Yaya Han Is Calling It: Cosplay’s Golden Age Is Over; or at least that’s what a recent article by Complex is claiming. Though if you read the article itself, you know there’s less about the Cosplay community and more about Yaya and her latest business venture. So you can imagine how many readers were left with a bad taste in their mouths when what the article DID say about Cosplay was not only misguided; but also just plain insulting.
Now I’m no “Ambassador of Cosplay”. Though whereas the article feels that this makes Yaya more qualified than anyone else to speak about “the Golden Age of Cosplay”, the Cosplay Community itself is so vast and varied that it’s impossible for any one person to speak on it’s behalf. So that’s why I recruited six. These six extremely talented Cosplayers from around world will help set the record straight and show just why the Golden Age of Cosplay ISN’T over; but in fact is just beginning.
Error #1 – The Golden Age Is Over?
Wait, we had a Golden Age of Cosplay? When was this? Well according to Miss Han,
About 8 to 10 years ago, we had a Golden Age where everyone was starting to communicate online… It was before Facebook and Twitter. We were sharing ideas, sharing how we made things, and people were starting to make really amazing things. Conventions were having Cosplayers come out not as celebrities, but as teachers. People would share their knowledge and experience, and pass on what they know.
Oddly enough, if you changed every instance of “were” to “are”, then you’d actually have a very good representation of what Cosplay is like NOW. The onset of Facebook, Twitter and other social media has actually increased the Cospaly Community exponentially. Now more than ever people are able to share progress photos, tips, and tutorials with anyone and everyone. In fact, according to Danielle Vedovelli – a Cosplayer from South America – the Golden Age of Cosplay is just starting.
Now Cosplayers have much more things to work with. They have the Internet to find whatever tutorials they need, learn how to sew, import lenses and wigs. It’s much easier going out to a convention without being shy because there’s so many other Cosplayers having fun as well! I think the Cosplay community is growing more each day; and it depends now on people to make it grow “healthier” – Danielle Vedovelli, South America
Danielle is exactly right! Today there is an incredibly accessible amount of information to get started Cosplaying. Whether you buy the costumes or make them from scratch, there are people to help you. In fact, Canada’s The Heroes Workshop – this month’s Cosplayer of the Month – has been teaching people for the last few years how to build your own Cosplays. There are still teachers out there, whether professionally or just giving friendly advice. This isn’t how things WERE, it’s how they ARE NOW.
Error #2 – Becoming Mainstream Is Bad?
Another confusing/insulting/counter productive part of the article is where Miss Han expresses concerns that because “the geek scene now is really huge… people are sometimes afraid and intimidated”. Personally, I have no clue how more people getting involved in something fun and friendly could ever be taken as scary. What makes even less sense how this quote from Han comes a few paragraphs after the author speaks about how this is no longer “some weird kink you indulge in your mom’s basement anymore”.
Aside from that ‘kink’ comment being borderline offensive, it makes no sense to say that Cosplay has grown out of its stigmatized roots and then comment on how this scares people. If the community is growing, there’s no more stigma or fear. You are surrounded by people who love the same things you do and this provides an excellent icebreaker to otherwise shy individuals. So to again claim this as one of the ‘signs of the fall’ is just a never-ending paradox of bad logic. I caught up with It’s-A Me Cosplay, and asked for her opinion on the matter; and she hit the nail on the head.
The entire industry is growing and evolving. It’s like saying the golden age of nerd is over because more people are enjoying it and the movies are wildly successful. It’s a hobby. Not a skull and bones secret society. – It’s-A Me Cosplay, New Jersey – USA
Whatever your hobby – gaming, movies, comics, Cosplay, etc – you should take pride in it getting recognized more and coming out of the shadows. You might be worried about band-wagoners; but if it makes people happy and brings new innovations to the field, what’s the problem with that? What’s next, a bunch of “I Cosplayed Before It Was Cool” memes? Now maybe Miss Han meant that it’s harder to be famous with so many new Cosplayers making Fan Pages; but let me ask you: Do you Cosplay because you want to be famous or because you like what you’re doing? For this, I decided to ask Italian Cosplayer Lux Briel for her thoughts on the matter.
Sure I have a Cospaly Fan Page; but it’s not about showing me; but to show my work that I do with great passion and hard work! It’s a possibility to speak with other Cosplayers or people I have things in common with. So when someone asks if the Golden Age of Cosplay is Over, I answer absolutely NO! Cosplay is a hobby, and I won’t stop liking it whether its’ over or not! – Lux Briel, Italy
Error #3 – Is Making Money Good Or Bad?
Another confusing and seemingly counterproductive moment in the article is when Han again comments about the changing atmosphere of Cosplay where now “money is involved” and this scares people. There’s two things strikingly wrong with this: For starters, it’s incredibly hypocritical to comment upon ‘money in cosplay’ when this entire article is promoting Yaya’s new addition to her existing Brand of cosplay – yes she has a Brand. Though these comments seem even more out of place when you realize that the cosplay community ISN’T one that’s particularly money driven. Sure people can sell costumes just like any other business; but to actually make money from you YOURSELF dressing up in costumes is incredibly rare. In fact, Yaya is probably one of the only people who can claim to be a professional cosplayer.
For example, our first Cosplayer of the Month, Katie Cosplays, has 10 years of experience in Cosplay, a degree in costume design, and over 100 different costumes under her belt and even she puts exponentially more money into Cosplay than she gets back in revenue from selling old costumes and occasional print sales. Though does she stop? No, because she does it for the love of the hobby and not any potential money that could be made.
Even if a Cosplayer does make some money from selling prints or something, remember that it’s never much and always has to offset the sometimes hundreds of dollars that can be spent making a costume – not to mention the tons of hours they put into it. So if you plan on getting into Cosplay for the money then. . . oh honey, try the lotto – you’ll have better chances. Cosplay is a hobby – an incredibly creative and friendly hobby – but a hobby nonetheless.
Cosplay’s Stone Age Is Over:
In the end, it’s hard to know whether Yaya misspoke or the article took a lot of what she said out of context. On one hand, the article has since acknowledged misquoting Han’s comments about the Golden Age being over. On the other hand, Han’s direct quotes still convey a disappointment about where the Cosplay Community is right now. Perhaps Miss Han was talking more about her own personal ‘Golden Age of Cosplay’ and why she wishes to explore other options. Though for the everyday Cosplayer, the journey is just beginning.
“Cosplay is what I will make it. I hope I make a positive impression in this community, both online and offline.” – NYC Assassin, one of our Cosplayers of the Month
In the end, Yaya Han is an incredibly talented Cosplayer who has done some amazing work in the community; but she shouldn’t feel like all her contributions were for nothing. Because of the work of Han and others like her, Cosplay is now bigger than ever and is expanding every year more and more. So rejoice Miss Han because you have played a role in taking Cosplay out of its humble and groundbreaking beginnings into a new age where people of all genders, races, body types, skill levels, classes, etc can become their own Heroes of Cosplay. We won’t “forget where we came from” Miss Han; as long as you remember all the places we can go as a community.
Special Thanks to Katie Cosplays, NYC Assassin, It’s-A Me Cosplay, Lux Briel, Danielle Vedovelli and The Heroes Workshops for taking the time to help and be a part of this article. All images are thanks to their original posters.