It seems that there’s a bunch of energetic cosplayers and/or weebs in Bali. This is me judging solely from the increasing amount of maid cafes that have suddenly sprouted up, usually in partnerships with local, small Japanese-style restaurants in Denpasar.
It’s now time for one of my unpopular opinions. Yesterday, I was at an event. It was a corporate event, sponsored by a company that sells Japanese vehicles. I don’t approve of these corporates using cosplay as a means for cheap advertisement and a crowd magnet. At least give them a form of reimbursement, like snacks or a small fee. Which brings me to the topic at hand. With cosplay becoming so mainstream, there are instances where cosplayers are “used” by certain companies, especially malls or large corporates, under the pretext of a “cosplay event”. Even though we know it’s total bullshit; they just attach the word “cosplay” to attract more people. Thus, the question that needs to be asked is: should cosplayers under these circumstances be provided with remuneration/reimbursement?
In recent news, I’ve stumbled upon some fuss about an incident where a famous cosplayer was “caught” wanting to purchase “any type of costume of any character”. The origins of the debacle seems to have been erased, so I’m operating only secondary sources. It would seem that the famous cosplayer intended to buy a costume for her friend, but was misunderstood by someone else who thought that famous cosplayers should all possess godlike skills in crafting and have unlimited time on their hands to focus solely on their cosplays. The famous cosplayer in question has screenshot a status update of the accuser and despite the accuser not explicitly mentioning the famous cosplayer, as I write this, a bunch of white knights have deployed themselves to the battlefield for a chance to impress the damsel in distress and conquer the evil bitch who called her out.
And that’s for your news today. I’m Ahotaku, reporting for the independent people’s media.
But seriously though, have standards stooped this low in cosplay? It seems that nowadays, anyone with a pretty face and a bunch of selfies can rise up the ladder to become a famous cosplayer and invited to become a guest star. Sometimes, these people are invited as judges, just because they’re famous and pretty/handsome. Cosplay now is more like modeling than actually a hobby.
So in this post, let me question some of the basic assumptions we hold in the cosplay world. This time, regarding guest stars.
What makes a guest star?
It’s finally time someone started thinking on what the term “guest star” actually means and how it has been skewed by the tryhard wannabe pleb-tier events just so they can look cool and on par with AFAID.
Here, the term “guest” is pretty self-explanatory. It means someone you invite over. You host an event, you invite someone over. These people are your guests. This applies to everybody, including the plebs that come to spend their hard-earned parent’s cash on things they’ll probably masturbate to later at home.
Next, the term “star”. Of course I don’t mean a literal star in an astronomic sense. We’d fucking burn. No, the “star” here, in my very humble opinion, should refer to “a person who has at least achieved a significant achievement or is well recognized by the cosplay community as having traits that are exemplary”. And by “achievement” I don’t mean breaking 100K likes on a selfie taken on a low-res camera or even WorldCosplay rank. Of course, there are other traits that can be considered, like:
Does the person share a lot of inspirational advice in an attempt to benefit to community?
Does the person show passion in the art of crafting their own costume? Because as far as I’ve seen, most of the famous cosplayers craft their own gear either partially or fully.
Is the person not a total douchebag on the internet, hiding behind an army of SJWs and white knights? Do they often make a fuss about shit that shouldn’t be a problem in the first place
And many more, I bet you can think of some.
To make it easier for the dimwits reading this, I present to you two cosplayers. One cosplayer has a pretty face, the other pretty standard. The first cosplayer is famous on social media, having more than 1 trillion followers and is constantly rank 1 on WorldCos; while the other is mostly unnoticed because they don’t have a large social media following. Yet cosplayer 1 acts like a total douche and is condescending towards their peers; whereas cosplayer 2 takes the time to actually teach and help their friends improve themselves. Who would you think should be granted the title of “star”?
