cosplay groups I belong to)

I don’t think it’s too much to say that this is a singular moment in U.S. cultural history.

The headlines above describe the edges of a phenomenon in which women increasingly reject Judith Butler’s “law” of society, and stretch out to make choices that push against multiple canons, societal expectations and collective fantasies.

These events and thoughts, these increasingly violent and entrenched positions have recently led me to believe that there is something really important going on in geekdom, something that could show us the way to how we can get through this moment of gender trouble as a nation.

My Two Cents on What’s Going On

I’ll explain. Let me start from an early essay from Cracked, one of the most perceptive pieces that I had read in quite a while. In 2012, I read this article from David Wong: “Five Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women.”

In the essay, as it states, Wong lays out how men are 1. Taught that they are owed a hot girl, 2. Are trained to see women as decorative, 3. They think that women conspire with their penises to ruin them, 4. They feel like their manhood (of the 300 kind was stolen, and 5. They feel powerless because of all of the above.

I don’t agree with everything in this piece, but much of it rings very true. It’s the author’s attempt to explain why, even though men hold most, if not all of the economic and political power, “no amount of male domination will ever be enough, why no level of control or privilege or female submission will ever satisfy us. We can put you under a burqa, we can force you out of the workplace — it won’t matter. You’re still all we think about, and that gives you power over us. And we resent you for it.” This, Wong writes, explains the rage.

It’s a convincing take on the problem described in the headlines above.

Incels apparently believe they are owed a “hot” woman, believe that women have all the power in society and are filled with violent rage at their lack of power.

And when they are thwarted, and cannot treat women as toys, objects or decorations, they snap and start killing them.

This has got to stop.

We have to stop teaching men that there’s only one way to be a man and it involves big muscles, violence, and treating women like trophies.

so, as I often do, I think cosplay, gaming culture and the fandoms have something to teach us about sexuality, gender, identity and the possibilities of what the world COULD look like, if we could break free of a Karate Kid/Donald Trump kind of world view.

Back to Overwatch: What Can Cosplay Teach Us?

Kiogenic, my daughter, plays Overwatch. Her favorite character is Tracer- a strong, short-haired, fierce lesbian who is as sassy as she is brave.  This is the beauty of Overwatch, as noted above, the game was designed by the people who brought us World of Warcraft, men who realized that women appreciated characters who didn’t just walk around in bikinis. Here is one of the creators reflecting on the decsion to create non-sexualized characters for Overwatch:

“”We’ve heard [from] our female employees and … even my daughter tools me out about it,” he said. “We were looking at old Warcraft stuff on YouTube, a cinematic … and my daughter is like, ‘Why are they all in swimsuits?’ And I’m like ‘Ugh, I don’t know, honey.’

So there are LOTS of choices of representation in Overwatch, the cast list is extensive:

There are lots of different choices for women who want to cosplay or play as non-sexualized and strong women.

Which, frankly, is why I was so confused when I saw the call for Playboy Bunny/Overwatch cosplayers on my Facebook thread.  Didn’t, (I thought), the decision to overtly sexualize the Overwatch players completely undercut the idea behind creating them as non-sexual?

What I’ve decided is…. actually, NO.

While we definitely have a lot of work to do in the representation of women (and men) in society to allow for different types of expression, the “Playboy Bunny” Overwatch characters were examples of women’s agency: their ability, through cosplay, to explore whatever sides of their identity they would like to.

Women, and men, in cosplay, can cosplay, crossplay, gender-bend or make up new and sexually adventurous versions of characters to express and explore their own sexualities freely, and in a healthy way that doesn’t resort to hurting others.

I think it’s GREAT that women don’t have to be confined by either the cage of puritanical “purity” OR the “sexualized decorative trophy.”  Again, I don’t know that women have that freedom everywhere, but I increasingly see it in cosplay.

What’s more, I see an open space for men to cosplay, crossplay or do nerdlesque- breaking out of that toxically limited box of Arnold Schartzenegger testosterone and Trumpian disdain for women.

As Geek Anthropologist Emma Louis Backe writes, “nerdlesque pushes back against pernicious sex myths within the geek community.” Nerdlesque, in which both men and women have the opportunity to perform sexy, burlesque-style performances of their cosplays (Femme Kylo Ren as striptease, for example).  Nerdlesque, as the New York Times, took note of above, is about breaking out of the vicious and damaging hetero-normative narrative about men and women that has framed geek culture for too long. This is the “adorkable misogyny” of Big Bang Theory.  The caricature of geeks as poorly socialized straight men eternally mystified by women hazards becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy: a modest but vociferous circle of geek men seems to warily view the entrance of smart, beautiful, and strong women into the geek fold.”

This paradigm would insist that strong women are a danger to men’s power and position, and that non-ideal body types are not decorative enough to be accepted. This stereotype of course, is just nearly as damaging for men as it is for women. It also, of course, excludes queer and asexual cosplayers by framing everything within the nasty, sick anger-generating paradigm that teaches men to hate women.

Where Can We Go From Here?

