In any event involving a huge amount of people where the focus is in fact people – Be it cosplay, re-enactment, what have you – there is going to be drama. It’s inevitable. Family drama, friend drama, doesn’t matter – it’ll find you one way or another. This is why I don’t cosplay in large groups anymore. I’m very anti-drama and it tends to just bring me down in so many aspects. Well that and I moved almost six hours away. I’ll list some major types of cosplay drama and my feelings toward each. This is by no means a campaign to stop others from cosplaying in groups vs going it alone, nor is it an attack on anyone who does cosplay in a group – this is just my reasoning for going solo and how it has had an effect on my life.
Someone “Claims” a Character You Wanted
While this usually isn’t a problem, some times you really REALLY wanted to cosplay a character but someone claimed it for the group. And since most cosplay groups (I mean permanent ones who do multiple series) do not want repeats, it can be frustrating. While the two people who want to do the cosplay should discuss it and decide to either split the time, there tend to be divas who simply will not give it up. This causes drama in the group and tends to force people to choose sides and that is not how it should be.
Solutions to those on the receiving end of conflict – (A)Work it out – Split the time, talk about it. (B) Go ahead and make the costume and just don’t wear it with the group – sometimes doing your own thing is so much more fun and you can go do panels or something you would have missed out – you may not be in a group photo, but it’s not the end of the world. (C) Choose another character for the group if you like. (D) Do another version or variation of that character? Though this may not work so well though if the group is doing “Uncanny X-Men” and you’re doing “X-Men Legacy” for example.
Some advice to those who get upset because someone else wants to do the same character you already do – Work it out. There are only so many characters in a series and you really shouldn’t be a hardass and claim a character and say no one else can do it. You do not own said character – Unless of course it’s an OC then yes you have every right to defend YOUR character that you created.
Either way, people should NOT take it personally and go around slandering others. Seriously. DO NOT SLANDER OTHERS. It just makes you and the group look bad.
Groups are Difficult to Organize for Photos
Ugh! This is a responsibility that should be on every member of the group – Not on one person to cat wrangle the members. There is SO MUCH to do at a convention, it’s very difficult to work around everyone’s schedule. The best thing to do is sit down in advance and try to go over the schedule. Sacrifices on the group and the individual are a necessary evil. This may mean you may miss out on some things. But the group needs to be flexible, too. Sometimes individuals host panels and do NOT get a say in when their panel is running. Organization is key. However, this goes back to the duplicate characters thing – if you have a commitment and it cannot be worked around, then give the other member who wants to do that character a chance.
Egos, Egos, EGOS…
There are HUGE egos in cosplay. I mean it’s a hobby where you show off your handywork and your love for a character. You want to be the best. You think you are the best. It happens. But there is an ugly side – where the claws come. You start slamming other cosplayers because they don’t have the right “look” for a character. You slam their outfit – you don’t think it’s very good or made of very nice fabrics or it just looks wrong. You slam their body. You slam on their ability to have their costumes made and afford them as opposed to spending the time to make it yourself.
It’s cruel, it’s hateful, and we’re all guilty of this at some point.
Then there are the DIVAS. We’ve all seen them. We’ve all heard them. They can be male or female, but they MUST reign supreme. They are catty, malicious, hateful, and get HULKANGRY and flip their shit when something doesn’t go their way. Here’s an example – a couple of years ago I observed one said diva ask a celebrity (William Shatner) for a photo with him. The celebrity was at the end of his day and was ready to head out to the airport when she cried… “Oh, please? I’m PRETTY enough!” He kind of sighed and reluctantly took the photo. I’ve seen the photo. He didn’t exactly look happy. It’s that kind of shit that just irks…well…everyone!They are absolutely no fun to be around and if heaven forbid anyone steps up to call them out on it, then it’s like WWIII. The diva forces other members to choose sides. They drive a wedge between friends/lovers/etc – or try to. And the scariest part is – I don’t think they all realize it! I mean there are those who definitely do, but I genuinely think some have no clue.
We all have a little bit of diva in us, but the real ones take it to a whole other level! It’s those people who I absolutely refuse to have anything to do with.
Just remember folks – Follow the Golden Rule. We weren’t raised to be snotty jerks – or at least I’d like to think that.
OMG THE STRESS
There can be SO MUCH STRESS in cosplay. Stress of picking a costume, stress of organizing the group (photos, room situations), stress of MAKING A COSTUME (and sewing is supposed to REDUCE stress!!!), stress of shit going wrong, stress of packing, stress of entering a costume contest, stress of travel – It’s all stress.
I think it multiplies 10 fold when it’s in a group. Maybe more. Nerves are raw, stress is high, shit will be said between people. People get feelings hurt. Friendships take a hit. See, stress.
There’s enough stress in my daily life that I really can’t handle much more. This is a HOBBY. It should be fun. As a good friend of mine and I like to say (from doing Renaissance Festivals for MANY years) – If it’s no longer fun, don’t do it!
(Personal note: I want to hug this friend and tell him to follow his own advice sometimes. Love you! But you gotta stop freaking out!)
Anyway – life is FAR TOO SHORT to be freaking out about every little detail. It’s usually fixable!!!!!!