Of course, ideally, the award should be presented to cosplayer number 2. But in this fucked up world we live in, where we perceive the goodness of people solely on much likes and followers they have on social media and the relative beauty of their physical appearances, we would to choose cosplayer number 1 as a “star” despite them not showing traits that are exemplary to the community.
So, the ideal “guest star” would be someone who is actually talented and is a paragon of virtue for the community. Someone who won the WCS tournament should be considered a “star”, and when invited to talk or perform at an event, is then worthy of the title “guest star”. Not some person who posts occasional sexy cosplay pics and gets a gazillion likes.
But nowadays, event organizers just plaster the word around the place. “Guest star” this, “guest star” that… even if the guest star is a total asshole or is just famous on the internet because she posts occasional nudes/he posts occasional abs. And so what should be done about this? Creating a specific agency to carefully certify guest stars is fucking stupid, and we can’t actually rely on the community’s vote. So, maybe it’s up to event organizers to actually get to know the people they’re inviting beforehand. A bit of background research shouldn’t be that hard.
But then again, it’s all about the shekels, folks. It’s financially more plausible to invite a guest star that has a large following, since there’s a higher chance that the event will be full of fat ugly men waiting to see their beloved sex fantasy object in real life. Ah shekels, how you ruin idealism!
Should a guest star be a judge in a cosplay competition?
Now on to this other issue that’s always been nagging me. When I go to cosplay events to watch performances, I would expect the judges to be fair and at least free from collusion or nepotism. But there was one time when I went to an event (it was last year, I think) where a guest star was also a judge for a cosplay competition. Since it was a small competition organized by a small community, I didn’t give a shit back then. But the more you think about it, the more you start seeing events that host cosplay competitions and use guest stars as judges, despite the guest star being a total noob about performance.
The answer to the question above is yes, but only under certain conditions.
First, there should at least be disclosure on the qualities of the guest star that justify granting the title of “judge” to them. Like, fucking tell us if she’s won any competitions before that are not community-based ones and not where she’s judged by a panel of her peers. This is to provide assurance to the cosplayers performing that they are (at least) being assessed by someone who knows what they’re doing. What organizers can do is ask the judge to provide a short summary of their achievements, which will be read to the audience so that they can fact-check it. Hey, I was once an adjudicator for a debate competition, and they requested my debating experiences in print before considering me for the position. They should be doing the same thing for cosplay as well. Standards, people. Standards.
Second, under no circumstances should a guest star be considered for the position of judge solely on the basis of fame. I cannot stress this enough. Just because someone is famous, doesn’t they have the capacity to judge. I don’t care how many followers she has or how many horny fat men are after her, if she doesn’t know the slightest thing about performing, she should not sit on the judge’s panel. She should just stay somewhere else, preferably far away from the stage, and just be pretty for the cameras. Solely famous guest stars should only be used for marketing purposes. If that comes across too harsh, remember that professional models live the same life.
Finally, if the organizer ignores parts 1 and 2, the guest star should only sit on the judge panel to provide commentary and their votes will not be considered in the final decision. At least they can have a say and still be pretty while doing it. A bit of commentary is nice, no?
So, those are my issues regarding guest stars. In the end, to become a “star” shouldn’t be easy work. You can’t just go viral and then automatically become a “star”; you gotta earn it from the community. Even the singers on American Idol have to work hard to get their titles. Also, just because people are famously pretty, doesn’t mean their opinions get to matter. That’s called the halo effect.
Anyway, I guess that’s enough for now. See you assholes later in another post! By the way, if you enjoy my writing, please take a look at my Medium account, where I post stuff from my daily life.
Want me to be really honest? I’ve tried my best to not even stir the delicate fabric that is religion whenever I discuss an issue related to otaku culture. I really tried. I’m an atheist; I believe God doesn’t exist. But, I can’t be open in this country because the state “forces” its people to have a religion. And because a lot of people are morons who can’t distinguish “discussing an idea” from “blatant attack on personal belief”, I refrain from discussing atheism openly.
