Cosplay

Published on June 10th, 2014 | by SgtKaiju

20

We Are The Trouble With Nerds

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All thoughts are the authors own and not necessarily representative of Need To Consume

Another week, another misogynistic attack within our community. As the geek community becomes more and more mainstream, some of the dark elements with our niche are floating to the top, like scum on a pond. And it is up to us to deal with it, not merely shrug our shoulders  and pass the buck. To catch up those who missed it, Jessica Nigri went on Twitch to play video games. And so, out came the trolls.

And as usual, it is intrinsically linked to misogyny..

It is incredibly saddening but this kind of thing has become so commonplace that it no longer surprising and barely offends anymore. These attacks on women in the geek world happen daily and are all pervasive. When FoodAndCosplay created the #NotACosplayer campaign, it was inundated with replies about how certain things weren’t cosplay, how some people were ruining cosplay and the like.

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Image courtesy of Eddie Cheung from FoodAndCosplay

And the hashtag revealed even more:

We took the time to speak to a few cosplayers  experiences and some incredibly saddening stories emerged:

I had a good friend recommend I bring back my Misty cosplay (I cosplayed her a while back) so I did… As soon as I posted it on a Cosplay group on Facebook. I got bombarded with comments such as “Misty’s boobs are not that big” “The way you’re posing look stupid” “ Your boobs like weird” “That’s not cute at all”. Truth be told it broke my heart and I took the post down. – SuperSonicSky

The first was my first con cosplaying earlier this year. I was with Maria (my cosplay partner) and we were dressed as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. So, when a group of 5 guys came up to us I didn’t really think much of it. They all asked and were really polite, first few guys had their pictures taken and then the last guy walked over. He was also in cosplay but I couldn’t place who he was. He had big shoulder pads on with red and white stripes on one side and blue and silver stars on the other. In my haze of the day and the excitement of it all I said, “oh hey you’re Captain America – awesome”. He laughed in my face, turned round to his friends, pointed his thumb at me and said “She thinks I’m Captain America”. He posed for his picture and walked off with his friends still chuckling. He just mocked me & walked off. I felt awful, it takes a lot to rock my confidence but that really did it. I felt like a sham. One of those “fake geek girls” who don’t know enough about comics etc. Later I was able to place the character, he was The Comedian from Watchmen. A comic that I had only recently (pre-con) devoured in the space if a few days and loved. Didn’t stop me feeling like a complete chump at the time and I still look back now and cringe at my awful ignorance. I was so angry after. I just kept thinking “if that had been a 14 girl old girl, who had saved up her pocket money to make her outfit she would have been devastated” – KiaMariaCosplay

People need to realise behind the picture is a person who put time, effort and money into this cosplay. Even though my cosplay was accurate, my body shape made me into a “Slut” sexualising cosplay when this is not the case. I can see why most people are intimidated to join the con community and start cosplaying. – SuperSonicSky

If you’ll allow me to be frank for a moment, what the bloody hell is wrong with people?

Look, I get it. I’m now 31 and I’ve been a geek almost all my life. I’ve been going to conventions since I was 14 and they were 30 heavy-set men crowding round a desk full of floppy disks. As a teenager, the geek culture was a place of safety for me, a place to feel at home. I was never sporty, never a cool kid with all the toys. All I had was smarts and a love of sci-fi. And that worked in the fandoms, it didn’t matter what I looked like, it didn’t matter what I did, all that mattered was what I knew. That was comforting, that the arbitrary rules that held sway over the rest of the world did not apply here.

And then it all changed. Nerd Culture became mainstream culture. The public face of the scene was changing.  There was a massive influx of people and money into this once dark corner of my world. And with this influx, came many many changes. One of the biggest was that of demographic. Whilst the men I grew up with were there, there were also many new faces. Faces of colour, female faces, young faces. And as these people joined us, it allowed their peers, who had long hung in the background of geekdom, to rise with them. In time, the culture changed to include their views. And change can be scary. Suddenly those rules that we held sway against started to affect our world, started to have weight. What you looked like mattered, you were judged on it. How cool you were matter, how much you knew mattered less.

But you know what, we are the ones doing the judging. Not them.

We are the one’s getting protective, we are the one’s enforcing some idiotic idea of how things should be enjoyed or consumed. You don’t see the folks who came to Marvel via the MCU judge those who read for 20 years, you don’t seem folks at their first con sneer at those vets who have been around for years.

