Random Tuesday Presents: Building Cosplay Communities

Random Tuesday Presents: Building Cosplay Communities

written by Lauren Bond (@RandomTuesday)

I did a panel at Emerald City Comicon 2014, it was really cool and very exciting and I wanted to share it with all of you who couldn’t be there (because I’m a little enthusiastic about the topic).

photo credits: Rockbomber Studios

photo credits: Rockbomber Studios

The panel was on ‘Building Cosplay Communities’, you might have guessed that based on the title of the post… The overall idea was to talk about what cosplay communities are and how they can be used to tackle the myriad of problems that face the cosplay community, using experience of some wonderful community members who were willing to join me!

So first off I would like to thank:
- Mary Mann (@Commander_Mann)
- Meris (@merismullaley and www.fabricalchemist.com)
- Justin Prince (@prince_justin and Lifted Geek
- Riri (www.facebook.com/riri.cosplay and @Lillyums) also of Lifted Geek

Now for those who want some more depth here is the basic jist of the panel is typed form!

Building Cosplay Communities
A How to and Troubleshooting Panel writeup.

Definitions
You don’t necessarily have to agree with them, but this is what we were working with and think is a pretty good starting place to think about these things):


  • What is Cosplay?


“Cosplay is a means of expressing ones nerdiness and passions through costume and fashion.”

This is intentional broad and includes different types of costumes: everyday cosplay, ren faire garb (SCA), interpretations, meticulous replications. Also it does not consider reasons why someone might cosplay.


  • What is a cosplay community?


“A cosplay community is a group of people with a shared passion for cosplay.”

I made a venn diagram of this, which I am silly proud of so enjoy:

Transient

Which largely means, there is the overall cosplay community, with lots of sub-communities of all sorts of sizes, shapes, purposes, locations (physical and virtual) within it. In addition, members of the communities include, cosplayers (those who make costumes, wear costumes, buy costumes etc…), photographers, enthusiasts, bloggers and anyone really who has a shared passion for cosplay.

ISSUES!!!
Not and exhaustive list, but a starting place we agreed on as concerns within the cosplay community and the geek community at large. (And yes I did need that many exclamation points).

  • Harassment
  • Objectification
  • Bullying
  • Racism
  • Elitism
  • ‘The one true way’
  • Fake Geeks

So what can communities do to address all these issues?!
At this point the various illustrious panelist shared some of their own experiences facing and tackling these issues to improve the community as a whole. Which led us to…

Action Steps!
Things that we can do as members of cosplay communities to make out space a happy, fun, and positive one to be in!

As Individuals:

  • Be aware of your own potential prejudices. It starts with you. Much like preventing forest fires.
  • Be introspective – think about why you cosplay. There is no right answer – focus on that, the reasons other people cosplay isn’t going to affect your experience of the hobby.
  • Positive engagement in the community!!! Like giving compliments about peoples craftsmanship or character.
  • Take a vow to call out harrassment when you see it. Online and in person.
    • But be respectful when addressing problematic behavior – call people out in rational/logical and without yelling and stuff. Don’t be a troll to the trolls.
    • Have each others back.
    • Push for conventions to have policies.
  • Be open to seeking and giving advice.
    • Reaching out and offering help/mentor-ship to less experience cosplayers. Share our resources! Help them level up in cosplay.

As a group/group starter:

  • Have a clear mission/purpose, i.e. if you only want super experienced cosplayers then you should probably state that up-front instead of denying people access without reason.
  • Encourage and embrace diversity, especially for sites that post/share cosplays!
  • Not allowing bullying/harassment in online spaces that we have control over. It really is ok to wield the ban hammer!

Overall, Respect each other!
We are all only human with different wants, who make different choice, and have different constraints – but overall we share the same passion that is cosplay!

 

Lauren Bond runs her blog Random Tuesday as well as actively cosplays. She organized the panel from this article, check out her Facebook page to like her and make sure to follow her on Twitter. She's dope!

 
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