2020 in Review

This is coming out much later than it normally would but then again it almost didn’t happen at all.

I mean really, what is there to say about the garbage fire that was 2020 that hasn’t been repeated by so many other people? Sure I don’t normally focus on “big picture” global stuff in these things but even narrowing my focus to more local or personal aspects, everything just feels tainted or a tad “off” regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

Hell, I didn’t even bother with an “End of Year Rant” and I know how many folks look forward to those. Sadly, I just didn’t have the energy for it. That’s not to say there weren’t community-related screw-ups and happenings that weren’t worth highlighting: the well-meaning cosplayers who rushed to cobble together an online event at the start of the pandemic but learned the hard way that the internet is a harsh task master, the problematic has-been cosplay guest who posted anti-Asian racism and tried to justify it when called out, the local Japanese pop culture festival that booked her and tried to downplay and gloss over said anti-Asian racism, the brand new Melbourne event mired in controversy even before its (cancelled) inaugural event… fortunately most of it was limited to the first half of 2020 but the list was rather long.

Pffft. I may even weave a few of the easier ones in this word spew.

For me 2020 didn’t really offer up too many major surprises, it simply reinforced and reminded me of things I already knew and learned before.

This R2 unit has a bad motivator
I love seeing friends get shit done. I love seeing them achieve, I love seeing them win, I’m so here their successes. And I was pleased to see a few friends really make good on a few of their goals during 2020 because I genuinely think they earned it.

What I fucking hate though is seeing “highly-motivated” arseholes making other people feel bad for apparently not being motivated enough. And this is even before 2020 but somehow these wankers made themselves look even worse by shaming people for not getting things done during a pandemic because now they “have plenty of time.”

It was jarring (if unsurprising) how little empathy these “successful” people had though. Even in the first part of the year COVID was killing thousands, many lost their livelihoods, and people were just struggling to survive and yet they were being shamed for not getting that dream job or losing that weight. By year’s end with nearly 2 million deaths around the world and millions more affected long term due to the ignorance and stubbornness of others, some are still shitting out this “you gotta hustle” nonsense.

Look, I’m happy about people achieving stuff especially when extra obstacles are put on the track but if you can’t be humble about it then I know for certain you didn’t achieve any of it without stepping on other people to get it.

Shaming them into action is not the same as encouraging and inspiring others.


Quick side note: I used to be one of those that hated the “new year, new me” malarkey and understand that nothing will “magically” change because the arbitrary nature of our calendar system but having witnessed that different ways in people categorise or process information as well as the way they set their own goals, I say leave them be. Again don’t talk down to people actually making any sort of semblance of an effort even if it looks like it’s all just for show. Unless they are actively harming or exploiting others, stay in your own fucking lane!

Sometimes the trash takes itself out
While I’m not overtly political (except maybe on Twitter) I’m not one to hide some of those views now pretend that I’m some spineless “centrist.” However, even when I share something even tangentially political it draws out the bigots, which makes it easier to get rid of them.

I lost a lot of followers in 2020 because I dared express my belief and demand for equality.

Look, I don’t place that much value in how many followers I have but I knew this was coming the moment I decided to post “Black Lives Matter” on my social media. I had the presence of mind to deactivate comments on my Insta, no one sees my Twitter anyways, but Facebook seems to actively encourage the stupid racists in the same way a family holiday gathering encourages the stupid racist relatives.

And some of these weren’t randoms drawn in by a chance to be shit thanks to “the anonymity of the internet”, some of these people have met me in the real world and legit started following my work. As an Asian growing up in Australia I was well aware that many people don’t see me as a person but more so as a novelty (as crass as it sounds, I guess that’s a step up from the way women are viewed as objects). So as long as I was producing content they enjoy and ONLY that then I was cool in their eyes, harkening back to the entertainers of colour that were allowed in white only nightclubs back in the early half of the 20th century. It also allows them to defend themselves or make themselves feel better about being a racist because they possibly can’t be if they’re friends with a POC.