It is us, the old guard, drawing imaginary lines in the sand and saying those over there, they aren’t real fans.

And I for one will not stand for it.

MediaHandler

The basic idea of the geek community is come as you are. We were the ones who would take those who could go nowhere else, when did that change? You don’t get to decide how someone else interacts with the thing you love. IT IS NOT YOURS. Even if you made it, once it hits the wider world, IT IS NOT YOURS. You don’t get to decide that Jessica Nigri isn’t worthy of her renown because of any reason. Don’t like her? Don’t watch her. Do your own thing. Your time in the community does not give you more right. Your skin colour does not give you more right. Your dick does not give you more right.

This is my community, these are the people I love and the places I am whole. My truest friends have been forged in our love of Picard, of Reynolds, of Briene. I will fight for it to remain a place of safety, of openness and welcome. We will take in all. Those who just fancy Chris Evans and those who have read Cap since Issue 1, those who waited 7 years for Dance With Dragons and those who have never seen it but love the Daenerys cosplay they see around. There are no gatekeepers to this community, no test to pass or requirements to fulfil. Come as you are, let me show you what I love, show me what you love. This is my home and there will always be a place for you.

And so to the trolls I say this, grow up or get the fuck off my lawn.

SgtKaiju

SgtKaiju

Despite having made been in the film industry for the last decade, I'm still not sure what a Best Boy does....

I now make stuff for Kaiju Industries. You're welcome.
SgtKaiju

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  • Sam

    Freedom of speech, They can say what they like, your doing the exact thing. They just say it in a more malice way.
    And so to the trolls I say this, grow up or get the fuck off my lawn, this is just as fucking stupid as people crying over cosgay.

    • SgtKaiju

      Freedom of speech is the freedom provided by the government for a unlimited speech without the threat of prosecution. It doesn’t protect people from consequences of being unpleasant or bullies.

      • Trace Liske

        I have expressed this sentiment to people so many times the words now come out bitter.

    • Angel Buckley

      Freedom of speech means you can say what u want doesn’t mean that there are not consequences for what you say for example you can say fuck you to your teacher but still doesn’t mean you wont be reprimanded or suspended

    • Alison Pitt

      If the only thing you have to say in their defense is that they legally can’t be arrested for saying it, then you might have to re-think some things…

    • Mark

      Just so you know, even my 11 year old nephew things ‘cosgay’ was lame.

  • Guest

    The writer of this article.

    • SgtKaiju

      You do realise there is a picture of me right there above your comment?

      • Matthew Haycock

        Of course it does, but unfortunately its just proving the point that there are idiots out there with little better to do than troll people for some sense of self-worth.

        • Tiffany Mekkatorque

          The fact that you referred to the person as an “it” made me laugh a little too much, and I’m not sure why.

    • Adam Lashley

      Perfect comment to validate this article

  • Matthew Haycock

    Unfortunately, it seems to be everywhere. Ever since it became ‘cool’ to be a geek, and we saw people who may not have originally been associated with the culture (Sport fans, ‘attractive’ girls, ect) there seems to have been this whole shaming culture that has appeared.
    Its almost as if some of the geeks and nerds who were bullied for enjoying the things they loved have decided to try and give back everything they had to take.
    Slut-shaming slim, attractive girls, because they are ‘cosplaying for attention’.
    Forcing people to prove their knowledge of a fandom, because they are only fans because its ‘popular now’.
    The problem is, it makes the community look bad. What used to be an open welcoming group, that brought people together because of the things they loved. Now its looking like we are trying to isolate ourselves, ignoring the fact that people don’t have it so bad anymore for admitting they like this stuff.

  • Tiffany Mekkatorque

    Ah, such a good article. I can agree that I also know many people (especially women, including myself) who are afraid to cosplay because they’re ashamed of their bodies or afraid of what others will think. In the end it’s all about the love you have for the character you want to cosplay as, and most of all, they’re fictional f*cking characters & illustrations. I’d like to have Lorna Dane’s fabulous early 90’s hair but that isn’t going to happen. Life is too short to not enjoy the things you love to the fullest and doing what you want.

  • Gareth

    Here’s what I’ve never understood about this “alpha nerd-I know more than you know-you’re not a true geek cos you don’t know the first name of Peter Parker’s father” nonsense.