If Wong is right, and our culture teaches men to hate women, we need to create better, healthier cultural models. Some of this is ongoing- in cosplay especially.

it’s no secret I’m a fan of cosplay as a way to build self-esteem, promote respect for others, celebrate creativity and help people grow. What I would like to see entertainment, economic and political leaders learn from the beautiful and brave artistic work of cosplayers.

Sex isn’t inherently bad.

Women can enjoy sex.

Men don’t have to be Spartan warriors.

Women don’t have to be barbie dolls.

Men do not HAVE to be ruled by their sexual drives

Women can be strong and smart

Everyone deserves to be safe and happy, everyone deserves to be respected.

All bodies are beautiful bodies.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

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Faces of Cosplay: William Herschel Moore

Greetings! Welcome back to “Faces of Cosplay!”

There was a little hiatus as Kiogenic and I wrote a book….(see the ad to the right!) but I haven’t forgotten about all the great cosplayers I’ve met and talked to. And I am still very committed to helping them showcase their work!

The further I get into cosplay, the more impressed I am with the ingenuity, creativity, and skill of all the cosplayers I know. So without further ado, here is William, who I met in Arkansas at the Arkansas Anime Festival, also known as A2F.

A2F is one of our favorite cons, it’s small, but not too small, friendly, well run and well-attended. The cosplayers we meet there (like Paul, who I’ve profiled before).

The last time we went to A2F (sadly, before Kiogenic ran off to college), I went to check on her in the line for cosplay contest pre-judging.  She had struggled to get into the newly made Yang gauntlets (a very tight fit), and now couldn’t take them off until after the cosplay competition.

These Yang gauntlets!

William, I remember, was walking up and down the super-long line of cosplayers, asking if anyone needed water- and then bringing it to them. So this is my best memory of William, in cosplay, a friendly, decent guy, a superhero for all the thirsty, tired cosplayers!

(side note: conventions that set prejudging appointments, instead of those long lines are better.)

Road Hog from Overwatch

Name:  William Herschel Moore

Day Job:  Game Master at Bolt NWA! An escape room in Bentonville Arkansas

Age: 22

Home Base: Lowell, Arkansas

Why do you cosplay?

It’s fun to be able to become some of my favorite characters and be recognized as those characters!

How long have you been cosplaying? 

I’ve been cosplaying since about 2010, which is crazy to think about now…. it doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing it for 7 years.

How do you choose what characters to cosplay?

Well, honestly I try to find larger characters. I try to fit them to my body type, luckily enough they are all characters I end up liking!

What’s your most famous, or best-known cosplay?

For the longest time, everyone knew me for my Choji Akamichi cosplay from Naruto, I’d say I cosplayed him exclusively for about…. 2 1/2 years?

Choji from Naruto

The more I look at my old Choji cosplay the more I realize it was literally just stuff I pulled from my closet. Aside from the shirt my dad and I made.

Do you make or buy your costumes?

Both actually. I order some pieces online and alter them as well as having help from others when it comes to making stuff. A vast majority of my cosplays are thanks to my friends that have helped me make them. I can’t take the credit for my cosplays.

As Mario (right) with Luigi from Kingdom Hearts Mario and Luigi

What advice do you have for other cosplayers? Especially new cosplayers?

I guess my advice should go hand in hand with what I just said. Never be afraid to ask others for help. You’ll always find people willing to help out and teach you a new way to do things! Who knows, maybe someday someone will come to you asking for help and you can teach them!

What the best thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?
There was one gentleman at a local convention that came up to me and told me that he and his wife always look forward to the cosplays I come up with and loves seeing my updates on his feed. He told me he came to one convention for a day just to see my newest cosplay at the time!

Tombstone Taric from League of Legends

What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

The worst thing I’ve had said to me was because I’m larger, I’ll never get any attention as a cosplayer and that I should just do myself a favor and stop cosplaying all together before something bad happens to me haha. Well, I kept cosplaying and nothing has happened yet!

Do you attend conventions? Do you have a favorite?

Yes, I attend conventions, though lately the number of cons per year has dwindled, due to adulting constantly. Hooray for bills. Can’t really say I have a favorite haha. I love all the conventions I go to equally! Most of the time I go to see my friends and Con family more than anything else.

I interviewed William via Facebook messenger. You can check out his work at https://www.facebook.com/OneMooreTimeCosplay/

Taco, Taako, and Other Signs that I’m Old

 

KIOGENIC IS 19.

HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

very much like this. From adorable, small, opinionated talent to drop-dead gorgeous, Talented, outspoken, and excellent person.

Sigh. Anyway, since she now consumes media mostly in another city (away at Webster U., where she is very happy), I am totally clueless about what is going on in much of fandom.

She is, still, however, cosplaying and building cosplay. She just now has new a new cosplay posse, including her friend Raleigh, who lives on her floor in the dorm.

When Kiogenic was home for Christmas break, she asked if she could take the Sulaco (our sewing maching) back to school with her.  I said yes, because our sewing machine fix-it guy, weary of having to repair a machine never meant for sewing pleather, had recommended we get an all-metal old school machine.