But, this… just for this once, I’ll break my commitment to discuss something that I think was meant to be good, but got botched in conveying its message, thereby making it look really stupid.
Just this morning, I woke up and turned on my phone. The first thing I did was masturbate open Facebook and I was intrigued by a status update of a friend. He shared the following photo from the Otaku Muslim fan page:
On a side note, I seriously believe the term “Otaku Muslim” is an oxymoron because a person cannot be faithful to one without contradicting the other.
Anyway, the above meme roughly translates to:
Left: When women dress openly, men will love them with lust.
Right: When women protect their dignity, men will love them with their hearts.
I was like “Ah the typical hijab cosplay bullshit again”. I made my decision years ago that though I appreciate the creativity behind hijab cosplay, I would never acknowledge it as being “real cosplay” because it botches up the characters unless said character actually wears a hijab. And my stance hasn’t changed.
The entire notion of categorical nudity is stupid. Nudity is subjective. Showing off your bikini at the beach is not considered nudity by Western standards; but showing some skin in Muslim countries can be considered nudity. Where are we? Indonesia may be a Muslim-majority country, but we are essentially multicultural, ergo, we cannot impose an arbitrary standard of nudity based on just one segment of the population. Thus, we can’t judge the left cosplayer as being promiscuous just because she’s wearing something that doesn’t fit Islamic standards, moreover implying that whoever does so will only be loved for lust. It is an imbalanced comparison because it heavily favors one side. Besides, there is no causal relation between the amount of skin someone shows off in cosplay and the type of love she is entitled to received.
And don’t let me get started on the religious controversies surrounding the legitimacy of “hijab cosplay”.
Abrahamic religions share similar tenets, and I believe they all believe that pride is a sin. I haven’t finished studying the Koran yet, however. Now, let’s put it this way. The entire point of this meme, as I believe, is to show that a certain religious practice is “better” than others. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it not a sin to be proud of something, while at the same time, dissing another practice? Different strokes for different folks, and nobody is better than another.
Besides, the meme makes fun of both women and men alike. Women are portrayed as objects that have to be told what to do, while men are vile creatures who can’t control their dicks. The thing is, it’s not about dressing up like a matryoshka doll. It’s about how you think. People can have vile thoughts about the cosplayer on the right, even though she’s covered from head to toe.
On a side note, using Kotori as an “icon” of promiscuous cosplay is fucking stupid. She’s an innocent character. Besides, her costume isn’t that open. Try harder, OP.
Religion is like a penis. It’s okay to have one, it’s okay to love having one too. But when you start flinging it around in public and shouting, “My penis is the greatest and you all can suck it”, that’s a problem.
Personally, I just cannot understand how the tenets of Islam (or any religion for that matter) and cosplay, a liberal culture, can meet eye-to-eye. Religion is conservative, cosplay is liberal. Religion doesn’t want people to be dressed up in skimpy outfits, cosplay allows you to do whatever the fuck you want. I like to think of it like this: cosplay is a free medium where you can dress as anything you like and not get reprimanded for it. I can cosplay as Osama bin Laden with a bomb strapped to my chest because it’s freedom of expression. But when I go around telling and putting down other cosplayers, especially those from different religious and cultural backgrounds, that they deserve to go to hell because their costumes do not adhere to the standards of belief system, that’s where the line should be drawn.
In the world of cosplay, despite what they say about equality, some cosplayers are more equal than others. Some just have things others don’t; fairer skin, that perfect hourglass figure, and sparkling white teeth. These are the people that make it through the Internet’s harsh standards and eventually rise to stardom in the cosplay world. It just so happens that most of them reside outside the territorial borders of Indonesia. I’m not saying that we don’t have cosplayers to be proud of; it’s just that the truth is most of them still live under the radar.
What happens when you try to bring in a liberal culture into a society full of rigid conservatives? Shit happens.
