I first started going to Fanime in 2005, since then I have gone to numerous conventions and seen multiple changes so here is a perspective on how things have changed.
REGISTRATION AND HOTEL
I remember back when I started, registration was a fun thing. In fact, getting hotels wasn’t even a concern until the con was approaching much less the price as finding people to split was fairly easy.
Now things sell out Comic-Con speed. Anime Expo hotels sold out in 5 minutes. Fanime hotels were gone in 24 hours. Colossacon villas are gone within the first day and you have to know someone in a villa to be part of the reservation.
Lines didn’t stretch beyond the block, and the foot traffic wasn’t at an ant’s pace where a cosplayer would be stopped and for 30 seconds there would be a gigantic pile up. You have to literally have a network of friends and pre-plan a year ahead for conventions. That’s crazy to me.
On the plus side, I’m glad it’s more mainstream and accepted but this wasn’t what I grew up with. Cons used to be fun and relatively loose instead of feeling suffocated. I know it’s part of the sacrifice, but it makes a little less fun when you’re boxed in – this is mostly why I stay outside or in less popular areas.
THE CREATIVE SCENE
The quality and resources has shot up astronomically. There are tutorials, new materials, LEDs, etc and our skill is starting be recognized by the mainsteam as cosplayers/photographers/videographers.
The dark side of this is of course social media and money. Your worth as a cosplayer is summed up by likes, which determines if a company wil hire you, which makes you think about how much sexuality/weapons/skill/makeup/etc you want to show. The new thing is Patreon which is really cool as it forces content to be super high quality on both sides, but at the same time it is a business first so the cosplays may cater to the target audience and such. There may be pressure to fall into themes like armor/clevage/light-up/”good photoshop” as quick ways to gain popularity as well. It has earned top people like Yaya Han deserved success for their time in cosplay which I think is fair.
All in all, I’m okay with all this because it ups the playing field but I think for someone who is trying to advance their own photography or cosplay it becomes more difficult unless you conform to these standards or shoot someone “cosfamous” hoping to be featured.
As it becomes more popular, things get more heated. I think before everyone just cosplayed what they like.
Now, cosplayers are called out if it’s too sexual, too “store-bought”, too flashy, accused ____-ism based on what their race/orientation is versus what they are cosplaying, misrepresenting their type or whatever by their behavior, etc
Everyone thinks they have a say in what is appropriate(and they do), but it’s often done in a way where it is “my way or the highway”. It is unbelievably toxic.
OBJECTIFICATION AND CREDIT
I don’t need to say it but I will. boobs/6-pacs, makeup/armor, being facially/bodily/personality similar to the character, big weapons/wings/etc = attention. This isn’t inherently bad, but it’s now propagated these are the “perfect” cosplays – and I think it’s more toxic in the female end. The popular taget is of course Jessica Nigri, who isn’t that “bimbo”ish at all – she is rather honest and dorky in a good way! The hate and jealousy is all rather a part of the money/social media which makes it worse IMO.
We don’t also value crediting of creatives (photographers/videographers), which back then didn’t matter. Now pages steal pictures from cosplayers/photographers alike and simply don’t credit for likes, and there isn’t an effort to go after them (martin wong started one check his page). It is still taken for granted as images are stolen and put in “top cosplayers of ____” or “hot chicks _____”. It’s a ridicule of our work as creatives on both sides.
I’m not trying to suggest a solution or have an agenda but there are the things I see it the way I see it. It kind of makes me slightly lose the drive to be so active in the community except for small gatherings as it takes up so much energy every year to sort through it all to get to the good stuff: collaboration.
It’s why I like the nature patreon despite being paid. It’s all ABOUT collaboration!
Feel free to discuss by using social media if you’d like.