So we bought Peggy, at a thrift store, for $20. Isn’t she beautiful?

Peggy

Yes, I name our sewing machines. No, I don’t think that’s weird.

So we had two machines, and she took one back with her to make some new cosplay with Raleigh, which she and Raleigh showed off at Visioncon in Branson, for Kiogenic’s birthday extravaganza.

Here are Kiogenic, Sammy Jo (cosplaybestfriend), Raleigh and Scooter (cosplayboyfriend, who you can see is REALLY TALL.)

My 19-year-old daughter at the convention with her 21-year-old boyfriend, who is a math genius.  Another sign that that I’m old.

Another hint? I was so clueless about what Kiogenic and Raleigh were cosplaying that I misspelled it when I tweeted it out. To be clear, this is Taako, from the podcast The Adventure Zone.

Since the Adventure Zone is a podcast, the fans don’t know for sure EXACTLY what Taako looks like but there is consensus on umbrella, hat, and general fabulousness. This makes cosplay more fun!

Here is Taako’s bio on the wiki:

“He is a high-elf wizard with a chaotic good alignment. He is originally from New Elfington.  Prior to joining up with Merle Highchurch and Magnus Burnsides he hosted a traveling cooking show, ‘Sizzle It Up with Taako’,  but fled after forty people died in the show’s final episode.”

Which frankly, makes him sound to me like the elf member of Spinal Tap. But again, I’m old. She said “Taako” and I heard “Taco.”

So I totally called him “Taco.” On Twitter. To an audience of like seventy billion people.

I’m old. The kid leaves and I’m stuck with TNG  and Tap cultural references.

Anyway, she and Raleigh did Taako with his twin sister Lup. And they were AMAZING.

Fantastic make up by Sammy Jo and photography by Scooter- who turns out to not just be a math genius, but a GREAT cosplay photographer!

And, in my defense, within an hour of me tweeting a photo of her as “Taco”, a nice fan of the podcast had gently corrected me and made FAN ART of her cosplay! Which……I can’t copy and paste in this blog, because again, I’m old. Follow this link if you’d like to see it.

As a bonus, you get to see my original tweet about “Taco.”

Ah well. I may be old, but I’m very lucky. Very blessed and very happy to have such a great kid, with such great friends, and to have such a great family.

 

Mako Mori, Wonder Woman and Black Panther: Rules and Representation

young wonder woman

I’ve spent the last year reveling in the success of the Wonder Woman movie and eagerly anticipating the Black Panther premiere.

Both are huge signs and signals to Hollywood of what we know from cosplay already: that identity, representation and fan inclusion matter. 

As of November, the Wonder Woman movie became the highest grossing superhero origin story ever.  As of today, the film has made 891 million dollars. Almost a billion dollars!

But Black Panther, with it’s massive pre-sales numbers and kick-ass reviews may pass that mark. FANTASTIC.

Black panther kid

Kids. Men. Women. Black.White. Asian. Hispanic. All WANT to see detailed, well-rounded, heroic representations of themselves- as we all know from cosplay. That’s what cosplay has been doing for a long time: offering the chance for people to perform stronger, braver, more beautiful or more dangerous versions of themselves as a way of exploring identity.

That cosplay involves crossplay, gender-bending, mash-ups and other great creativity, however, is a sign that media producers don’t always provide to fans the images that they seek.

Cosplayers, as I’ve said before are both very creative and very savvy about finding ways to both express and represent themselves and also to recognize the figures, characters and ideas that they resonate with.

The kids above, rocking Wonder Woman and Black Panther cosplay, are just two examples.

As a fan and a cosplayer, I’m always impressed by the intelligence and creativity of sf/fantasy/comic fans and their costumes.

But as a scholar, I’m also impressed by the awareness and savvy that gives us the Mako Mori test. 

You may have heard of the Bechdel test, which asks us to consider representation of women in film. The rules are:

  1. is there more than one female character who has a name?
  2. Do the (at least) two women talk to each other…..
  3. …..about something other than a man?

If you stop and think about it, it’s a truly astounding amount of films that don’t pass this test. (And MOST sf/fantasy films don’t.)

In real life, women have identities and names, and they talk, all the time about things that are NOT men. Work, politics, film, whatever.

So this has been a rallying cry for years in an effort to get more women represented in film as both 1. important and not just decorative (that’s also the sexy lamp test. I’ll talk about that later) and also 2. interested in more than just romantic entanglements with men.

But of course the Bechdel test is designed as a guide, not a hard-and-fast up or down rule or vote. There are films that women find to be good representations of them and their aspirational selves, but that don’t pass the test.

Enter the Mako Mori test.

mako mori

Mako Mori is the protagonist of the sf film Pacific Rim.   She is, in fact, the hero of the film, and the film is arguably about her.

But….it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. There are only two women in the film, and they don’t talk to each other.  Doesn’t mean you can’t like it, but for a lot of folks, that was disappointing.

The thing is though that, especially for female fans of Asian descent, it’s really hard to fault a film that is really a coming-of-age/hero’s journey/chosen one tale about a woman.

