The Mid-Year Rant 2018

These rants are all about the stuff that annoy me during the year that either don’t deserve their own sermon or I haven’t yet figured out how to expand what I need to say in a dedicated write-up. From pissy trivial stuff to really evil and potentially damaging, this is where shit floats to the top.

This one is a week late because I wanted to (ironically) let something settle down a bit as is my routine but I’ll begin with something that is absolutely vital for those who follow my work…

It has been absolutely disturbing to witness bigotry pop up on my social media and disappointing to observe such belligerence to any attempts to create an environment of equality.

And yet, all too often I see people who follow my work chime in with false equivalence arguments, “whataboutisms”, and feigning outrage at any effort to stamp out bigotry.

If your response to an attempt to address racism is to deflect or even defend it with ignorance, pettiness, and arrogance then you need realise that your attitudes are stalling forward progress. You do not help the discussion but pointing out non-existent micro-aggression, and you do not help anyone by being outraged because you suddenly feel “uncomfortable” being called out on your privilege.

Why in the hell would you follow the work of an Asian-Australian cosplayer if you have so little respect for me as a human and my experiences?

And even if you don’t think you’re racist, why the fuck would you want to be on the wrong side of history and stand in the way of progress, equality, and the educating of these ideas?

If you’re not here with the respect and dignity I deserve, if you’re not here to learn from a unique POV, then there is no point to you. There is no debating toxic attitudes that only exist to empower an already privileged group over another. You just need to accept you’ll be left behind with the other relics of a bygone era.

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Because I dare to raise important topics, stand up for myself, and call out racism, I’ve had a bit of a dip in my Facebook followers.

I could be understanding about this. People don’t want to have difficult subjects thrust upon them when all they want is some light-hearted fun. I get that and I could (begrudgingly) thank those that walked away quietly. Although… how do you follow the work of an Asian-Australian and not expect at least some insight into the POC experience?

It’s like a long-time Star Trek “fan” suddenly complaining about “forced diversity”? Were you not fucking paying attention?

My work is dictated by my experiences and a big part of that is as an Asian born and raised in Australia consuming a steady diet of western media for over 35 years. There is a context to all that, which is very apparent in my creative work.

While I’m pleased there are so many people who do enjoy my work, it’s never been about the numbers, although they do help spread what I do and what I have to say. But if I can use that reach to change things for the better, to educate, to help and assist, or to even open someone’s mind to a perspective they’ve never considered before even in the smallest way then that is absolutely worth it.

Speaking of numbers…
I’ve been somewhat buoyed lately at the minor groundswell of folks who are calling out the “popularity contest” of promoters only using big name cosplayers based on their substantial social media followings to the detriment of other talented artists.

We all know the business practicalities of why this happens: it’s so that an event or product can reach as large an audience as possible with an already inbuilt audience. It happens in all fields.

Big name cosplayers do great work and put in a lot of effort into their creations. There is a legitimate reason why many of them have gotten to where they are or are able to maintain their business ventures. But to constantly rely on them while ignoring other talented artists because of their low numbers really adds to making the playing field more uneven.

If you’re the type of promoter or marketer that claims to be all about the community, who pretends to be entrenched in said community of fans, then you need to do better promoting those of worth within said community instead of always looking to big names to expand your brand.

We get it, business is business but then again that’s such a tired and tacky excuse.

Having said all this, I’ve seen the alternative of highlighting lesser known cosplayers.

In some cases promoters will utilise someone they deem to be “malleable”, someone they can shape into what they want and filter out the things they don’t like. The artist then loses everything that made them unique. Sometimes they’ll fall for their own hype and get into trouble and other cases they end up a husk of their former selves and quit cosplay altogether.

I’ve seen too many marketers and promoters treat cosplayers like props instead of talent, a resource to tap until dry instead of an actual human being. I love seeing my friends do wonderful things and further their opportunities but I also hate how powerless I am when I see them being used as props to further someone else’s career.

When giving talented artists a chance to prove themselves it should be about their passions and hard work and not “what can they do for me?”

Some people are just shit
While we’re still on the subject of promoters and big names, it’s been a fascinating few weeks of revelations and reveals. From the racist a-hole who shot down a black fan for cosplaying a white character or the cosplayer blaming her supposed ADHD after a slew of allegations of sexual harassment were directed at her, it’s been a month of people getting their comeuppance.

Which is why researching the people you plan on collaborating with is so important, not just from a practical business level (is their audience a good fit for your brand) but also from a moral stand point.

You don’t want to find out too late that your big name guest is a thief or your brand ambassador is a sexual predator. There are some cases where it’s an absolute shock to find out such things but there are also situations where the evidence was always out in plain sight. Which is why it puzzles me that it keeps happening.