As if the AFAID 2014 Racing Miku wasn’t enough, Hestia has now become the target of social drama online. The reason? Trying to look exactly like the seasonal hype character.
In an event at a specific mall in North Jakarta, a cosplayer has come under fire for her revealing Hestia costume. Judging from pics and some stories here and there, the costume was a tad too short on the legs, revealing her striped panties. And hours after the event, the shitstorm began. As usual, the conservatives and liberals were the two mainstream parties in the argument, both carrying their respective (yet overused) themes: that (a) a woman should stay away from revealing costumes and (b) that she can do whatever the fuck she wants with her body. Present were, of course, the ubiquitous trolls, ever so passionate with their pious rants and straw-mans.
Seriously, this shit’s getting old. Real old. Like Hayao Miyazaki old. I thought we’ve moved on from discussing how much skin a woman can show during her cosplays. But seeing how so damn little has changed over the years, it worries me that perhaps the Indonesian cosplay community might have trouble growing up. Let’s just hope I’m fucking wrong.
As a conservative country, Indonesians are governed by a strict set of social norms, mostly stemming from Islamic values. These norms have loosened following increased exposure to technology and globalization, but they arguably still influence society to a major extent.
Those who stand on the conservative side argue that she should show some modesty when cosplaying. There are boundaries that need to be observed, especially when uploading photos to the Internet. Cosplay is still considered a “deviant” sub-culture that can’t risk negative attention from the majority. Especially for women. In society, women are expected to act decently. As Muslim-majority country, women are expected to cover their bodies in public and refrain from sensuality. Women who defy these customs are labelled as sluts, to be blunt. And most cosplayers who do sexy cosplay at conventions are also viewed with cynicism or at least lecherous gazes.
Another pathetic expansion of the above argument is “if she dresses like that, she’s asking for it”. This is an argument that has been used over and over again to the point where it becomes the go-to argument for situations like this. I’m sick of this argument. It always positions the woman as an object, not a subject that has feelings, desires, or emotions. If we hold on to this all the time, it automatically abolishes men from blame. Why can’t we have men learn to control their dicks? I’ve tried it and though it feels really painful to have a boner ready to burst in my jeans, I’ve felt that dick control has made me a better person and helped me developed a more caring view for women around me. Seriously, try dick control.
To label the cosplayer as an attention whore is also too much. We need to consider the cosplayer’s intentions in doing that cosplay. We can’t pass out single-minded judgment. Perhaps the cosplayer did it because the cosplayer loved the character so much. Is that wrong? Not in the slightest. Maybe the cosplayer did it just because the cosplayer wanted insta-fame. Their intention is not wrong in the slightest and they have all the freedom to pursue such intentions, but perhaps the methods were rather unacceptable (based on biased social conventions). Maybe the cosplayer just did it on a whim? Who knows? The thing is, rather than passing out single-minded judgment, it pays in the long run to understand the other person’s intentions. But fuck that, it’s social media. Comment first, think years later. You can always come back and delete the comment, am I right? Fuck you.
Perhaps the root of the problem is that the cosplay community is full of hypocritical assholes. In one tab, they’re on Facebook, harshly criticizing the Hestia cosplayer for showing a lack of morals, inability to conform to (biased) social norms, and ultimately, their biased world-view of how a woman should act in public. They think the best way to make her comply is by coercing their own values on her. In another tab, they’re viewing Pururin.com, reading “Boku Dake no Kami-sama”. The doujin sucks, but has good art though. In a third tab, he’s opening a download screen for “Sex Friend” episode 08. In a fourth tab, he’s on a torrent site for eroges. See where I’m going here? They act all sanctimonious on screen, but behind the monitor, millions of sperm cells are being wasted.
