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Quality of Cosplay Skits

edited May 2008 in Conventions
In the forum for my local anime convention, a thread was posted suggesting that perhaps the con should adopt a system of pre-screening cosplay skits for quality purposes. For this year's con, it is definitely too late for that to be done, and even for next year, it would probably just be too much hassle for a con our size (university con, roughly about 3000 attendees). I responded to the thread saying as much. I agreed that I wished something could be done to drastically improve the quality of the cosplay contest, but that the method the original poster had suggested was most likely not feasible. Several others agreed with me on these points, and the cosplay director later came into the thread to give even more reasons why a system like this wouldn't be implemented any year soon. Thankfully, at least the time limits on skits are apparently going to be more heavily enforced this year, so we have that to look forward to.

However, some of the other replies to this thread perplexed me. There ended up being a few people who agreed with my core point (that there shouldn't be a skit review process at the con) but for entirely different reasons. Their opinions basically boiled down to "We shouldn't have a skit review process because it would make people feel bad." Here are some quotes:
I know it would really hurt my feelings if I worked my tail off preparing a skit or other performance, and before I'm allowed to go on stage I'm told that no, it's not funny so all I can do is walk on. How long before that turns into 'your costume isn't very good, so you have to go sit down now'?
I realise there are some weird "skits" that leave the audience going O_O; but that doesn't mean the people performing them didn't work really hard. For instance, I made an amv for the contest that I thought was REALLY good and worked SUPER hard but it didn't make it in. It hurt, but I understand it needs work and that they can't show everyones amv. But, I'm 20. I'm a big girl. Imagine being like...12 or something and working for weeks on your costume and putting a little show on with your friends and then having to go through an audition process and being told it's not good enough. Who do you think you are to say it doesn't matter? Cosplay is supposed to be fun to do and to watch, and that would cause tears. BOOO TEARS! If you think it's annoying when people leave, lead by example and stick around to show your support. Let's all cheer on our cosplayers this year guys! Woooo!
I'm not saying that [the] cosplay is perfect...I just think it's supposed to be fun for everyone, and most of the time, it is fun to watch. To dwell on maybe a few skits that were subpar is...well...a mighty shame.
Just because someone's skit isn't amazing or their costumes are perfect doesnt mean they have any less right to participate. [...] Freedom of speech, is a right, not a privilege. Some of us express that in art, song, and writing, others through cosplay. Why can't you all just be happy instead of complaining all the time? I don't understand why you all are turning into people who have forgotten the real meaning of cosplay. It's something so simple and so pure, yet you guys would rather everything be reviewed and only the best be allowed to show the world it. It's to have fun doing something you love.

I personally love the random skits of people trying their best! more so than the ones where every single little detail is planned out, the random ones are generally more fun and spontaneous.
I was a little bewildered reading these comments. Sure, there should be as much fun as possible involved at every turn for an event like this. I pointed out in the thread itself, though, that this isn't just a "WHEE! LET'S HAVE FUN WILLY-NILLY! WAHOO!" event for the cosplayers, but also a show meant to entertain a large audience. To say that the poorly-constructed and/or badly improvised skits should not only be allowed, but encouraged for the sake of keeping all the cosplayers happy and having fun - at the expense of a large audience's overall enjoyment of the event - just struck me as not entirely right. I don't know, though. And of course, nobody responded to me very satisfactorily on that point.

Just thinking about this thread made me curious to hear what the FRC-ites would have to say about the topic. What are you guys' thoughts on cosplay skits, and/or possible methods of screening/filtering them? Do you agree or disagree with these posters? Do you know of any particular pre-screening methods used by other conventions that tend to work out well? Which types of skits work/fail and why?


  • This is an attitude that I run into quite often, in many areas of life. Board games is one area that really stands out. Some people really only like games like Apples to Apples, where there is no competition. You would think that someone who doesn't want to play something competitive is someone who doesn't care about competition. From what I've seen, the people who don't want competition are actually the people who care too much about it. They care about it so much that they will be upset if they lose.

    This is also purely anecdotal, but I notice that the kind of people who have this attitude are not the kind of people who win very many competitions. You never see someone with a gold medal saying that there shouldn't be competition, just so everyone can have fun.

    For cosplay, I think the answer is pretty simple. You have to decide the purpose of the cosplay. Is it entertainment of the audience? Is it competition? Is it for the cosplayers? Right now, leaving that question unanswered means that each person views the cosplay with their own purpose in mind. If the convention officially answers that question, then people can't argue. For example, the Rhode Island Anime Conference, that we are so skeptical of, is having a non-competetive cosplay. I think it is clear what their philosophy is.

    In addition, you need to tell people to face reality. There are more people who want to do cosplay skits than there is time in which to do them. Thus, not everyone can participate, and there needs to be some sort of system to decide who gets to go, and who does not.

    Lastly, I think a major problem is that conventions nowadays is that they screen all the cosplay skits at the convention itself. This means two things. It means that you have to largely plan a lot of the cosplay at the convention itself. It also means that people who want to be in the cosplay have to pretty much spend their entire convention on just that, and not much else. If I ran a convention, I would require all cosplays send in a video of their skit in advance, and we would let them know if they were approved or not in advance.

    So yeah, the attitude you are seeing is one that is spreading scarily. It is the same attitude you see in things like no child left behind. Everyone makes it to the next grade, even if they suck. Everyone wins, so nobody has to be a loser. It's a mean attitude, but I much prefer things to be merit-based. Welcome to the real world kiddies.
  • I've personally never gone to any of these things, even to watch. It just seems a waste of time for me to watch those things when I could be doing other things - plus, it's always packed full.

    I think that, as long as there is a full room of people wanting to watch it, then it should be fine, but if it's causing the number of people to get up and leave, then it should be changed. However, then the con has to put up guidelines and people to do that, taking more time out for it. It's really hard when you don't have the people.
  • edited May 2008
    Our cosplay director has pretty much decided that he wants the cosplay to be fun for everyone, but he's not entirely behind the posters I mentioned, in that he also understands the concerns about skit quality. So far, his only answers to the problem are to make sure skit time limits are enforced, and that there is a soft cap on the number of entrants in the contest (currently sitting at 75). It looks like he's going to put as much effort as he can to make sure the cosplay isn't overlong as it has been in past years, but he also wants to cater to those who just want to get up on stage and have fun. Tough job, trying to please everyone, and I hope he doesn't die from the stress.

    I completely agree with you about the "no child left behind" attitude. I think it's a disturbingly naive attitude. While it would be nice if everyone could be winners, the cold reality is that some people just don't deserve to be winners. Not only does it reward those who do little to earn what they get, it also somewhat lessens the reward to those who do work hard.

    In a cosplay contest, it is somewhat different, because as you said, you have to define the purpose of the cosplay. If that purpose is either to put on a show or to make a serious competition, then there have to be standards kept and not everyone is going to make it in. If, however, the purpose is to let the cosplayers have fun making asses out of themselves on a stage, then why even bother calling it a cosplay "contest" at all? Why not just have it be the Cosplay Super Happy Funtime Sideshow and not make any pretenses about being a competition at all, or even just a show that everyone can enjoy?
    Post edited by Eryn on
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