Category Archives: Not Cosplay

Protests and (Not) Looking Pretty

I wasn’t going to talk much about my production design work this semester, but then I saw this article on the protests happening right now . Judging by my instant ‘Oh I know what to wear to a protest!’ before I even clicked on the link, I definitely still feel strongly about the message of the production and my experiences even though it closed on Sunday.

My university’s production of Waiting for Lefty was a reaction to the Wisconsin protests that took place this past year when labor unions were threatened with the loss of collective bargaining rights. The director staged the production during a contemporary union meeting, and (spoilers!) in the end, they strike.

Contemporary clothing, even high fashion contemporary clothing, isn’t something that I deal with much in cosplay. And it’s a totally different story when you’re not dressing your own body. The illusion of familiarity with contemporary clothing was a challenge, because it’s a vocabulary that the actors and the audience speaks, and because all of the things I like and don’t like about what I (and other people) wear on the street came out in my instinctive design choices. A college student’s Vogue-laced impression of clothing wasn’t necessarily the best look for these characters. The show was all about the background characters of America, and for me, about learning how to preserve that ‘everyman’ look while allowing them to be heard.

I speak a little about my opinion on the relationship between cosplay and a career in costume design in Steven Savage’s recently published book, Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers. I interviewed with him before Waiting for Lefty really began, but if anything, working on this production cemented my conclusion that A doesn’t necessarily equal B. What did change was this: if you are a serious cosplayer, I cannot more highly recommend taking any opportunity to see how costuming works in a theatrical or film production.  There have been things I’ve picked up from cosplay that help in the theater world, and vice versa, but it’s not about the technical details like that. It’s about seeing what happens when an individual piece fits into something much greater than the sum of its parts. That’s a perspective you can take to masquerades, to group cosplay, and to the entire American cosplay community.


(Mostly) Not a Cosplay Post: The End of Harry Potter

WARNING: This post does not contain angst/gushing about it being ‘the end’. If reading anything less than complete adoration for the Harry Potter series makes you upset, don’t worry. I’ll go back to my irregularly scheduled cosplay rambling in my next post.

I’m in the generation that grew up with Harry Potter. I got the book from my aunt and uncle when I was in… second grade? Third grade? Elementary school. I was heartbroken when I didn’t get my letter in the mail, I learned how to play Hedwig’s Theme on my flute with the rest of my band buddies, and entire weekends were planned around the book releases.

The movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is one of the foundations of my friendship with amara. I’d explain but it mostly involves Voldemort’s nose and welcoming Cedric Diggory back to the world of the ‘living’ during Twilight movies. We always had vague plans to cosplay for a midnight showing: she would be Hermione Grainger because she’s a bookworm and, coming from Houston, instantly understood Hermione’s hair angst , and I would be Draco Malfoy because… seriously, does anyone need me to explain why I would be Draco Malfoy? But by the time we put the idea together, we were never in the same place at the same time when the movies released. It was going to be this summer or never… and I was the jerk who got a twelve-month lease in another state. She went to a midnight showing, and I didn’t. I haven’t seen the last movie. My roommate hasn’t gone because she doesn’t want it to end just yet. I don’t know if that’s the case for me.

I’m probably going to piss off a lot of people when I say this, but the magic was there for the first four books for me. And that was it. It wasn’t that I stopped liking the books: I loved The Half-Blood Prince, which apparently is a sign of true rabid HP love (according to my sources, aka random opinions on my Twitter feed.) But by the time the fifth book had come out, my imagination had been seduced by other magicians and other worlds. They were stories that were just as dark and dangerous as Harry Potter’s world was quickly becoming, but they found resonance with me while the Boy Who Lived didn’t. My imagination didn’t want a Chosen One. I was growing up and I needed stories that gave me strength to choose my own path.

Does this mean I’m not going to go see the final movie? No. It just means I’m going to see it with amara, my sister, or someone else who kept bringing me back to Hogwarts long after I realized that a letter in the mail wasn’t the invitation into a magical world that I wanted.

(Also, before you ask, yes, I had a Slytherin shirt and wore lots of green in junior high. Now if asked, I identify with Ravenclaw. But then someone, usually amara, calls me on something particularly Slytherin-tastic I’ve done in the past 24 hours and I’m forced to reclaim Slytherin as my rightful house.)