There’s is a whole deep dive about my experiences growing up and the evolution of my self-deprecating humour as a survival tactic but for the time being I shouldn’t have to remind everyone that I am here to share my work and have fun with others as well as maybe improve my part of the world for the benefit of others. I am NOT a dancing monkey for your entertainment. Fuck, even a monkey deserves to be treated humanely.

Okay, I just needed to get those things off my chest.

Playing dress up
No. I did not quit cosplay.

It’s a weird thing to contemplate “quitting” a hobby. I mean I get it, some people have to stop because of lack of time or finances, there are plenty of legit reasons to leave a past time behind. However, whenever I hear that sentiment about quitting I always associate it with certain nutbags who have a tantrum because they didn’t get their way and needed to announce their departure like they’re at an airport as a way to garner support and sympathy (geez, maybe I had more to vent than I realised).

But I got more than a few questions about whether or not I had quit, which I didn’t realise was a “thing” I was giving off into the aether.

In all honestly, I just wasn’t feeling it in 2020 in regards to making something new at least. And it wasn’t just the lack of events either, it was also the lockdown or encouragement to stay home as well as the supplies I needed were not accessible during those times, oh and my printer died and I couldn’t replace it without a hefty delivery cost because local retailers were out of stock and couldn’t get in new stock at the time because pandemic and… it was easier to just relax.

That didn’t mean I didn’t cosplay at all in 2020. There was a whole video nobody watched where I dusted off a few old favourites. And also this long time “to-do list” costume I bought online when international postage was a thing again:

Technically, this is one I can finally tick off the long to-do list even if I bought it.

I’m a maker but even more than that I am a creative person and the energy that requires can often get rechannelled into other areas of that creativity (sometimes even areas that help maintain mental health). I’m not any one thing nor do I have the single outlet for said creativity, my expression takes many forms. My social media is all about sharing any and all of what interests me and that can be jarring or off-putting for some who follow me for one thing. So if you came for my Optimus cosplay then I can understand not being interested in my toy collection. However those are just two threads on the tapestry that is the many forms of my expression and fandom.

I did re-learn how to sew again and made myself a mask that actually fit me so that’s at least something.

Does it spark joy?
My main project in 2020 ended up blowing out longer than it was supposed to. Normally, when I reorganise my toy collection it can take, at most, a couple of months to do an entire room (shelving and all). But this time I decided to record the process and on top of it being a pandemic it just extended it out.

You can click here to watch the entire playlist.

Also, the “reorganising” premise made for a slightly more interesting take on the standard “welcome to my collection” (that’s an in-joke) tour videos that people have been asking from me for ages.

Honestly, it was a lot of fun to do. It gave me a regular project to focus on and made the normally arduous chore or tidying and decluttering much more tolerable (I mean, I actually enjoy reorganising my spaces because I always look forward to the end result but still). The mini-series also had the benefit of helping to grow my miniscule YouTube channel, which is very much an uphill battle at this late stage of things but considering my Facebook has turned to shite I’ve got fewer outlets to share my work. So if you can go watch and share my videos around the place, or even just watch them a few hundred times on loop, as that would really help me out.

And while we’re in the toy room, I spent a lot of time here. And not just for the videos and the reorganising but of course all the post-hunt haul and latest delivery photos I tend to do for my instagram as well as just sitting back enjoying a few podcasts.

It was one of a few ways I recharged myself during the year, it’s basically the reason a room like that exists in the first place. A place to take time out, somewhere that is soothing and away from the things (or people) that often get too much to handle. My hobbies and creative outlets are a good way to manage my mental health but also having a place to just be able to “be” is helpful too.

Not everyone tackles these things in the same way; some people go jogging or hit the gym, some turn to those whom they trust, some dive head first into their hobbies. Whatever it is I hope it helped you get through whatever was weighing you down even if for a moment.

Remember to smash like like button and hit subscribe!
Yup, spent a lot of time in my toy room…

I wait until January before I publish a video about the previous year’s toys because deliveries and bargain hunting can happen right up until the final day of the year.

