Sunday, 23 February 2014

Send in the Clones

Since my earliest days in fandom, costuming has always been something that has been there. In 1988 I attended my first full convention ( I had dropped into one in 1986 but did not stay) and I did indeed go to the evenings activities in costume. My Captain Scarlet uniform was was something I had always wanted to do and I must admit the look on various faces on non convention goers at the hotel was indeed amusing.

But do you know what the prize was that night, a voucher to the movies.

In my 25 years of fandom I have been to over 250 conventions of all sizes and one of the constants has been the enthusiasm of attendees to come in costume. For many it is not about winning any competition or their 15 minutes of fame on stage it is just the opportunity to portray their favorite character. On the left is my friend Scott in Classic Battlestar uniform. Scott runs highly successful conventions in Melbourne but hasn't forgotten that having fun is all part of the outfit and being a fan. 

This group on the right  is from Brisbane and whilst they compete in the group cosplay competitions it is still all about fun and the idea of  having a good time together. I know there are times they could happily murder each other in the lead up but in the end it is all about taking a concept and seeing it to reality and sharing that with those  around them.

But I am seeing what is for me a disturbing trend now entering Australian events. That of the "professional" costumer. Those that seek not to simply enjoy their costuming but who almost demand that you "worship" their skill and abilities for producing what they are wearing. As a professional host I get paid to run around and talk and have everyone look at me and I enjoy the attention, but at no point do I decide to belittle or degrade those around me who don't possess the same skills. I have however seen and heard people in costume do exactly that to others who's costume has not met the standards they feel it should.

The girl on the left was attending a convention in Las Vegas I was at, I asked if I could get a photo she said yes. I took a photo and she then berated me for taking the photo before she was ready. Five minutes later she had prepared herself and struck a pose that she deemed suitable for her to be photographed. I have no problem with wanting to show yourself and costume off to the best advantage, but to complain and take your time in preparing for a photograph I find annoying. People should be rewarded for their efforts but I hope we never get to the stage of people expecting a reward for their efforts.

I liken this to something that occurred at an event I ran many years ago, a group approached the organizing committee to have a sizeable display area to show off their spectacular models.  What was displayed was indeed amazing and certainly added to the weekend. One week after the event we were contacted again about the next year. We  said we would be delighted to have them back. We were then sent a contract for their appearance with a sizeable fee. Their reasoning was that their product was a draw card for the event. We declined. I hope we do not see this occur with costumers, a belief that they and their creations are greater than the events that they are attending. I hope we will never lose those like the group below who make it a joy to see them and not make us feel as if we have been deemed worthy to be in their presence.

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