Written by Stan O. Originally posted on Plastic Ronins, republished with permission.
It all started few years ago, when (Patient 0) Jessica Nigri bursted into cosplay scene. There was nothing significant about her. By all account, everything about her was simplistic. She should’ve been forgotten. But then, something happened. She used social media to market her image, and her facebook page hit 100k within short time. Whether she intended to or not, her marketing scheme started a viral infection across the cosplay community.
Some male and female cosplayers noticed her facebook account, as well as massive media coverage of her. At that moment, something clicked in their head: ‘hey, what if I dress up skimpy like her? I have decent body, so it should be easy to grab photographer’s attention’. Thus they cosplayed with as little fabric as law would require, and proceed to grab the nearest photographers so that their pictures can circulate the internet.
This also infected some photographers as well, as they realized that the skimpy cosplay pictures generated massive hits. These lazy photgraphers started to exclude any cosplayers that they deemed ‘not good-looking enough’, despite some of these cosplayers’ craftsman skills. But when they come across cosplayers with what would be perceived as ‘sex appeal’ in their eyes, they wasted no time taking their photos. Soon, their photobucket would be overflowing with bikinis and spandex, with very little actual cosplay photography to speak of.
Their twisted perception also infected some of the internet media outlet. Already giving Jessica Nigri massive exposure, they searched for the next Jessica Nigri. They would see the pictures of these narrow-minded photographers, and decided that they would interview these girls as ‘best cosplayers’. They didn’t care about the fact that most of these girls can’t sew their way out of paper bag, they just wanted to generate hits from these girl’s sexy photos. It didn’t matter whether they knew the series they were cosplaying, they would just sugar-coat it as ‘being cute’.
This changed many cosplayers’ attitude towards each other. It used to be each cosplayers would help out one another, and just be happy that someone’s cosplaying from same series as them. But now, they look at each cosplayer as nothing more than numbers. ‘If your facebook likes do not exceed 500, I will not even look at you’. These cosplayers do whatever it takes to expose themselves, all for facebook follows. Selling prints are just the beginning, they would wear less and less each convention, photoshop their overall appearance, disregard any effort to make an actual costumes, and fixated on impressing industry members. Thus, the infection mutated them into ‘Fame Zombies’.
And the infection came about at the worst timing. Hot off the blockbuster movies such as Iron Man, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight, the geek culture was viewed as the next trendy counter-culture. This caused the flood of bandwagoners that claim themselves as geeks and nerds, despite the fact that their only comic-book exposure was through Marvel movies. The same geek website that covers these ‘cosplayers’ would often cover movies as well. To the bandwagoners that have never sewn a costume in their life, or have never gone to anime convention, these ‘sexy cosplay’ photos became their definition of cosplay.
The popularity of the ‘cosplay’ also brought out the worst out of these bandwagoners. Some of these guys would brag about meeting Nigri, and claim her to be the prime example of what cosplay should be. Some of the girls would call themselves ‘gamer gurls’ and start licking their controllers, to cater to these bandwagoners. These ‘gamer gurls’ could care less about what games they play. To them, it’s all about grabbing male gamer’s attention due to their fantasy about perfect gamer girlfriend.
And that’s what it all comes down to: Fantasy. These people cannot cope with many aspect of their lives. Some want to be loved and recognized (some of these people are in relationship, steadiness questionable), so they cater to pathetic beta fanboys that they’ve never met. Some want their dream boy/girl, but they’re too awkward and believe that normal guys/girls are boring, so they look up to these pretenders. Should anyone attempt to break their delusion, they condemn the person. ‘You’re being mean because you’re jealous’, ‘you just wish you were hot and famous as her’, and so on. All the bashing in their little world, so they can avoid the reality check.
And thus, we have arrived at this point of the hobby. Some conventions would invite these Fame Zombies as guest of honor, further brainwashing new generation of cosplayers into believeing the hype. Some even get invited to masquerade as guest judge, despite having never been in a masquerade once. Meanwhile, people that have actually contributed to cosplay community gets left in the dirt, because of the infected perception. To some of these cons, if they’re not associated with fame zombies, then they’re not worth inviting.
All this could’ve been prevented.
We could’ve prevented this.
But we chose not to.
We let it happen.
Some of us wanted to speak against these fame zombies, but they decided to not to speak up. They were worried that they friends would look at them funny, or even shun them. Their friends were infected as well, putting illusion over logic. Anybody that tried to speak sense into them would be chewed out and even abandoned by their friends. Some of us just gave up, decided that it’s better to join the winning team than to fight the losing battle.
Thus, the survivors of the outbreak take refugee among each other. To us, it’s not about the appearance or number of facebook likes. It’s about series that we love, video games we played, and movies we watched. We care not for attention from fan-zombies, but the attention to details. We’d rather discuss with vigor about the last episode of Attack on Titans than to discuss with insincerity about how cosplay =/= consent. This is what cosplay should be about: FANDOM, not FAME.
And yet, the zombies wander around the convention. They crave attention, and they don’t care how they get it. If you’re one of the surviving cosplayers, DO NOT let these fame zombies infect you. Be true to yourself, and be true to everyone else around you. Always remember that cosplay fame does not last forever. Be it cosplayers or photgraphers, they’re all expendable within the zombie community. Once fame zombies lose their sex appeal, then the zombies will move onto the next ‘sexy cosplayer’. Always remember that you’re a person first, and cosplayer last.
Hopefully this message has reached everyone out there… or not, if you’re one of the infected.
stan @ scarlet-rhapsody.com