Fans of color point out how vanishingly few representations there are of Asian women like this.

And so, the Mako Mori test was proposed in a conversation in Reddit by the user Chalia.

The Mako Mori test is:

  1. If the movie has at least one main female character
  2. …who gets her own narrative arc
  3. …and whose arc does not exist solely to support the male lead’s story

This allows a different perspective and appreciation for the film and the truly original and even transgressive stance of placing the woman’s arc in the center of the plot.

so why do we even care? BECAUSE REPRESENTATION IS IMPORTANT.

And this is at least as true for white men as anyone else. Look at the backlash against the strong women in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Men who had grown up visualizing themselves as pure Luke or Han-who-follows-no-orders were existentially troubled by a not-perfect Luke, and a rogue fighter pilot who gets scolded by female generals (and who is really ultimately responsible for all the rebels dying.)

I think it’s important to remember that kids (and adults) can see and visualize themselves as not just victims or assistants, not just girlfriends or servants (please see Spike Lee’s important “Super-duper magical negro” theory.)

the_offensive_black_movie_cliche_that_wont_die

African superheroes, Amazons who run and kick ass in their own nation, Asian robot drivers and Hispanic princess are all IMPORTANT in the dreams they help build, and foster and communicate.

And so are, still, Harry Potter, The Karate Kid and every superhero that the Chris collective plays (Starlord/Kirk/Thor, etc.)

Maybe next we can have representation of men being caring, emotional and collaborative.  Let’s devise a test for that!

 

Meeting the Cosplay Family(s) at La Mole

(Version en Espanol de este articulo por hacer clic aqui)

I’ve returned from my adventure in Mexico at La Mole Comic Con . What a great event.

On Saturday, I met talked with many more cosplayers,  and I was struck by how many family groups there were.

My experience of groups attending together in the U.S. is that these tend to be affinity groups (groups of friends.)  I have met a few family cosplay groups- and after all, I blog as one, but I noticed how many more of these folks I met in Mexico City.

And I am very sure that this is the time I’ve met cosplay grandparents. : )

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Ignacio and Estela as Snow White and The Punisher

Estela was quick to tell me that she isn’t normally the “Princess” type (she’s a fan of the Spiderman franchise)- but had dressed as Snow White for her grand-daughter, who was at the convention as Princess Peach.  Here she is with her little sister (who is the most adorable, tiniest Michonne you’ve ever seen).

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Cosplay grandparents and granddaughters!

Fantastic. More on this family to come.

In addition to the grandparents, I also met groups of siblings and cousins.  Here- Diana, Aden, Joseline, Mariana and Edgar as various characters from Mario Kart (including the “final lap” cloud.)

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They were a lot of fun- had collectively decided to cosplay, had worked on costumes together and were there as a group.

I also met two brother-sister pairs:

Javier and Andrea, taking advantage of the IT hype to give people a fun scare:

Pennywise and Georgie

these two were having a great time and getting along famously.

There were also Rebeca and Ramon (with their father- who like my esposo, was just tech support).

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Rebeca as Camus and Ramon as a Digimon

Rebeca and Ramon’s Dad, beaming proudly (and taking photos of me interviewing these two), is an example of some really nice family support dynamics that I observed, however briefly, at La Mole.

As I’ve written before, I often encounter U.S. based cosplayers who wish they had more family support. Sometimes I’ve met U.S. cosplayers who talk about open hostility to their hobby from their parents and family.

As a Cosplay Mom myself, I’ve always loved that Kiogenic (cosplay daughter) was into cosplay- it’s creative, it’s positive and it has really allowed her to make new friends while learning new skills. So many worse things a young person can spend their time on.

I mentioned this to several of the cosplayers I met in Mexico, but they all reported at best, enthusiastic family support (as in the case of Rebeca and Ramon’s Dad who spent a month of weekends making their costumes), and at worst sort of a shrugged indifference by family members- “huh, that’s a funny thing the kids are into.”

As the cousins told me, the saying is that (paraphrasing) “if your kids spend money on cosplay, they won’t have any for drugs or alcohol.”

True.

So many more people to talk to and much more to learn, but I was charmed and delighted by the wonderful cosplay families I met at La Mole!

A big shout out and thanks to all those supportive families.

 

Familias del Cosplay en La Mole

(For an English version of this post click here)

Acabo de regresar de mi aventura en México en La Mole Comic Con.  Fue un evento fantástico.

El sábado, hablé más con muchos que practicaban el cosplay, y me impresionó la cantidad de familias que había en el expo.

Mi experiencia de grupos en los EEUU es que suelen ser grupos de amigos, unidos por su interés colectivo en un programa o juego.  A veces veo familias que participan juntos, pero me pareció que había más en el D.F.

Para empezar- conocí a abuelos que participaban en caracterizar personajes favoritos.

