Saturday, April 2, 2011

In response to "There is no good Firefly Cosplay"

"There's no such thing as good Firefly cosplay."

This link made the rounds among Whedon fans not too long ago, and I would like to take a moment, if I may, to respectfully refute a few points.

The writer claims that “good” Firefly cosplay is difficult for two reasons. First, he says, the costumes are “somewhat normal clothes” and “ the looks aren’t always that distinctive”. Now, unless you know people who regularly wear coveralls, embroidered silk, and gun belts, I’d argue that there’s really nothing “normal” about the Firefly look.

Like any good cosplay, the key is to find those few iconic elements of the character and make them work for you. If you’re a Firefly fan, you can probably think of a few things, right off the bat: Mal’s coat, Kaylee’s parasol, Jayne’s hat, just to name a few. Besides which, there’s a plus side to doing a costume with “somewhat normal” pieces, and that is that you don’t have to make everything by hand. A quick trip to a good thrift store, a few alterations, and you’ve got the foundation for your costume. As much as we at Frenemy Cosplay encourage the endless labor of costume tailoring, there’s something to be said for the creativity required to assemble a decent, recognizable costume out of stuff you can find.

Second, the writer asserts that, “Fans of Firefly that are devoted enough to dress up in full regalia are on average, dorkier than most” and that, as a result of this, “Firefly cosplay is mainly nerdy looking people dressing in ill-fitting clothes”. Let’s just take a second to unpack these statements, shall we?

I might agree with the first part if we were talking about, say, Harvey Birdman, but Firefly? Being a fan of Firefly and a devoted Whedonite, I’ll admit that I may be a little too close to the source for an accurate assesment, but I have trouble believing that someone who dresses as Mal Reynolds is any dorkier than someone who dresses as The Doctor. The writer acknowledges that cosplayers in general tend to be “dorkier than most”, which is true enough, but he goes on to say that you can usually “find a few male and female hotties to do excellent work on some of the more mainstream characters”. Honestly, there’s so much wrong with this statement, I don’t even know where to start. He seems to be suggesting that “dorkiness” is inversely proportionate to attractiveness, which is an assumption that draws on fifty years of negative stereotyping and simply is not - in any way, shape, or form - true. There is no measurable correlation between fandom and physical appearance, and anyone who claims there is, frankly, is either not a fan or is projecting her or his own insecurities on the rest of fandom. I don’t presume to know which category our writer falls into, and I won’t speculate.

In response to the second part of his point, that “Firefly cosplay is mainly nerdy looking people dressing in ill-fitting clothes”, I would say simply: So? The measure of good cosplay is not how hot you look, or even how recognizable you are. The measure of good cosplay is the costume itself, the quality of the outfit and the work and passion that went into putting it together. The measure of good cosplay is the joy of the fan wearing it and the excitement of other fans at seeing it. Look at the pictures in that post, and tell me that any of those people are not absolutely thrilled to be wearing those clothes. They are paying homage to their big damn heroes, and they are rocking it.

In conclusion, Mr Writer, there is a point to cosplay, and you seem to have missed it. For that, you have my sympathy, but I request that you take your negativity and keep it the hell away from my con.


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