Previously, I wrote an article called “Heroes of Cosplay: Professional and Competitive Cosplay–An Unpopular Stance.” In it, I outlined the mistreatment of professional and competitive cosplayers–often by people who claim to live by the motto “Cosplay is for everyone.” Of course, I would love to say that the article got through some thick heads, and that this will never be an issue again. However, I am not a liar, so I cannot make such a statement. That’s why this follow-up is necessary. People need to be reminded that “all-inclusive” means that one “includes all,” even if they don’t like a small percentage of a group of people, who are doing things that they don’t like.
This is what set me off today, telling me that it was about that time again, to call out people who are being hypocrites about cosplaying. The original post was on the Misa on Wheels fan page, on Facebook. For those of you who don’t know who she is, she is a handi-capable cosplayer, in a wheelchair.
She seems nice enough, but she always posts these not-so-cosplay-is-for-everyone photos and words. I don’t follow her, but one of my Facebook friends, and former podcast co-hosts always reposts her stuff, and it shows up in my newsfeed.
I’m surprised he hasn’t blocked me or at least put me on his restricted list, because I always respond with either something blunt, or a smartass, sarcastic comment. responding to this bullshit mentality. But I digress. Here is the photo in question.
Aside from what I’ve already said in my first article regarding this issue, here’s what I have to add, due to this photo: It seems to me that this person thinks that professional and competitive cosplayers don’t have to deal with bullying because they don’t get bullied. That is an extremely unfair thing to assume. Just because someone has high quality cosplays, and makes a living and reputation on them, doesn’t mean that they haven’t gotten bullied before–especially as cosplayers. Not that this is the only instance in which this happens, but how about a little thing called “cosplay is not consent?”
Sexual harassment is a form of bullying, and it does not discriminate. A woman (or man) can be in revealing and appealing cosplays, ordinary and professional, alike, and be victims of this kind of bullying. Again, this isn’t the only instance of cosplay bullying, but it is a huge issue.
Let’s talk about other bullies, too. One shouldn’t point their finger at someone if it’s not clean. Or, if you’re religious, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Bullies aren’t only those who pick on “cosplay noobs.” Bullies can also be the ones accusing others of being bullies. I’m looking right at you, hypocrites of the “cosplay is for everyone” mentality. As I said in my first article, and earlier in this one, being “all-inclusive,” means “including all.” You cannot… I repeat… cannot claim that “cosplay is for everyone,” then leave out professional and competitive cosplayers. Actively singling out groups of people, and making them feel unwelcome, and like they did something wrong, is a form of bullying. The supposedly bullied become the bullies.
I say “supposedly” bullied, because of this point: I have no doubt that bullying happens. I’ve been the victim of it, plenty, especially this year. Trolls, bullies, and judgmental jerks exist in every people group and fandom (which I plan on writing more about, in the future). However (and this may be an unpopular stance, as always), I think that sometimes, certain people feel invisible, not important, and/or bored, so they create problems, out of nowhere, to put the spotlight on themselves. That’s really stupid and dangerous. First of all, it brings a bad name to their fandom. Even though they make their own bed, they get mad when others want to make them lie in it, because they don’t “follow the fandom’s script,” so to speak. Then, that fandom is in the spotlight, but in an infamous manner. This makes that fandom antsy, because people may be calling them on their bullshit. Then, the fandom yells, “Trolls! Bullying! Halp!” whenever that happens. Plus, when something serious happens in the fandom, it’s less likely that people outside of that fandom will want to listen and help, because they’ve seen their unwarranted flair for the dramatic. Plus, why would anyone that this fandom has unfairly vilified, want to help them, at all?
That, by the way, is another issue. I’m not saying that no professional and competitive cosplayers harass “ordinary” cosplayers. I’m not that naive. However, as stated above, when these people feel bored or invisible, they tend to create non-existent problems. This really does come at the cost of vilifying innocent people, often. I keep hearing, “Professional and competitive cosplayers only look down on casual and ordinary cosplayers, view them as inferior, and verbally tear them down.” Again, I don’t doubt that it happens, sometimes.
However, it’s not a standard. I think that ordinary cosplayers are overestimating how much the professional and competitive cosplayers care about them. Here’s a harsh truth: It’s little to none. In fact, from what I’ve seen, it seems that they are more concerned with their competition. I would be too. So really, they don’t really care about your ordinary cosplays, much less enough to bully you for them. Plus, some professional and competitive cosplayers aren’t even remotely mean… even about ordinary cosplays. In fact, as I said in my related article, one of them, from the show, Heroes of Cosplay, actually told me how much he loved my Quail Man cosplay.
To summarize: Bullying is not discriminatory. Sometimes, the bullied become the bullies. Being overly dramatic and making a big deal (or even creating big deals that don’t exist), is a bad idea. If you keep on, no one’s going to be able to stand you, or want to be around you, much less take up for you. You won’t be taken seriously. Not all professional and competitive cosplayers are jerks who look down their noses at ordinary cosplayers.
And to drive this point home, once more: “All-inclusive” means that you “include all.” If you’re going to say “cosplay is for everyone,” mean it, with no exclusions. Otherwise, you just sound like a bitter, jealous hypocrite.