P1000943_Moment

Ignacio and Estela as Snow White and The Punisher

Estela me dijo al principio que normalmente no se disfrazaría como una princesa (es aficionada del universo Spiderman)- pero esta vez vino al expo como Snow White por su nieta, que asistió como la Princesa Peach de Mario Kart. Aquí se puede ver a la Princesa Peach con su hermana menor- la más pequeña y más adorable versión de Michonne que puede existir.

P1000945_Moment

Cosplay grandparents and granddaughters!

Me parecian fabulosos (y escribiré más de esta familia en el futuro).

Después de los abuelos del cosplay conocí a grupos de primos y hermanos. Aquí- Diana, Adén, Joseline, Mariana y Edgar como varios personajes del Mario Kart. Ellos lo pasaban re bien, habían trabajado en los disfraces como equipo y llegado al expo de muy buen humor.

También conocí a dos pares de hermanos.

Javier y Andrea, que se aprovechaban de la fama de la película IT para “sacar de onda” a la gente y “llegar al extremo.”

Pennywise and Georgie

Los dos se estaban divirtiendo.

Finalmente conocí a Rebeca y Ramón (con su padre, que me recordaba a mi esposo en que sirvió como apoyo técnico)

IMG_0901

Rebeca as Camus and Ramon as a Digimon

 

El padre de ellos, con sonrisa orgullosa (sacando fotos de ellos y de mi en la entrevista) da un ejemplo de las dinámicas de apoyo dentro de familia que yo percibí en ese expo.

Como he dicho antes en este blog, en los EEUU, a menudo me encuentro con gente joven que me hablan sobre su deseo de tener más apoyo de la familia y de sus padres.

A veces conozco a cosplayadores que reciben hostilidad e insultos de su familia.

Como una madre de una hija que participa en cosplay, yo pienso que es un pasatiempo muy saludable. Ella conoce a nuevos amigos y aprende destrezas técnicas nuevas en construir disfraces.

Hay cosas mucho peores.

Como los primos me dijeron en la Mole, en su familia dicen que los jóvenes “que gasten su dinero en cosplay no tienen dinero para alcohol o drogas.”

Es la verdad.

Sé que tengo mucho que aprender sobre el cosplay en México y quiero conocer a muchos más participantes.

Pero hoy quiero dar aplausos a todos los que conocí, y las familias que los apoyan.

#Estoyenlamole- Bilingual Entry in Inglés y Español

(Sigue alternando el español)

I had a great day at La Mole yesterday, and met some wonderful cosplayers and artists.  I learned some things that I’d like to explore more about how similar- and different the cosplay community is in Mexico from the United States. But of course one key thing is language.

I learned that for my somewhat introverted self- it’s that much harder to get up the courage to approach strangers to talk to me about cosplay. And I learned that while I’m pretty fluent in Spanish, my vocabulary lets me down sometimes if I want to talk about, say, forming foam armor with heat guns.  (Many thanks to the patient cosplayers who hung with me while I fumbled around for terminology).

In speaking to cosplayers, I specifically asked if I should blog in Spanish and English to better communicate with the Mexican cosplay community. The resounding answer was YES. So this blog will be bilingual.  I toyed with the idea of doing two separate posts- one in English and one in Spanish. That may be less cumbersome. At some point, I may design a separate Spanish-language site.

For now though,  this post will be bilingual (alternating paragraphs) and I’d be every so grateful for feedback on if that works or not!

Lo pasé re bien en La Mole ayer, y conocí a muchos artistas y cosplayadores talentosos.  Aprendí de varias cosas que quiero explorar más en cuanto a las similaridades- y diferencias de las comunidades del cosplay en Mexico y Los Estados Unidos.  Claro- una de las lecciones claves tiene que ver con el idioma.

Aprendí que para mí- como soy media introvertida, es aún más difícil acercarme a los cosplayadores que no conozco para hacer preguntas.  También aprendí que, mientras tengo destreza en la lengua, muchas veces no tengo el vocabulario de hablar de tales cosas técnicas como formar el “foam” con una pistola de calor.  (Mil gracias a los cosplayadores que me tenían paciencia cuando yo buscaba palabras).

En hablar con los cosplayadores, hice preguntas específicas acerca de si yo debo escribir ambos en español e inglés. Me dijeron que sí.    Por eso, decidí escribir este blog- y los otros que escribo acerca del cosplay latinoamericano, de manera bilingüe. Pensaba también en simplemente tener todo un artículo separado en español- y también en abrir un sitio/blog que esté puramente en español. No sé todavía.

Empecemos con este blog que alterna entre las dos lenguas.  Estaria muy agradecida por comentarios y sugerencias acerca de la cosa.

Where to start? Maybe with my first impressions on similarities and differences- 

¿Cómo empezar? Quizá con lo que es similar, y lo que es diferente.

Similarities/Lo Similar:

The cosplay and art here in Mexico is as amazing and creative and enthusiastic as any con that I’ve attended in the United States.  I will profile some of these cosplayers in more detail in coming posts, but here’s a taste, just from day 1!

El cosplay y el arte que he visto aquí es tan creative, entusiasta y fantástico como el que he visto en los Estados Unidos. En artículos futuros, haré retratos más detallados de algunos de estos cosplayadores. Por ahora,¡ un vistazo del primer día!