Related to hypocrisy. Indonesian cosplay enthusiasts (because “weeb” sounds too harsh) don’t fucking know what they want. They want their lovable waifus to exist in reality, yet when a realistic cosplay appears in front of them, they are quick to criticize and nitpick any aspect they can. Oh, she’s cosplaying Hestia but shows tits and panties? Insta-bully. For the love of Freyja, Hestia’s supposed to dress that way! And the aggravating part is whenever an Indonesian does sensual cosplay, it’s automatically fucking wrong and deserves a dose of drama; but when a foreign cosplayer does the same, weebs be like jacking off and praising the non-existent lord for bringing them an object for their carnal pleasure. Seriously, what the fuck do you guys want?
If anyone wants my opinion, I believe that the Hestia cosplayer has every right to express herself. But considering that she’s daring enough to challenge social norms, she herself would have to be ready to accept the consequences of her actions. So far, she’s been handling it pretty well. By not feeding the trolls, she’s not making the issue bigger than it already is.
However, my only concern for her was this: since the event was held in a mall, a public place, perhaps the costume was not appropriate. There be kids there, and not all grannies or aunties understand cosplay culture. Despite the event being a “cosplay event” (which was attended by Ying Tze as well), the event was held in a public place.
To end this rant, let me conclude that Indonesians are not ready for sensual cosplay. It never has and never will. Unless the weebs decide to grow up from the shackles of conservativeness and embrace the liberal nature of cosplay, there is no fucking place for sensual cosplay instead behind closed doors. Also, for the Hestia being bullied right now, your cosplay is great, keep it up, but be more careful next time.
Note: I’m not posting links to the FB feed nor the profile of the cosplayer in question. Also, no pics.
Let’s take a break from the heavier posts and move on to something lighter, like romance. Ah yes, love, a topic that never gets too old to discuss. So, show of hands, how many of you fine young men/women are dating a cosplayer? Okay, hands down.
Actually, the idea for this post came after reading this Kotaku article about a cosplayer and her secret boyfriend. I shared it on my FB feed too. The article is a viewpoint from a normal person disengaged with the hobby of cosplay, yet his girlfriend is a cosplayer. I kinda understood his qualms; he’s in the same situation as secret boyfriends of idol groups (we all know the “Golden Rule” is bullshit, people). The topic is also popular at the cosplay sub-Reddit. I need to use a VPN to browse Reddit, it loads really slowly. Thanks, Indonesian government!
I’ve been with cosplaying girlfriends before (although the relationships only lasted for a short period) and thought I might throw in my two cents as a cosplayer who had cosplaying girlfriends. My current girlfriend is also obsessed with cosplay, just FYI.
Perhaps the number one problem you encounter when you have a cosplaying girlfriend, especially if she’s attractive in costume, is attention from other boys which just spark your jealousy. That’s especially true if you’re attending the event as her support since you don’t have matching costumes.
I have to admit, when I attended an event with my ex (I forgot what her costume was; heck, she’s dead to me now), we weren’t wearing matching costumes. When people, especially the men, wanted to take photos, I humbly stepped aside and watched them take photos with my girlfriend. When she met her friends in matching costumes (surprisingly, a majority male), I felt left out. That became the start of the fight which ended the relationship. I let jealously drive me into the sea (like if you know the reference).
It really does hurt a bit, seeing someone your girlfriend get more attention than you, but hey, that’s how events go. But, there’s always chances to show your alpha-ness. If she’s attractive, some guys are bound to hit on her. Double points if she’s wearing a costume that shows some skin. When guys hit on her, don’t be that hapless NTR victim; be an alpha male. Take her hand, dismiss the guys coolly. You’ll get boyfriend points, I promise.
Your role as support does not mean you’re being left out; instead, it means that she relies heavily on you. If she looks tired, offer her a Snickers bar or a drink or your shoulder to rest on. She’ll appreciate you. If she seems cold because her costume is revealing and you’re at a indoors convention with cold air conditioning, cover her with your jacket. That’s alpha as fuck. If you find that her props are off-balance or need slight adjusting and she can’t do it by herself, take the initiative. It’s the little things that count (nope, not a penis joke).
