August 20, 2013

Heroes of Cosplay (2013)

"Heroes of Cosplay is a tantalizing docu-series that lifts the veil on the imaginative world of cosplay competition, because fans at the comic book conventions don't merely dress up as their favourite character; they also compete to see who's the best!"

First there was "Darkon" (2006), then came "Confessions of a Superhero" (2007) and "The Reinactors" (2008), but now "Heroes of Cosplay" (2013) promises to be the most hilariously tragic documentary series about pop-culture nerds and losers ever!

I've only seen the first episode of this new Syfy channel reality TV show full of attention seekers, but I'm already hooked on the ridiculousness of these overgrown children who like to play dress-up as if it's Hallowe'en every day. To say that it's the closest I've come to physically laughing out loud instead of merely typing "LOL" on Twitter is an understatement. My face still hurts from grinning like a lunatic for nearly an hour!

I love misguided car-crash television like this! Over the years, I've watched all of C4's "Body Shocks", the fly-on-the-wall Chav-based documentaries, "Hoarders", and of course, everything Louis Theroux has ever made. But nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for this insanity. Even the award-winning "I Think We're Alone Now" (2008) didn't tap into this level of pointlessly egocentric and self-harming obsessionalism.

The seriousness that goes into cosplaying—the amount of time, money, and effort which these people waste on costumes that make them look like utter morons—plus the untreated OCD cases, the growing number of their members who vow "never to grow up", and the "behind the scenes" meltdowns make me somewhat ashamed to be a member of the same species. But of course, they're mostly Americans from Lalaland, so what do you expect?

Although this batch of comicbook convention nerds are only a minority within another minority, they still provide a microcosm of the artistic bankruptcy, lack of originality, and mental health issues in American society in ways that are truly lamentable but highly amusing for voyeuristic outsiders.

As a new country founded by minority nutcases who couldn't cope with real life in their own countries, America has never had any culture of its own, and throughout history, has often borrowed, perverted, and promoted the lamest things possible in an attempt to dominate the rest of the world with commercialised "Emperor's new clothes" fantasies as revenge.

Wanting to be something which you aren't and can never be is ingrained in American thinking, hence the delusion of "The American Dream". Having said that, dressing up as characters from Japanese comicbooks, childish cartoons, and computer games which normal people don't even know or care about has to be an all time low. No wonder my generation thinks that anyone born after 1989 needs watering!

Pedo-Cat is a popular cosplay choice.

It would be one thing if these "cosplayers" actually looked like the characters they were dressing up as, but with their bad skin, a plethora of East L.A. prison-style tattoos, and costumes made out of spandex, papier-mâché, sticky-back plastic, faux fur, feathers, lace doilies, store bought wigs, and misplaced hope, they are more to be pitied than blamed.

Unfortunately for them, this series intentionally and gleefully exploits their madness for mass entertainment. With excited bullet points, soundbites, and mini-dramas aplenty, the Funyun-chomping and beer-guzzling former Jocks who used to shut these geeks in lockers when they were in school can now laugh at them all over again! Even the geeks from other subcultures are going to wet themselves with sadistic pleasure over this lot!

While their defenders—the white knights from the social networks who fancy the hotter cosplay girls—might say that they're just having a bit of fun and not harming anyone, such arguments lose their validity once you discover that there's big money to be made out of this game if you have the model looks or chutzpah to get to the top.

This kind of cosplay is not a hobby, it's a business. It's the bottom rung on the showbiz ladder and different rules apply. Everyone featured in "Heroes of Cosplay" is trying to earn a living out of it in one way or another! These semi-professional pseudocelebrity nerds have gone past the point of "just having fun" and are as competitive as beauty pageant contestants!

The most amateur of psychologists can see how cosplayers are vainly trying to make up for the popularity which they missed out on as teenagers, but with such chips carried proudly on their shoulders, the ones here don't come across as very nice people. I highly doubt that such shallow, self-centred egocases are any better in reality. Just like the real actors and models who they want to emulate, they all have something missing in their personalities which makes them do what they do, and they're going to play up to get whatever is needed to make them feel complete.

Consequently, as the series progresses, we're likely to see a lot more bitchiness, jealousy and backstabbing. It's not quite "Showgirls" yet, but because such contrived drama gets ratings, the seeds of unpleasantness to come are very noticeable.

In the surreal world of cosplay conventions where little kids are deceived by adult nerds who delight in being accepted as their favourite cartoon characters (rather than Santa Claus), grown-ass men dress up in tinfoil and cardboard armour, or as robots, cyborgs, and "Pedo-Cat" (or whatever the Hell that thing is!) for cash prizes, a sick, infantilised mentality is highlighted, and this show does not make anyone involved look like true "Heroes of Cosplay".

As I'm someone who finds the whole cosplay scene completely stupid and very annoying in the first place, I'm happy that "Heroes of Cosplay' makes everything look worse than it is. If it stops bearded men from dressing up ironically (and creepily) as Wonder Woman, or it prevents a bunch of normally plain girls from slapping an inch-deep mask of make-up on their faces and showing their cleavage to score thousands of social networking followers by doing absolutely nothing except pose for touched-up photographs, then "Heroes of Cosplay" has done its job admirably. But if whoever made this documentary is deluded enough to believe that it will do anything positive for its subject or its stars, they should hang their heads in shame while I laugh at them even more.

If you think I'm being too harsh, you just have to check it out for yourself. "Heroes of Cosplay" is on Tuesdays at 10pm/9pm Central time on Syfy. Visit the official website at for more details.

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