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Eduardo y Fernando como Punk Batman y Mecha Joker

Leo como Harley Quinn in Crossplay

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Jagr, author of Momentum with Momentum.

 

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Artista Siames Escalante of Umiiland

What’s Different? / Lo Diferente

Again, I have many observations, but here I’ll add just a few words and expand more later.

The cosplay here is almost overwhelmingly done by males (or who identify as male).  There were lots of women at the convention yesterday, but hardly any in cosplay.  I did see this AMAZING gender-bent Nightwing

P1000933_Moment

I didn’t get to talk to this cosplayer- she (assuming, here) radiated “back off” and had a male bodyguard/chaperone. (I always do my best to respect cosplayers’ desire to talk or be left alone.)

Tengo muchas observaciones, pero ofreceré simplemente algunas en este momento para expandir más en el futuro.

El cosplay que vi fue hecho casi en total por hombres (o los que se identificaban como hombres). Había muchas mujeres en el evento, pero casi ninguna en cosplay. Vi (arriba) un Nightwing- versión femenina, pero no pude hablar con ella (aquí asumo que se identifica como mujer)- dio toda una impresión de “no me hables” y también  vino acompañada por un guardaespaldas/chaperón. (Y siempre hago lo que puedo de respetar a los que participan en cosplay- si están dispuestas a hablar, o si quieren mantener su espacio privado).

I think there will be  a lot to say about gender and gendered cosplay as I work and meet cosplayers and reflect. Today though, I am back to the convention, and look forward to posting more later!

Creo que voy a tener mucho que decir en cuando al genero y como funciona el genero en el cosplay aqui. Sin embargo, necesito tiempo para pensar y reflejar. Y hoy- de regreso al evento!  Escribire mas en el futuro!

Day of the Dead, Frida Kahlo and La Mole!

How lucky am I? I am in Mexico City for my first Latin American Con- La Mole ComicCon

And I arrived on Todos Santos– November 2,  All Saints Day, which turns out to be part of a several days-long celebration of Day of the Dead/Halloween.

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Love love love local markets! I thought the chocolate pumpkins with the googly eyes (on the left) were extra creepy.

Kids everywhere in costume- including kigus. Pumpkins, skeletons and ofrendas (offering remembrances for those who have passed away) in corners, in front of stores, on porches and even in my Holiday Inn Express.

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So how cool is it that in Mexico they’ve just added Halloween on to the traditional festivals of November 1 and 2 (All Souls and All Saints) to make HALLOWEEN LAST THREE DAYS? Awesome.

and….wait….I got to go to Frida Kahlo’s house.  I fangirled pretty hard.

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“I have been travelling since 4am and stood in line for two hours but I AM IN FRIDA’S GARDEN!” (and yes I paid extra for the photo pass. Duh).

ESPECIALLY because the special temporary exhibition was of her clothing.  Frida was an amazing, surreal, adventurous artist, but she was also an amazing costumer with an impeccable, artistic sense of personal style.

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French Vogue 1939.  Frida Kahlo: A Woman of Power

 

Children, apparently would follow her on the streets asking- “Where’s the circus?”

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Life Goals.

So as far as I’m concerned, my visit to the house where Frida lived, worked and died was just a part of this cosplay adventure.

No, Frida didn’t cosplay, but she had a lot in common with historic and contemporary cosplayers.

She was true to herself. She didn’t much care about gender norms…….like the time she showed up for the family photo in 1924 in a man’s suit.

Frida family photos 1924

That’s Frida on the far left.

She never called herself a surrealist. She insisted that what she was painting was HER reality.

And her reality was colorful, and juicy, and painful, and bright, and sad.

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Las Dos Fridas (The Two Fridas) 1939

But she didn’t give up. She celebrated life colorfully, and used her art to express herself.

 

I like to think she would have approved of cosplay. And all the amazing cosplayers I’m going to (hopefullly) meet tomorrow and Saturday!!!!!

Faces of Cosplay: Daniratoe

“don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t cosplay a character because of your looks. You go rock whatever dang costume you want.”

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It was 2015 and I was dropping Kiogenic at the local Christmas parade- where she was set to march with the fabulous Springfield Cosplay Group.

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such a great group. Kiogenic in “casual Hiro” wiith Baymax. Daniratoe on the right as Daenerys.

As per usual, she ditched me pretty quickly, and I ended up chatting with the stunning Daenerys cosplayer (who was mildly peeved that she kept getting identified as Elsa). I didn’t blame her. Daenerys is WAY cooler. She has DRAGONS!

This was Daniela, and we became Facebook friends after. That meant that I got to see ALL her amazing make-up tutorials and the odysseys of the Raven and Muffet cosplays.

(She was also super nice to Kiogenic and I when we went to the fabric store where she worked!)

Daniela has amazing style and class everyday, and she’s an exceptional cosplayer. Originally from Ecuador, she’s also our first International cosplayer, so a special welcome to Daniratoe here!

