” It don’t run in our blood. That kind of lux just ain’t for us, we crave a different kind of buzz.” – Lorde, Royals
I never thought I’d have to explain the difference between a Plaboy Bunny and a Playboy Centerfold in the context of cosplay issues. More and more, cosplay is getting attention from mainstream media. In recent days, Playboy has published (a safe for work) pictorial and interview with BBW cosplayer, Ivy Doomkitty. She’s best known for her judging on Heroes of Cosplay and is part of the echelon of cosplay celebrities in the past year or so. The pictorial was tame, most images you can find on her Facebook page. The interview focused on her bullied childhood. Following the two articles, another pictorial of cosplayers followed – various female cosplayers cherry picked from the web without their permission or photographer’s consent.
There’s a few issues at bay here. Playboy dubbed Ivy as the “Queen of Cosplay.” As we’ve seen in Heroes of Cosplay, the media likes to create titles and fictitious rivalries. It doesn’t reflect real life either. Keep in mind the new Playboy’s audience; it’s not about bachelor class, salacious cartoons, and smoking jackets. When Hugh Heffner’s sons took over, it was made to compete more with the beta-male focused Maxim. Remember, SyFy labeled Yaya Han both “Cosplay Queen” and “Ambassador of Cosplay. Both cosplayers have gone on record saying that they didn’t create these titles, but the media and web journalists did. It’s part of the new clickbait culture on web journalism. Example, I can easily rename this article to “Ivy Doomkitty Undeserving of Cosplay Royalty. The Reason May Shock You!” This creates curiosity and what cosplayer doesn’t love a train wreck?
Additionally, local cosplayers have once again brought in Yaya Han to be pitted up again Ivy Doomkitty. Debates on whether or not who is better are being challenged. People actually get into internet arguments over this. People bring up personal experiences with both cosplayers arguing who is the nicer of the two or who promotes a better message. In the end, does it really matter? Personal experiences when it comes to celebrity cosplayers are subjective. A retweet from Ivy or Yaya doesn’t mean she’ll hang out with you this weekend or she’s your BFF. There’s too much emphasis on cosplay celebrityism and e-fame that it detracts us from real issues. Anyone can promote a positive message, it doesn’t have to fall on the hands on someone because they have a large following. You can send positive messages about body positivity or antibullying by just living by virtue; practice what you believe in. The time spent arguing could be spend on making new costumes for Anime Boston. Whether or not Yaya or Ivy have the best PR or best character does not really matter in the grand scheme of things. If you had a great experience with either or, then good for you, but remember, because senpai noticed you in the dealers room does not mean you’re gonna be at the same room party. Even if you’re white knighting someone you hardly know because of a one time convention experience, you still don’t know that person. Cosplayers who have booths in dealers halls are nice because they want to make a sale; it’s customer service 101.
Can we just stop focusing too much our of free time on cosplay celebrities? The more we pit these media proclaimed queens, the more power we’re giving to that title. There are no cosplay queens or cosplay royalty. A true cosplayer does it for the love of fandom. I know I have ranted about it before, but it’s come to a point where this is what it has gone down to – endless white knighting on who’s better. In the end, does it really matter? People are free to have their own opinions, but people getting into public arguments over this? I’m much more paranoid about Playboy finding my cosplay photos and publishing on their website without my consent when I am currently moving up in my professional career where geeky things are oftentimes frowned upon. A photo on Playboy’s website can damage that career. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Instead of focusing on other people’s drama and engage in said debates, why not work on a new project? You know…cosplay can be time consuming and why not dedicate that energy to something productive? It’s fine to discuss problems that the cosplay and convention community are facing, but doing so on social media is the equivalent of a school yard fight – people see a fight and they want to engage in and encourage the fight to go on.
In the meantime, I think I’ll tweet over to Playboy and ask them to ask user permission to use photos and link back to photographers because ethics and journalism reasons. Also, publish more James Bond short stories…
– Eri Kagami
scarlet.rhapsody @ ymail.com