Heroes of Cosplay is bad, and Syfy should feel bad
(Formerly on a different site)
Maybe you heard about this show Syfy has started showing called Heroes of Cosplay. If you do cosplay, or enjoy the works of cosplayers, then odds are this show isn’t for you. If you have no clue what cosplay is, this show still isn’t for you. Actually, this show is really for no one, and you shouldn’t be giving Syfy the ad revenue. What, praytell, is Heroes of Cosplay you ask? On the surface, it’s a documentary/reality TV show, following several cosplayers and the “famous” Yaya Han, as they work through costumes, go to conventions, enter competitions, and try to earn fame and glory for themselves. I know, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Within the first 15 minutes, I was already disgusted by what I was seeing. None of the cosplayers shown “cosplay for fun”, instead cosplaying mostly to enter contests, earn money, and further their own fame/brand name. Many of them had significant others who helped them out to the point of being sweatshop workers (Jinyo doing all the embroidery comes heavily to mind). The show stated that many cosplayers spend months of work and thousands of dollars to enter competitions with money on the line.
I don’t know what you think, but that couldn’t be less true 90% of the time if it tried.
I’ve entered competitions, and even won a few small prizes. I’ve got friends who have qualified for the World Cosplay Summit before. Even after travel, hotel, spending cash, the costumes themselves, etc, I’ve yet to spend more than a grand on a single convention. I know that there are cosplayers who have spent months and dropped big cash to enter competitions, but we sure aren’t showcasing them in this show, are we? If there is money to be won at a competition, it certainly isn’t enough to justify the “thousands of dollars” some supposedly spend making their costumes, on travel, etc. (The biggest prize awarded that I know of was $10K at a small Vegas convention. It was split among the winning group of 7 people.) Many competitions don’t offer much for a prize outside of a certificate or maybe a trophy. This is true even of larger conventions. You’ve got a few dozen people in a contest, and you expect me to believe all of them are there to win a $500 grand prize and become famous? I don’t think so. Especially when two of the ladies got away with entering their D&D characters? How is a judge supposed to accurately judge that?! Most competitions won’t let you submit an original character without good reason. Source material is key!
I was especially annoyed with Yaya herself (although given that every interaction at a convention I’ve had with her has been less than pleasant, this is no big surprise) and how the other ladies talked about her. “Yaya this” and “Yaya that”. Excuse me, you all are friends. You’ve done photoshoots together. That’s why you’re on this show.
Don’t get me wrong, the women and men on the show are indeed skilled (except maybe Becky, and if I ever find her shittastic Emma Frost, I’ll show you why), and are dedicated to their work. They want to further themselves in a field they enjoy. They want to prove why they’re better than someone else, and that’s fine. Yaya is still one of the better seamstresses in cosplay around. Her makeup and wigs are usually top notch. But the only thing bigger than her chest is her ego. This show is her personal pet project, and all it’s done so far is leave a bad taste in my mouth.
And don’t get me started on the production team. Scripted drama for the sake of drama. Yaya’s Fiora was done before Katsucon, which was quite some time before WCCC. And I refuse to believe anyone brought their daughter to an event where half the attendees are in costume, and that that little girl happens to believe of the multiple Meridas she saw that weekend, that one was real. You know why there isn’t a focus on male cosplayers in the show/promo media? Because the producer essentially said that male cosplayers aren’t as hot, nor are their costumes as intricate. Excuse the fuck out of me, what? Just last weekend at Otakon, I got to see an Iron Man whose suit has AUTOMATED MOVING PARTS, a DMC3 Dante who actually had the abs, a bunch of shirtless Free! cosplayers, a Blade Wolf from MGR:Revengeance, and more. Their works were intricate, they were hot. They spent just as much if not more time and money than anyone else there. And you’re gonna tell me, that even though you’re trying to portray cosplay to a wider audience, you’re only riding on sex appeal of a handful of females? How disgusting. (I don’t have anything against hot chicks in cosplay either. But there’s better hot chicks than are on this show that cosplay.) They also intercut a lot of footage between Wizard City Comic Con and Anime Expo (WCCC is tiny in comparison to AX), and I know quite a bit of their footage wasn’t signed off on by the participants. Their social media is a joke: they’ve stolen and posted quite a few photographs without proper credits, and in some cases even removed watermarks. (Honestly, I’ve got links FOR DAYS about the controversy surrounding this show, if you want to know more.)
You know who some real “heroes of cosplay” are? The East Coast Avengers. You know what they do? THEY VISIT SICK KIDS IN HOSPITALS DRESSED AS THE AVENGERS. Give me a documentary about them and others like them brightening the day of people in need of a smile. You want some people to admire? Volpin Props, God Save The Queen Fashions, Jessie Pridemore(of Rufflebutt Cosplay), Eurobeat Kasumi Photography… The list truly goes on. If you want to know more about cosplay, look into Cosplay: Crafting a Secret Identity (a short documentary film done by PBS in Atlanta, and even features Yaya, and is still miles better than HoC) or Cosplay in America (a showcase of cosplayers of all sizes, types, skill level and so on in America).
As if the cosplay community already didn’t have a bunch of problems, both internally and externally, we get this show too. Jessie Pridemore is right: “[t]he people who would judge cosplay based on a TV show ALREADY judge and don’t like us”. So don’t give Syfy your support in watching this poor excuse for a “documentary”. Don’t give their “stars” the fame they so desire who are showing off cosplayers in a bad light. Just… don’t.
(and if you want to know more about how I feel about the craftsmanship shown in the show, other controversies that the production team created, cosplay in general and so on, hit me up on twitter @anarchymarie or send me an email at email@example.com. You can also read my personal response to the comments on the original posting of this article here. I can write about this forever, trust me)