Name: Daniela Perdue (Daniratoe)
Day job?: Currently moving out of state, but I was Fabric Store Sales Associate in Springfield, Mo
Age-ish?:23 years old
Home base? Moving to Ft. Sill, OK (Lawton)

Why do you cosplay?

I’ve always thought of myself as a very creative person and cosplay gives me a way to create and play with my artistic abilities. I love sewing and other different types of crafting, and cosplay involves a lot of craftsmanship and handwork. It is a very fulfilling hobby and it makes it even better when the things I am creating are based in the fictional characters that I resonate the most with in many different levels. It is a lot of fun to go through the process of constructing these costumes and props and its even better when I see the reaction of people when I am finished with my projects. It is worth every moment, from start to finish, and it has helped with my self esteem a lot throughout the years.

How long have you been cosplaying?

I started cosplaying in 2012 back in my country, Ecuador. Back then, the resources were very limited: high quality wigs, for example, were not easily available and needed to be imported from overseas, as well as other small accessories. We have a wide variety of fabrics (A whole area of the city I lived in was nothing but fabric stores that covered 2 or 3 blocks of downtown) and other utensils and materials, like craft foam, fiberglass, EVA foam, etc. At the same time, the hobby was a growing giant, so events were scarce at first, and not very many people were aware or participating in the craft.

I came into the hobby when it was starting to gain more attention from local media and more events were being held and were open to the public. I am not fully familiar of how the Geek movement really started, but the people who did cosplay were few when I started. Back then, as well, many cosplayers relied on seamstresses  (and from what I am aware of to this date, still do) to make most of the costumes, and other craftspeople who knew how to fabricate proper props, but today, the community has become larger and things have become easier to obtain, so the quality and quantity of costumes has improved a lot.

How do you choose your character(s)?

I personally don’t have a strict set of rules. A lot of the costumes I’ve done have been chosen either because I felt compelled and related to the character, or because I was included in cosplay groups, or simply, because their character design was absolutely perfect in my eyes. I do admit that a big influence for me to choose my next projects has a lot to do with the character’s popularity overtime and mainly stay away from Anime characters, not because I dislike the genre, but because I prefer western animation, designs and entertainment (for the most part).

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I’ve cosplayed many famous characters from different shows and video games for these reasons, such as April O’Neil (TMNT), Betty Boop (1930), Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones), Raven (Teen Titans), Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice Tv Show from 1989) and more.

I feel like I’ve evolved as a cosplayer since I started. Back in the first couple of years, my approach to designing the cosplays was to stick to the original designs. I am still fond of keeping the costume accurate, but I like to make them look more realistic and less cartoon-ey.

Early Raven

Raven cosplay, 1.0. Her style evolves.

Do you have a signature, or favorite cosplay?

Raven has definitely become my signature cosplay, and she’s always been my favorite, just because I love Teen Titans and I love Raven herself. I’ve remade her costume recently and I am super happy with the result. The difference is stark, too.

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Raven cosplay 2.0

Another staple and big favorite is my Muffet cosplay from Undertale, mainly because it was my very first time making big props (2 sets of extra arms)

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Muffet from Undertale

 

and the first time a makeup test was the definer for me to make Muffet my project, haha.

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LOOK at this amazing make-up work!

Do you make, or buy your cosplays?

Most of my Cosplays were made by a seamstress back when I lived in Ecuador. When I moved to the States, costume making became much more expensive for me, and I didn’t know how to sew, so I no longer come up with 2 or 3 new costumes a year like I used to. The benefit of it though is it pushed me to actually learn how to make the costumes myself and to problem-solve a lot of the crafting process.
What advice do you have to other cosplayers?

To the new victims of this fun addiction: Don’t get intimidated by cosplay and the crafting process or by those who have been doing this longer than you. That doesn’t matter. You’re here to have fun and to use your imagination to create great things. If you commit yourself into making it happen, no matter what the result is, own it. We all learn new things and hey, lucky you, a lot of more experienced craftsmen and women have many good pointers and tutorials all over the internet. Also, don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t cosplay a character because of your looks. You go rock whatever dang costume you want.

To us more seasoned Cosplayers: be nice to those who are learning to do this new craft. You were there not too long ago, and you struggled. You also have awful projects that maybe didn’t come out as planned, and you also put hours, days, and weeks on them, and wore them proudly. This is not a contest of “who did it better.” Share your knowledge and help others improve. Cosplay is way more fun when you can stand beside someone else who has done the same character without finding their flaws.

What’s the best thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

People comment a lot for my choice of fabrics, and for my makeup. I appreciate it a lot when people notice these details, because they are usually the ones I’ve worked my hardest on.

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What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

That I am either not the right skin tone for the character I am representing, or that I have the wrong body type for it. Just go away and be the miserable person you are somewhere else. I’m having fun over here.
Do you attend conventions? Which is your favorite?

I’ve attended to a couple in the US. I really wished I could attend more, but traveling costs can make or break you!

My first con in the US was Naka-Kon in Overland Park, KS thanks to the clubs I was part of during college. I attended for 3 years in a row until I graduated from school.

