Being a part of the community of fans collectively called “cosplayers” has been an extremely interesting experience. There are variances in behavior, expectations, attitudes, and interactions between fandoms and between cosplayers of different levels of expeience. And sometimes there people who seem to make it more about judging the quality of others than about the interactions, performance, and quality of their own efforts.
I have a lot of thoughts about all of those things, and I will likely write about each of those points, but I want to focus this on a different aspect of judgement of one cosplayer over another: The ways we do, and perhaps the ways we should, interact when we dislike the character someone is cosplaying.
Me as the Eleventh Doctor (no I am not changing the numbers) with Jess (anexcentricoptimist.tumblr.com) as Rose and Sarah as Clara
This particular form of fandom division can take several different forms, I want to talk about each in turn:
I. The humorous aside- This is the one that I am definitely guilty of engaging in (if in fact it is even wrong to do). I use self depreciating humor all the time, and like to poke fun at the things I like, so I often reach out and use that same steak of humor on the things that represent it in real life. Ten is not my favorite Doctor, and I love the fact that the Doctor always snipes at hiselves, so sometimes I like to play that up. Also, I sometimes like to kid Sarah above about how I find Clara bland. There are three keys to this in my mind though-
1. It needs to be done entirely in character, and even then limited and never MEAN SPIRITED
2. The people who you do this with should be people you know, in real life, who understand your humor and appreciate that you love them no matter what (In case you are reading Sarah :) )
3. If you are doing the second thing, don’t do it with other people around, especially if they are people you don’t know, or if they play the character in question.
II. Unbridled Love of another- This is a situation that has happened to me no fewer then five times: I am dressed as a character (any fandom, let’s pick on Harry Potter for a minute instead of Doctor Who) let’s say Lupin.
Remus Lupin, former professor at Hogwarts, friend to Harry, Marauder, werewolf
So, I’m doing my Lupin thing and someone asks for a picture, of course I oblige. While we are getting the picture the photographer says: “I loved Snape” Still no problem, that’s cool, same fandom, related character so I say “Ah, yes, I wish things had gone better with Sev.” And the other person launches into one of two things:
1. How terrible a character the one you are portaying is because of something that should have been done for his/her favorite. Or.
2. A long long discussion on why his/her favorite is the only one that matters. And also, several more times… just how absolute much she/he loves the other.
None of that is bad on its own, but remember this is a community, we all know that we all have different favorites, and saying it is fine. I just think we all could do well to respect the choices and time of those we are with and either engage in a real conversation (“I love Lupin in these same ways you love Sev.”) or at least throw a tiny bit of recognition to the character who is “in the room”.
III. Character assassination- Both of the others are really a matter of extremes, in moderation they are fine and with friends it may be all you ever want to do, but there is one last thing that happens in these interactions which is simply never ok, and we should all be working to weed it out of our cosplay communities, I’m going to call it “character assassination”
(To be clear I don’t think ANY of these things, but I have heard them all, and in an angry awful tone most of the time)
Character Assassination is when you go up to a person dressed as Rose and say- “I hate Billie Piper”
Character Assassination is when you go up to a Clara and say “She ruined the show”
Or an Eleven and say “Ugh, him again.” Or a River and say, “She shouldn’t even be on the show.” Or an Amy and say, “so slutty”
Or any other inane senseless, unintelligent, drivel mascarading behind the thin veneer of “it is just my opinion.”
Because in this case it isn’t. You can have all the opinions you want about the characters, even ones I don’t agree with like the above, but that is a different thing when you say it to a person.
Most people cos-play a character because of some personal connection, (unlike the actors, and yet most relatively sane people wouldn’t consider being so hateful in front of the actor.) There is something that draws them to that idea and ideal, and when we engage in this form of character assassination, we are doing it to the person who is right in front of us.
I think it is important that we keep that in mind and treat each person we meet in cosplay, no matter our feelings on the character, with respect.