A cosplay guest announcement got me curious as to why a segment of the community were reacting the way they did. It took me all of five minutes to find out this guest was trash and a pox on the community. Now if a promoter with access to so many networking connections couldn’t find that out before booking them then that speaks volumes to their skills as a promoter. If they simply ignored that information in favour of the massive audience the particular artist has then that says a lot about them as a human being.

Sadly, it happens all too often… a cosplay judge at the very first RTX in Australia had previously been outed as a thief prop maker, some people continued to work with a photographer even after being convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a minor. These are not minor slip ups.

It’s not good for business, it’s not good for the community, and it’s not good for anyone going forward.

Photoshop… again
I know I bring this up every so often that I really should just make it the subject of its own sermon by now but this tweet popped up during a short-lived controversy a couple of months ago went a direction I didn’t expect…

I’ve raised the issue before that there may be too many occurrences of crossing the line of acceptability when it comes to altering (or “photoshopping) cosplay photos. The media and fashion industry appropriately cops a lot of shit for it’s over-the-top edits perpetuating unrealistic standards of beauty for women. Most of us more or less have a decent grasp of what sort of minor edits would be acceptable while others use bullshit to defend it.

But why the hell is the onus on the viewer to understand that all this is fake?

Fix the lighting, adjust the colour, a stray hair here, a blemish there, I understand things like that and a lot of wonderful photographers I know are good at this and know the limits. Then there are those who go too far.

You want to create beautiful art? Go right ahead. You want to create something fantastic and out of this world? Go for your life!

But to deceive your audience and then blame them for falling for it is just low and harmful.

The movies are all about telling a convincing story and a lot of that is through visual effects bringing ideas to life. The audience is aware of this because that is the context that has been given to since the invention of film.

Cosplay is also about bringing an idea to life but it also has to deal within the framework and context of real people and fans. That context is the main point of the hobby of cosplay.

Photography is about creating art through the capturing of moments but to alter those moments to fit the societal standards many have been fighting so hard to break, to be exactly as the fashion industry is always condemned for doing, highlights how ignorant people are of their own actions.

How do you promote body positivity but then have ZERO problem with altering photos to make yourself skinnier, bustier, with a flawless complexion? How the fuck does that sit right with you?

EEVAH foam”
Yeah that pronunciation still shits me. But that’s not the reason for this rant…

I’m more or less pleased that so many cosplayers are rediscovering EVA foam for their projects. I’m just a tad annoyed that it’s come about because of “influencers”.

You know, the same influencers that spent the last few years frothing over Worbla, hailing it as the be all and end all of cosplay materials when in reality they were spruiking it because they were either selling it or sponsored by them.

That’s not to say people didn’t legitimately find Worbla useful. It really is a great and versatile product but it was always more expensive than most other materials, limited to a few retailers, as well as a few other drawbacks depending on the usage.

EVA foam also has it’s own list of pros and cons but it was always cheaper and more accessible and still capable of creating great work. And it’s okay to change your mind on things but for some the shift has been really cynical.

To see big names suddenly vaunt EVA foam like it was a brand new discovery just because they are now selling it at a mark up adds to why I don’t like the term “influencers”.

If you’re only influencing people to buy stuff then that’s very limited of you. Business is business I guess…

We all hate it when others point out our fuck ups. It’s basic human nature.

But that’s also the concept of giving and receiving feedback. The big problem is many don’t know how to take criticism of their work and and even more don’t know how to temper their criticisms into something that is actually useful. In many cases people are already aware where they went wrong and don’t need an external voice reminding them as if they don’t know and then there are those that are completely unaware.

People don’t like it when I point out their fuck ups.

I won’t say that I am good at giving feedback but there is always a genuine attempt to balance honesty with being constructive and only after I determine whether or not what I have to say is warranted. My write-ups aren’t necessary but I’d like to think there is at least some value to them.

So it’s amusing to witness a few try their hardest to prove me wrong. They put in the effort and utilise the methods they should have done in the first place but in doing so the next time and succeeding I’m somehow wrong about the first time they cocked up?

Um, that’s the point. I’m not going to pat you on the back for wasting other people’s time and money, or tarnishing the reputation of a community because you failed at what you arrogantly set out to do. Where is the incentive to do better the next time if I simply fed your ego?

The whole reason I express my concerns is so you improve and do a better job next time and not do any more damage!


Okay so I’m going to cut this shorter than I wanted to mainly because I want to save stuff until after a specific event just to I can get better context and “wait and see”.

Here endeth the sermon.


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