My favorite one though has to be A-kon in Fort Worth, TX. Much bigger and many many more talented people attend, and I had a blast getting to know so many of them.

I spoke to Daniela via Facebook Messenger. 

By cosplaymom

Breasts and Penises, Armor and Beauty: Superhero Genitalia- Part II

By far, the most well-read blog post that I have written here discussed the issue of superhero- and more specifically, MALE superhero private parts. 

If you haven’t read that entry, and would like to, go ahead. Follow the link above. I’ll wait.

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Ok. That post was a meditation, and consideration of the way in which comics, movies, and then, inevitably cosplayers, promote the idea that muscles and violence are for men and sexualized body parts are for women.

While female superheroes, and therefore female superhero costumers and cosplayers have to work to enhance their cleavage and make their boobs look bigger, it is a clear and both written and unwritten rule that male superheroes in film and in cosplay have to work hard to make their genitalia not just smaller, but invisible.

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This is from a handy tutorial on youtube: “Male Spandex Cosplay Rules” Our host is displaying penis-hiding underpants.

That original post speculated about the origins of this differentiation in costuming.

I’ve continued to think about both sides of this equation, especially in light of both the new, and massively successful Wonder Woman (and James Cameron’s) comments on it, but also in light of some great panels I went to at a conference on gender and media called “Console-ing Passions.”

The Wonder Woman discussion merits its own post about women, beauty and power, so I’ll focus here on the men, with similar musings on appearance, beauty and power.

At that conference I heard a lot of great research and work being done on gender and representation, especially of superheroes. (I went to panels on everything from Orphan Black to Batman). I love my research.

One panel was devoted to the way in which media entities interact with fans in the production and advertising of films. The paper focused on both Batman vs Superman and the latest (2017) Spiderman reboot.

As the presenter was demonstrating the way in which much promotion surrounded the development and the technical specifications of Batman’s armor, I couldn’t help noticing the difference in the current armor from earlier iterations of the suit. Specifically, in the codpiece.

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This is a fan-taken close-up of the Batman armor from San Diego Comic-con.  Apologies for the reflective glare. 

As you can see here, the armor from Dawn of Justice has the kind of enhancement of the genital area that you see in medieval armor-

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This is the kind of gear that is clearly designed to draw attention to and enhance the image of a man’s penis (and suggest great size).   That, to be honest, is what I was expecting when I first started thinking about superheroes, men and power.  As I observed in the last post, if male genitalia is the most masculine of body parts, and superheroes are designed to be uber-masculine and super-male, why would you hide it?

A discussion at the aforementioned Console-ing Passions offered some insight and led me down a different path of theorizing.  In a body suit, such as that of earlier Batman, or Spiderman, the suit is understood as soft.  

 In a costume such as the 2002 Toby McGuire Spidey-suit, there is a notable effort to diminish the VPL (visible penis line) and de-emphasize that area of his body. It is also clear that the suit is not armored, but rather a form-fitting body suit (that in many origin stories we see the hero sewing himself, clearly with no armor):

spider-man

And this may be the key: protection. While the penis and scrotum is of course the most masculine of body parts, it is also, obviously, the most vulnerable. Making these body parts visible in a costume that is clearly not designed to protect them does not communicate power, it communicates vulnerability.

And when it comes to appearance, as the brilliant Erynn Masi de Casanova observes in her study of men’s clothing and masculinity , men’s aspirational appearance is about power: looking invincible, capable and ready for anything.  Spidey can only carry that off if the (presumably male) viewer doesn’t have to worry about the vulnerability of his crotch.

The armor of the Batman suit above, however, can safely boast both about the size of Batman’s penis, but also the invincibility and invulnerability of it.

Which brings me back to the idea, discussed in the previous post, about how a VPL is “inappropriate.”  One sees this in many cosplay forums, much discussion about how “no one wants to see that” or “PLEASE tuck and tape for decency’s sake”.  I originally thought this was some sort of sexual prudery: the idea that it was inappropriate for either women to see, and therefore think about men’s penises, or for men (who were possibly, GASP, homosexuals) to do the same. Clearly, the desire to hide genitalia comes from social squeamishness.

However, I now wonder if the “inappropriate” nature of the VPL isn’t about sexual prudery (or at least not completely) but more about how it’s inappropriate for a superhero to show that kind of physical vulnerability.  

While we may be ok with Batman (or certainly Deadpool) showing some psychological damage, they must continue to be relentlessly invincible in their physical selves. And so I leave you with this last image, which I think sums up this particular theory of superhero genitalia:  It’s an add for the Chris Pratt Deadpool movie that is a very focused crotch-shot, and that even makes a not-so-subtle sexual reference to sexual potency.

Note, however, that while again, there is not an emphasis in the suit on Deadpool’s penis itself (obviously tucked and taped), he’s holding not just armor, but an actual weapon over that area as a phallic symbol of violence, power and strength.  The gun stands in, armored, weaponized and ready, as an invincible VPL.

deadpool-12-days-crotch

 

By cosplaymom