If you’re really afraid that she’ll prefer that guy who is hitting on her, seriously, just let her go. If she really were girlfriend material, she wouldn’t be with you in the first place. The key here is to keep a cool mind devoid of negative assumptions.
Let me share a short story. At an event, my girlfriend entered a competition with another guy. They spent a lot of time together crafting costumes, devising choreography, composing BGM, all that work you need to pull off a spectacular performance. Part of that choreography involved an amount of hugging, since they were cosplaying as a character couple. When I discovered it had hugging, my knee-jerk reaction was to reprimand her. But, I didn’t let my knee-jerk reaction from pure jealousy appear. I realized that her cosplay life and private life are separate. It wasn’t her hugging the guy, it was her character. Keep that in mind.
Anyway, it would seem that that guy had a crush on my girlfriend, so being the malicious asshole I am, I told her to feed him false hopes. He was crushed afterwards. Muahahahaha!
Her Problems are Yours, too
It’s not the Indonesian cosplay landscape if there’s no drama. Your girlfriend might also be involved in some. And inevitably, you, as her boyfriend, would need to start caring at some point.
Be a good listener when she vents on the drama she’s involved in, be it a scam, a backhanded compliment, friends quarreling, or any bullshit it may be. You might not know it, but she looks to you as a partner because well, if she can’t rely on you, who can she rely on? Also, if you really feel that you’re going to be entrapped in a long sequence of tiring drama, you can always try to maintain a seemingly neutral position, like act as her adviser or something. Just never abandon her when she needs you most. As a wise man once said, “A shoulder to cry on becomes a dick to ride on”.
And if things get physical (in a bad way), let’s hope those martial arts lessons in high school help…
You’re Allowed to Take Control from Time to Time
Perhaps you’re one of those permissive people who allows your girlfriend to dress as whatever she likes? Me too. I believe my girlfriend has every right to cosplay as whatever she wants. But, I have some limits too. I would remind her if her costumes of choice are too revealing and give suggestions as to when and where she should wear them. Of course, I also tell her of the possible consequences of wearing said costume, especially in this conservative society. I’m sure if she’s in the same boat as you, she’d understand your concerns. Some costumes were meant for public consumption, others not so.
But if she insists, remember that you also have the right to intervene. Just do it professionally, not through a tantrum or the silent treatment. Also, don’t let your assertion become your downfall. Remember, she’s your girlfriend, not your personal slave. She has her rights too. You can limit her but don’t go too far; in the end, she’s free to do whatever the fuck she wants to.
You’re Going to be Badgered
My current girlfriend badgers me all the time to participate in her cosplay projects. Unfortunately, since I decided not to add more costumes to my collection (I’m running out of space in my room), I have to say “no” almost every time.
If you have the time and resources to spend, by all means, indulge her. You’ll certainly bond as a couple. You’re going to buy fabric together, craft together, perform together, have fun together; basically, not be a weeping loner in front of a laptop screen masturbating to 2D children.
If not, then don’t feel left out. You can always help her craft her costumes. If your hands aren’t dexterous enough, you can offer her suggestions based on what you know, like what materials should she use or what color fabric should she pick. If you’re that helpless, bring her snacks or crack jokes to keep her entertained when she’s crafting. Again, it’s the small things that count (still not a penis joke).
Having a cosplaying girlfriend is actually quite fun. Aside from the fact that she looks good in costume, her social interactions are what really test your merits as the boyfriend. In closing, let me summarize the things you need as a boyfriend of a cosplaying girl:
Control jealousy; she’s going to get hit on a lot, especially if she’s attractive
Maintain a cool head at all times
Don’t be a control-freak operating on false assumptions
Her problems are your; be supportive
And that concludes this post! Do you guys have any more tips or stories to offer?