Supanova Sydney MNCC Special - Part 6: The Article
The bullies behind the bizarre world of Cosplay
Jun 25, 2013 10:04am
http://www.optuszoo.com.au/news/top/news-com-au/the-bullies-behind-the-bizarre-world-of-cosplay/935201 via News.com.au
GEEKS from all walks of life have celebrated their passion for pop culture at fan convention Supanova in Sydney over the weekend.
The convention is where enthusiasts of Cosplay, a Japanese-coined term short for “costume role-play”, come together to dress up as their favourite characters from TV shows, films, comics and video games.
One of those people is Nicole. She is on stage lip-synching a TLC song with her girlfriend Narcissa - both dressed up in costumes based on the fantasy series Once Upon A Time - when she pauses, and pulls out an egagement ring.
The audience cheers for the pink and green haired duo as Narcissa tears up, turning her face away from the crowd, trying to keep it together. In this arena at Olympic Park they aren’t ‘weirdos’ or ‘freaks’. Everyone is behind them.
But despite the applause Nicole says Cosplay communities aren’t as supportive as you’d think.
"I’ve been bullied for eight years because I’m a large girl," says Nicole. "Cosplay has a very seedy side and very nasty side. It’s basically a glorified beauty pageant.
"Because Australia is so small, gossip flies around the country very quickly. People are so busy putting each other down to try to gain an edge in the competition."
Narcissa and Nicole have been running Cosplay support groups on Facebook for years to try to reverse the trend.
"Anyone can go in and talk to each other, we all support each other and help each other. We’re trying to bring the sportsmanship back into this competition," Nicole said.
Daniel Zachariou, event director at pop culture convention Supanova told news.com.au that he was “quite flummoxed” at the news that cosplay participants have been bullying each other.
"This is news to me," he said. "I’m sad to hear about those individuals who have been casting aspersions on a really good form of entertainment and fun. I would ask that they cease to do it and go somewhere else."
Zachariou said he would be looking into instances of bullying, and said that the cosplay community was usually “wonderful and inclusive”, whether it’s people teaching each other how to design a good costume or competing or getting together with friends at the various expos around the country.
"Cosplay is one of the core activities of Supanova and of course we support all cosplayers, so to hear of this bullying, it’s something I’m really surprised at."
The Supanova director theorised that perhaps as the popularity of cosplay increases thanks to shows like Doctor Who and The Big Bang Theory, the more people it attracts, increasing the chances of “bad eggs” poisoning the event.
"I guess unfortunately you get good and bad types in every society - every family even - so you’re going to have some bad eggs," he said. "We hope to extract them nice and quickly and get back to the spirit that Cosplay is meant to be done in".
Narcissa and Nicole have been competing in the two major Cosplay championships, Mad Men National Cosplay Competition and the World Cosplay Summit, for years.
Naturally, the pair plan to have a Once Upon A Time themed wedding.
After being awarded runner-up three times, they are hoping for first place at their next competition on the 30th of June.
But even if they don’t win, Narcissa says she’s not going to stop because she owes it to the next generation of cosplayers to show them that things can be different.
"Shows like Star Trek and The Big Bang Theory helped cosplay become mainstream," she said. "They really helped the poor little geeks.
"I was raised on Star Trek, and I grew up in a household where sci-fi and cosplay were encouraged but not everyone grew up in those environments.
"Nic and I want to show people that it’s OK to be different. Things can be different."