    When you first picked up a comic book/watched Doctor Who or Battlestar/played Halo, you didn’t know every single thing about every character. In fact it took years, in some cases decades, to acquire that knowledge. And it was fun doing so, because digging in to the rich history of these things and discovering new and wonderful events and characters from the past is what gets a large proportion of us hooked in the first place. So the person who doesn’t immediately identify, oh I don’t know, Howard the Duck isn’t some sort of ill informed bimbo bleeding geek culture dry. They’re on the same journey as you are, it’s just that you’ve been travelling a lot longer than they have.

    Secondly, you like this stuff. For whatever reason so does the person who you dislike. The person you dislike, who you feel is somehow unworthy of enjoying themselves which ever way they please, will inevitably spend a lot of money on the stuff you like. Which means the people who make the stuff you like will end up making more of it. Which in turn means there will be more of the stuff you like. And yet you want to stop that from happening because you dislike that particular person for reasons that aren’t entirely solid outside of “they’re too female with their womany parts”. It’s a bit silly really isn’t it?

    • Matthew Haycock

      In the words of Adam Savage; “If someone has to pass a test to hang out with you, YOU’RE the problem”.
      Some great points there, people aren’t going to know every single thing about comics/games/movies, even if your a massive star wars fan, there is no guarantee that you will know all there is to know about the series.
      So to try and judge other people based on their knowledge, and put them down just because they don’t know some tiny little detail just seems remarkably stupid.

  • Steven Lyle Jordan

    If a pretty girl in a short skirt or cleavage-revealing top was walking down the street, no one would think twice about whether it was okay to walk up to that girl and start giving her hell because “she dresses hot” or “is showing off,” whatever. You don’t do it. You can compliment her, but you don’t take it too far, or risk someone hailing a cop and having you arrested for harassment.

    Yet, in a con environment, somehow people think it’s okay to bad-talk people right in front of them. And, of course, over the interwebs anyone can be an anonymous troll.

    On the roads, people will knowingly speed, until the authorities put up speed cameras… and they willingly slow down. Hopefully we won’t someday have to resort to putting cops (not security guards, but full-on ready to throw you in jail cops) on con floors to haul off trolls… but if it would stop the bad behavior, it would be worth it.

    • Thomas Zell

      If they are so offended by women in short skirts at their cons, then they should move to a country that has sharia law, they will feel more at home.

  • Duke Of Havoc

    Thank you to everyone who has commented (bar the douchebag who pretty much proves why articles like this are needed, sadly).

    There is a follow up coming and fingers crossed, it is going to features comments from some of the biggest names in cosplay.

    Only we, the community, can make a difference. Standing by and doing nothing is not going to change anything. If you have a friend who does some of the stuff outlined in the piece or if you are on the receiving end of something horrid, we need to make people aware it is unacceptable. We at Need To Consume want to welcome everyone. We don’t care if you have a D&D character which you have honed over 15 years or if you picked up your first comic last week. You’re interested, that is what counts.

    Thank you for sharing this article, it has been fantastic to see it get picked up around the world.

    Keep your eyes on the site as we bring you more articles like this.

  • James Nimmons

    When you spot this happening and if you love geek culture and want to preserve it.. then open your fucking mouth and call peopel out on this.. if you see assaults at cons.. tackle the person ..everyone around you will support your story. shame them all shame ever last doucvhebag who tries to make our special safe spaces like cons and geek culture in general into their own public urinal.. stand up for others!!!!!!!!!

  • Trisha Slay

    I love this article and I stand with you. But I’ve got to say that geek bully boys are not a new phenomenon. It’s just caught fire with the rise of social media. Way back in 1980 I was openly shunned and bullied whenever I would tell a boy I was a Star Wars fan. They would instantly start quizzing me and if I didn’t know what color bantha poop was, I was shamed as a fake fan. It was so bad, I hid my Star Wars obsession for 30 years! When I wrote a coming-of-age novel about a 15-year-old Star Wars fan in 1977, I had to come out of the closet….and guess what? It still happens. Guys still want to quiz me and prove I’m not a true fan. I was wearing my Millennium Falcon dress (not a cosplay, just a cute sundress with the Falcon silk screened on it) and a little boy marched up to me in the street and told me I should not be wearing that because I was a girl. I mean the little twirp was outraged! His parents just laughed. So I gave him a little lesson in manners.

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