Ripples were sent through the collective Geek community recently when a comic book artist named Tony Harris went off on a four alarm diatribe about his frustration with really attractive (i.e. busty) cosplay women pretending to be full on geeks in an effort to appease their low self esteem issues by surrounding themselves with young, horny males geeks who, according to Tony, don’t stand a chance with such a comic book goddess.
Apparently this scenario happens ALL THE TIME in front of Tony’s table at every Con he’s attended. If there’s any truth to this statement, perhaps Tony should a) move his table, or b) shut his mouth and enjoy the view.
A lot of the Nerd writers around here felt it was best to leave well enough alone regarding Harris’s rant and call any more attention to his ignorant (and sexist) attack against the cosplay community than he’s already received, but he touched a nerve within the nerd collective that can’t be so quickly dismissed.
Cosplay (short for “costume play,” a type of performance art where people dress up in costumes of their favorite characters, be it books, movies, games, etc.) has always been under scrutiny from the general public. Many associate cosplay with this famous image of some poor, obese male individual clad in a Batman costume with nary a hot chick in sight. For years these people have been the scourge of conventions, easy targets for a good chuckle as you strolled the aisles with an armload of comics and toys.
Two things would turn the tide in the nerd collective’s favor: the growing acceptance of geek culture in the mainstream public (through venues like the San Diego Comic Con, film, and television), and model quality women in skin-tight superhero garb strolling the aisles alongside the unwashed nerd collectors.
Somewhere along the line the “booth babe” line had been broken. Attractive women (and men) were no longer confined to just handing out free gear. They were now as nerdy as you! See? They’re wearing a Black Widow costume! They openly admit to reading comics! They play video games and drink Mountain Dew, just like us!
Nerds once knew their place within society. They knew booth babes were simply a commodity hired by a vendor to pretend they loved something just so you’d pause by a table and drool. Now the lines have been blurred, partially due to pop culture media outlets like G4 TV where we see young, attractive women playing games all the time.
Once cosplay hit the mainstream, it became big business. Fewer and fewer half-assed ensembles are seen roaming the showroom floor, as cosplay designers work year round filling orders for various (and often expensive) creations. Many of these outfits end up looking better than the source material they originated from. As a result, there came a growing respect for these artists showcasing their work within this venue. Savvy social media marketers, quick to expand their brands, wasted no time displaying their ‘assets’ to the general public, even if they didn’t grow up as basement dwellers and closets fans
Inevitably a backlash from within the community would emerge, as these once idolized cosplay women would now be seen as “fake geek girls.” This is the heart and soul of Harris’s rant, attacking faux cosplay sirens for luring unsuspecting male nerds in with promises of Halo 4 deathmatches and Lord of the Rings marathons, then crashing them on the shores of disappointment.
Who’s to say if these women are soulless opportunists, and if so, who cares? A fake geek girl doesn’t diminish the essence of the nerd collective any more than a karaoke singer does to pop music. It’s not fair to whittle down the entire cosplay community to a few overly sexy individuals who may or may not really be comic books fans.
If anything, these performance artists should command your respect.
Look, when I attend a convention, I don’t envision cosplayers as fat douchebags and fake chicks with big tits. You know what I see? Heroes. Villains. Cinematic and comic book characters come to LIFE. These are brave individuals expressing their love for a genre. Their costumes are a reflection of their soul, and they’re sharing something with you they may keep bottled up for most of the year. They aren’t getting paid for all the hard work involved in making and displaying their interests, and that includes hours of gym time to make sure that costume fits properly.
Cosplay makes fantasy a reality, if only for a few briefs moments as you snap a pic of your favorite character, shake their hand, and compliment them on a great costume. In this day and age of global warming and shaky politics, we need those moments more than ever.
There will always be cosplay naysayers, but so long as there are artists out there willing to bare their souls, there will always be cosplay. As a fellow Browncoat once said, “We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.”