Sometimes I find random long lost stuff…

And while I don’t do toy reviews per se I do sometimes just want to show off stuff I have…

And sometimes I even go and appreciate other people’s collections…

I want to be where the people are…
Everything was cancelled. Well almost…

And you know what? I didn’t really care. Unlike the disappointment, or even anger, that so many other fans expressed as each geeky event was either postposed or shitcanned altogether for 2020, I simply felt a sense of relief. I was much more concerned with public safety rather than missing out on… something. Unlike some people I don’t attach my personality into such things nor do I feel the urge to feed my ego and the need to “be seen.”

I’m not saying I don’t have an ego or that desire but I didn’t need it this year.

Listen, I’m sympathetic to the organiser who put in an immense amount of effort and also to those who missed out on business opportunities due to these cancellations and I can understand how that sucks. I myself was hoping to make some much needed extra cash at the Adelaide Comic & Toy Fair in April but that was cancelled (and I wasn’t feeling up to setting up shop at the October show either even though I attended as a punter – I needed an easy out if I felt overwhelmed). But like the many major events in the US, some folks found ways to adapt. And if we’re being honest here, if your business model relies too heavily on setting up at conventions… then it may be time to reconsider or evolve the model.

Speaking of toy fairs, thanks to South Australia being mostly good in regards to the spread of COVID as well as the regulations in place we were able to have one event in October and that was a heap of fun.

And before lockdown we did get to do a few things earlier in the year…

I call 2020 a “mulligan” rather than a write-off. Good stuff still happened but if it didn’t then we don’t have to include it on the scorecard. But as you can see, I produced a lot in 2020. For someone that wanted to push out only one video per month I ended up doing 15 in the year (not including my show reel). So I was fortunate to be able to keep busy at least.

Sadly, almost none of it translated into any sort of monetary reward but them’s the brakes sometimes.

Be our guest
Because time had no meaning in 2020, I almost completely forgot that I did these during that year.

First of all I joined Perth comedian Shane Adamczak on his podcast “Good Morning, Mrs Strawberry” for a brief episode.

And Sean and I teamed up to chat to Canadian toy collector Michael Mercy to chat about toys and cosplay.

I mean, if you enjoy reading my word spews you’ll LOVE hearing me talk nonsense too wouldn’t you?

Word Vomit
I don’t think I wrote as much during 2020 as I used to. Yeah, I was hoping to do fewer rants and I had retired the “Sunday Sermon” as a brand and with it went the need for a weekly word spew but as I said before I don’t think I had the energy to comment on every little thing that was happening on a community level… even if it did piss me off.

So I stuck to more review content I guess and that was fun. I never saw myself as a reviewer or a critic but I have opinions and often that is enough according to most dropkicks with a platform and an audience. There are two main reasons I write these reviews though:

  • I enjoyed something enough and I want people to know I want to continue talking about it.
  • I hated it enough, leave me alone and never talk to me about it.

But also because I know I’m right-blah blah etc and so forth…

I hope to continue with writing in 2021. I’m already predicating some things I want to write about are going to be better received in written form rather than let lose on the hellscape that is YouTube. So watch out for that.

And finally, here’s a photo of my animatronic Grogu.

Some people had a better 2020 than others and I’m glad that they were able to achieve and grow during such a bizarre year. But I’m also very proud of those who were simply able to survive whatever was thrown at them. No one should have to struggle in such a tumultuous period (let alone at all) nor be made to feel like shite because they didn’t “progress”. You had a full plate, I get it.

Spare a thought for those who didn’t make it and their families, people who worked and fought as hard as they could but sadly lost the battle.

I myself had a few ups and downs but I am cognisant of the fact that I was in a better spot to deal with such.

Everyone had their own things during 2020 so I want to say a big thank you to all those that spared their time, their empathy and compassion, and stuck around or popped in for a looksee at the nonsense I was sending out into the world. I appreciate the support, the kind words, and the presence.

Here’s to making our way out of the mud and onto solid ground in 2021.

If you enjoyed this write-up then please consider contributing to my tip jar at: ko-fi.com/oldtrenchy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *