Heroes of Cosplay has received a lot of flack on the internet from the geek and cosplay communities, even before the show aired. I avoided all the hub-bub until after the first episode aired, in order to go into the show with no preconceived notions or biases, in order to give you guys my own, truest reaction to the series. (Edit: This may seem a little thrown together, but there were a couple of things I really wanted to say as fast as possible after tonight’s episode).
Spoiler alert: I think I like it.
I wasn’t all that keen on the show when I watched the first episode (I saw it on Sunday, since I was on vacation for most of last week). I went into the show expecting something like Project Runway, or Face-Off (which is more apt, I guess, since it is also a Sci-Fi series). (NO, I WILL NEVER CALL IT SYFY). I was really disappointed with the processed drama, the cutting, and the reality showishness of the premiere episode. People made construction choices that looked really cool on camera, but would have been more successful through other methods. Delightful people seemed catty through editing (and also, because of stress–and rightly so!) People seemed to be working up to a punchline, and then cut off in a way that left off the elbow-rub and “haha!” and made them seen mean or petty. My first impression was less Face-Off and more of a…well, I can’t think of an example because I don’t watch them, but think of your traditional, catty reality show.
I returned to the solace of the internet, wondering what the cosplayers featured on the show thought about it. Since I follow many of them on Twitter, I was able to see their reactions quickly. I really have to thank them for reminding me that 1) Heroes of Cosplay is a reality show. It needs a little drama hype and tensions added in, and 2) no one’s 100% pleased with the way they are edited on the show, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that we have a damn television show about cosplay, guys.
There may be drama added it, some things may look goofily scripted, but after my time online I was able to appreciate the first two episodes a lot more. You know that Chloe Dykstra is going to have people show up to help her handle her sand snake, but does that make it less fun to watch? I’m not even sure that you can say it’s completely predictable, because I was so sure Veronica was going to run into the competition with a finished Lulu costume at the last second. (Speaking of, does anyone know if that costume was finished? I would love to see it.)
That’s something I really understood. I was working on my first cosplay until 2am the night before the Con. I even had to abandon some less-essential pieces in order to “finish” it. If you go on Twitter right before a big convention, it’s full of people telling similar tales. Making connections like these helped me realize that some of this “drama” is only slightly amplified–and it helped me enjoy the show more.
The show takes geekdom and cosplay seriously. It doesn’t poke fun at our little niche of life. It doesn’t look at cosplay with underlayer of snark and “Haha, can you even believe these geeks?” Two women told everyone that they were cosplaying as their Dungeons and Dragons characters, and the response was a collective (though unspoken) “Sweet, and those costumes are totally awesome.” Can we just take a moment to celebrate that? Names like Fiora are being tossed out like they’re characters everyone needs to know, not just something that only “gamers who live in their parents’ basement” recognize.
I would still like more in-progress shots of costumes. The editors just seem to want to show cool techniques–and I would prefer if they showed it in a “learn from it” way (though they do have Try This At Home shorts on the website, which is a step in the right direction). Maybe we’ll get more of this in later episodes, once most of the cosplayers have been “established” as “characters” in previous episodes. Fingers crossed.
I was still very annoyed with one editing moment in tonight’s show, about cosplay and body type. I forget what led to the conversation–I think it was a comment about embracing your body type in your costumes, and how that leads to some of the most successful cosplays. Chloe Dykstra then says that everyone should be able to cosplay as whoever they want–a sentiment I agree with 100%. The editors then set up Yaya Han and some of the other cosplayers as providing a counter-argument–that people who are overweight shouldn’t cosplay, or shouldn’t cosplay as think or athletic characters. But if you’re really paying attention to the scene, and really listening to their words, that’s not what they’re saying. They are saying that, unfortunately, the internet and the cosplay community can be cruel. People who do this have to be prepared that they will receive cruel comments. They never say that they should receive these comments. They never say they deserve to receive this type of criticism for cosplaying against body type. It’s just cut to make it appear that they hold these types of views. Which, if you’ve looked online, seems doubtful–Yaya Han in particular seems upset that it was edited this way and made people feel bad.
I recently put on a lot of weight, and I was very nervous about cosplaying at Chicago Comic Con this year. When the scene began, I was cheering on Chloe in my head. Then I realized that the others weren’t arguing against her. They weren’t even making an argument, they were just stating facts. People are often ridiculed online for their cosplays if they don’t have the “right” body type. It’s something that people should be ready for. It’s just not something that should stop them from cosplaying as whoever they want to be.
I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent, so I will wrap it up and get back to the point. It’s definitely worth watching Heroes of Cosplay at least once. Start with the first episode, or start next week. It doesn’t matter. I will keep watching, at least until I’m sure that they will not put a bigger emphasis on making the costumes. And, to be perfectly honest, I will probably be hooked and keep watching long after I reach that point.