Cosplay is a VERY expensive hobby – it’s one of the most expensive hobbies around – and trying to make a new costume for a new group cosplay (or two) per convention is ridiculous! Soon you’ll be swimming in debt and eating ramen every night. There are ways around the budget issue (I host a kick ass panel about it – hell, I’ll post my material some day) but even then it still adds up with doing so much.
There’s also the cost of travel – Hotel, gas, plane or bus ticket, lodging, buying things. And it adds up extremely fast. I’ve found a few ways to save money at cons but I still do what I can to save up for the big ones coughDragonConcough*
There’s also the cost of vacation time – y0u’re going to burn through vacation days at work if you have to actually travel to cons. So forget about taking a real vacation (my real vacation is Dragon…because it eats my time).
Your Personal Life Outside of Con – Friends, Relationships, Etc.
Your life away from your hobby will suffer if you cannot find a balance. Being committed to a group for a lot of traveling will cause aspects in your life to suffer. Your home life, your relationship with family, your friends who don’t do cons – It’s a balancing act. It’s one that can tip so very very easily, too. When I was in a cosplay group, I RARELY got to see my two best friends – who lived in the same fucking town as me. And now I’ve moved so I see them even less! I now make it a point to see them when I come home to visit, though. And one is hopefully coming to visit me soon. I’m not worried about losing her. I know we’ll stay in touch – that’s just how we are. But yeah I miss the crap out of my best friend.
I’m so glad I have more time with my husband now, too! Before I always felt horrible for running off to a con instead of going to visit him before we lived together. Granted it was more expensive to visit, but that’s different animal. I still felt like I was a bad girlfriend/fiance/wife. Once I cut back and was able to re-evaluate everything things have gotten so much better. I’m glad for it.
—Now that I’ve talked about a lot of the bad, let’s talk about some of the good—
Large One-Shot Group Cosplay Photos at Conventions
I love this idea! There’s nothing more fun than seeing photos of a Gaggle of Kaylees, a whole bunch of members of the 501st and Rebel Legion, a whole big ass group of Ghostbusters – stuff like that! They’re usually scheduled photoshoots that are open to anyone (well, for the 501st and RL you gotta be IN the group but that’s different). An added bonus is there’s usually a really good photographer scheduled to do the shoot, too. (Yussssssss)
Dragon*Con is famous for its HUGE Marvel and DC Photoshoots! AND duplicates are welcome!
I also like the idea of FRIENDS who don’t see each other that often doing a one-shot group of something like Supernatural ,OUaT, etc. It makes it more special IMO instead of doing as many cosplays from as many fandoms to have a group at every convention. And it takes the stress out of a lot of things.
Sure there’s the stress to get a costume up to RL or 501st standards, but the members there are more than willing to help with information if a costume is not approved for some reason or another.
So I’ve moved 400 miles away from my hometown and I’ve started branching out to other places. I pretty much live directly in the middle of Nashville and Dallas, so this opportunity has opened up more south and western conventions to me. It’s an exciting time!
I’ll spare you the details of my decision to go solo, but the stress and drama was just at a point that I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I wouldn’t do it anymore. And while my exit was less than graceful (and I still apologize for that), I’ve since made amends as I do in fact love the members of my former cosplay group. We were friends, that’s how we all started out – that’s what I’m trying to get back to. Focusing on friendship because FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC (HA! Pony reference. +1 to fun).
Every once in a while I will still do a “group” cosplay – Usually it’s one with friends such as Ghostbusters and then of course as I mentioned Rebel Legion shoots/troops/etc. I’m also down with doing cosplays of GENERIC characters from a show (BSG, Trek, Stargate, etc). I’m actually working on a Juno Eclipse costume next so I can get into the 501st. I do some face characters and I will continue to do so as time permits. Also! This way I’m getting to cosplay with more of my friends (and hubby!!!), and I wasn’t really able to in the past. I’m super excited!
I have no regrets.. I still feel as though a huge ball of stress was lifted. I didn’t sew a stitch for two months. I didn’t have to. It gave me time to get closer to my husband and family. I love that.
I’ve also now got the freedom to cosplay whoever I want whenever I want…if I feel like it. Sometimes I actually go to conventions NOT IN COSTUME gasp. I know, it’s nuts. Granted that happens less often now because I’ll just throw some of my Rose Tyler outfits into a suitcase as my “regular clothes”…Hehehe. I actually like going to cons for programming! I’m trying to get back to that a little more.
I’ve since cut my con schedule back, and I’ve actually found time to do commissions again on a limited basis! I’ve also gotten into making Geek Wear – Fun attire to wear out and about in this awesome life. I feel like I’m getting back to me. The old me. The one I love. The one who loves camping and hiking. The one who LOVES to sew for the fun of it. And that is exactly where I want to be. 🙂
Is going it alone for everyone? No. Some people HAVE to be in a group for their own reasons. And while group cosplays are cool and do look great in photos, there are several costumes and characters that one can do alone will get you stopped every three feet if you do them. Just be wary that you need a good exit strategy so you can actually make it to a bathroom. 😛
This was an extremely long post and I’m glad you guys stuck with me.
Stay shiny, Allons-y, and Peace Out!
- The Patchwork Pirate